Esau

Destiny. There is nothing magical about it. It is not written in the stars. Your destiny is determined by your decisions and your actions. Each of us holds the key to our own future. To a large extent, your future is what you decide for it to be. And your destiny is determined by what you do about those decisions.

But it is not always the momentous decisions. Sometimes it is that decision that you make in the heat of the moment. And the course of your future is changed – changed as much as if you had done an about-face. Sometimes it is not one decisive action – sometimes it is the continued doing of the little things that shape who you are.

Esau had one of those moments that changed the course of his life. One day, he returned from the field famished. And when he found Jacob cooking a pot of beans, he made one of those decisions that changed everything. Esau asked for something to eat and Jacob proposed a deal – sell me your birthright.

How anyone could exchange such a valuable birthright for a bowl of beans? The Bible has the answer (Genesis 25:29-34). Notice Esau’s response and then Moses’ comment at the end of the passage. First, Esau responded with the exaggerated, “I am about to die – what good is a birthright to me?” And then, after the deal is sealed, Moses writes, “thus Esau despised his birthright” (v. 34). Here is the key – Esau gave up his birthright so easily because he did not truly value it.

Before we shake our heads at the foolishness of Esau, we should take note of how the Hebrew writer uses this event. In a warning against bitterness in the face of trials, he wrote, “lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright” (Hebrews 12:16). You might ask, “What does a fornicator have in common with Esau despising his birthright?” The common thread is – both exchange the truly valuable for that which gives instant gratification.

The fornicator exchanges marital intimacy for momentary physical pleasure. Esau exchanged his birthright for a bowl of beans, temporarily satisfying his hunger. When you realize the extent of that birthright – two-thirds of his father’s estate, a truly amazing amount of wealth – you are dumbfounded at his choice. And that is before you consider the spiritual implications of being in the lineage of Abraham!

But do we realize that we make the same mistake anytime we forfeit God’s blessings for the passing pleasure of sin? We should value what God values. If we understand that to sin against God is to despise that which has true value, we would be less likely to trade the riches of heaven for the fleeting pleasures of earth. Whenever we seek what we want now and forget what we need and should want most, we are going to make a serious – perhaps an eternal – mistake.

Instead of focusing on destiny, we should give attention to devotion – devotion to God, devotion to his will. When we do that, we will be blessed beyond measure.

Thomas Larkin

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