The story of Esau is one of the most tragic in the Old Testament. No, we do not often think of his story as tragic, especially when we set it against the backdrop of other bible tragedies like Judas, Samson, Adam and Eve, or Jephthah. However, it only appears to be less tragic. Because we sometimes forget to realize what Esau lost.
Esau was the 1st born son of Isaac. Being the 1st born son comes with many privileges. You receive the double portion intendance. You receive the blessing of your father. You typically went on to become the head of the whole household when your father either dies or is no longer capable of leading the home due to poor health. Priestly duties here handed down to the 1st born. (Yes, we certainly know this concerning the High Priest), but under the Patriarchal dispensation, it would have passed on to the head of the household (the patriarch of the family). And yet, when we read over these list of things that the 1st born should have had a right to, we see none of them falling to Esau. Jacob had the double portion inheritance. Jacob had the blessing. Jacob became the spiritual leader of the household. And why is that? Hebrew tells us that Esau was a fornicator and a profane person (Heb. 12:16). But what does that exactly mean?
Some translations imply that he was just a godless person. And yes, he was a godless person. But, that does not tell us what made him godless. Was he a drinker? Was he a mean spirited person? Did he curse God? No. According to the scriptures, the 1st act of Esau that gives us insight into his character is the day he came home from hunting completely famished. On this particular day, he thought he would die if he did not get some something to eat. He was so hungry that Jacob was able to barter the greatest price paid for a bowl of beans… his brother’s inheritance (Abraham and Isaac were both extremely wealthy men). As Esau reasoned, what good is it to me if I am dead, he should his true flaw. Esau was more interested in satisfying the now, even if that meant sacrificing the future. While this particular occasion was just over money, it shared a character trait that marked his whole being. From that moment forward, we never see Esau really concerned with future things. Flash forward a couple of decades. Isaac is about to bless Esau and asked him to go hunting so that he could eat some wild game. While Esau was out, Rebecca and Jacob plot against Isaac and Esau and convince Isaac that Jacob was Esau and stole Esau’s blessing. When Esau returned he was furious. He was furious because they which he could have “right now” was taken from him. He then sought to kill Jacob, with no thought of the ramifications of his actions. This is what made Esau a godless person. He was a in the now type of guy. He made no thoughts of the future and was really only interested in instant gratification. Sound familiar? We live in a generation of Esau’s. It is seen in something as small as microwave instructions on a pop tart (as if waiting 30 second in the toaster was too long). It is evidenced in our unwillingness of wait 30 minutes in a DMV without getting frustrated. It is evidenced by our constant complaints about how long a doctor’s visit lasts. It is evident in how our country uses credit. We buy what we want now and pay later. (Some people, including our governments have taken this to such an extreme that there is no possible way they could pay it off). They want it here. They want it now. While one might argue these are arbitrary issues, they are the root of a much deeper issue. People like Esau don’t think about the long term consequences of their action. When thought of like this, one can easily see why many are not Christians today. Any future, especially one that comes at the end of life, is too far away to be concerned with. My friends, such a life is a recipe for disaster.
When the time came for Esau to receive that blessing and his inheritance (the end of this father’s life), he then became interested in that which was once too far away to be concerning with. When he learned he could not receive it, he wept, hoping to get what he now believed were his. He received a blessing that really wasn’t a blessing (Heb. 12:17). What he received was the fruits of what he spent a lifetime planting.
Brethren, let us be careful to not be Esau. Let us not sacrifice out future for a few moments of pleasure today. For if this is the life we choose, when we stand before God on the last day, we too will receive that which is not really a blessing. -WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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A Generation of Esau's
Volume 4 Issue 17