After reading this chapter, I’m left with one question: what the heck happened to Esau?! It would have been nice if the Bible writers had bothered to mention something about his journey during the 20 years Jacob lived in the house of Laban.
The last we heard from Esau was in 27:41, when he consoled his wounded pride by plotting his brother’s murder: "He said to himself, 'The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.'"
How strange it seems, then, that at their next meeting, all ill will is forgotten. Jacob is clearly nervous and afraid about meeting up with his older brother again, but when the dreaded moment comes, Esau treats him as though there was never any bad blood between them.
So, even though we don’t know the particulars of Esau’s story, what does this exchange tell us about God? That with time and our willingness, God can transform our hearts from ones that plot evil into ones that plan kindness. Only God can help us understand that getting revenge is not the way to deal with the wrongs that others have done to us.
Though God is not specifically mentioned in this chapter in that regard, I believe that Esau could not have experienced such a change of heart without God’s transforming power. But how encouraging it is to see such a plain example of how God can turn us around, even when we’re headed far down the wrong path!