Appeasing an Angry Brother


So he stayed there that night, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau,  two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams,  thirty milking camels and their calves, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.  These he handed over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me and put a space between drove and drove.” He instructed the first, “When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’  then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present sent to my lord Esau. And moreover, he is behind us.’”  He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you find him, and you shall say, ‘Moreover, your servant Jacob is behind us.’” For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterward I shall see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.” So the present passed on ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp. Genesis 32:13-21 ESV

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:9-11 ESV


The Aztec people of ancient Mexico believed in a number of gods. They believed that they had to appease, or soften, the anger of these gods by offering sacrifices. One reason they felt the gods needed to be appeased was that according to their legends the gods had sacrificed themselves to give life to humans. So the Aztecs offered human sacrifices to the gods to pay them back. They also sacrificed animals and objects to the gods. Sometimes they also gave some of their blood, all to turn the anger of their gods away or to please them.

Jacob needed to face his angry brother, and he very much wanted to appease him. Jacob set aside a very generous present for his brother. He put together goats, sheep, camels, cows, and donkeys. He sent them ahead of his family with servants. The servants were to say that they were a gift to Esau from Jacob, and that Jacob was behind them. Jacob hoped that these generous gifts would make his brother let go of his anger and forgive him.

We sometimes feel our own sinfulness and are afraid of God’s anger. We might think that we can do something to turn God’s anger away from us and make him forgive us. We might try to be extra good, or to pray and study the Bible, or do things for God that would make him happy. But it really isn’t any use. There’s nothing we can do to make God forgive us and love us. Our sins have made too big of a problem between us and God for us ever to pay him back.

But Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. His death on the cross completely covers all our sins. We have God’s love for now and forever, and we never have to be afraid to come to God. We can be confident that God forgives all our sins every day, all because of Jesus.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Please forgive our sins and help us to live for you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.