Esau: Bowl, or Blessing?


Hey, I  apologize for the lateness of this post.  We didn’t have church services on Sunday, so there isn’t a message here for us to discuss.  BUT, since we ARE reading through the Bible together, I was really excited to read across one of my favorite stories.  So, what follows is a little different. Rather than take Sunday’s message a little deeper, I thought we would just do a little Bible study together.

Lifegroup Discussion Questions are after the link!

Did you read the story of Jacob and Esau? You can find it in Genesis 25:19-34.

Jacob and Esau were fraternal twins, born into a position of great inheritance. Their great-grandfather was Abraham, and their dad was Isaac. There was a lot to pass down into the next generation.

Esau, the firstborn, was entitled to specific blessings…

  • Family leader/authority figure (He represented the family.)
  • Family priest/mediator (He represented God to the family.)
  • double portion of family inheritance (He would gain 3/4 of the family wealth.)

How is this like us? We are born into a great inheritance, are we not? What kind of inheritance have we been given?

Colossians 1:15-17 ESV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Romans 8:15-17
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

So, Esau had a giant blessing awaiting him… A great wealth that he was born into.

Genesis 25:27–30 (NLT)
As the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter. He was an outdoorsman, but Jacob had a quiet temperament, preferring to stay at home. Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!” (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means “red.”)

Jacob had always felt like the second fiddle.  He knew that he was not as loved in his dad’s eyes, and that he would always live in his (barely) older brother’s shadow. Here, he saw an opportunity.  He could see his brother’s desperation, and he probably knew of his brother’s weaker will.  He also knew he had something Esau wanted.

Genesis 25:31 (NLT)
“All right,” Jacob replied, “but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.”

Now, this sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Surely, nobody would fall for this terrible deal.  Really? Trade and entire inheritance for a bowl of red stew??

But Esau wasn’t focused on his inheritance. He was focused on his stomach.

Genesis 25:32 (NLT)
“Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?”

Do you think that Esau really felt the stew was more valuable than his birthright, or do you think that he never imagined he would have to make good on this deal?

Genesis 25:33-34 (NLT)
Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

He made an oath. Today, that would be like signing a legal contract.  He pledged away his 3/4 portion of the inheritance.  For a BOWL OF STEW.
He. Sold. Out.

He despised his birthright. What do you think that means?

He traded the blessings of the birthright for the pleasure of the moment.

This seems absolutely crazy to us, doesn’t it?  Or, does it?

Isn’t it true that all too often, we choose what the world has to offer over what God promises?  How do we choose to satisfy our appetites, and walk away from the inheritance of “abundant life” that he promises us?

Why is it so hard for us to remember what our true inheritance is?  Why do we sell out so readily?

Philippians 3:7-14
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:19-22
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.

Solve for x.

Comments 2

  1. Larry Lynch

    Just a thought, but the selling out for a bowl of stew was not the real issue. Esau was a hunter, a free man in the wild, a lone wolf unencumbered by the admin and husbandry of being a herder and supervising a household. Esau saw his inheritance as an encumbrance rather than a blessing, so the bowl of soup and bread to end his hunger were merely the excuse he used to do as he really wished, to remain free and uncommitted, kinda like what we tend to do when we enjoy other things more than what God has provided, and fail to see the great joy and blessings which await us later. Esau could have just taken what he wanted, he could have just killed a goat or sheep (does anyone think Esau didn’t know how to throw a goat on the barbie?), but he chose the bowl and bread, and kept his lifestyle, and integrity to boot, even as giving up his birthright. As we see later, God blessed Esau tremendously and Esau had a pretty good attitude in ultimately forgiving Jacob and welcoming him home, even after the blessing fraud. The birthright was for great material possessions (and responsibilities), and although Esau seemed to have his own flaws, he also possessed virtues that took Jacob a long time to develop. Besides, if Jacob, aka Israel, was to be the father of a great nation he had a lot of character building to do and needed some serious come-uppens.

    1. Post

      Hmmm.. Interesting thought. I wonder what factor his outdoorsmanship played in his despising of his birthright? I think that may be a contributing factor, but all commentators that I read (Matthew Henry, Carl Friedrich, Kenneth Matthews, James Faussett Brown, etc) seemed to really point to the foolish, careless deal made by Esau with his cheating brother, Jacob, and the narrative of the nature of these two brothers’s contrasting personalities… Esau, led strongly by his emotions and careless. Jacob, the cold and calculating cheat. Neither qualified to lead the family, or to receive God’s blessing. But God is, as always, bigger than both. The “profanity” of Jacob is in his “lack of repentance…” Matthews says, “People are ruined, not so much by doing what is amiss, as by doing it and not repenting of it, doing it and standing to it.”

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