As I read through a few chapters in Genesis this morning, I came across the lineage of Esau; and scattered among his sons was one by the name of Amalek; which triggered a memory of a sermon I once heard titled “Then came Amalek.” That sermon was from the book of 1 Samuel, when Saul, who had been told to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites for what they had done to the children of Israel back in the book of Exodus. While traveling to the Promised Land, they had assumed they’d be safe traveling through Edom, because they too were the descendants of Abraham, but they soon discovered that family is not always a friend. I just covered a lot of Bible history in just a few sentences, and probably utterly confused you, but here in the book of Genesis we find the origin of those people as the grandchildren of Esau, battling twin brother of Jacob.
Esau married outside the chosen nation, (he married a Canaanite woman), several actually and disappointed his parents. His wives worshipped strange gods and raised his children up to do the same. They had no pride in their Israeli heritage, only disdain in the coming generations. But my point being, it all began with one son’s disobedience. But now we no longer concern ourselves with what tribe or nation a family may be from, but rather are you apart of the nation Heaven as a child of Jesus Christ? But family still matters…
I was blessed to be raised by Christian parents who molded me into the strange being that I am today through a few quirks of their own. My mother, a quite creative woman and my father who was musically talented both attributed to my talents but I also received of my father a lackadaisical attitude which gets me in trouble on a pretty regular basis, and of my mother I received the “I can do it by myself” gene, which is really funny because my Dad’s name was Gene! But the two of those combined makes my theme song “I can do it by myself, but I’ll do it later!”
Regardless of how you feel about your family, it still does not change the fact that you are a product of their making. But what you become productive in is still entirely up to you. Esau was a bitter boy because his brother had stolen his birthright and inheritance, but he did eventually forgive Jacob. However, his descendants picked up that bitter bone and carried it through generation after generation. Is that not crazy? What Esau forgave, the family didn’t forget.
It still happens today. It happens in my own family as I think about relatives who have hurt members of my family and I’ve shared those stories with my children who now don’t think very highly of those relatives either; and in the generations to come they probably won’t like the descendants of those aunts and uncles either but they really won’t know why.
Why do we do it? I’m sure if Esau had his life to live over again he’d have mended fences with Jacob before he left the first time. He likely wouldn’t have disobeyed his parents which caused generational conflicts that still affect us today. But Esau can’t undo the past. We however, who are still alive, still have the opportunity to change the future of our families by changing our attitudes toward the past and letting it go. Really letting it go. Not just letting it go until we’re frustrated again and feel the need to relive the anger.
Christmas is a good time to give the gift of restoration. Do you have someone in your family that you would just as soon forget… well remember them. Pray for them and encourage yourself in the story of the Amalekites. Which would have changed the world if someone had gotten it right earlier. You have generations to consider and why on earth would you want them to carry a bitter seed forward that will grow the same heartache you carry.
I don’t know who this message is for…certainly for myself, but maybe you too. I’d love to hear from you! Share your story with me and let’s start Christmas off with the gift worth giving – forgiveness!