Lessons from Esau
When we read the Biblical account of Esau selling his birthright in Gen 25, we see a lesson that we should all learn. The Hebrew writer brings it out in Hebrews 12:15-16:
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.
The emphasis is, of course, on the idea that we should not be unholy (or profane in other versions) like Esau was, yet, I still can sense an astonishment as the writer add the last 4 words: For…A…Single…Meal! Imagine that. I mean, he should’ve at least asked for a camel or two at the same time or maybe a years worth of food but one single meal? He would be hungry in another few hours and then, he would still need food and not have the birthright either.
Of course, if the birthright were equal to a dollar bill or a shirt, it might be easier to see why Esau made the trade but as you read through the scriptures, the value of the birthright was huge. From other scriptures that occur later, we can see that the birthright would have likely given him a ‘double portion’ (Dt 21:15-17) or maybe the right to rule (2 chronicles 21:3). At least, the first-born was considered the strength of a man (gen 49:3) and certain honor should be bestowed on the firstborn (even though there were examples of the blessing going to the younger. (Gen 48:13-20)
God placed a value on the firstborn when he redeemed them by calling Levi to be his own people. (Number 3:12) In this chapter we see the firstborn exchanged for a Levite and when the Levites ran out, 5 shekels per firstborn in order to redeem the firstborn because
“All that open the womb are mine, all your male livestock, the firstborn of cow and sheep. The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed.” (Exo 34:19-20)
Christ is said to be the firstborn, not because He was created but because He is in the position of being preeminent. We Christians, are redeemed by his blood and receive the blessings of the first-born, we, like Israel were redeemed and now are the priests of God. (I peter 2:9)
The question is “what do we count as being of highest value”? Please, don’t anyone say your ‘dog’ or ‘car’. Some might think of spouse or children but the real answer is our soul. As intangible as the birthright, it is even more valuable. Once exchanged for another thing, we are unable to buy it back. (Emphasize “WE” because Christ did die to redeem us but we are unable to)
In Mt 16:21-26 Matthew record something that has value in this lesson. In two parts we see these words:
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mat 16:21-23)
Peter was offering an exchange to the Lord: Don’t die, you can live. Don’t go through with your mission. Of course Peter, who didn’t understand the implication of his words was probably shocked when Jesus said “Get behind me Satan!” but Jesus is pointing out here an important fact. There is a mind that is set on the things of God and there is a mind that is set on the things of man. Which one is yours?
Then Jesus offers us an exchange:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Mat 16:24-26)
If you could have a lifetime of a mind set on the things of God or a lifetime of a mind set on the things of man, which would you choose? With a mind set on man’s things, you might gain the whole wide world. (A pretty big task, but it could happen) Would you be able to exchange it for your soul? Jesus’ words imply “NO!” and if not for the world, what about for less than that, say a ‘pot of porridge’?
While we could focus on the past (when we first made this exchange for our fist sin), let’s not do that. If we are in Christ, all things are new. (if we aren’t in Christ that is another thing). So let’s look at two other points.
Let us not develop the mindset of Esau and profane, or make common, the redemptive price of Christ’s blood by ‘deliberately sinning” because that just outrages the Spirit. (Heb 10:26-29) You don’t want to make an enemy of God and don’t think it can’t be done. (James 4:4).
Additionally, we should think about those we know who have sold their souls for a mess of porridge. Or the people around us at lunch on Sunday. No, don’t stand up on your table and try to evangelize but do get to know people and ask about their soul and be ready to preach the Gospel.
The sermon should get posted later but will be delayed due to a trip.
Posted on January 15, 2012, in Christianity, Faith and tagged birthright, christianity, commentary on James, double portion, esau, faith, post a day 2012, redemption. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.