But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck” (Genesis 27:38–40 NLT, emphasis added).
Friend to Friend
I was really upset with her. I don’t need to tell you the details because I want you to fill in the blanks yourself. I was really mad at _______ for ________. I’m not worried about you not having anything to put in those blanks because you’re human. We’ve all been really irked at someone for hurting our feelings, hampering our plans or a whole lot worse.
We’ve talked about Jacob in our devotion times together before, but what about poor Esau. His baby brother stole his birthright and his inheritance…that was a lot more than hurting his feelings. But let’s look back at the story from Esau’s point of view because sometimes we have to look backward in order to move forward. All those years ago, Esau was devastated to learn that Jacob had tricked their father into giving him the birthright and the blessing. Picture the scene:
Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh, my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept.
Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him,
“You will live away from the richness of the earth,
and away from the dew of the heaven above.
You will live by your sword,
and you will serve your brother.
But when you decide to break free,
you will shake his yoke from your neck.” (Genesis 27:38–40 NLT, emphasis added)
We don’t know much about what went on with Esau between the time his brother fled to Haran and the time Jacob returned home to Bethel. We do know that Esau did not like his story. But something happened in Esau’s heart over those twenty years. He went from vowing to kill his brother to embracing him when he returned (Genesis 32-33). I’m sure it was a process, but at some point, it started with a decision.
Let’s go back and look at Isaac’s words to Esau: “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck” (v. 40 NLT emphasis added). The AMPC translation says, “break loose.” The Hebrew word translated “break loose go” is paraq, which also means deliver or rescue. When do we break loose from the yoke of unforgiveness that wraps around our necks and weighs on our shoulders? When we get restless and decide to break free. That’s when our stories will take a new direction.
I can assure you of this, the devil does not want you to break free from the weight of the past. He wants you to wear that yoke of bitterness and resentment for the rest of your life. I can envision him polishing the yoke with a fresh coat of remembrance so shiny he can see his reflection in the surface.
Paul wrote, “And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:10–11). And what are these schemes? To keep you stuck in a bad story on a dog-eared page of unforgiveness. What is God’s ultimate best? To set you free from the burden of resentment so you can write a new ending to your story.
It was Esau’s decision to forgive that set both brothers free from the hate place. Esau was free, and he set Jacob free as well. At the time of Jacob’s betrayal, I’m sure Esau thought he could never forgive the offense. But grace takes what is impossible with man and makes it possible with God.
So for you and for me, it’s time to decide. Will we let go of the anger or hang on to the offense? Will we stay mad or simmer down? Will we shine that yoke clamped around our necks or sever the clasp with the cutters of grace and break free?
Interestingly, Esau’s dad mentioned a yoke around his neck. Today, I wear a cross around my neck. It seems odd to think we could wear the yoke of unforgiveness and the cross of Christ’s forgiveness at the same time. I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to be. What about you?
Heavenly Father. ________ hurt my feelings and I have been holding a grudge for long enough. Today, I’m making a decision to set myself free from the yoke of bitterness. I’ve got the key in the shape of a cross. I’ve got the power in the form of the Holy Spirit. I’m deciding, right now, today, to let go of the offense.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
C.S. Lewis once said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” What does that quote mean to you?
Leave a comment and let’s compare notes.
More From the Girlfriends
What if your worst chapters could become your greatest victories? I know that they can!
My new book, When You Don’t Like Your Story, challenges us to ask: What if God doesn’t want us to rip out our difficult stories but repurpose them for good?
In fact, the worst parts of your story might just be what God uses the most. So sink deep into God’s life-changing truths. The next chapter is just beginning. Includes an in-depth Bible study for individuals and groups.
© 2021 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.