(Hebrews 12:14-17) 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 it diligently with tears.
Because Esau’s brother was Jacob, the man renamed Israel by God; he often is relegated to a mere footnote being an example of foolishness. It is true; he foolishly sold his birthright for a portion of food, and was outmaneuvered by his scheming mother and conniving brother. Yet, as the above passage reveals, Esau’s life and failures are of much greater value for us than we may at first consider.
It is my opinion, that in our “old man” (or our “flesh” if you choose), we are all like Esau, to a certain degree. In the first place, we all in general want to secure the blessings of God. Secondly, those blessings are either more or less importance to us, based on timing and our need of them in our present circumstances. Thirdly, we tend to struggle with the timing of God’s blessings when there is a time lapse. Fourth and finally, we struggle to lay hold of the blessing of God. We will discuss each of these as we look a Esau’s life.
BEGINNINGS: Genesis 25:21-28 reveals Esau was born to Issac (Abraham’s son of promise) and Rebekah. His mother was was unable to have children. Isaac seeks the LORD for a child and God opens the womb of His wife, with a a twin pregnancy. While in the womb, these two boys were already at odds with each other. So great was their struggle against each other, that mom sought the LORD, thinking “If all is well, why am I like this”. God declares all is well with her, but that within her are the progenitors of two nations (Israel/Jacob and Edom-Esau). The LORD also reveals that one nation would be stronger than the other, therefore one nation would serve the other.
Although both parents sought the LORD for the children, neither was very equitable in their treatment of the boys. Mom loved Jacob and Dad loved Esau. Therefore it would appear that both parents were trying to fulfill God’s prophecy, as they saw fit. Isn’t is amazing how two parents both seeking the LORD for a blessing, could be so far apart on that blessing.
Being born into this environment, Esau and Jacob behaved with considerable rivalry against on another, as could be expected. Although fraternal twins, Esau (by the right of patriarchal law) would have received the “birthright” of the first born. This “birthright” dictated that of his father’s full inheritance, he would receive the largest share (in some culture 2/3 to 3/4), as well as being the head of the family. All this blessing for being born only a short time before Jacob. This “birthright”, which is supposed to be a blessing, became the fountain head for all of Esau’s bitterness and immorality (Hebrews 12:14-15).
THE FIRST EVENT: Genesis 25:29-34 reveals the event that would be the launch point Esau’s decent toward the loss of God’s blessing. In this passage we see Esau returning from a hunt. His to Jacob concerning his hunger and birthright “Look I am about to die, what is this birthright to me” seems a little odd. Wasn’t Esau merely out on a hunt; something he was well fitted for? Jewish Rabbinic tradition and the the Book of Enoch, which is quoted in Jude, seek to give us some clarity. According to these sources, the event we are discussing, took place the day of Abraham’s death. While out hunting Esau encounters Nimrod, the builder of Babel and enemy of Esau’s family (at least as far back as Noah), and two of his companions. Through great struggle, Esau kills Nimrod and flees toward home. He arrives home covered in blood and filth and is tired and hungry. He encounters his brother Jacob, who rebukes his impropriety being the first born son, being covered in uncleanliness. This is where the biblical account picks up.
Is it possible Esau believed his life in danger? I suppose if the alleged account above is true. Yet even though it does make sense, we must consider even further, that Esau was merely a lusty man that wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. In this character trait hunger could be elevated to life and death proportions very easily. How often have you said “I’m starving” when you actually are not starving? The point the bible makes is that Esau did not consider the birthright very important at the time. He saw the blessing as a long way off, probably unattainable, and unnecessary. Because of his carnality and impassivity, he chose to follow the god of his belly (Philippians 3:19), though he’d rethink that later, and regret his choice.
(Hebrews 12:17) “For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing”
THE SECOND EVENT: In Genesis 27:1-29 the word of God describes that Isaac believes his time of death is near (though he lives more than a little bit longer after this event). Like his son Esau, he wants to eat his favorite dish (for lo’ death is nigh) and instructs his son to kill some venison and make him what he likes. Of course Mom sees what is transpiring and instructs Jacob to lie to his father and obtain the blessing Esau sold to him years earlier. He does what he is told and Isaac blesses him. Upon returning from the hunt and preparing the food he hunted, Esau wants to inherit his blessing, but it is too late. Here we see the sad result in the rest of Hebrews 12:17 “when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it (the blessing) diligently with tears”. Genesis painfully manifests the scene in Genesis 27:34.
THE OUTCOME: Hebrews 12:16 refers to Esau as a fornicator and a profane person. We will find these traits were in Esau before his rejection, and amplified by his bitterness afterward. To be a fornicator means a person lives to fulfill his sexual urges and carnal urges, while being profane means one chooses to be morally antagonistic to God’s moral law and those who were aligned with it. Genesis 28:6-9 reveals the Esau, in an effort to purposely irritate his father, sought marriage among the Canaanite’s. This was in addition to the wives he already had who were also pagans. Not only does he marry woman outside of his faith, but he also pursues them unlawfully (fornication), throughout his life and before his marriages. One of his motives is to be antagonistic to his father and his father’s faith.
What can we learn from Esau? Perhaps an understanding of what it takes to obtain the blessing of God, and why we so often come up short of that grace. To do so is definitely not to our advantage, as the author of Hebrews 12:15 reveals “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God”. We ought to take heed of Esau’s example as it has been give to us as an admonition (Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:11).
LIKE ESAU WE WANT GOD’S BLESSING, BUT STRUGGLE WITH TIMING: Perhaps the most telling line about Esau is “when he wanted to inherit the blessing”. Its not that Esau did not want to be blessed, but that he did not understand importance of holding the blessing, when he had needs he felt more pressing. Can’t we be the same way? Much of our Christian life is about seeking God’s promised blessing, that we can live a joyful and pleasing life. Hearing His promises is awesome, wonderful and passion stirring, yet we often misjudge (or ignore) the time frame between hearing and receiving God’s promises. When things get tough and we are pressed, we can forget the blessing that only come if we persevere. In the seasons we often choose a short cut, or the passing pleasures of sin, instead of waiting on the LORD. To behave in this fashion is to choose what is earthly and base at the expense of God’s blessing. It is to SIN.
Consider for a moment Jesus temptation in the wilderness, which bares this out sufficiently. In Christ’s humanity, could he have rationalized that after forty days of not eating, He was possibly in starvation and close to death? Sure. Could He have justified turning the stones into bread? Why not, was He not tempted in all ways like us? Along those same lines the other two temptations follow; and were in direct line with the promises of God concerning Messiah. These promises (the kingdoms of the world and divine protection) were for Him, but only when the Father deemed appropriate.
Our lives are filled with promises of immeasurable proportions. Perhaps the greatest one would be the Blessed Hope, when Jesus returns and we see Him face to face (Titus 2:11-14; I John 3:1-3). It is important we remember that in the pain of the hour, or when pleasure calls upon us to indulge, our greatest blessing is waiting on the Lord for His blessing. We must refuse the passing pleasure of sin and of seeking justification, in short cut that will rob us of the blessing we seek.
LIKE ESAU WE WANT THE BLESSING, BUT WE WANT IT OUR WAY: Once again Hebrews informs us “when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected” this rejection came even though he sought the blessing with diligent tears. Why? He had no place in his life for repentance. TRANSLATION: He did not want to change his mind concerning his sinful attitude and actions, nor want to walk after God, waiting for God to pour it out. One would think Esau would have wised up after he sold his birthright to Jacob, and turned his life over to God. In spite of this rationality, the only indication we have is that he despised his birthright and lived with no time for God, seeking to please himself. How can we be like Esau?
Take for instance the baptism in the Holy Spirit and subsequently and continually the fullness of the Spirit, which all disciples are to receive as a gift from our Father (Luke 24:49; John 7:37-38; Acts 1:4, 4; Acts 2:38-39; Ephesians 3:13-21; Ephesians 5:18). Lets dispense with arguments of whether you receive this at the new birth (you don’t normally) or what the initial evidence of this blessed state of being is. Let focus on what it means practically: being filled with all the fullness of God, where a river like torrent mighty of resurrection Life, pours forth in your words and actions to glorify God and draw others to His Son.The blessed state manifests in miracles—anointing in testifying of Christ—greater operation of faith, greater holiness—greater power to persevere in trials—and God’s love through us to the church and the lost world around us. Who wants that blessing?
Truth be told in this land, there is no steady torrent of this blessing that is promised to all believers. There nary is a trickle or steady drip, so what’s the issue? Like Esau do not seek it with repentance. Some want to force upon God that this blessing comes when we are born again. They do their best, but have no torrent, because they need to repent of their demanding God’s promise their way. Some want to enforce a dogmatic initial physical evidence doctrine, as the sign that they have received the blessing. Yet they need to repent of their neglect of the absolute surrender necessary to receive this gift of the Father. We must remember that to receive the promise of God, not only do we need to wait until the time He releases it, we also must receive it as He commands we do. This takes some mind changing with commensurate actions… that sounds like repentance.
We repeat this faulty character in many ways as we seek the blessing of God. We demand God heals our bodies, which He does promise, yet we refuse to alter the “old man” habits that led to our illness, or are being revealed by the physical pain.We want to claim tithing is supposed to throw open the windows of heaven and bring an uncontainable blessing, as our debt grows through self-focused an unnecessary speeding habits. We want the peace of god in our soul, but refuse to forgive or allow Him to heal wounds that seep bitterness into our soul. There are promises from God to be had, in myriad ways, yet without repentance we suffer in wasted tears.
WITHOUT REPENTANCE WE REAP BITTERNESS NOT BLESSING: As we saw with Esau, so we see with us. Esau’s lack of repentance brought no blessing, just bitterness against God and His servant Jacob. In this state we see Esau settle for being an irritant to the father he loved, as he justified his actions with thoughts of how unfair God was being toward him. Haven’t we at times done the same?
The moment we think how unfair it is that we have not gotten the leg up, the healing, the provision, the better circumstances, the power, the BLESSING, we are close to falling to Esau’s sin. Make no mistake, if Esau could have killed Jacob, he would have. With that not being an option, he wandered away from God, and fulfilled his end of the prophecy with in bitterness. We ought to learn from Esau’s example. If we can leave our first Love while in the midst of serving in the Church (Ephesus in Revelation 2), how much more can we go the way of Esau, when not attaining the blessing we seek? Remember Esau’s life was a warning to the hearers of the Book of Hebrews not to fall short of the grace of God. Perhaps this is more serious an issue than we care to admit.