GE 25:29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” 31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” 32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” 33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25: 29-34
Simply put, ‘birthright” refers to special blessings and privileges extended to the first-born son. In ancient Jewish times, birthrights were deeply sacred. The family riches and designations of honor were passed on to first-born. He would also receive a double portion of the inheritance of the family and the full judicial authority of his father. More importantly, the birthright was an esteemed spiritual position in the community. The first-born son was considered to be the priest of the family and was given the honorable task of ministering to God and serving God’ people.
With all the unbelievable favors that go with the “birthright blessing”, you wonder why anyone would possibly throw all that away for a meal. That was what happened to Esau, son of Isaac and Rebekah. He was a man of the fields – – – a fierce hunter who loved and thrived in the outdoor life. His younger twin, Jacob, was the more domesticated type. After hunting one day Esau came home so hungry and found Jacob cooking some red stew. Taking advantage of his brother’s hunger, Jacob, whose name means deceiver, offered to give Esau food on one condition: that Esau surrender to him his birthright. Esau’s reply was quick, “Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?” And so the “exchange” happened. He sold his entire birthright for bread and a bowl of stew.
Esau did not understand the value and meaning of his birthright. He was blessed. He was favored. His future was secure. But unfortunately, Esau did not have the faith and the wisdom to appreciate the value and sacredness of what was already his. He lacked discernment and self-control. For lack of godly judgment, he ended up making a very hasty, reckless and impulsive decision he would later regret for the rest of his life.
There are many pursuits in this world that are important and valuable. Bread and stew are certainly vital for our existence. But you see, when all is said and done, there are things that are far more important like righteousness, honor, integrity, moral courage, faith and the heartfelt conviction that at the end of the day, it is only the Lord’s sovereign grace that always saves the day. This is our treasure. This is our true birthright.
Sadly, Esau despised his birthright. To despise literally means “to look down”; “to trivialize” or “to belittle.”
Today, the Lord is reminding us that, we have been given the privilege of sharing in the birthright of Christ as God’s firstborn. May we not be like Esau who chose bread and stew over what truly mattered. He took a dangerous shortcut that led him farther away from his destiny. He was eaten up by his hunger for food that he lost his spiritual bearing. The moment we lose true focus, we end up seeing only the here and the now. But you see, as God’s people, our perspective is eternal. We are concerned with the consequences and implications of the choices we make today. We carefully attend to the everyday and practical issues of life while pursuing what truly matters beyond our earthly existence.
So often we choose immediate relief and instant satisfaction over what is precious and honorable in sight of the Lord – – – what is eternally significant, decent and right. We tire ourselves looking for ways to satisfy our cravings only to realize that our hunger is far deeper and greater than we can ever understand or imagine. Today, in this special season of Lent may we learn to cling on to our precious birthright as God’s redeemed people in Christ. May our grip be stronger and firmer than ever before. May our hearts and minds be more determined to exercise self-control, prudence and godly judgment especially when hunger strikes – – – fully aware that there are things that may look very appealing but never truly satisfying – – – enticing but destructive in the long end – – – attractive and appealing to our senses but extremely toxic and secretly lethal. We are God’s precious, dearly loved and redeemed people in Christ . There are things we never despise, trade or throw away. There are truths we never doubt or question. There are valuable treasures we never tire keeping and holding dear – – – ceaselessly and without end. Amen!