What’s with the birthright?

Posted: June 12, 2015 in Birthright, Blessings, Choices, Consequences, Esau
Tags: ,

Ever noticed in the Bible, there isn’t a “perfect family”? Consider the following in our study in the book of Genesis…

a) Adam & Eve. They disobeyed God, and blamed everything except themselves.
b) Cain & Abel. The elder brother kills his younger brother.
c) Abraham & Sarah. Lies and more lies.
d) Lot and his daughters. Sexual relationship between father and daughter.
e) Isaac & Rebekah. Favoritism.
f) Esau & Jacob. Sibling rivalry.

Study the Bible and you would notice the trend in families. There really is no perfect family. Guess what? You’re not alone. This leads us to our study on Esau and Jacob. The focus we have is on Esau. Being the eldest, he was supposed to have the advantage but let us study his life in light of what the Bible gives us.


#1 Esau struggled with Jacob while in the womb. (Gen. 25:22)
The sibling rivalry started while they were not yet born. “The children struggled together within her” is how the Bible described the rivalry. Even while in the stomach of their mother, they were constantly at odds. It is possible that in our lives, our greatest struggles are those within our homes, not the ones outside. In case of Esau, God, in His all-knowing nature, told Rebekah that the younger one will rule over the older. The question is, how did Esau react? He could have prepared himself for the day that would come. Just like Jonathan, in how he supported David when he knew he wouldn’t be king, Esau could have used this information to his advantage. But read on to see what happens.

Implication #1:
We would often have trouble at home. The hurt is more hurtful if it comes from our families. It is more painful when it is your father/mother/siblings or those close to you are the ones who persecutes us. Even Jesus talked about persecution in the homes…

Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 10:21-22

#2 Esau was Isaac’s favorite. (Gen. 25:28)
Imagine the advantage of being your father’s favorite. You can do no wrong. No matter what happens, the favor is with you. Now this is not necessarily a good thing, since the underdog(s) usually strive more, work harder, or even grow more. In the case of Esau, it doesn’t mean that God’s favor was with him.

Implication #2:
Our parents may have favorites. If we are the “favorite”, what do we do with that attention? Do we use it to honor God or do we use it to put down others? If we are not the favorite, do we hold on to grudges, or do we use it to come to a point of humility that we need God more?

#3 Esau sold his birthright. (Gen. 25:29-34)
What’s wrong with selling his birthright? In ancient times, the birthright means the family name and the titles is passed to the eldest son. He would receive the bigger portion of the inheritance. It also means, spiritually, he is to lead the family. The eldest is supposed to be the one who will receive the promise that was given to Abraham. The Messiah is going to come from his line.

Now Esau, did not value his birthright. In short, he is saying “I don’t really care about that”. Here, the problem lies. He does not value the things of God. He does not see it with value.

Implication #3:
How do we view the things of God? Do we value God’s word? Do we view things with sacredness? How do we respond when it comes to what God tells us to do?

#4 Esau marries Canaanite women. (Gen. 26:34 – 35)
He did not follow what Abraham did. He went after Canaanite women. He chose to grieve his father and mother. He was thinking about himself more than what God wants. He chose to please himself. This is where we find that Esau did not really think of what God wants. Hence, his birthright was not really a big deal for him because he did not value what God wants.

Implication #4:
This is a case of a “believer” marrying an unbeliever. It only brought bitterness to the lives of Isaac and Rebekah. It doesn’t please God, and it brought conflict in the home.

Let this be a warning for us.

#5 Esau lost his blessings (Gen. 27)
When Esau lost his blessings, we observe that he was looking for the blessings instead of the giver. His focus was on the blessing. He did not go to God, rather, he went to his father and demanded that he be blessed. His reaction when he found out that he has no blessing left was to have a murderous grudge.

Implication #5:
While Jacob tricked Esau, and God has told Rebekah ahead that Jacob would rule over Esau, the thing is how Esau wanted the blessings more than the relationship with God. Although we are not excusing Jacob for tricking Esau, the observation is on Esau. When the blessings were taken away from him, He did not go to God. Many times, we are in the similar shoes of Esau. When all the blessings are stripped away, we still don’t think of God. We would sulk, we would whine, we would complain but we still won’t go to God.

A line of a song goes…”He gives and takes away”. Do we really believe in the Giver than the gifts? Do we worship the blessings instead of the blessor?

May we learn to focus on the Giver, not the gifts.

#6 Esau continues to make one mistake after another (Gen. 28:6-9)
When Isaac blessed Jacob, he also released Jacob to marry from their own and not from Canaan. Esau was listening and went to marry an Ishmaelite. He continued to do one mistake after another. It just seems like he lacked discernment as Isaac instructed Jacob to go to Paddan Aram. He chose to just go for the easier route.

Implication #6:
I like how one blog writer talks about Esau’s blunder…

Esau did what many of us do. Instead of seeking God’s will in our decision making, we at times make rash, foolish decisions that prevent us from receiving God’s blessing and favor on us. Could it be that Esau really wasn’t aware of the fact he should not marry outside his people? Abraham and Isaac most certainly would have instructed their descendants not to marry idolaters. In any case, judging by verse 8, it seems to be the first time Esau really acknowledges how upsetting it was to his parents that he married Canaanite women and so he goes out and marries another woman, this time a woman who is a descendant of Ishmael. (Ishmael and his descendants were not part of the Covenant God had made with Abraham and thereby were not part of the blessing.) He appeared to make one poor decision after another.

This story reminds me how important it is that I don’t get so busy doing life my way. Just as Esau made many poor decisions with little thought of the consequences, I am capable of doing the same thing when I don’t seek God’s will along the way. God doesn’t want to be an afterthought. He wants to be our all in all. When we abide in Christ and seek His will daily, we won’t live a life of regret. We will fulfill the purpose He has for us, whatever that may be. We may get sidetracked from time to time but as we continue to turn to Him, He will see that we finish well.

(taken from: http://livingmoreabundantly4christ.com/2013/08/01/something-we-can-learn-from-esaus-life/)

Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” – Francis Chan

To sum up, I am reminded of Romans 15:4…
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Whatever was written in the former days (as in the story of Esau), it is written for us to have hope (for us to learn that God has a plan, and the story isn’t the end). We need to focus our attention to God instead of our situation, or through our circumstances.

The story of Esau shows us that our actions have consequences. We have to be careful as to live our lives because God does not let things slide. It’s not karma, it’s God at work.

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