< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Esau Sells His Birthright

Monday, October 13, 2014

Esau Sells His Birthright

Genesis 25:24-34 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)  (Edom means red)

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.

Since Jacob was his mother’s favorite, she may have told him about what God told her about “the elder will serve the younger”. Maybe that’s what gave Jacob the idea of getting Esau to give him the birthright.

Back in this era, the birthright was an important element in the structure of society. According to Scripture this birthright includes: a double portion of the father’s inheritance, authority in place of the father in the family, the title of the land of promise and carrying on the line of promise.

Paul tells us in Romans 9:4-5 the privileges granted to Israel that Esau threw over for a good meal: “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ…”

By wanting this Jacob showed he believed God. BUT, he also showed a lack of belief that God would not fulfill His prophecy without Jacob’s help. That was wrong and we’ll see throughout Jacob’s life God disciplining him. He becomes less scheming and more trusting of God as he ages.

Esau was all about the here and now. Materialism. Future land they may or may not have didn’t do anything for him.

We can relate this to today because many of us are born into Christian families. That’s our spiritual birthright. But we come to an age where we have to claim it. We know the facts, the promises. But some say, “what good does all that do me in my busy life?” they’re too busy to spend time in God’s Word.

There are people in third world countries who would kill for a Bible! And then sometimes ARE KILLED for having one! While we, who have the birthright, have half a dozen lying around our house, never opened.

Some of us are like Esau – not valuing what we’ve been given. While others are like Jacob; they have an intense appreciation of God’s inheritance when they realize it is for them. Truly, as Christ said, “the first shall be last and the last first.”

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