Don’t Sell Your Birthright

“Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob” (Genesis 25:31-33).

Esau and Jacob were twins born to Isaac after he prayed to God to bless his wife with a child. From the womb, the two children wrestled and a prophecy was foretold about them. “And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger”” (Genesis 25:23). Jacob and Esau’s lives were characterised by rivalry and competition. Isaac loved Esau while their mother Rebekah loved Jacob. As was customary, the firstborn son would inherit the blessing of the birthright.

One day Jacob was making stew and Esau came in from the field exhausted. Esau begged Jacob to give him some of his stew and Jacob asked him to trade it for his birthright. Esau’s reasoning was that he was so exhausted that he was about to die from hunger. As such, what benefit was a birthright to him? Esau swore to Jacob by an oath and sold him his birthright because he despised it. Later on in the story, Isaac determined to confer the first born blessing to Esau because he was advancing in age. Jacob and Rebekah tricked Isaac into blessing Jacob instead of Esau.

Esau was angry when he discovered what they did and begged his father to also confer a blessing to him. “Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me”” (Genesis 27:36)? Esau’s anger towards Jacob may have been warranted with regards to his father’s blessing. However, he had no right to be angry about his birthright, because he traded it willingly.

I don’t think for a minute that Esau’s hunger was to the point of death. He allowed his emotions and the desire for instant gratification to cause him to trade something of significance. Was a meal worth loosing the birthright of the firstborn son and inheriting his father’s blessing? I am sure that Esau later had regrets about his earlier decision. Regrets are generally generated from looking in the rear view mirror of life. We cannot go back to yesterday and change the past. Like Esau, what then are we willing to trade in exchange for our precious souls. Is a night of pleasure worth a lifetime in eternal damnation? Will we trade instant gratification for something that has eternal consequences?

“Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Mark 8:37)?


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