11 June, 2017

Genesis 33:4—“And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept”

And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept (Gen. 33:4 KJV).

In Genesis 27:41, Esau hates his brother Jacob and conspires to murder him for stealing his birthright. However, when we come to Genesis 33:4, Esau clearly has had a change of heart towards Jacob. Many commentators claim this change of attitude was due to an operation of common grace—the Spirit graciously restraining him and even creating desires of love and affection towards Jacob.


Rev. Daniel Kleyn

(Note: Rev. Kleyn is the PRCA Missionary in the Philippines)

The ultimate answer to this is God’s sovereignty. God sovereignly controls the wicked too, and controls their thoughts, their plans, their desires, and their actions. God, in His eternal plan, planned that Esau would not harm Jacob, and He also executed His plan so that Esau did not do that. But there is also this aspect to it too, and that is, even though we cannot agree with the theory of common grace that says that the Spirit restrains the wicked from sinning—the Spirit, according to the second point of common grace, performing a work in Esau, restraining him from that sin of murdering his brother Jacob—even though it is true that we do not agree with that, we do not deny the restraint of sin. We agree there is a restraint of sin, but the restraint of sin is external—it is not internal.

The theory of common grace teaches that the restraint of sin is internal by the Spirit working even in the wicked to stop them from sinning more than they do. But the Scripture teaches that the restraint of sin in the wicked is external. And that external restraint of sin is usually the law—the law of God—and in addition, in close connection with that, the punishments that come from disobedience to the law of God.

So why did Esau change his mind? Maybe he stopped and thought about it and said, “Yes, but if I do that my parents will turn around and disown me or even kill me.” So, knowing the law of capital punishment that the murderer shall be put to death, that may have been the restraint—an external restraint—on Esau from killing his brother Jacob.

That is true for the wicked today. We may say that the wicked could go out and commit a lot worse sins than they do. Why don’t they go out and shoot people down and drive the car and kill everyone in sight, and rob every bank, etc. But the law restrains them—the law of God and the laws of the land. That external restraint stops them from committing all of those sinful deeds they might think of as they realise that there are consequences—if I do this, then that will happen; if I rob the bank and I get caught I could spend the rest of my life in jail; if I murder this person that I hate, I could be put to death. So that is an external restraint.



Rev. Angus Stewart

Check out the following sermon on this passage by Rev. Angus Stewart:

“Jacob Meets Esau” (Genesis 33:1-16) (Click HERE)

N.B. This is sermon no. 18 of a sermon series on The Life of Jacob. For access to the entire series, click the link below:




More to come! (DV)

No comments:

Post a Comment