“And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: and Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.” Genesis 25:29-34
We may consider this account of insignificance; 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 blessings given to Abraham and Isaac which included, not only the promise of the land, but of the Messiah and Savior of the world. Yet, for a single meal when he was hungry, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob his brother. For one serving of food which satisfied him for only a few hours, Esau gave up blessings which 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 of little value or worth.
As Christians – believers in the Lord Jesus Christ – we have an eternal inheritance awaiting us in heaven. It is “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” made sure to us by the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, from the dead (1 Peter 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 of sins and a place with Him in heaven. His resurrection is proof that our eternal salvation is won.
Yet the Scriptures also warn us of the dangers of sin and its deceitfulness: “Lest any man fail of the grace of God … lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Hebrews 12:16,17; cf. Genesis 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 passing pleasures of sin give it all up and despise their heavenly birthright in Christ Jesus!
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.” But there will be no blessing left for them because they did not trust in Jesus and count the blessings He won for them by the shedding of His holy and precious blood of any value – they traded them all for the pleasures of this world which pass away with their use. The blessing which was once theirs will be taken from them forever!
The warning for us as believers is 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.
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 Spirit’s working? 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. Hebrews 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 promises of God’s Word:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness … If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation 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, saith 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” (Isaiah 1:18).
Have you despised your birthright in the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you counted it of so little value that you have risked it all for the sake of the pleasures of this world? If so, look to God for mercy now, before it is too late! Repent and place your faith in Christ Jesus that you may have pardon and peace and obtain the blessings he won for you when He sacrificed Himself for all upon the cross!
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 quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible]