A Spiritual FocusApril 4, 2011 - 5:00 am
“Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.
So Esau despised his birthright.” —Genesis 25:34
Students of the Bible will no doubt remember the story of Esau and Jacob — when Esau sold his birthright to his twin brother for a bowl of stew! Esau’s birthright was a blessing conferred upon him as the firstborn.
It generally provided the firstborn son with a double portion of the father’s estate and considerable authority, since the firstborn became the head of the family. More importantly, the firstborn son was in line for his father’s blessing, which subsequently placed him in a close and favored relationship with God.
The birthright was more than a material reward — it was a spiritual reward and blessing of great value. Which is why it is so stunning to read those words: “So Esau despised his birthright.”
Esau’s willingness to trade a spiritual inheritance of immeasurable value just to satisfy his physical appetite reveals quite a bit about his character. He appears to have been a person who reacted to the here and now, without thinking about the long-term consequences. Indeed, his life was filled with choices that he must have regretted bitterly.
On the other hand, his brother Jacob earned the reputation as a schemer and deceiver. And while he rightfully earned those distinctions later in his life, in this particular instance, Jacob did not deceive Esau. The offer was made openly, and Esau could have declined.
But in this interaction, we can clearly see Jacob’s hunger for spiritual blessings, as opposed to Esau’s more physical nature. Jacob’s shrewdness in taking advantage of his brother’s hunger may or may not be commendable, but there is no question that Jacob was more spiritually sensitive and attuned than his older twin.
What we learn from the story of Jacob and Esau is that while living in the moment, as Esau did, we need to keep our focus on God. When we do that, we’ll be more like Jacob in doing whatever it takes to pursue spiritual matters. A strong relationship with God secures us for the long-term, and also guides us for living each day.
Let’s be like Jacob and hunger for God’s blessing.