What Is This Birthright to Me?
Esau and Jacob, although they were twin brothers, had little in common according to the book of Genesis. "Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents" (Gen. 25:27). We also know from Genesis 27:11 that Esau was a hairy man and Jacob was smooth skinned. But, their differences extended well beyond their physical appearances. Even at birth the LORD predicted that Jacob, whose name means supplanter or deceiver, would excel his brother in strength--Esau would be his servant (Gen. 25:23).

Jacob's strength as a supplanter or deceiver is seen clearly in Genesis 25:29-34 - "Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, 'Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.' Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, 'Sell me your birthright as of this day.' And Esau said, 'Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?' Then Jacob said, 'Swear to me as of this day.' So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright."

Esau came in from the field exhausted and famished. No doubt the smell of the stew his brother had prepared intensified his desire for food. Jacob, realizing his brother's impulsive nature and desiring to profit from it, offered Esau the stew--at a heavy price. The stew, which was nothing more than a meal, would cost the firstborn son his birthright, if he wanted to partake.

Esau, at that moment, did not care much about a blessing that couldn't sustain his life immediately. His birthright would entitle him to a double portion of his father's inheritance, but what good was that to him since he would not survive without eating at that very moment--or so he thought.

From our perspective it is easy to see that Jacob took advantage of his brother in a time of weakness. It is also readily apparent that Esau was an impulsive fool driven by his lusts.

Tragically, there are those today who have much in common with Esau. How so, you ask? I can think of two primary ways:

1. Some, like Esau, make impulsive, foolish decisions that they regret the rest of their lives (cf. Gen. 27:36).

How many have hastily spoken evil words to or about others--words they regret later? How many have acted on something without giving it much thought, and they reap the consequences of the foolish act for life? Unfortunately, there is probably a bit of Esau in all of us in this regard.

2. Some, like Esau, do not have a proper valuation of their birthright, and consequently, they foolishly throw it away.

What birthright, Stephen? Well, Esau's birthright was physical, and it is true that there is no real parallel to that in American culture. However, I believe that Christians certainly have a spiritual birthright--namely, the right to be called children of God and heirs of eternal life (cf. Heb. 12:12-17). Sometimes Christians tragically throw their salvation away via sinful living and hard, impenitent hearts. I can only speculate that they do such because they aren't thinking of the value of what they are casting aside so carelessly. A lousy bowl of stew wasn't worth Esau's birthright, and no amount of sinful living is worth losing a home in heaven! Think about it! Adultery isn't worth that price; drunkenness isn't worth that price; stealing isn't worth that price; lying isn't worth that price; on and on we could go. Friends, nothing in this life is worth your spiritual birthright! If you are a Christian, don't be like Esau--you will regret it eventually. If you're not a Christian, then you need to believe and obey the Lord to be born again and to lay hold of your spiritual birthright.