“Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field and he was famished. So Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me some of that red stew, for I am famished.’ Therefore his name was called Edom. Then Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; of what use is the birthright to me?’ Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me this day.’ So he swore to him, and he sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew. Then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.” Genesis 25:29-34
“Pursue peace with all men, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord, watching diligently so that no one falls short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness spring up to cause trouble, and many become defiled by it, lest there be any sexually immoral or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected. For he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” Hebrews 12:14-17
We may consider this account insignificant but, in fact, it has a message of great significance to every Christian today.
As Isaac’s firstborn son, Esau had the birthright, a double portion of the inheritance. And, in Esau’s case, the birthright included the blessings given to Abraham and Isaac which included not only the promise of the land on which they sojourned but of the Seed through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed, the coming Messiah and Savior of the world (cf. Gen. 12:3; 22:18; 28:14).
Yet, Esau valued his birthright so little that, for a single meal when he was hungry, he sold his birthright to Jacob his brother. For one serving of food which satisfied him for only a few hours, Esau gave up blessings that extend into eternity!
The sacred text concludes the account with the words: “Thus Esau despised his birthright.” The word “despised” doesn’t necessarily mean he hated it or loathed it but that he regarded it to be of little value or worth — of less value than a hot meal when he was hungry.
As Christians — believers in the Lord Jesus Christ — we have an eternal inheritance awaiting us in heaven. It is “an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that does not fade away, kept in heaven for you” and made sure to us by the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3,4).
Jesus, Himself, told us that He is preparing a place for us to be with Him in the mansions of His Father’s house (cf. John 14:1-6). By His innocent sufferings and death, Jesus won for us and all people complete forgiveness for all sins and a place with Him in heaven. His resurrection is proof that our eternal salvation is won and that the gates of heaven are open to all who look to Christ and His cross in faith.
Yet the Scriptures also warn us of the dangers of sin and its deceitfulness when it says: “… lest there be any sexually immoral or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected. For he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” (Heb. 12:16-17; cf. Gen. 27:30-40).
And how often it happens! Those for whom Christ died — those who have heard of His blessings of forgiveness and life everlasting and who have, for a time, even trusted in His name — for the brief and passing pleasures of sin give it all up and despise their heavenly birthright in Christ Jesus! They count Christ and the eternal salvation He won for us by His atoning sacrifice on the cross of such little value that they risk it all to indulge in their own sinful longings and desires!
Then, when Jesus returns on the Last Day to bless all who have placed their trust in Him with life eternal in the mansions of His Father’s house, they will cry, “Bless me, even me also” (Gen. 27:34).
But there will be no blessing left for them because they did not trust in Jesus or count the blessings He won for them by the shedding of His holy and precious blood of any value — they traded all for the pleasures of this world which pass away with their use. Thus, the blessings offered and promised in the Gospel will be taken from them forever!
This is a warning for us as believers not to esteem the grace of God lightly — not to risk it all or sell our birthright in Jesus Christ to enjoy the temporary pleasures of this world.
To take them for granted or to consider the blessings of the Gospel of such little value that we risk them all for the passing pleasures of this world is a grave danger to our souls. How do we know that God, who has so graciously called us to faith, will again rekindle faith in our hearts when we deny our Savior and reject the Holy Spirit’s work in us?
Christ shed His blood on the cross to redeem us. Let’s not trample His precious blood under our feet and count it as an unholy thing, lest we bring the wrath of God upon ourselves (cf. Heb. 10:29)!
And, for those many times we have not treasured the blessings of God which are ours in Christ Jesus, let’s turn to the counsel of God’s Word:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. … If anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:9: 2:1,2).
“Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18).
Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for despising my birthright in You — for failing to take hold of and treasure the forgiveness and life You won for me by Your innocent sufferings and death in my stead. Graciously bless me with Your Holy Spirit and restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]