Posts Tagged ‘birthright’

Photo by Yasar Vurdem, Turkey.

Photo by Yasar Vurdem, Turkey.

How many people think “I am going to die anyway” as justification for their choices? Is it any wonder, that such a form of hopelessness would drive them to despair and even despicable acts? How and when is that seed planted?

 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright today.” Esau said, “Since I’m going to die anyway, what good is my birthright to me?” [Genesis 25:31-32, CEB]

Was Esau just playing the drama queen because he was so hungry but too lazy to make his own meal? Or, was his life such that he had little to embrace as valuable? He was a man of the hunt; perhaps his life was on the line each time he went out into the wilderness. Perhaps he had experienced near death experiences? In any case, he was a man of the moment. The future held no interest for him.

This way of thinking is such a trap. I see my own son making choices that smack of this attitude, not in the least depressing at face value, just cavalier about the day, not looking at how the day’s choices might impact the next day or week or year. Has our culture spawned more and more of this attitude? Is it generational? I really don’t know.

Some time ago, my brother went through a very difficult patch in his life, his career and marriage in shambles, he was depressed. As the good sister, I had to ask, are you in danger of hurting yourself? His answer encouraged and comforted me: “Never. No matter what might happen today, tomorrow is another day and anything can happen to change my circumstances.”

This is an answer of faith, whether in the resiliency of oneself or in God. It is an answer of hope. May I have such courage always.

The second message in this passage is the danger of the other person. In this passage, that would be Jacob who seemed quite willing to take advantage of Esau’s situation, his blustering attitude, his shortsightedness. We must beware of such people in our own lives. The enemy, who might come to us as “friend” or family member, comes to snatch away from the hopeless. It is a sorrow. Hopelessness opens the heart to greater damage.

Holy Spirit, guard my heart.

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EsauLook, Esau was a simple man. He enjoyed simple pleasures and an outdoor life. Although he becomes bitter when his twin brother Jacob betrays him later, there is no real animosity at this point in the story. Esau, like most young men and teenagers, was not forward thinking. He was living a good life and no reason to believe anything would change. What would his birthright change for him?

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!” (That is why he was also called Edom. Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

I looked it up, the implications of losing one’s birthright as first born son. Financially, it would be substantial, since the birthright actually takes the value of another son. Therefore, if Esau and Jacob were the only sons, the inheritance would be divided three ways: one for Jacob and two for Esau because of his birthright. But it’s possible, in Esau’s eyes, he didn’t need it or want it. Abraham was a truly wealthy man, like the Bill Gates of our world, sometimes the difference between inheriting 14 million or 7 million is almost moot. It’s a lot of money either way.

But we are a nation of money counting. Why, even people who share lottery tickets figure out their share before a single number has been drawn. We cannot imagine anyone not wanting their “fair share.”

Of course, this is all speculation. Perhaps it is like the commentators say, Esau was such a buffoon, he gave up his birthright share for a cup of soup. Maybe he didn’t really consider it binding. Who knows? But clearly, it was Jacob who was intent on the omen of God’s words to his mother, that he, the younger, would rule the older. Perhaps Jacob was the studious one and knew that the family laws of first born would prevent the predicted outcome. He just had to be sure. And like his grandparents Abraham and Sarah, he believed he had to step in and help things along. Jacob, taking matters into his own hands (along with Mom), in an effort to hurry things along, changed the course of everything.

How often do I do the same thing? How often do I push matters along because God seems to be acting (or reacting) too slowly?

God forgive me for taking advantage of the Esau’s in my life who don’t see situations the way I see them. Forgive me for leapfrogging over those people and their way of life. Forgive me for not trusting your way, your timing, your promises.

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