“Once, Jacob had made a soup, and Esau returned from the countryside exhausted. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat the red soup, that red soup there; I am exhausted”–hence the name given to him, Edom. Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright, then.” Esau said, “Here I am, at death’s door; what use will my birthright be to me?” Then Jacob said, “first give me your oath”; he gave him his oath and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave him bread and lentil soup, and after eating and drinking he got up and went. That was all Esau cared for his birthright.” (Genesis 25:29-34)
“When Esau was forty years old he married Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemach, the daughter of Elon the Hittite. These were a bitter disappointment to Isaac and Rebekah.” (Genesis 26:34-35)
“Isaac said to Jacob, “Come here, then, and let me touch you, my son, to know if you are my son Esau or not.” Jacob came close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said “The voice is Jacob’s voice but the arms are the arms of Esau!” He did not recognize him for his arms were hairy like his brother Esau’s, and so he blessed him. He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” And he replied, “I am.” Isaac said, “Bring it here that I may eat the game my son has brought, and so may give you a blessing.” He brought it to him and he ate; he offered him wine, and he drank. His father Isaac said to him, “Come closer, and kiss me, my son.” He went closer and kissed his father, who smell the smell of his clothes. He blessed him saying: “Yes, the smell of my son is like the smell of a fertile field blessed by Yahweh. May God give you dew from heaven, and the richness of the earth, abundance of grain and wine! May nations serve you and peoples bow down before you! Be master of your brothers; may the sons of your mother bow down before you! Cursed be he who curses you; blessed be he who blesses you!” (Genesis 27:21-29)
“As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and just when Jacob was leaving the presence of his father Isaac, his brother Esau returned from hunting. He too made a savoury and brought it to his father. He said to him, “Father, get up and eat the game your son has brought and then give me your blessing!” His father Isaac asked him, “who are you?” I am your firstborn son, Esau” he replied. At this Isaac was seized with a great trembling and said, “who was it, then, that went hunting and brought me game? Unsuspecting I ate before you came; I blessed him, and blessed he will remain! When Esau heard his father’s words, he cried out loudly and bitterly to his father, “Father, bless me too!” But he replied, “your brother came by fraud and took your blessing.” Esau said, “is it because his name is Jacob, that he has now supplanted me twice? First he took my birthright, and look, now he has taken my blessing! But, he added “have you not kept a blessing for me?” Isaac answered Esau, “See, I have made him your master; I have given him all his brothers as servants, I have provided him with grain and wine. What can I do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Was that your only blessing father?” Father, give me a blessing too.” Isaac remained silent, and Esau burst into tears. Then his father Isaac gave him this answer: “Far from the richness of the earth shall be your dwelling place, far from the dew that falls from heaven. You shall live by your sword, and you shall serve your brother. But when you win your freedom, you shall shake his yoke from your neck.” (Genesis 27:30-40)
The stories in the book of Genesis were given to Moses by God Himself on Mount Sinai during the forty days and nights he spent getting the Law of Moses. The teller of this story is God. There are so many truths in this one story its hard to focus on the principles I’m supposed to bring out today! I know the scripture passages are long, but it is important to see the whole story.
Esau and Jacob were twin brothers, paternal twins meaning they looked nothing alike. From the womb, they fought each other for dominance. At their birth, Esau came out first but Jacob had a grip on his heel trying to stop him from his place as firstborn. In those days, the first-born son got everything. He got the lion’s share of his father’s wealth. That was the culture. The birthright was a thing of great value to a man–or at least it was supposed to be.
As the brothers grew up, they couldn’t have been more different. Esau was a “man’s man” who loved the outdoors while Jacob was a homebody. Naturally, Isaac, their father was drawn to Esau because of his hunting skills and their mother, Rebekah was drawn to Jacob because of his quiet attitude. Back then, names were important. They named Jacob because when he was born he was trying to supplant his brother. That’s what Jacob means. Supplanter. He was cunning and sneaky. And He was determined to obtain Esau’s birthright for himself–however he could. Hardly the qualities of the father of the nation of Israel! Yes, he was Jesus Christ’s ancestor.
It was very hard work hunting game back then. There were no shotguns or rifles. It was knives, bows and arrows, and spears. It was very dangerous as well. So Esau’s hunting trips were very exhausting. Esau was a man of the world. He was a man who lived moment by moment. The future didn’t really matter to him. So when he came in from a hunting trip, about to pass out from hunger, Jacob seized the opportunity to get his birthright. Esau reasoned that if he didn’t sell Jacob the birthright and swear an oath to sell it, he was going to die anyway. At that moment, his birthright meant nothing to him, but it meant everything to Jacob. Jacob knew the value of that birthright and he wanted it more than anything else in the world. He had always wanted it.
So the deal was struck and Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew–and God was witness to this deal. God observed Esau’s careless attitude about his birthright when He said “That was all Esau cared for his birthright.” Life went on and Esau’s life took a bad turn. He married outside of the will of his parents. He married worldly women that were a “bitter disappointment” to his parents. Yet he didn’t care how hurt his parents were. He refused their counsel to marry within his culture. Again, he lived his life carelessly, without regard for anyone else’s opinions or feelings.
Then it all came home to roost for Esau when his father was about to die. He forgot about the deal he made with Jacob. Even though he swore an oath to sell his birthright, he was going to take the birthright and the blessing from Isaac anyway. He wasn’t going to keep his word to Jacob at all. So Jacob, being Jacob, tricked him and his father and got the blessing that was sold to him. In Esau’s mind, Jacob stole it, but he didn’t really steal it. He was taking was what rightfully his. Isaac didn’t know about the oath Esau made to Jacob. He didn’t realize how little value Esau placed on his birthright.
God looked into Esau’s heart and saw a man who loved himself and his needs and wants above anyone elses. Granted, Jacob, wasn’t a model of decency either, but God saw how much he valued His blessings. Isaac was blessed by God and Jacob wanted those blessings while Esau didn’t care until the moment he wanted them. There was no honor of his father in Esau. Sure he loved his father, but he did not honor him.
When we are born again and we come into the Kingdom of God through the blood of Jesus on the Cross, we come into the blessings of God. We have a birthright as a believer. We receive blessings in this life for our obedience and honor of our heavenly Father. We receive the hope of an eternity spent with Him. Yet people, who start out strong with Him, end up selling their birthright for the pleasures of this world. They live carelessly before the Lord. They think in their hearts “oh God will bless me” I’ll repent for sleeping with this person after I’m satisfied with it.” This is the same attitude Esau had. God is observing the way we live in this earth. He notices those who value their birthright and those who have sold it to live for the earthly pleasures of life.
What is the moral of this story? We all need to examine our hearts and see how much or little we value the presence of God in our lives. He has given absolutely everything to give us the birthright we have in the Kingdom of God. He gave Himself for us to be free to love and fellowship with Him. Fortunately for us, His mercy is so great, even if we have an Esau attitude, all we have to do is repent and ask His forgiveness. And like the prodigal son, He will welcome us back into the fold and His blessings will be ours again.
What did Esau get from Isaac? He got cursed because of his attitude. Isaac said to him ““Far from the richness of the earth shall be your dwelling place, far from the dew that falls from heaven. You shall live by your sword, and you shall serve your brother. But when you win your freedom, you shall shake his yoke from your neck.” A bleak future awaited Esau. But look at the last sentence. There is hope. “But when you win your freedom.” There is a way back. Esau and Jacob eventually made a peace but their descendants are still rivals today.
Birthrights and blessings are important to God. Yes, it grieves Him when people who claim to belong to Him live carelessly in the earth, but there is hope to come out of it and into what He has planned for us!
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