ESAU SELLS HIS BIRTHRIGHT TO JACOB
"The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3).
Abraham had lived for a while at Haran. And later when he wanted a wife for Isaac, his son, he sent his servant back to his relatives there to select her. The servant asked the Lord to direct him in choosing the proper girl, and Rebekah fulfilled all the requirements. She was willing to go to the land where Abraham and Isaac lived; and she became Isaac's wife.
Taking Time to be Holy
Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, but they were not at all alike. Esau, who was the first born, loved the woods and spent his time hunting, while Jacob preferred to stay around home and farm. One day when Esau came in from a hunting trip he was tired and very hungry. He thought he would starve to death if he did not eat right away, so he asked Jacob for some of his food. That is a trick of the enemy of our souls: he will tell a person that something must be done in such a hurry that there is not time to consult the Lord as to whether it is the right thing or not. Jesus wants us to take time to wait upon the Lord and be sure that what we do is according to His will. Esau would not have died in that one hour more that it might have taken to prepare his own dinner.
An Expensive Bargain
During the patriarchal period the eldest son of the family was entitled to a double share of his father's property. That was called a birthright. Many other blessings and responsibilities went with the birthright, and the eldest son was really the ruler over his whole clan upon the death of his father.
Jacob realised what an important thing the birthright was, and he saw his chance to get it for himself. He promised to give Esau of his pottage if he would swear to give him the birthright. Esau considered his livelihood at the moment more important than his blessings and responsibilities in the future; and the Word says, "Esau despised his birthrights.”
You may think that was a terrible thing to do, and you certainly would never be so foolish. But stop and consider a moment. We have a birthright, too. Jesus died to give us a right to eternal life. Through the Blood He shed we can be born into the family of God if we will. But how many millions of people are despising that birthright and are refusing to be saved because of some little sin in their lives they do not want to give up. Some young girls and women will consider the fashions of the world more important than their birthright. Perhaps a little restitution will hinder another from claiming his birthright. Are those matters any more important than Esau's mess of pottage? Nothing more was said about Jacob's birthright for some years.
When Isaac thought his time to die had come, he called Esau to him to give him the first blessing. He asked him to go out and shoot a deer and prepare the venison for him; then when he had eaten and was satisfied he would bless Esau. Rebekah heard the order, and as she wanted the blessing for her favourite son, she persuaded Jacob to deceive his father. He succeeded, but he suffered until the day of his death because of his deceit.
God had promised that both Jacob and Esau would be leaders of nations, and had also ordained that the elder would serve the younger. God always brings His will to pass, and does not need the help of His creatures to do it. Jacob would probably have had his inheritance much sooner if he had waited for God to work out His plans.
As it was, he had to suffer many years of privation away from his home before he reached the place where God could use him.
Perhaps there was something of Peter's nature in Jacob. He wanted to do the will of God, but was not willing to await God's time. Before the Day of Pentecost Peter was often guilty of impetuousness, for which Jesus had to reprove him. But after the power fell on him, he became a leader in the church, and he lived up to all the promises he had made to the Saviour and of which he had failed so miserably in his weak condition. Jacob eventually became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel through whom the Messiah came in the fullness of time.
After Jacob had received the blessing, Esau came in with the venison he had so joyfully prepared in anticipation of the blessings he would receive from his father. When he found that Jacob had been there ahead of him, and had received the blessing Esau considered his, he wept bitterly. At the time he sold his birthright he did not seem at all sorry, but when he lost the blessing he shed tears. Such is the case with many sinners. Their sins do not bother them particularly. But how they mourn when their sins get them into trouble! They are not sorry they have sinned, but that their sins have found them out.
In Hebrews:12:17 we read: "Afterwards, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." We find other instances in the Bible where people sinned against God too long, and never did have an opportunity to repent. As an instance, the Egyptians refused to let the Children of Israel leave their country, although God had sent severed plagues upon them. Finally, after they started out, the Egyptians followed them. The Children of Israel miraculously went through the Red Sea. The enemy came along right behind; and when God's people were across, the waters came back and drowned all the Egyptians. They had no chance to repent.
Saul was the first king of Israel, a man chosen of God to lead His people. In the beginning he was humble and obeyed the voice of God, but in later years his sins became so great that God rejected him from being king ([1 Samuel:15:23]). Saul prayed many times after that, but the Word of God never says that he ever repented. Just being sorry because he got into trouble did not save him. In the end he committed suicide, so we know he did not go to Heaven.
How sad will be the cry of the sinner who waits too long to repent: "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah:8:20).
The Promise to Esau
In Esau's bitterness of heart, he inquired of his father if there was not one blessing left that could still be his. Isaac blessed him with temporal blessings, and assured him that though he must serve his brother for a time, eventually that yoke would be broken from his neck. That time came when the Edomites, who were Esau's posterity, revolted against Judah, who were descendants of Jacob ([2 Kings:8:20-22]).
1. Which was Rebekah's favourite son, Jacob or Esau?
2. For what did Esau sell his birthright?
3. Later on, did Esau regret having done this?
4. What lesson does that teach us?
5. Who caused Jacob to deceive his father?
6. How many times did Jacob lie to his father?