Esau and Jacob – the twins. Esau was born first, but Jacob was holding onto Esau’s foot when he came out. Jacob’s name means ‘supplanter’ or ‘he who supplants’, and he pretty much lived up to that title. Esau’s name means ‘hairy’, so you can guess what he looked like at birth.
As they grew up in the home of their parents, Isaac and Rebekah, the rivalry was evident. In the Jewish home, the eldest would receive the birthright from the father. The birthright carried privileges of inheritance and standing. In this family, Esau was the eldest, if only by a few minutes.
As they grew, Esau was the hunter, and his father’s favorite. The Bible says that Isaac liked to eat Esau’s venison (Genesis 25:28). Jacob, though, was his mother’s favorite. A perfect setting for trouble.
On this day, Esau had been out in the fields while Jacob was cooking up some stew (and maybe a scheme). When Esau came in, he was so hungry that he felt faint. He begged Jacob to sell him some of the ‘sod pottage’. Jacob, the wheeler dealer, replied that the price would be Esau’s birthright. Here is what Esau said:
And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? Genesis 25:32
Esau was hungry so he gave up his birthright for a bowl of stew. His birthright was the blessing of the firstborn, the largest portion of the inheritance, the carrying of the bloodline. It included a spiritual blessing from the father.
Esau traded his future for the immediate, a pretty high price for a meal. But Esau’s birthright was not something he could hold in his hand or put in his mouth. At that stage of his life, it was intangible. When he felt the pangs of hunger and the weariness of his flesh, he didn’t think about the future or the consequences of his actions. So, he gave it away for the ease of the moment.
What was he thinking — or was he? He was seeking to satisfy his very real fleshly needs, but he lost sight of the long-term effects of his actions. Later, we read that he could not get the birthright back ‘though he sought it carefully with tears’ (Hebrews 12:16, 17). He wanted to undo the consequences, but it was too late.
We wonder at the irresponsibility of Esau, but we are prone to follow his example. It is easy to trade God’s blessing for the expediency of the moment. We find it easier to satisfy our flesh that to obey God’s directions.
- We trade the love that God offers for the erotic pleasure of the world.
- We trade God’s rich promises for the cheap currency of Earth.
- We trade our integrity for man’s favor or temporary gain.
- We trade the sanctity of marriage for actions that contradict God’s perfect plan.
- We trade life for the convenience and plans of the moment.
We are no different than Esau. We are still giving up eternal riches for the immediacy of this world. Like Esau, when we come to our senses, we find that we are the losers in the trade.
Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Matthew 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
The good news of grace is that God forgives when we seek Him.
I John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God doesn’t always take away the consequences that result from our choices, but He will redeem the future and restore our birthright in Him. Just ask.