Despising the Blessings of God

Gen 25:29-34

Preached at FBC Toulon March 18, 2001 by Albert Harmon

29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary." Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 But Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright as of this day." 32 And Esau said, "Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?" 33 Then Jacob said, "Swear to me as of this day." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 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

The value of something is the worth that one is willing to place on it. Usually we think of the value of something as the amount that someone is willing to pay for it. But of course each of us values things differently.

I once heard of a child who was raising a frightful cry because he had shoved his hand into the opening of a very expensive Chinese vase and then couldn't pull it out again. Parents and neighbors tugged with might and main on the child's arm, with the poor creature howling out loud all the while. Finally there was nothing left to do but to break the beautiful, expensive vase. And then as the mournful heap of shards lay there, it became clear why the child had been so hopelessly stuck. His little fist grasped a paltry penny which he had spied in the bottom of the vase and which he, in his childish ignorance, would not let go. -- Helmut Thielicke in How to Believe Again. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 2.

A few years ago, the St. Petersburg Times reported the story of a young man who was driving his Porsche to work when it caught fire. He stood there watching it burn and was quoted as saying, "That car meant everything to me." Even if we make some allowance for youth and for the inexact use of language, the statement is still startling. If your car means everything to you, you have a misplaced sense of values. If your career, or your home, or your family, or your health means everything to you, you've forgotten something. Even if life means everything to you, you've forgotten something.

-- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).

Worship is seeing what God is worth and giving him what he's worth. -- Tim Keller, Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 2.

 

  1. Esau sells his birthright 25:29-34
    1. What is the Birthright?
      1. A right, privilege, or possession to which a person, especially the firstborn son, was entitled by birth in Bible times. In Israel, as in the rest of the ancient world, the firstborn son enjoyed a favored position. His birthright included a double portion of his father's assets upon his death (Deut 21:17). Part of the firstborn's benefits also were a special blessing from the father and the privilege of leadership of the family (Gen 43:33). The inheritance rights of the firstborn were protected by law, so the father could not give his benefits to a younger son (Deut 21:15-17). The firstborn himself, however, could lose the birthright. Because he committed incest with his father's concubine (Gen 35:22), Reuben lost his favored position (1 Chron 5:1-2), while Esau sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob for a stew of lentils (Gen 25:29-34), or for "one morsel of food" (Heb 12:16). (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
      2. The birthright of the firstborn consisted in the first place of a double portion of what his father had to leave. This probably means that he had a double share of such property as could be divided. We have no certain knowledge of the manner in which property was inherited in the patriarchal age, but it seems probable that the lands and flocks which were the possession of the family as a whole, remained so after the death of the father. The firstborn became head of the family and thus succeeded to the charge of the family property, becoming responsible for the maintenance of the younger sons, the widow or widows, and the unmarried daughters. He also, as head, succeeded to a considerable amount of authority over the other members. Further, he generally received the blessing, which placed him in close and favored covenant-relationship with Yahweh. (from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)
      3. The birthright was the possession of the first-born. It guaranteed him a more honorable position than his brother's, the best of the estate, and the richest land, as well as the covenant blessings God had promised to Abraham and to his descendants. The birthright was Esau's because God had allowed him to be born first. (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)
      4. In after times the right of primogeniture consisted in a double portion of the father's goods (Deut 21:17), and a certain rank as the patriarch and priest of the house on the death of the father. But in the case of Isaac there was the far higher dignity of chief of the chosen family and heir of the promised blessing, with all the immediate and ultimate temporal and eternal benefits therein included. (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
      5. Let's stop and look for a minute at the value of the birthright and what it means. It means that the one who had it was the head of the house. It also means that the one who had it was the priest of the family. In this particular family, it means that the one who had it would be the one who would be in the line that would lead to Christ. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.
      6. In pre-law days it meant the privilege of being the chieftain and also the priest of the family or tribe.
      7. In many ways it was more of a spiritual possession than a physical possession.
        1. That is why Esau is considered a profane person for selling it. Heb 12:16 "profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright." NKJV
        2. He profanely cast away his spiritual privilege for the gratification of his palate. Gen 25:34 graphically portrays his reckless, self-indulgent levity. An example well fitted to strike horror into those Hebrews, whosoever, like Esau, were only sons of Isaac according to the flesh (Bengel). On Heb. 12:16 (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
        3. The birthright consisted afterwards in a double portion of the father's inheritance (Deut 21:17); but with the patriarchs it embraced the chieftainship, the rule over the brethren and the entire family (27:29), and the title to the blessing of the promise (27:4,27-29), which included the future possession of Canaan and of covenant fellowship with Jehovah (28:4). Jacob knew this, and it led him to anticipate the purposes of God. Esau also knew it, but attached no value to it. There is proof enough that he knew he was giving away, along with the birthright, blessings which, because they were not of a material but of a spiritual nature, had no particular value in his estimation, in the words he made use of: "Behold I am going to die (to meet death), and what is the birthright to me?" The only thing of value to him was the sensual enjoyment of the present; the spiritual blessings of the future his carnal mind was unable to estimate. In this he showed himself to be be'beelos (NT:952) (Heb 12:16), a profane man, who cared for nothing but the momentary gratification of sensual desires, (from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
    2. Why did Esau sell it?
      1. Esau was a man of sensual pleasures and did not value the things that could not be grasped at the moment.
      2. He had no value in the covenant relationship with Jehovah that his father and grandfather had known.
      3. He valued the momentary gratification more than the eternal promises of God.
      4. Hebrews seems to indicate that he could not reverse this act even though he repented and sought it with tears. Heb 12:17 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. NKJV
      5. Esau is strangely ready to dispose of his birthright for a trivial present gratification. He might have obtained other means of recruiting nature equally suitable, but he will sacrifice anything for the desire of the moment. (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
      6. There is not a word about the price. It is plain that Esau's thoughts were altogether on "the morsel of meat." (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
      7. Most truly did he despise his birthright. His mind did not rise to higher or further things. (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
    3. Why did Jacob take the birthright?
      1. a perfect man, `the term,' as Gerlach suggests, `may have reference to his relation to God. In the more quiet life of a herdsman he walks before God, and lives in his service, and in faith on His promises; (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
      2. This is the same word that is used of Job to explain that Job was a righteous man.
      3. Rebekah's fond partiality for Jacob makes it extremely probable that she had imparted to him the purpose of Divine Providence to exalt him to the dignity and privileges of the first-born; and such information was not likely to be received with indifference, or easily forgotten by such a mind as Jacob's. Often musing on this prospect, he had never found a proper opportunity to seize the tempting prize until now, when, faint and exhausted, his brother presented himself at his tent-door. Jacob instantly perceived his advantage, and eagerly improved it. (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
  2. Aren't you glad we do not have to deal with these types of decisions.
    1. But we do.
      1. I heard it described as settling for the good instead of the best.
        1. It was not that the food was not needful.
        2. It was not that the food was not good.
        3. It was that when he chose that, he could no longer choose the other.
      2. Our children make those types of choices every day.
        1. They choose to be popular or have certain cool friends.
        2. It is not that there is any thing wrong with friends but when they choose certain people as friends that might exclude the possibility of other friends.
        3. Lets say at school Sue meets this nice looking young guy that all the girls seem to be clamoring over.
        4. Most girls would die for attention from this hunk.
        5. But Sue also has heard that this boy lives a pretty loose life filled with parties with drugs and alcohol.
        6. Now she must make the choice. Is that choice really any different from the one that Esau made.
        7. Esau chose to live for the here and now, for the satisfying of his desires without thought of the future consequences.
        8. Or lets say Billy, an newly high school freshman, is invited to a party, you know what type of party I mean.
        9. Well you see Billy has been trying to get some new friends and get into the mainstream of things as school and to fit in.
        10. Now he sees this as his opportunity.
        11. But Billy also knows that if he goes to this party that he will be asked to do things that his parents have taught he were wrong.
        12. Is Billy's decision really any different from Esau's?
      3. One of the reasons I think that the children make the wrong decisions is that the parents have displayed a worldly set of values instead of a godly value system.
        1. If we as parents compromise our integrity, can we hope that our children will ever do any different.
        2. Integrity is what you do when no one is looking, or more often integrity is what we do in our family.
        3. If you have no integrity before your children, do not expect them to be people of integrity.
    2. Do we value the blessings of God in such a way that our children have no doubt where we stand?
      1. Do we often talk about God to our children?
      2. Do we tell them ow he loves us and sent His Son to die for us?
      3. Do we make sure that they understand that we love the Bible God's Word?
      4. Do we make sure that the experience a part of our prayer life?
      5. Do we make sure they understand how much God loved the church which includes other Christians?
      6. Do we make sure that they have their own personal time with God?
    3. Now none of us are perfect.
      1. God knows that and our children know that.
      2. They do expect us to admit it though.
      3. Neither Esau nor Jacob showed any commendable interest in spiritual treasures. Each was sordidly selfish and lacked understanding of what behavior would fit a man to be a prince of God. Jacob was ambitious to gather in for himself everything that would give him the pre-eminence. Rebekah supplied the spark and the scheming that secured advantages for her favorite son. He had a long way to go to become the spiritual leader of those who would worship Jehovah. But God was patient; he was not in a hurry; he would train his leader. (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)
    4. But what do we value?
    5. Jesus said where our treasure was there is where our heart would be.
    6. Today we might better say, where we spend our time is where our treasure.
    7. Is our treasure in God, Do we value earthly or heavenly things.  

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com