So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” Genesis 32:30
Jacob said to Esau “. . . for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favor.” Genesis 33:10
There are many disturbing images and actions attributed to God that are written down in the book of Genesis. From a casual reading, it would seem that “In the beginning,” God was quite an angry character who was ready to dole out swift and harsh punishment when directives were ignored. However, tucked away in the story of Jacob and his older brother Esau is a sighting of the God many of us have come to know through Jesus Christ.
After Jacob came face to face with God during a night of wrestling, he encountered the older brother whom he had dealt treacherously with in the past. Esau had every right to be furious with Jacob. The last time they had been under the same roof, Esau had vowed to kill his younger sibling. However, when they finally reunited, Esau embraced Jacob and offered him complete forgiveness and love. Receiving such a gift of grace and mercy, Jacob responded to Esau, saying that to see Esau was like seeing God face to face. Jacob would have known, because he had spent the previous night wrestling with God. Perhaps, when we encounter love and forgiveness and mercy, we are, in fact, standing in the presence of God. For those who think that the God represented in the Old Testament is all about vengeance, they should read the story of Jacob and Esau, and think again.
What does God look like to you?
Dear Lord, perhaps it is true that whenever we receive love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness . . . You are inviting us to receive You . . . because that is who you are. Thank You. I accept. In Your name, I pray. AMEN.