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Ancient family feud: Evidence of unforgiveness – Part 4



When strife and lack of forgiveness are allowed to fester; it spreads among family members and affects generations. Family feuds are as old as man.

The Bible records instances of family feuds, one of which lingered into many generations due to lack of forgiveness.

Cain and Abel were siblings, who opened up the Pandora-box of family rivalry and contention. When Cain rose up to kill his brother, God stepped in to question Abel.


“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.

11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand” (Gen. 4: 9 -11). God eventually avenged the death of Abel; He placed a curse on Cain.

The Bible does not give us any further account that the feud between Cain and Abel degenerated to their descendants.

But the situation was different between Jacob and Esau. Their rivalry later extended to their descendants.

A struggle that began in the womb between twin brothers, Esau and Jacob grew to affect their descendants.

The Edomites were descendants of Esau, while Israel descended from Jacob. Edom had refused to allow Israel to pass through her territory during her journey in the wilderness.

They bluntly refused to extend any hospitality to Israel despite all appeals and assurances from Moses, “Please let us pass through your country.

We will not pass through fields or vineyards, nor will we drink water from wells; we will go along the King’s Highway; we will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.’ ”18 Then Edom said to him, “You shall not pass through my land, lest I come out against you with the sword” (Numbers 20:17-18).

Generations earlier, the reconciliation between Jacob and Esau seemed to have been temporary; it was not far-reaching, as it did not prevent hostility among their descendants (Gen. 32-33).

The strife between Israel and Edom lingered for over 1,000 years. God took note of Edom’s refusal to show hospitality to Israel. As we find in Obadiah 1:15 -16, God made a pronouncement against Edom for her hostility towards Israel for refusing to help her, when she was in need.

In contrast, God promises that His people, Israel will ultimately return to live in peace.

“For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your [a]reprisal shall return upon your own head.16 For as you drank on My holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been.”

What are the lessons from the family feud between Israel and Edom? They teach us the importance of forgiveness. Strife, contention and bitterness should be resolved amicably and not allowed to degenerate.

We must not allow the root of bitterness to affect our seed and generation unborn. Forgiveness should be deep-rooted.

“Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Heb.12: 15).


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