A Tale of Two Brothers
In Genesis, chapter 25, there is a story about twin brothers, Jacob and Esau. Esau is the oldest, and he literally gives up his birthright to his younger brother Jacob, for a bowl of soup.
According to my research, the “birthright” gave the oldest son a better position, and more wealth than his younger brothers. Esau clearly despised his birthright, because he sold it to Jacob for a mere bowl of soup.
Esau liked hunting, and being outdoors, while Jacob was a “man of the tent.” One Day Esau came in from the field, faint from hunger, while Jacob was cooking “pottage.” Pottage was a thick stew made by boiling vegetables and grains. Meat was added when available.
And Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.” Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?” And Jacob said, “First swear to me”; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Genesis 25: 30-34
Esau said that his birthright was of no use to him, since he was about to die of hunger. I know the feeling. My children know that I become highly irritated when overly hungry. However, it is unlikely that Esau was going to DIE of hunger.
I love the Old Testament because it is full of great stories. The best part about these stories is that they are true, and we can apply them to our lives today.
Isn’t Esau exactly the way we are? How many times have I felt that I was “just going to die,” if I didn’t get a cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts, or that new pocket book for the spring season?
What great blessings are you trading for a bowl of soup? Are you settling for something mediocre just because you can have it right now, instead of waiting on God to give you His best at a later time?
Jacob was kind of a deceiver, but he was smart. He thought things out, rather than acting impulsively. He also knew which things were really important. Later on in the story, he and his mother Rebekah connive together to get his father Isaac to give him Esau’s blessing as well.
An Old Testament blessing from a father to his sons included encouraging words, their inheritance, and prophetic words regarding their futures.
Isaac planned to give Esau the greater blessing because he loved to eat venison, and Esau was a great hunter. Isn’t that a strange reason to favor a child? I guess Esau wasn’t the only one in the family ruled by his stomach.
In the end, Jacob had Esau’s birthright, AND his blessing. When I was younger, I didn’t think it was fair. Why did God hate Esau and love Jacob? Jacob was a deceiver, AND a usurper.
First of all, Esau was impulsive and controlled by his appetite. Next, he married two (not one, but TWO) Hittite women. This grieved both of his parents, Isaac and Rebekah, because foreign wives also worshiped foreign gods.
Are you running with people like Esau’s wives, that worship” foreign gods,” instead of spending time with friends that will challenge you with hard spiritual questions, about your decisions, and the direction your life is going?
Overall, Esau was ruled by his fleshly desires, and unwilling to follow in the righteous footsteps of his father Isaac, and his grandfather Abraham. Isaac and Abraham made plenty of mistakes, just like we do, but they did love and worship the One True God.
There are Consequences for Our Actions
What happened to Esau is kind of sad. Hebrews 12:17 gives us the following account:
For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
Jacob did not come out scot-free either, after conducting all of those dirty deeds. He met his match in his father-in-law Laban. Laban was kind of a cheat and deceiver himself.
Laban gave Jacob his daughter, Leah, with the “weak eye,” as a bride when Jacob had worked for seven years to marry her younger, beautiful sister, Rachel.
Although the way Jacob sometimes operated was less than virtuous, he still loved and obeyed God. His name was changed to Israel by God, and his sons and grandsons made up the twelve tribes of Israel that eventually inhabited The Promised Land.
I can take encouragement from this true account by knowing that like Jacob, I may not always do everything right. But if I react to life events spiritually, using the Bible as my guide for truth, rather than listening to what my flesh, or the world, is telling me at the moment, I won’t miss out on any of God’s blessings for me.
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