Esau served as a negative example in Hebrews 12:16 where he was called “profane” because he “for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” Why does it matter that he sold it? If it was his own, shouldn’t he have had the right to do with it what he wanted? That’s not the point. Though he perhaps had the right to sell it, the fact that he did sell it showed the mindset he possessed. It revealed his focus and priorities and the value he placed on the promises of the future.
It seems like such a small price for a birthright, doesn’t it? The passage can be found in Genesis 25:29-34.
“Now Jacob cooked a stew; 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. But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” 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.” (NKJV)
Esau used logical reasoning
The question is logical. “What is this birthright to me if I am dead?” It’s a good question. Maybe we’ve asked similar questions before.
I heard a story of a preacher who approached a brother and asked him why he worked as a bartender. The man’s defensiveness raised the question, “Well, I have to eat don’t I?” To which the preacher responded. “Do you?” Perhaps the response somewhere in Esau’s own mind he should have countered: “Are you really going to die if you don’t eat a bowl of stew?” But, as it turns out, Esau ate the stew because he wanted it, not because he was going to die.
Oh how easily we convince ourselves that we have no choice but to sin! When we do that, we are lying to ourselves. And (sadly) it shows what’s really important in life.
It’s about priority and focus
Esau despised his birthright because he thought a bowl of soup sounded good. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt that he was at death’s door, could he not drag himself into his hut and eat a piece of fruit? Surely his father or mother might have something lying around that he could swallow until he regained a little strength? Esau saw his birthright as worth nothing.
Can you really blame the man? He knew of the promises made to his grandfather, Abraham. He knew that the promise was passed to his father, Isaac. He knew that he would be in line to receive the same promise from God. But he didn’t SEE anything from the promises. His father owned nothing. He owned nothing. He would be GETTING nothing as far as he was concerned (evidently). From a spectacularly immediate perspective and a complete lack of trust in God’s promises, it’s easy to see why he would see no need to deny the request for the birthright. After all, there is little doubt that though he may not have been about to die, he was at the least uncomfortable. From a worldly perspective, he acted logically. But if you see the bigger picture, of course he can be blamed for his lack of faith!
Look how little his birthright meant to him at the time.
What’s your spiritual birthright worth to you?
Can you see Esau in yourself sometimes? I can see his attitude in me sometimes. All I can do is sit in amazement at my own short-sightedness and lack of priority. I lose sight of what’s important and get caught up in what seems so urgent and “logical”.
Your future is worth more than anything this world has to offer
Even if you can’t see it now, there is nothing on this earth worth trading your future to get. Don’t give in to the false narratives that we use to convince ourselves of sin. Have faith in God’s promises and rise above the profane and mundane offerings of this world.
Can we pray for you? Let us know. We’re all human and need each other. If you are alone and facing life without support, let us at least pray for you to find your way through with God’s help. Don’t give up your birthright as God’s child. It’s too valuable!