Gen 25:29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. Gen 25:30 And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Gen 25:31 Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." Gen 25:32 Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?"
Gen 25:33 Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Gen 25:34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
I find this account very interesting in that it puts before us two types of people. One can make a case that the Bible contrasts these two types throughout its pages. In this case we have Jacob who is concerned for his future and does what he can to secure it and Esau who lives for immediate satisfaction with no regard to his distant future. He is like the worldling who lives for the next “fix” or pleasure. They will do anything to have it and will sell their own souls to get it. Implicit in the text is that the birthright isn’t just concerned with their inheritance from their father Isaac but their connection to the Messiah and ultimately their salvation.
Notice some things in the above verses. In vs. 30 Esau models an example for us that we must be careful to reject. A Christian is to be moderate in all things so that nothing holds such power over us that we cannot serve God. It would appear Esau was not used to saying no to himself. He could have eaten a lot cheaper if he had waited a few minutes. The writer of Hebrews bears this out when he states that Esau sold his birthright for a single meal. His lack of discipline is amazing in that he didn’t even take the time to compare the value of one meal with his natural and spiritual inheritance. But how many do this today? For a fleeting moment of pleasure they will trade their family, job, and even their souls. It is an investment in which there is no return. The name Edom was a derogatory name which means red. For some red stew he sold his inheritance. It is foolish to live for that which you cannot take with you.
In vs. 32 we see his lack of control and rashness by him overstating his condition. We should be careful of overstatement. He was not about to die. We sometimes use similar phrases, “I am starving to death”, “It was the worst thing that ever happened to me”, “I hate him”; “I love that more than anything”. It is a sinful flaw in us when we overstate the importance of temporal things. Even if he was about to die he shows his disregard for the promises made to his grandfather concerning the coming Savior. When we Christians use such over statements we are in a sense denying our faith; certainly our faith in the Lord. Such temporal things are not the “worst” thing that ever happened to us; we are not to love temporal things that much. How different are the glorified saints in Revelation described, Rev_12:11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
Christianity is not putting the flesh first but our God; it is not being rash, uncontrolled and overly emotional and unthinking but bringing every thought captive to Christ. Notice vs. 34, once he gets his fix, he is off again like nothing happened. What a cheap price for his inheritance. How animalistic; how ungodly; how sad is his life. It is one of the saddest verses in the Bible.
I mentioned that the Bible contrasts these two types of people throughout its pages; those that live for eternity with God and those that live for the momentary, passing pleasures of sin. We see this in Revelation 13. In that chapter there are those that worship the Lamb who was slain and those that worship the Beast who slays. Of the first group we read, Rev 13:9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear: Rev 13:10 If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. Earlier Jesus tells those who will not love their lives unto death but instead live for eternity, Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.' Jesus says in chapter 13 that the suffering for living for the future and not the immediate is going to come and so it is a call to persevere. We only need persevere in things that are difficult, not easy. Perseverance is living in the opposite way Esau lived. It is to accept hunger for future reward.
It is said of the other group, Rev 13:15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Rev 13:16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, Rev 13:17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
The world will do whatever it must to survive until the next day, to have as much fun as it can from day to day. This is what it means to receive the mark of the beast. Being able to buy and sell and keep this body alive is more important than thinking about where their souls will spend eternity. And so we see Jacob and Esau contrasted in Revelation 13 just like we do in Genesis 25.