And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. — Genesis 25:32-33
Disregard for a spiritual heritage and the blessing of salvation can lead to disastrous consequences. George Burton can attest to that. Though he had been saved as a boy, in his early teens he became rebellious and turned away from God. He left his godly home, and moved to Wabush, Labrador, Canada, where his sister was living. There he adopted a lifestyle that was completely contrary to his Christian upbringing. Soon he was drinking alcohol, smoking, and addicted to gambling. In time he married, and he and his wife loved dancing and partying.
One night George was at a party for a friend who was getting married. When he did not come home at the appointed time, his wife went looking and found him with the other men. George and his wife left the party together, but she walked ahead because she was upset that he had been drinking and had not come home when she had expected him. After a while, she looked back and realized that George was no longer behind her. It was snowing hard, the snow was drifting, and the temperature was forty degrees below zero, but she retraced her steps to the club to see if he had returned to the party. That took her about ten or fifteen minutes, but George was not there, so she started home again. As she walked, she noticed a mound in a snow bank. She went over to investigate and discovered George, asleep and already partially snowed over. She had to shake him roughly to awaken him. If she had walked on home without noticing that mound, he would have frozen to death before she could have gotten back to where he was.
George’s disregard for his early training and his childhood experience of salvation nearly put him into a lost eternity. Thankfully, God was merciful and spared his life. A short time later, George returned to God by praying for forgiveness, and God answered by saving his soul.
In our text today, Esau showed utter disregard for his birthright as the eldest son of Isaac and Rebekah. In a moment of hunger, he took a step that he would one day desperately regret — he sold his birthright for a bowl of pottage. Considerable prestige, power, and property came with the birthright, but though he knew its value, he gave it away to satisfy his immediate desire.
As we study this account, we can learn a lesson. A Christian heritage, though it does not guarantee us a place in Heaven, is a tremendous blessing. A personal relationship with God is even more precious. However, we can throw that blessing away if we do not value it properly. Decisions that may seem unimportant can head us in a disastrous direction. We want our choices to be God-directed, and we want to treasure a right relationship with Him, guarding it carefully and realizing its tremendous importance.
This text tells of Abraham’s final days and lists some of his descendants. Abraham had six sons with Keturah, his second wife. Various Arabian tribes descended from these sons, of whom the Midianites are the most well-known. Abraham kept in mind that God’s covenant was to be fulfilled through Isaac’s posterity. Therefore, he was careful to bestow gifts upon the other sons and send them eastward, away from the land that was promised to Isaac.
Verses 1- 4 and 12-18 show that God fulfilled His promise to give Abraham many descendants. The Lord had said that Ishmael would father a great nation (Genesis 17:20), and this chapter indicates that also came to pass. Ishmael’s offspring were a nomadic people who lived in the area from Egypt to Assyria.
Abraham died at 175 years of age, and Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah where Sarah was buried.
After approximately twenty years of marriage, Isaac and Rebekah remained childless, and the long-term promise seemed to be in jeopardy. Isaac prayed fervently to the Lord, and God sent them twin sons. Meanings of names were important in ancient times. The meaning of the name Esau is “hairy,” and some scholars believe that his hair was red. The meaning of the name Jacob is “heel catcher” or “supplanter.” The text is clear that Isaac favored Esau, and Rebekah favored Jacob.
In Esau and Isaac’s day, being the firstborn was a sacred position. The oldest son inherited the birthright from the family patriarch. A double portion of the family’s goods went to this son. He also had authority over the entire household, including sons, daughters-in-law, unmarried daughters, and grandchildren, being responsible for their spiritual and material well-being. The position was transferable, but only the one who was to receive the blessing could give it to another.
Verses 27-34 tell how Esau sold his birthright to Jacob. The pottage that Jacob made was a stew or soup. Jacob was an opportunist and seized the moment, working it to his own advantage. However, no matter how long Esau had gone without food, he was responsible for his casual attitude toward his birthright. He had a lack of reverence for spiritual things. As a result, he looked only at the short-term picture and completely disregarded the long-term implications of what he was doing. Esau’s lack of concern about important spiritual matters continued throughout his life.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The early history of the chosen race
8. The last years of Abraham (25:1-34)
a. His progeny from Keturah (25:1-4)
b. The preeminence of Isaac (25:5-7)
c. The death of Abraham (25:8-11)
d. His progeny from Hagar (25:12-18)
e. His progeny through Isaac (25:19-34)
(1) The birth of Jacob and Esau (25:19-26)
(2) The diversity of Jacob and Esau (25:27-28)
(3) The selling of Esau’s birthright (25:29-34)
Let us be sure that we properly value the spiritual blessings God has placed in our lives.