When I saw your face, it was the face of God smiling on me. Gen. 33:10
Imagine back-stabbing, birthright-stealer Jacob’s anxiety as he journeys with his family to meet Esau: He is in the middle of the desert with everything and everyone he loves dearly. He is vulnerable and scared. He has regrets and knows he deserves only death at the hand of his brother. Like the dry, open desert terrain around him, he is parched from his yearning for forgiveness.
With no option but to face his brother, he decides to play the I’m-truly-sorry card to the hilt. First he prays like never before. Then, he sends ahead of him a generous peace offering of his finest cattle. Next he lines up his family in order of favoritism (being pragmatic he figures his illegitimate children should take the bullet if necessary). Finally, he puts into a play a clever obeisant mind game–Everything he does and says when he is finally face to face with his brother speaks of subservient humility: he bows seven times in honor, he calls him “Master,” he cries.
And here’s how Esau responds: When Jacob bows, Esau hugs him; when Jacob says “Master,” Esau responds “Brother;” when Jacob cries, Esau cries with him.
In that act of forgiveness, Jacob sees in Esau’s face God smiling upon him!