Many of us are familiar with the history of the Jewish nation, beginning with Abraham. Called by God from the land of Ur, Abram was promised that God would make him into a great nation that would ultimately bless the world. His name was then changed to “Abraham” which means “Father of a great number”. To this day numberless Arabs, as well as Jews, call Abraham their father.
Isaac, son of God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah, became a quiet shepherd. He was 60 years old when his twin sons were born. As unalike as could possibly be, Esau and Jacob were different in looks, activity and tastes. God gave Rebekah some insight into what to expect of these children “Two nations are in your womb…one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). In those days, as throughout much of human history, the line of succession went to the eldest male child, so here we see God reversing the customary order of things.
Esau and his father were particularly close. Perhaps Esau was the man Isaac never had the courage or the disposition to become, and so he admired Esau’s wild ways and vigorous activity. Jacob, on the other hand was his mother’s darling. In due time Isaac fell ill; it looked like his days were numbered. The patriarchal blessing must be given before he died. Isaac wanted to celebrate the blessing with a little feast so he called Esau to hunt, and to prepare his favourite dish. What he did not know was that the boys had been involved in a discussion on the birthright many years before.
Esau had come home from hunting feeling famished (Genesis 25:29-30). Jacob was cooking, probably a stew of red lentils since these verses refer to it as “Red Stew”. As the elder son it was quite within his right to order his younger brother. “Quick!” “Look, I’m about to die!” Have you ever used language like that because of a perceived need? How serious that need was for Esau, we do not know. However, we do read that he was quite willing to despise his birthright, actually taking an oath when he sold it to his brother for that bowl of stew (25:33-34).
The time came when Esau recognized what he had given up. Bitter were his tears when he pled with his father to bless him too (Genesis 27:38). How thrilling it is to know that God is willing to restore us to the position of children of God, when we repent of our wrong choices!
We must note that Esau did what every human heart, without the Spirit of God must do – he vowed to take revenge. He blamed Jacob for the choice he himself had made. He entered into a covenant agreement, with an oath, to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew. From Esau we must learn to put first things first, to value the privileges God has given to us, and to take responsibility for our own decisions.
Now the question is…what is the birthright of every human being? We have each been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). It is our right to call Him “Our Heavenly Father”, but do we? Have we been deceived about the state of our spiritual health, just as Esau was mistaken about his physical well-being?
What things take priority in our lives? Do we understand how certain things, or people, hopes and dreams can replace the treasured birthright we have, of being children of God. Satan will tempt us at our greatest point of weakness to believe we need something other than God, to sustain us in the moment. What bowl of stew is tempting you and me today?
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)