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023 Esau & Jacob: The Passing & the Eternal

Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint … 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 he sold his birthright unto Jacob…’ Genesis 25:30-33

Key Verse:

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God … like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright”  (Hebrews 12:15,16)

(Genesis 25)

In our last lesson, we looked into the story of

Abraham’s sacrifice.

The Gospel gives us an interesting summary of this important story when it says: “By faith Abraham,

when he was tested,

offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises, of whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called; accounting that God was able to raise him up,

even from the dead,

from which also he received him in a figure.” (Heb. 11:17-19)

Our last five lessons have been taken up with stories from the life of the prophet Abraham. There are many more stories in Genesis about Abraham which we have not studied. Unfortunately, we do not have time to study them all. However, before we leave Abraham and go on to the stories of his descendants, there is something that God said to Abraham that we should know about. One day, God told Abraham what would happen to his offspring. He said 

“Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a sojourner in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and

they shall afflict them four hundred years;

and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.” (Gen. 15:13,14) With those words, God was announcing that

the descendants of Abraham would become slaves in the land of Egypt.

God also promised that after four hundred years He would deliver them from the control of the people of Egypt. Four lessons from now, in the will of God, we will begin to see how these precise prophecies were fulfilled,

just as God told Abraham.

Then, in chapter 25, the Scriptures say: “And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years (175). Then Abraham died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons

Isaac and Ishmael

buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron . . . the field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth. There was Abraham buried, and Sarah, his wife.” (Gen. 25:5,7-10)

Thus, Abraham, the friend of God, entered the presence of the Lord,

whom he knew and loved.

How can we conclude and summarise our lesson concerning the prophet of God, Abraham? Perhaps with two questions and answers. The first question is: Why did God ask Abraham to move and go to another country? Answer: Because God planned to make of Abraham

a new nation

through which the Redeemer would come into the world. The second question is: Why did God reckon Abraham as one who is righteous and accept him into His holy presence forever? Answer: Because Abraham believed what God said even if it was not easy.

Abraham was saved by faith in God’s promises and not by his own works.

This is what the Scriptures say: 

“Abraham believed God, and it was imputed (reckoned) unto him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.” (Jam. 2:23)

In Genesis 25, the Scriptures continue with the history of Abraham’s descendants. Let us now learn the story of

Isaac and his twin sons.

The Scripture says: (Genesis 25:19-27) “And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as his wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because

she was barren:

and the Lord was entreated by him, and Rebekah, his wife, conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And

she went to inquire of the Lord.

And the Lord said unto her, two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be born of thee; and the one people shall be stronger that the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. And when the days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name

Esau.

And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called

Jacob:

and Isaac was threescore (60) years old when she bore them. And the boys grew: and Esau was skilful hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents”.

Thus, we see that Isaac and Rebecca had twins, whom they named Esau and Jacob. They were twins, but that doesn’t mean they were the same! As Esau grew up, he loved only

the things of the world

which are temporary, but Jacob valued

the things of God

which last forever. Esau did not care about the promises that God had made to Abraham, his grandfather, and to Isaac, his father, concerning the new nation which would arise from them. However,

Jacob did care about God’s promises.

Esau was the firstborn. Therefore, humanly speaking, he was the one who should have received the inheritance of the firstborn and become the father of the great nation which God had promised to his grandfather, Abraham, and to his father, Isaac. However, even before the twins were born, God told Rebekah, their mother, “and the elder shall serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23) God,

in His foreknowledge,

was announcing that the inheritance of the firstborn and the descendants of the new nation would come

through Jacob

and not through Esau. As for Jacob, he should have waited for God, leaving all in the hands of the One who had the power to give him the inheritance in His appointed time. However, Jacob did not wait for God. Let us read on now to see how Jacob acted in order to take the inheritance from Esau, his older brother.

The Scriptures say:

(Gen. 25:29-34) “And Jacob boiled pottage (stew): 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 swore unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.”

Do you understand what Esau did?

He exchanged his inheritance as the firstborn son for a little bit of food! Imagine a very rich man who has two sons. The man has fields and houses, and riches and lots of money.

The firstborn

is the one who should inherit most of his wealth.

However one day, the elder comes in from the bush, and sees his younger brother cooking rice and meat in the kitchen. The firstborn says to his younger brother, “I am starving, give me some of that rice to eat!” However, the brother replies, “I will not give it to you, but I will sell it to you.” The elder asks,

“How much will you sell it to me for?”

The younger brother says “Your rights of inheritance as the firstborn.” The elder replies, “Sold! I am hungry enough to die. Of what use is my birthright to me?” So the elder swears to hand over to his younger brother his whole inheritance! Then the firstborn sits down, eats and drinks, gets up and goes on his way.

What can we say about this firstborn who exchanged fields and houses, and riches and authority for one bowl of rice and meat? We can say just one thing:

How stupid!”

Just as this firstborn despised the blessings of his father and all his riches, in the same way Esau despised the blessings of God and the riches of Eternity. The things that Esau despised were infinitely more valuable than the riches of the world, because that which Esau despised was the right to be a part of the new nation through which

the Saviour of the world would come.

What does God want to teach us today through the story of Esau and Jacob? God wants to warn us not to follow in the footsteps of Esau by trading the riches of Eternity for the pleasures of the world which are passing away.

Read what the Word of the Lord declares about this. It says: 

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matt 16:26) 

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God … like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” (Heb. 12:15,16)

Esau missed out on the grace of God, because

he did not value the things of God.

Thus, God is warning us, saying: Do not walk in the footsteps of Esau! Do not despise the blessings I want to give to you!

How about you?

Do you want God’s blessings? God loves you and wants to bless you greatly, but you must give Him first place in your life. You must value the Word of God more than food and money.

Then you will begin to understand what the Scriptures mean when they say: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

God wants to bless us greatly.

He wants to forgive all our sins, change our wicked hearts, purify us and fill us with His love, joy, peace and assurance. And these blessings are only part of the inheritance which God wants to give to every descendant of Adam! However, you must seek the things of Eternity with all of your heart. He who does not desperately want God’s eternal blessings will never receive them. As we sometimes hear,

“Whoever wants honey must not be frightened of the bees.”

In other words, Whoever follows God’s way of righteousness must be prepared to be misunderstood by family and friends, Hebrews 11:24-27. Do you want to receive God’s blessings? Then you must seek to understand what God has promised in His Word. Don’t be frightened by anything. Do you know His wonderful promises, which are so great that they surpass human understanding? Do you cherish them? Or

are you merely seeking after the things of the world?

The Word of God shows us that there are only two kinds of people in the world: Those who value the world and seek after the things of the earth, and those who value eternity and seek after things which are above.

Which kind of person are you?

Listen to what is written in Psa. 1:1-6 “Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,

but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish”

How about you? In which way are you walking?

Are you walking in the way of those who treasure God’s promises? Or are you like Esau who traded the promises of God for the passing things of the world?

The Word of God warns us, saying: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matt. 16:26) “Labour not for the food which perisheth, but for that food which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27) “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God … like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” (Heb. 12:15,16)

This is where we must stop in this lesson. Next time, in the will of God, we will continue in Genesis with the story of Jacob.

God bless you as you carefully consider this warning from His Word: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God … like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” (Heb. 12:15,16)

We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any questions that you might have to

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