Flee and Stay


So now, my son, listen to me. Flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, and stay with him for a few days until your brother’s anger subsides–until your brother’s rage turns away from you and he forgets what you have done to him” (Gen. 27:43-45).

After Isaac blessed Jacob, there was no blessing left for Esau. Esau vowed to kill Jacob for this. The verses above show Rebekah’s counsel to Jacob when she heard about Esau’s plans.

Like Rebekah, the Spirit counsels us to flee to Christ and to hide in Him. In Christ, God’s anger and rage turn away; He forgets our sins and no longer holds them against us (Psalm 25:7; 103:9; 130:3-4; 1 Cor. 13:5). In Jesus, there is only the Father’s love toward us (Col. 1:13).

Rebekah suggested Jacob stay a few days with Laban. “A few days” evokes the three days of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. The cross is the reason God’s anger and rage turn away; it is the reason He forgets our sins.

The word translated “stay” is “Yishabat.” It’s meanings include sit, remain, dwell, and wait. These meanings all suggest rest so it is no surprise Yishabat is related to the word sabbath–the day God rested from His work of creating, the day in which He commanded us to rest. When we believe the gospel, we enter into His rest (Heb. 4:3). And how else can we respond to the cross? As He died, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Nothing related to forgiveness was left undone. Nothing else was required to turn away the anger and rage of God. This is our sabbath. It is here, in the few days of the cross, that we stay and rest. Nothing need frighten us. There is no cause for worry or uneasiness.

If God’s anger and rage are turned aside as we rest in Christ, how much more does Christ turn aside anger and rage between people? Paul tells us we no longer know each other according to the flesh. We see each other resting in the few days of the cross. We must allow the cross to turn aside our anger and rage when people sin against us.

Likewise, when our failings anger others, we can hide in Him, trusting the cross will turn aside the anger and rage directed at us. Apologies are, perhaps, more important for the one who makes them. They do not fix damage to relationships. Only the forgiveness of the cross in someone’s heart can do that. “And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (Eph. 4:32).

We know that, eventually, Esau’s anger and rage did turn aside. He embraced Jacob tenderly, as his brother, years later (Gen. 33:4). And what did Jacob say to such a reception? “I have seen your face, and it is like seeing God’s face, since you have accepted me” (Gen. 33:10). Acceptance and forgiveness are the features of God’s face. These features make Him recognizable. It is these features that make us look like Him, that show we are in His image.

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