“Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, ‘Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!’ Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ ‘Look, I am about to die,’ Esau said. ‘What good is the birthright to me?’ But Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.”
– Genesis 25:29-33
As fraternal twins and the fathers of two separate nations, Jacob and Esau were practically born fighting. When Rebekah gave birth, Esau came out first, and he was a super-hairy baby, so his parents called him “hairy.” Jacob came out next, and he was holding onto Esau’s heel, so his name means “the one who grabs the heel.” This scene is a depiction of the relationship between the two brothers and the manner in which it played out as they grew up. Esau was the man; he was rugged, strong, and most importantly, he had the birthright because he came out first. On the other hand, Jacob was a thin and pasty guy who was probably kind of nerdy. He was intellectually strong, and he wanted the authority of his brother’s position in the family because he felt he was better suited to handle the responsibility. One night when Esau came in weary from hunting, he smelled a delicious stew that Jacob was cooking. In a rather dramatic fashion, he flaunted his famished condition and told his brother that he would soon die if he was not nourished, begging him to hand over the soup. Never missing an opportunity, Jacob promised to feed him only after he “signed over” his birthright. Astonishingly, Esau, being incredibly short-sighted, willingly surrendered his most precious commodity to Jacob…all for a measly bowl of stew. Because he couldn’t see beyond his appetite, the Bible says that “he despised his birthright.”
Friend, I urge you to not elevate your fleshly appetites above your spiritual blessings. Your leadership and authority depend on your willingness to subdue your passions and discipline your body and mind. Even if you find yourself in the heat of the moment, don’t trade your God-ordained birthright for a bowl of soup. You were made for more than temporary pleasures, and the Lord’s abundant life is given in a measure proportionate to your willingness to live it His way. That’s the cost of discipleship!
Help me, Jesus, to not surrender to my fleshly appetites and passions.
Do you identify with Jacob or Esau? Why?
Thank you for the wonderful article. I remembered what my grandfather said: ‘A wise man rules the world.’
Now I understand Esau’s mistake better. Yes, I identify with Esau, because I sold my years (about more than 16 years) for the sake of respect for the demons. But I would never do it for the sake of stomach appetite and sexual appetite. Besides, my body is hairy like him.