“And Esau said to Jacob, I beg of you, let me have some of that red lentil stew to eat, for I am faint and famished! That is why his name was called Edom [red]. Jacob answered, Then sell me today your birthright (the rights of a firstborn). Esau said, See here, I am at the point of death; what good can this birthright do me? Jacob said, Swear to me today [that you are selling it to me], and he swore to Jacob and sold him his birthright. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils, and he ate and drank and rose up and went his way. Thus Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.” (Genesis 25:30-34)
“Now Esau was 40 years old when he took as wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they made life bitter and a grief of mind and spirit for Isaac and Rebekah [their parents-in-law].” (Genesis 26:34-35)
“By your sword, you shall live and serve your brother. But [the time shall come] when you will grow restive and break loose, and you shall tear his yoke from off your neck. And 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 near. When [he is gone] I will kill my brother Jacob.” (Genesis 27:40-41)
“Then Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth [these wives of Esau]! If Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth such as these Hittite girls around here, who good will my life be to me?” (Genesis 27:46)
“Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Padan-aram to take him a wife from there, and that as he blessed him, he gave him a charge, saying, You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan; and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan-aram. Also, Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac his father. So Esau went to Ishmael and took to be his wife, [in addition], to the wives he already had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.” (Genesis 28:6-9)
“Then Jacob went over [the stream] before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times until he came near to his brother. But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” (Genesis 33:3-4)
Sometimes we take our rights and privileges for granted. As the firstborn, Esau had it all. He would inherit the lion’s share of his father’s wealth. He would receive the verbal blessing of his father. He knew his father favored him above his brother Jacob. Life was good for Esau. But God looked into his heart and saw the truth of Esau’s character. He had no honor in his heart for his position, his parents or his brother. Esau lived for the moment. Like so many people today, he didn’t think about the future. Today, I’m famished and starving, so yeah, you can have my birthright. Whatever just give me the stew!
In Esau’s heart, he placed no value on his birthright OR his word to Jacob. His oath to Jacob wasn’t meant because he had no intention of honoring the sale of the birthright. His word meant nothing. At the time when Isaac was ready to bless Esau as firstborn, he was perfectly willing to receive it. His oath to Jacob forgotten in the moment of “oh! I get a blessing!” But God had no intention of Esau’s lineage bearing the Messiah, so Jacob went in and got his blessing from Isaac. Yes, it was deceitful and yes, Jacob paid for it in his own family years later when his sons deceived him about Joseph. If you really look at this family, they were all deceitful. Isaac deceived Abimelech about Rebekah; Rebekah deceived Isaac by scheming for Jacob to take the blessing. Abraham deceived Pharoah about Sarah. Esau deceived Jacob by trying to take his birthright blessing back.
In spite of Isaac’s favoritism towards him, Esau showed no honor when he chose his wives. He went to the pagans to get his wives. He didn’t seek his father’s counsel on it, he just did it. He didn’t care that his wives caused his parents grief and sorrow. It was all about him. Nobody else mattered in his heart.
The bitterness set into his heart deeply. So much so that when he saw that his father blessed Jacob and counseled him to get a wife from his family, Esau went to Ishmael (the illegitimate son) and got one of his daughters and married her in addition to the Hittite wives he had. Talk about spite! That is what bitterness will do to a person.
From bitterness, murder entered his heart. He actually comforted himself that after his father died, he would murder his brother. He didn’t care about his mother’s feelings on it or that his father would be grieved had he lived to see it. He didn’t care that this act would bring a curse upon his entire family line. Jacob wisely left the area because time has a way of healing bitterness.
After many years, Jacob came back to face Esau. But time had changed Esau too. Instead of trying to kill Jacob, he ran and hugged him and kissed his neck. They both wept for the lost years of fellowship and the joy of a restored relationship. Forgiveness heals the deepest divides. Forgiveness brings unity.
Esau could have had a completely different destiny had his heart been right. If he had been honorable. I believe God would have honored him. But God chose Jacob’s lineage to bring the Messiah through. Jacob’s son Judah, is the ancestor of Jesus Christ. Esau’s lineages are still enemies with Jacob’s descendants.
What can we learn from this tragic story? First, we must examine our hearts and take a hard look at our ways. Are we living honorably before God? Honor begins in the heart. God has the ability to change our hearts if we let Him. Second, we must acknowledge and repent of bitterness. Sometimes life deals some hard blows. Unfair blows in our minds, but we cannot allow bitterness to take up residence in our heart. Repent and forgive from the heart is the way to get the bitterness out. Third, we must ask Jesus to heal us from the inside out. He is our Wonderful Counselor. We need to bring our hurts and injustices to Him and LEAVE them with Him. Take up His yoke and move on with Him in charge of our lives. Finally, we need to forgive those who have wronged us. It’s the only way God can bring unity to us. He loves to restore relationships!
In the end, Jacob and Esau made up and became brothers again. Restoration is so sweet. Are you at odds with someone who had wronged you? Don’t stay in the bondage of bitterness another day. Go to God and let Him heal you of the hurt by forgiving them. You won’t regret it.
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