How will we live our lives today? Will we live like a beast seeking to gratify the flesh with momentary pleasure, or will we be pure of heart living by the Spirit and crucifying the flesh?
Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:34
In this short account of Jacob and Esau we find the younger brother cleverly obtaining his brother’s birthright for a bowl of stew. To properly understand this story we must not overlook the contrast between these two brothers.
We are told that “When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents” (Gen 25:27). This is unfortunately a poor translation. In the Hebrew Jacob is described as tam, which is often translated as perfect or complete, but in the ESV is a quiet man. Yet tam is used three times to describe Job translated in the ESV as blameless.
Can you begin to see the stark contrast between these two brothers? Esau was a wild man; he lived for the moment hunting going from place to place. Jacob on the other hand was a man of integrity, blameless who was steadfast dwelling in his home/tent.
And so Esau came in famished from a day of hunting; he was so hungry he claimed that he was about to die. He is living for the moment, wild and impatient. Esau insisted that his brother Jacob give him a bowl of stew, but Jacob first made him swear that Esau’s birthright would be given to him in exchange for the stew. Esau saw no value in his birthright if he was dying of hunger.
The birthright gave the firstborn son certain rights and privileges over his younger brother(s). Even though Jacob and Esau were twins, Esau was the firstborn. So what did Esau give in exchange for a bowl of stew? First, was the right to be the priest or intermediary for his family before the LORD. Second, he forfeited the authority as the judge and caretaker among his family. Finally, Esau gave his right to the double portion at the time of his inheritance; the brothers would not share equally in their father’s estate but a double portion would be given to the firstborn, twice what his brothers received.
God choose Jacob. He was the man who was pure and perfect. He is the man who would one day wrestle with God refusing to let go until he received a blessing. The blessing of the LORD is not upon one like Esau, an impulsive and wicked man who live like wild beasts; God’s blessing is upon the man like Jacob who is blameless and upright before the LORD.
As a child of God I am an heir with Christ. I am called to be holy, just as the LORD is holy; therefore I should live blamelessly with a heart of integrity. This means I should not despise my birthright and exchange my inheritance for the momentary pleasures of life.
Yes to Yield
LORD Jesus, I thank You for Your sacrifice by which I am included as not only a child of God, but an heir together with You. Give me a perspective to understand and value all You have given to me. The inheritance You give is of far greater value than anything I might enjoy living for the moment. You have made me a royal priesthood to intercede before the Father for others. You have given me authority in Your Name. You have given me the mind of Christ with wisdom to discern what is best, what is God’s will. And You have given me riches beyond anything this world can offer. You have promised to meet all my needs. You have set me free from worry and given me peace. Holy Spirit may I never despise the birthright You have given me as a child of God; help me live according to Your word, like Jacob a tam blameless and upright man.