Glad you’ve joined me again. I hope you’re starting to see more and more the benefit of these times you’ve set aside for reading and thinking everyday. The pay back is a growing knowledge and, even better, a growing wisdom. Someone I read once compared reading God’s word without meditating on it afterward to bulimia, eating, but then not digesting (because you cause yourself to throw up). The nutrition is in the digestion, not in merely eating.
Today we’re reading about Abraham’s second family, Isaac’s twin sons and their conflict, Isaac’s conflict with local residents, and finally Jacob’s theft of the blessing of the firstborn. Because it’s been a day spent in preparation for a Gander Brook Christian Camp board meeting tomorrow and clearing my drive and walk ways of snow, I’ll confine my remarks today to the story of Jacob’s stealing of his brother’s birthright. I think, of all the stories in this section of Genesis, it has the most practical and important message for the average disciple — not to sell out cheap.
Esau and Jacob may have been twins, but they could scarcely have been more different. Esau was hairy, a hunter, oriented to the here and now, perhaps a bit naive. Jacob was not-so-hairy, a shepherd, was a man with big plans, and was always scheming it seems to climb to the top. One day as Esau comes in from the hunt empty-handed (some of us can identify) he arrives at Jacob’s campfire just in time for some stew (red stew — chili, perhaps?). After a day of tramping through the countryside without anything to eat, Esau was feeling some serious hunger pangs and so asks his brother for some of the stew Jacob has made. Jacob, in a rather unbrotherly deed, turns the request into a negotiation — I’ll sell you this stew for your birthright. Esau, very immaturely, claims to be dying of hunger without the stew, so he gives Jacob his birthright in exchange for a belly full of red stew. An unbelievably low price for a double-portion of their father’s estate and the leadership privilege over the family after Isaac died. The Scripture says that Esau “despised his birthright.”How foolish!
But wait; it’s an exchange that is repeated again and again in everyday life. Who hasn’t traded something important for something temporary. That was essential trade at our first sin, right? Our soul for — what was it? A lie to get out of trouble? A dirty word to get the approval of peers? The possession of a toy or trinket or candy? A hateful word in revenge for some minor injury? But, of course, it doesn’t stop at youth. I’ve watched husbands trade a wife and family for a few instances of pleasure. I’ve seen good reputations get completely destroyed over a drug or a drink or bribe, or even some embezzled cash. I’ve seen homes that could have been happy and fulfilling go sour and down over selfishness and rebellion. I’ve seen friends, for the applause of “important people”, abandon the truth. Why do we despise our most valuable things? Why do we put bargain prices on the most priceless things we have? Why do we put the greatest value on things that are temporary at best — things about which we will soon enough say, “So what?”
In the 26th chapter, after Jacob had also taken the blessing through deception, the Scriptures say:
“When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, ‘Bless me, even me also, O my father!’ And he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.’ Then he said, ‘Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.’ And he said, ‘Have you not reserved a blessing for me?'” Genesis 27:34-36, NAS95.
How many of us have been right there with Esau and his “exceedingly great and bitter cry”? Where the cry will be most mournful will be on the Last Day, if we’ve traded away our soul’s salvation over something sinful, temporary, empty, and foolish.
I’m glad you stopped in; I hope you got a little bit of something to mull over. See you tomorrow, Lord willing.