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Can there be reconciliation after decades of deceit, separation and hatred?

God called Abraham and promised to make a great nation from his descendants. In the first century after that call the line of promise grew very slowly from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob.

Isaac and Ishmael

We do not know many details of the relationship between Isaac and and his half-brother, Ishmael.  Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, were expelled from Abraham’s camp after Isaac’s mother, Sarah, perceived that Ishmael was a threat to her son.

However, we do know about an important contact between the brothers later in life. When their father Abraham died they were together when he was buried. In that time and place the burial was close to the time of death. Abraham was interned in the cave that he purchased when his wife Sarah died. Ishmael either lived close enough to Isaac to come quickly or he was kept informed about his father’s failing health. He made the trip to the cave in Hebron and the brothers were together.

We are also told in Genesis told Isaac lived near the well, Beer-lahai-roi. This was the well that was either revealed or created by God to save Ishmael’s life. Hagar named the well. In an era when naming was a right of ownership, the well is referred to by Hagar’s name when Moses, a descendant of Isaac, wrote Genesis.  Ishmael’s well was a part of Isaacs’s inheritance. Also, Isaac’s son, Esau, took his uncle Ishmael’s daughter as a wife. (Genesis 16:1-18:15; 21:1-22; 24:62; 25:7-11; 28:6-9)

Jacob and Esau

Isaac has twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau was older but it was prophesied that Jacob would be the favored son. There was much deception and intrigued in the family over the inheritance and the birthrights of the sons. Isaac and his wife Rebecca both sought to manipulate God’s future for their family.

After the final deception by Rebecca and Jacob, Esau planned to kill his brother. Rebecca had Isaac send Jacob away to Abraham’s ancestral homeland find a wife as a ploy to save him. When Jacob return 20 years later, Esau had forgiven him and the brothers are reconciled.

Moses also records that Esau and Jacob like Ishmael and Isaac before them were together at their fathers’ internment into the family burial cave. Isaac and Jacob were buried in the cave. Ishmael and Esau were not. (Genesis 25:19-34; 27:1-33:20; 35:27-29)

In both families there was separation, deceit, intrigue, and hatred but in the end both sets of brothers were together when their fathers died.

Have you ever had relationships that you were sure were beyond healing?

2 thoughts on “Can there be reconciliation after decades of deceit, separation and hatred?”

  1. Hi Bob. My wife and her brother had a falling out about 8 years ago and it will never heal. Neither wants to see the other and I’m OK with that. Both are now in their early 70’s. I’ve forgiven what’s happened but don’t want a relationship with him either. I remember a pastor we loved some 30 years ago said that forgiveness doesn’t mean having an ongoing relationship. I’ve forgiven, my wife likely has too but we are not interested in a relationship with he and his wife any longer.

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