Dear Friend in Christ:
You are often in our prayers, and we trust you are finding God’s grace in this season. He is our hope, in times of ease or difficulty. I am struck by the urgency of the hour in which we live. Creation itself is groaning and crying out for the manifestation of the children of the living God. People on every continent are restless, frightened, and hurting. And in the midst of this turmoil, many are seeking for wisdom, hope, deliverance … for “a way where there seems to be no way.”
But there is a Sovereign King Who reigns in Heaven and on Earth. Of the increase of His government and of His peace there shall be no end (see Isaiah 9). Though our enemy may deceive many with his flattering words, the people who know their God will display strength and take action (see Daniel 11:32).
JACOB AND ESAU
Let’s talk now about a somewhat dysfunctional family and an extremely costly meal. Abram (later “Abraham”) is our father in faith, and he is called a “friend of God.” In his old age, God gave Abraham a promise that he and his wife, Sarai (later “Sarah”), would have a son. Though Abraham believed, he became impatient waiting for God to act, so he decided to “help God out” by engaging in sexual relations with Sarai’s slave in order to conceive a child. This did not go well (see Genesis 16). Nonetheless, God was faithful to His Word and He gave the son of promise to Abraham and Sarah and they named him Isaac, which means “laughter.” Let’s pick up Isaac’s story when he is now himself an older man:
“This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this? So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her: ‘Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.’ So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.” (Genesis 25:19-26).
Esau means, “hairy” (or “Chewbacca” in the Simpson Living Message Paraphrase). Jacob means “Supplanter, Heel-grabber, Leg-puller, one who seeks to replace.” The story continues:
“So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Now Jacob cooked a stew (Chili Non-Carne) and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.’ Therefore his name was called Edom” (Genesis 25:27-30).
Before Jacob would feed his hungry brother the stew, he wanted to play “Let’s Make a Deal!” So, he said to Esau, “Sell me your birthright first.” I wonder if Esau said, “You’re pulling my leg again!” But, thinking only of his momentary discomfort, Esau made a permanent mistake:
“And Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?’ Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me as of this day.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright (Genesis 25:32-34).
Esau, as firstborn son, had what was called a “birthright” and Jacob wanted it. The birthright was a double portion of the inheritance. Isaac was a wealthy man and a great leader. But none of that
mattered to Esau. He despised his birthright. He had failed to appreciate its value. He was ungrateful and irreverent concerning his heritage. In a moment of impulsive selfishness, he squandered an unimaginable gift. This happened to Esau then; it can and has happened to Christians today. It has happened to many nations who once loved Gospel. Selah.
Later, Isaac wanted to give his blessing to Esau. But, his wife, Rebekah, concocted a plan with Jacob so that Jacob received the blessing instead. The blessing of the father conferred family leadership and legacy upon the one being blessed. Logically, it should have been Esau’s, but Esau had proven himself unworthy of this blessing.
It’s hard to understand why God Sovereignly ordained, even before their birth, that Jacob would rule over Esau, or that God would give his favor to a rascal like Jacob and cause Jacob to be an ancestor of Jesus Christ. But there was something in the heart of Esau that repulsed God, and it should get our attention and sober us. In Romans 9:13, God makes this simple statement: “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” How could God say such a thing?
I believe it was because Esau despised something precious; something that was not only precious to Abraham and Isaac, but also something that was precious to God. Just as people today can blaspheme against the Holy Spirit by refusing Christ, Esau blasphemed God by despising and rejecting his God-given legacy.
Esau was forever tormented by that terrible decision. But all of the nations have been blessed through Jacob, who loved the legacy, and who was loved by God … even with his many faults. Find out what God loves and ask Him to cause you to love that; find out what God hates and ask Him to deliver you from that.
Some of this is not always easy, but it is simple. We need His grace by His Holy Spirit to walk it out daily. For instance, we know that God loves the thanksgiving and praises of His people, but He hates it when people forget Him or murmur and complain (see Psalm 23; Hebrews 12; Exodus 15; Numbers 14; Romans 1).
We know that God honors those who reverence Him and gives them wisdom. But those who are arrogant and rebellious are given over to their own desires, to foolishness, and to destruction (see Proverbs 3; Proverbs 9; Romans 1). Those who honor that which is honorable will themselves be honored. but those who sow discord and spread slander will themselves be cut off (see Exodus 20; 1 Samuel 2; 1 Peter 5; James 4; Proverbs 6; Romans 16).
All of this has great relevance for us as individuals, as the Body of Christ, and even among nations. This should humble us and drive us to our knees in prayer and repentance before God. At the same time, it should give us great hope to know that our God is a relentless Redeemer. The same God Who redeemed and worked through Jacob can and will work through anyone who loves Him and loves what He loves.
DON’T SELL YOUR BIRTHRIGHT
We cannot afford to sell our birthright or squander our blessing for the sake of selfish, temporary pleasure or power. We’ve made far too many compromises because we think we need to “help God out” with His promises. When trouble comes, we point the finger instead of hitting our knees in humble prayer. We are swift to run to culture wars and slow to deal with the real battle in our own hearts and minds. Remember, God’s call to repentance is not to the world, but to us:
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Will we love our birthright in God, which is His gift to us through Christ and because of the sacrifice of others who have gone before us? Are we willing to embrace the call of God to lay down our lives for Him? Are we willing to be free from the sin that so easily entangles us? In Christ, it’s a new day, and a fresh opportunity for a new life filled with purpose. It’s a time to become diligent, to study, to present ourselves as approved workers to God who will not be ashamed, able to discern and proclaim the Word of Truth (see 2 Timothy 2:15).
Some of us have squandered much, like the Prodigal Son, but truth calls to us in the pig trough and invites us back to the bountiful grace of our Father’s House. May we heed His call and not despise it. Please continue to remember CSM in your prayers and in your giving this month. We appreciate you, and we are praying for you. May the Lord fill you afresh with His Holy Spirit, now, and always.
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Scripture references: Isaiah 9; Daniel 11:32; Genesis 16; Genesis 25:19-34; Romans 14:17; Romans 9:13; Psalm 23; Hebrews 12; Exodus 15; Numbers 14; Proverbs 3: Proverbs 9; Romans 1; Exodus 20; 1 Samuel 2 1 Peter 5; James 4; Proverbs 6; Romans 16; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Timothy 2:15
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.