In this sermon, one of our elders, Kym Steele, asked are we missing the value of our inheritance and birthright given to us by God? We are reminded in the New Testament that we are children of God so that we can be glorified the same way Jesus was. We have the ability to become co-heirs with Christ.
This sermon was delivered on Sunday, 7 January 2024.
Where in your family are you placed? Firstborn, second born, third born or lastborn? Being born as a first born in a family is the biggest privilege one can ever have depending on the culture you come from. In Hebrew culture, and a number of others, every first born in the family is valued and regarded as the parent or leader of the family in the absence of the parents or should the father die. It had with it enormous blessing materially and spiritually.
Typically that’s not something we do in our culture and certainly with a multicultural country like ours, it no doubt varies from household to household.
In our family like many others we will our possessions equally to our children. But this is based on material things.
This story from Genesis is probably one of the saddest examples of someone who has no regard for their birthright. From the very beginning of his life, Esau was racing his brother Jacob to favouritism.
The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob.Genesis 25:25-26
Esau was born first and even though they were twins, he became legal heir to the family birthright which included, among other things, being heir to the Covenant between God and Abraham. This birthright was a link in the line of descent through which the Promised Messiah was to come.
As the twins grew older it is said that Isaac favoured Esau because of how manly he was and Rebekah favoured Jacob because of his gentleness. I can only imagine that Isaac and Rebekah’s choices spurred on the rivalry between the two brothers.
Do we play favourites with our kids? It’s hard not to sometimes.
Let’s look at this narrative a bit closer –
Esau was loved by his father and was a skilful hunter. It was because of Esau’s skill as a hunter and Isaac love for wild game that caused Isaac to love the eldest son more – v28
Later in Genesis though we read of Esau rising to the occasion in showing kindness to his brother even though Jacob manipulated him twice – first with a bowl of stew and second when in collaboration with his mother Rebekah, Jacob tricked his father into passing the inheritance that was due Esau to him.
This morning I want to touch on the incident of Esau selling his birthright and see if we can glean any insight and application for our lives.
When her time came to give birth, there were indeed twins in her womb. The first one came out red-looking, covered with hair like a fur coat, and they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out grasping Esau’s heel with his hand. So he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.
When the boys grew up, Esau became an expert hunter, an outdoorsman, but Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home. Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for wild game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field exhausted. He said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, because I’m exhausted.” That is why he was also named Edom.
Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
“Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die, so what good is a birthright to me?”
Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to Jacob and sold his birthright to him. Then Jacob gave bread and lentil stew to Esau; he ate, drank, got up, and went away. So Esau despised his birthright.Genesis 25:24–34
Let’s Make Some Observations
Firstly, there was a physical advantage to the BIRTHRIGHT
The Birthright was a double portion of the family inheritance plus more.
The amount would have been very large depending on the family and in the case of Isaac, it was substantial.
In fact we know that what Esau eventually received was great according to Genesis 36:6-7 which records that the family, livestock, and property of both brothers was so great that the land could not support them both and Esau moved to another area.
More importantly there was a spiritual advantage to the BIRTHRIGHT
- Esau would have become the Patriarch and Priest of the home after his father’s death.
- He would have been chief of the chosen family and heir to the promise of blessing. He would have been able to invoke the blessing of Abraham, regarding the threefold promise (Gen 12:1-3)
The Lord said to Abram:
Go from your land,Genesis 12:1–3
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
So the Birthright was not just a trivial moment passed down from generation to generation, but had significant physical and spiritual blessing that were connected to it.
Our text tells us that, unfortunately Esau despised his birthright – now that’s serious. That means he held no regard for his birthright at all to be so flippant about it. Did he think that Jacob was only kidding? Was it some kind of joke that his twin brother would ask such a thing. Why did he have such little regard for it. Did he think that his birthright was secure no matter what he did?
Esau probably should have realised that something was up when he knew that Jacob’s name means “Supplanter, or follower behind”
Lets Make a Deal
Anyway, we are told that Esau comes in and is famished from a long day of hunting, but no reward of game.
Jacob says, Esau, brother of mine, firstborn of my father and holder of what I want…LETS MAKE A DEAL – my paraphrase.
What happens – Esau chose the physical over the SPIRITUAL He chose the now over the promise.
- He gave into the cravings of his hunger
- He valued the stew more highly then his birthright
- For that reason he was called a godless person.
And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal. For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, even though he sought it with tears, because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance.Hebrews 12:16–17
Esau chose the PRESENT over the FUTURE.
He tossed away future reward for present gratification. And don’t forget, he and his brother would have been raised as people of the promise. They would have known what it was to have fellowship with God and known that there was a divine future for them!
Jesus was tempted to do the same wasn’t He? in the desert by Satan. He was hungry and the devil said you can make these stones bread. Jesus could have fulfilled his physical desire for food in an instant but would have forfeited His future Glory. Esau succumbed to his flesh and forfeited his future.
In a fraction of a moment a tummy was filled, but a promise was lost. ESAU MADE A DEAL AND IT WAS A BAD ONE!!
Now let’s talk about…
Our BIRTHRIGHT AS A CHRISTIAN
God is the God who heals, protects, delivers, saves, anoints, upholds, walks beside us as Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Amen!!
I AM an heir according to the promise made to Abraham
The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.Romans 8:16–17
I AM saved by grace through faith:
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.Ephesians 2:8–9
I HAVE an incorruptible inheritance:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.1 Peter 1:3–4
As a result of this –
I will walk by the SPIRIT and not by the FLESH
I will live in the promise of my inheritance and not in the present of my life
Our lives are always full of some kind of struggle. The enemy is always tempting us to act upon our flesh, just like Esau’s desire for food, it caused him to make a rash decision that changed his life.
I must determine everyday that I will walk in the blessing and provision of my birthright, given to me through my adoption into the family of God through the blood of Christ on the cross of Calvary.
We need to head the words of the Apostle Paul when he says,
Working together with him, we also appeal to you, “Don’t receive the grace of God in vain.” For he says:
At an acceptable time I listened to you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.
See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!2 Corinthians 6:1–2
Even though Jacob had been appointed by God to receive His promises and carry on the line of Abraham, he acts selfishly, running ahead of God to secure the birthright, manipulating Esau. This trait follows Jacob throughout life. He sometimes schemed, connived, and deceived to secure the best in life (what God had promised) instead of waiting on God to provide. He had a way of trying to “help God out” from time to time. As he aged, he was eventually forced to grow, mature, trust, and rely completely and totally on God.
Let me ask you this this question. How often do you miss God’s blessings or get yourself in a bind when you try to “help God out”? How do we learn to fully rely on God and trust in His plan? But more importantly are we missing the value of our inheritance and birthright given to us by God as a result?
Isn’t it wonderful to read in God’s Word that, even when we as humans can make a mess of life, that He still has given us guidelines to live by?
Are we missing the value of our inheritance and birthright given to us by God?
We are reminded in the New Testament that we are children of God. Why?
So that we can be glorified the same way Jesus was. Jesus was nothing like Esau – he didn’t despise His birthright nor the responsibilities that came with it – including dying on the cross for our sins. We have the ability to become co-heirs with Christ.
What value have you placed on your birthright and inheritance promised by God?
It was too late for Esau. He had already made his decisions, and even though he cried out to his father – there was nothing that could be done. He despised his birthright, counted it as nothing.
Don’t miss the value of your inheritance and birthright given to you by God! Today, if you are not a co-heir with Christ, you can be.
We need to be aware that the time will come when it is too late; no matter how many tears we may shed, the consequences of the choices we make may be irreversible. After Esau lost the blessing to Jacob, he sought to get it back, but it was too late.
Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many. And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal. For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, even though he sought it with tears, because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance.Hebrews 12:14–17
The writer reminds the Hebrew Christians about the eventual remorse of Esau. He was sorry for what he had allowed to slip away. He looked for a way to undo it but there was none.
Do you know the value of what you have from God – don’t abandon it.
We are at the beginning of a new year.
This is a great opportunity for us to re-dedicate our lives to Jesus and pursue Him this year in all that we do.
If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour then today is the day to set that right.
Could we all please stand and bow our heads while I pray. My first prayer will be a prayer of re-dedication.
Then I will ask for anyone who wants to know the love, joy and peace that only a personal relationship with Jesus can bring to raise your hand and I will pray a second prayer for you.
Prayer of re-dedication
Heavenly Father, I choose this day to rededicate my life to You. I commit my heart, my mind, my words, my actions, everything I have, and everything that I am to You. I purposely draw close to You and I thank You that you draw close to me. In Jesus name – Amen.
And now with every eye closed, there is an opportunity for those who don’t know Jesus as Lord to give their life to Him. If that’s you then a prayer of confession will be cast on the wall behind me. Lift up your hand and follow with me as I pray this prayer with you.
Prayer for Salvation
Heavenly Father, I come to you in prayer, asking you to forgive me of all of my sins. I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is the Son of God. And that He died on the Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven and have Eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I ask you right now to come into my life and be my Lord and personal Savior. I repent of all my sins and will worship you all the days of my life. I confess with my mouth that I am born again and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
I ask you to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to fill me and help me to walk faithfully and become the person that you created me to be. Father, thank you for forgiving me of all my sins and for saving my life in Jesus mighty name. Amen.