From Abraham’s new wife, the birth of his twins, his death and then the whole birthright debacle, this chapter is packed! It’s difficult not to stop and sit on the last few verses of chapter 25. This is a pivotal point in history.
Let’s set the stage. We have two boys who are twins. Esau was the oldest, a great hunter and adored by his father because of those things. Jacob was the youngest and more of a mama’s boy who liked to stay close to home and spend time in the kitchen. Because Esau was the oldest his birthright gave him the right to be the head of the family. What’s the big deal, right? In our Western culture that doesn’t mean much. However, then and now in many places in Eastern cultures is a vital part of their culture. And For Esau that meant that he would be the line of descendants that would lead to Christ. Now, that’s a pretty big deal.
It’s easy to sit in judgment of Esau and condemn him for not caring about God more. I mean if he did, surely he wouldn’t casually give away his birthright for some stew. And then there is Jacob. He isn’t much better. Tricking his older brother, being deceitful and dishonoring God. What a pair, right?! They sound like just two normal siblings to me.
Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field exhausted. He said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff because I’m exhausted.” That is why he was also named Edom. Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die, so what good is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to Jacob and sold his birthright to him. Then Jacob gave bread and lentil stew to Esau; he ate, drank, got up, and went away. So Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25: 29-34
But, aren’t we all a little like Esau and Jacob every now and then? Jealous, resentful, unhappy, judgemental, petty and deceitful are the words that come to mind when I think of these brothers.
Like Esau: When called by God to move, we may quickly respond, “Oh, no! Not me God. You have the wrong person. You should let the counselor or pastor handle that. I’m not equipped, or I’m to busy with more important things.” Yikes!! I can feel the conviction hit me and I type those words. And how do you think I know what the response may be? Yep, because I have responded that way in the past. Esau just hadn’t figured it out yet. I’ve been there too. I’ve taken the wrong path, made the wrong decisions and turned away from what I knew to be right for temporary satisfaction. Anyone else?
And Jacob: Have you ever been a little too eager to make a difference, to shine, rise above, obtain what you felt was yours because you wanted it more? Ever taken it a step too far, gotten tired of waiting on God, taken matters into your own hands and used a bit of deception to obtain what you thought should be your blessing or reward? Besides, the person you were deceiving didn’t want it, appreciate it or care enough about it anyway. This is where the “Jacob factor” comes in.
It’s so easy to sit back and look at others from history in judgment. It’s simple to critique, condemn and challenge others who may be different from us without stopping to take a more in-depth look into our own hearts and actions that may not be lining up with God’s will and ways.
Reflecting on these few verses from chapter 25 this week has brought a lot to my attention and reminded me of how I need to keep tabs on judgments I may place on others. It’s also a great reminder that I can continue to learn from those who came centuries before me. I’m grateful for the teaching, rebuking and training the word of God offers.