Prize and don't despise (Genesis 25 v 27-34)

Introduction

•  I wonder have you ever been out for a meal and when the bill came around you were absolutely horrified by the price. It was so exorbitant, so expensive.

•  Tonight in our study of the book of Genesis with the exception of Adam and Even eating the forbidden fruit we come to the most costly meal that there has ever been.

•  A bowl of stew that cost a man everything that he had, a place in the history of redemption, even his very soul.

•  As with last week we can be sure without any doubt what we 3800 years later are to learn from this part of the word of God.

•  The writer of the book of Hebrews guided by the Holy Spirit is led to this passage to stir and challenge. See that no one is sexually immoral or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son . Hebrews 12:16

•  It is God saying to us tonight – all those blessings that you have – prize them, treasure them, benefit from them and don’t ever despise them. And that is our theme – Prize and don’t despise.

•  I want to try and open up the passage for us just by taking four words to establish our thoughts around.

1. Blessing

•  The whole story is based around two brothers – Jacob and Esau.

•  Though they have shared their mother’s womb at the same time there is much that is different about them.

•  As babies they were different – v25 Esau’s whole body was like a hairy garment – and he gets the name Esau – hairy boy.

•  Jacob is the younger of the two twins and he is born grabbing his brother’s heel so he is called heel snatcher.

•  And the difference in these brothers appears more and more as they grow up – their lives are parting – picture of the streams, river – further apart.

•  Esau became a skilful hunter v27 – he is the outdoor, strong, macho man type, big burly rugby player type, loves the adventure of life, generous – but we will see that he is so superficial, lives for the moment.

•  Jacob is different – was a quiet man staying among the tents – the word quiet means self contained, he works with the sheep and goats just like his father, obviously domesticated type – cook. But he is also very canny, crafty man, sneaky.

•  Esau is the older brother – and by the fact that he is the older brother he has what is called in v34 the birthright . And it was this that he despised.

•  Now what was this?

•  It is obviously not simply a material thing – because after Esau gives it away he gets on very well.

•  It is obviously not just about being happy – because after Jacob gets it there is much of his life that is unhappy, faces great disasters – permanent limp, never got to the Promised Land.

•  The birthright seems to be what a father gave to his firstborn son – rank, title, privileges of the father went to the firstborn.

•  When the goods of the father divided he got twice as much as everyone else.

•  But there was even more involved – it was a spiritual heritage – if you had the birthright you became the head of the family, the clan.

•  And whatever dealings God was going to have with a clan was always through the family head.

•  So in this family if you had the birthright you were in the line leading to the Messiah.

•  If you had the birthright all the blessings of Abraham and Isaac were yours

•  If you had the birthright you had all the privileges of being head of a covenant family

•  If you had the birthright you had the blessing – same as blessing as in chapter 27.

•  So the birthright was a valuable thing – something to be prized and not despised

•  And every day Jacob pondered that birthright. And every day Esau didn’t ever give it a thought.

•  Now we may not have the system of a birthright today – but don’t we have so many blessings.

•  There are men and women who know Jesus Christ tonight as Saviour and Lord; we have public worship to know gospel; family worship where we can pray with and for one another, Bibles to read and study, Midweek meetings to meet with the people of God, prayer meetings to engage in the work of eternity.

•  So many blessings – are you like Jacob – think about them constantly, or could there be someone like Esau – give little thought.

2. Temptation

•  I wouldn’t be dogmatic about it but I have a sneaking suspicion that the conniving Jacob has set a trap for his brother.

•  Jacob wanted the birthright. He has been ruminating on it and he knows the promise of God.

•  Like Esau he knew what it involved. Heard from parents and grandfather – Abraham alive 15.

•  And so I think it is a trap v29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the country famished .

•  And there seems to be a note of irony – the trapper Esau is caught in the trap.

•  Esau comes in starving and the smell of his favourite dinner gets him drooling – you know when you walk through square and the food outlets smell – makes you just want to have some.

•  That is Esau, Quick let me have some of the red stew I am famished . V30

•  And in the original language Esau’s statement is quite coarse, rough. Let me gulp down that red stuff .

•  Sounds quite crude – let me stuff my face with a bowl of thone stew.

•  And it is this moment that is to ruin Esau’s life. Think about it – he is hungry and his brother is making dinner and because of his impetuousness, extreme haste – he is going to ruin everything.

•  All for a bowl of lentil stew.

•  A little trivial thing destroys his life – one little test, a little thing becomes a big thing. Rudder on a ship.

•  And isn’t that the same in our lives – just some little temptation and if we yield our life spirals downward.

•  In work – opportunity to tell some little lie – we think it might make life more pleasant, ease our situation – what will we do?

•  In school or on the school trip the young person is offered some drugs – what will they do?

•  The school orchestra is rehearsing on the Lord’s Day – what will we do?

•  In business there is opportunity to make some extra moment – not quite 100% what will we do?

•  A man and woman somehow end up alone – feel attracted to each other – no one will know – what will they do?

•  No one in the house – TV on – flicking channels – something unwholesome – what will you do?

•  It is in those seemingly small every day temptation that the path of our life can be forged.

•  Often not the big situations that make or break us but the small things.

•  And we see who Esau is as he gives way to the test – it shows his heart.

•  And that is the same in our lives – how you and I respond to the temptations of the day shows our hearts.

3. Choice

•  Now if this event was being reported today all the world would be siding with Esau – poor old Esau.

•  There would be those who say – you know the mess of this man’s life is all his parent’s fault – v28 Isaac who had a taste for wild game loved Esau but Rebekah loved Jacob .

•  I think that we need to be careful not to read too much into that – but there was a measure of foolishness and they did have a part to play in the mess – beware of that parents.

•  Others would blame Jacob – his scheming ways. And he was wrong – he should have given his hungry brother something to eat. Trusted God to bring the promise in God’s time – God needs no helping hand.

•  But the Bible lays the blame with Esau – godless Esau . Hebrews 12

•  But when we come to v31 we can hear the trap of Jacob spring – first sell me your birthright .

•  This is not some out of the blue comment – this is a planned attack, it is premeditated, cold, calculating. Jacob knows how to get his impulsive, hot-headed brother to sign over the birthright.

•  And in v32 Esau’s true godless colours are coming out – Look I am about to die what good is the birthright to me .

•  Now there are two possibilities here – Esau is saying – look I am starving to death or he was referring to his life as a hunter – I am going to die at this job of mine what is the point of a br?

•  But whatever was the case – he was a man who was living for the moment, driven by base desires.

•  Jacob then moves in for the kill, utterly remorseless, Swear to me first – sign here.

•  And then the deal is done and dusted – so he swore an oath to him selling his birthright to Jacob .

•  So in the presence of God faced with his birthright and the bowl of stew Esau grasps the bowl of stew and I think I can see him in his coarseness shovelling it in, dripping down his beard.

•  He makes his choice – tasty stew rather than the birthright.

•  And friends the choice that Esau made can confront us in so many ways.

•  Think about what is going on in this choice – it is a choice between:

•  Something that can be seen and something that can’t

•  Something which he can have now and something enjoyed later

•  Esau has a felt need and he has to have it met.

•  He sacrifices the long term for the moment.

•  He thought that the bowl of stew was the essential thing, the important thing – it wasn’t.

•  Can you see how Esau’s choice was to be a warning to people going in to the Promised land?

•  Make sure you know what is essential and what is not – some of them failed – they thought food and shelter was what mattered – wanted to go back to Egypt.

•  What a wake up call for us in all our choices. Know what is essential – write it down.

•  Could there be someone here and not yet a Christian – lose my friends, have to change my life – momentary pleasures you are putting ahead of your soul.

•  Happens in the Christian life – choices made daily on the basis of some momentary improvement but miss some great spiritual blessing.

•  A man has opportunity to move up the ladder in work – take away from family and church – he has momentary pleasures – big house, good income but what does he have of eternal use.

•  It is a challenge – every choice – is this going to bring passing pleasure but mean I lose great spiritual blessing.

•  Some of the young people – not be long before choosing a job or course – make your choice not on what physical benefits there will be, what short term – but what will most bless your soul.

•  Maybe you sit up late watching TV and can’t get up in morning for QT – that is Esau like mistake.

•  Maybe you race your self to exhaustion Mon – Sat so that can’t benefit from Sab worship – that is Esau like mistake.

•  And you and I have should pause before every choice and say – now what will this cost me – not financially – but will there be a spiritual cost.

4. Ruin

•  I wonder have you ever been through one of those devices at a car park – when you drive in over the ramp it clicks up and there is no reversing, there is no going back.

•  And that is how it was for Esau – there came a moment when there was no going back.

•  As Esau bolts down the meal he doesn’t care one iota about what he has done – then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. He ate and drank and then got up and left . V34

•  And that little phrase is so sharp in the original – ate, drank, got up, left.

•  There is a vulgarity about it all – He has gulped it down – I think I can see him – he stands up, wipes his beard with the back of his hand, belches and says – boy that was some packing.

•  Thoughtlessly, carelessly, crudely he throws away the blessing of God.

•  Now perhaps someone went home last week feeling a little sorry for Esau – not one of the elect of God.

•  But look at him – this is his own choice and utterly unconcerned he abandons the blessing of God.

•  So we should not blame God – the blame is all on Esau – showing in his action the godless man that he is.

•  Aren’t many like him today – casting away spiritual blessings without one thought?

•  Could there be someone like that here tonight – been brought up in a Christian home, baptised, Christ is offered to you but you are despising all of that – the lentil stew of the world is the bowl you are choosing.

•  And what you must see is that choice leads to ruin.

•  You see for Esau – although he is careless that night – it seems that years later when his elderly father is dying that he begins to realise what he has done and he cries – 27 he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father – Bless me, me too my father . 27:34

•  Hebrews 12:17 has the commentary on this Afterwards you know that when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind though he sought the blessing with tears .

•  It was too late, he was crying over what he had lost and all his crying couldn’t bring him to repentance.

•  That evening he chose to despise the birthright and month after month, year after year he confirmed that choice and somewhere he crossed that invisible line so that there was no going back.

•  All his life he did what wanted – there was one thing couldn’t do – repent

•  Never did he turn to love the coming Christ. He wept before Isaac but not before God

•  All his tears couldn’t change his hardened bitter heart – see to it that no one is godless like Esau .

•  What an appalling tragedy, what awful ruin – here is a man who trifled with the blessing and learnt you can’t trifle with God – God held him to his word – that is what you want – that is what you will have.

•  Are you here tonight and though here – no interest in Christ, no longing to be saved – be very afraid – there is somewhere that invisible line and if you pass over all your weeping won’t bring you to repentance, all your weeping won’t deal with sin.

•  I don’t know who it might be too late for – but I do know the promises of God – that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved

•  Tonight the blessing is there for the taking, offered to you freely – will you take it.

•  Esau said – ah blow it – I will live for the moment – and he so hardened himself that he could not and would not repent.

•  How true the words of the Lord – what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world yet lose his own soul.

•  Do not miss the grace of God – don’t say – blow it, but receive it and love it and serve Christ

Conclusion

•  So here are these two boys – who are like? Esau – living for the moment and missing the blessing or like Jacob – far from perfect but bound for heaven.

 

•  Please, please – prize the blessing of the God of the covenant and don’t despise.