Rebekah and her troublesome twins : Part two - Esau's priorities
Geneses is a book full of human nature, of family relationships and floored characters. With every turn these pages of history reflect back at you todays society. Especially so in the story of Esua and Jacob. The firstborn twins to Rebekah and Isaac and the first twins mentioned in the Bible.
In the second part of this blog we look at the actions of Esau in the story of the twins found in Genesis 25. He has been out hunting, he is tired and hungry. As he steps through the door his twin brother has what he needs but the price is high. A bowl of stew for the inheritance.
Esau although a twin was still the first born and in line to receive the birth right. This would bring with it title, authority and respect as well as a large inheritance of the families’ wealth and physical possessions. But most importantly Esau would receive the spiritual blessing of his father and in the case of this family that was so much more than a prayer for the generations to come. It was a promise. A promise from the great I AM made to their grandfather Abraham. A covenant promise to be passed down that He would raise them up as a people of God, a great and large nation for His glory but also to have the privileged position of continuing the bloodline that would ultimately bring to the world the Messiah.
Esau treated this birth right with contempt, he appeared to see it as worthless. Some translations use the word despised. What a strong word to use against something most would consider a most wanted gift. Why?
Esau is mentioned again in the Romans 12:16
“See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.”
Depicted as ungodly, Esau gives up his massive inheritance for food in his stomach. It would appear that this man who simply wanted to hunt, eat and live on the earth worshiped the desires of his flesh over God. If his priorities were only for the immediate gratification of his flesh no wonder he was unable to appreciate or give thanks for the birth right that was on offer to him. He should have made obtaining this inheritance his priority but he was a simple man who worked with what was in front of him. He couldn’t see or touch this spiritual inheritance promised to him and so he struggled to hold on to it. Do we treasure the inheritance God has promised us? When we cannot touch it or see it it’s easy to be swept away with the world. As we are bombarded each day with what the world tells us we should do, say, think and want it can be hard to stand strong but we must kept a firm grasp on God’s truth and keep our eyes on Jesus. What God is promising us is worth more than anything the world will ever have to offer.
We won’t really ever know what was going through Esau’s head at that moment, it’s true his brother who knew him so well used his weaknesses to pressure him but the tricks and manipulation of Jacob do not leave Esau blameless. In the same way Jacob pressured his brother, society will pressure us. Like Esau society acts on impulse. It tells us to follow our hearts and do whatever feels good. We live in a world where anything goes and self-control is ridiculed. To us the trade of food for a birth right seems extreme and unbalanced but still everyday mankind hands over his blessings to satisfy the wants of the flesh. People give up their families for a lustful affair, their savings for the frill of a bet, their health for a quick high.
As we move through life and we make decisions every day, some bigger than others, are we making them based on the here and now? What we want or think we need today? Do we consider the long term possibilities or potential consequences? Whether they are worth it and if the choices we make glorify God? It is important we take the time to do this in prayer because 1 Peter 5:8 says
“Be clear-minded and alert. Your opponent, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
You see, like Esau, we all get hungry and weak sometimes. We all struggle. We all have times when the everyday becomes a burden. To the Devil this makes us prey. It’s not kind and it’s not pretty but it is the truth. Putting worldly things to one side, the enemy comes to steal our joy, peace and salvation. We must hold on to what is important to us in an uncompromising and determined way. Esau did not do this. He put his immediate need for gratification above the long term consequences. We do the same when a fun shopping spree cripples our bank balance. Junk food feels good but affects our health. Flirting with a co-worker lifts our ego but hurts our spouse.
The immediate demands the flesh puts on us are strong and sometimes overwhelming. Greed, lust and cravings can engulf us but we serve a God who has conquered these and house a Holy Spirt who pushes us forward with an unfailing, all powerful and overcoming strength.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4 NIV
You have the strength to overcome through Jesus Christ. To keep your eyes on the eternal rewards and resist harmful fast pleasures and short term gratification. Draw on this strength through prayer, His word, worship and fellowship.