Though He Sought It Diligently With Tears

An interesting story concerning twin brothers is told In Gen 25. Esau, the firstborn, and Jacob were the sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the outdoors, while Jacob was a quiet man who stayed in the tents of the camp. Partiality became a problem in this family as Isaac loved Esau but Rebekah loved Jacob.

“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’.. 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”. (Gen 25:29-34).

The heart of this story is the BIRTHRIGHT. BIRTHRIGHTS were extremely important and influential to Jewish males. The oldest son received a double portion of the father’s inheritance along with the honor of one day being the family’s leader. But this BIRTHRIGHT meant a lot more than prestige and wealth. Esau’s BIRTHRIGHT involved great blessings including the promises made to his grandfather Abraham – Possession of the Promised Land (Canaan) and a place in the linage of Christ, the Savior. Esau did not grasp the significance of all that God had promised to fulfill through this unique family of descendants, beginning with Abraham. Esau would have been the natural heir to it all.

As Isaac drew near death, it came time for the blessing ceremony, recorded in Gen 27. With the help of Rebekah, Jacob tricked his father into giving him Esau’s rightful blessing, the BIRTHRIGHT. When Esau found out he had been deceived and lost his blessing, “He cried out with an exceeding great and bitter cry”. His anger led to hatred and thoughts of murder. “So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, ‘The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob”. (Gen 27:34, 41).

The Hebrew writer, guided by the Holy Spirit, uses these events to provide four specific warnings concerning: Failing to make wise choices, Becoming bitter and resentful, Going back to a life of immorality, and Falling short of God’s grace. The author looked to the sad story of Esau to make his point.

“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his BIRTHRIGHT. 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 diligently with tears”. (Heb 12:14-17).

These verses begin with the command to earnestly seek peace and holiness. We must look diligently and carefully for these qualities so we do not miss the grace of God. Then the writer mentions a root of bitterness that could defile us. This root involves the attitudes of animosity, resentment, rivalry, pride, and jealousy, culminating in extreme, bitter feelings toward others. These feelings then lead to all manner of evil. Esau was chosen as the example and illustration of these principles to the Hebrews. Different translations refer to him in verse 16 as immoral, godless, unholy, and irreverent.

This son of Isaac who owned the BIRTHRIGHT and the honored place in the birth line of Christ made a hasty decision that he later regretted. He allowed his attitudes and the actions that followed to prevent him from reaching repentance. In arriving at this anger filled decision, Esau made two grave mistakes.

  1. He did not place the proper value on his gift of the BIRTHRIGHT. Esau traded his position in the linage of the world’s Savior for a bowl of stew, and totally ignored the family leadership position he would hold in this patriarchal clan.
  2. He gave no thought to the consequences of the decision to sell his BIRTHRIGHT. Esau’s thought process was simply; I am very hungry right now so it does not matter what spiritual and physical blessings I may have in the future.

As Christians, we all have a BIRTHRIGHT. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are Children of God; and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together”. (Rom 8:16-17). “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…”And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”. (Gal 3:26, 29). Our BIRTHRIGHT is worth so much more than even the one that Esau inherited. It is a blessing given by the Father that makes us Children of God, Heirs of God, and Joint Heirs with Jesus Christ.

Esau never understood that his BIRTHRIGHT was linked to God’s eternal plan of salvation and redemption for all mankind. He completely spurned the BIRTHRIGHT that was his. Yet even though he never considered the great spiritual implications of his choice, he still sought the blessings of that BIRTHRIGHT “diligently with tears”. He never received them.

As God’s people, let us never take our BIRTHRIGHT for granted. May we never make choices that would cause us to give it up. May we properly value our BIRTHRIGHT as God’s children. And may we all one day claim that crown as God’s heirs, and live eternally with Him and our joint heir, Jesus Christ.