Lesson 6 -- fourth quarter 2007
October 7, 2007
© Copyright 2007
Do you fully understand God's election of Jacob to be the covenant bearer? I doubt whether I do! So if you have a rock-solid explanation of the matter, I am very much interested in hearing from you. In the meantime, I am satisfied with my understanding, which I will introduce with this: Wasn't Jacob as bad as Esau?
Take another look at Hebrews 12:16-17 before hazarding an answer. Then weigh those verses with the information found in Genesis 27:36.
"Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."
"And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing."
God called Esau a profane person. This means he was a person with base values, unconcerned with things of spiritual significance. On the other hand, Jacob was a supplanter and a deceiver from early on. Thus wasn't Jacob as bad as Esau? It looks like it, eh? After all, I certainly would not want to say that being deceptive is better than being profane! But let's not hasten to conclusions.
I believe God rejected Esau because of his attitude toward the covenant. Being a part of God's people meant absolutely nothing to Esau (32-34). He commented, "What profit shall this birthright do to me?" So he "despised his birthright" and sold it to Jacob.
I don't think Jacob pursued the birthright and the blessing just for the challenge of beating his brother out of something. I suspect that Jacob didn't want to be another Ishmael, cut out of the special covenant. Jacob's connivings, maneuverings and deceivings were definitely not God's way of securing his place in the covenant, but his value of the birthright was right.
Tactics aside, let's personalize this. Are you a Jacob? Or are you an Esau? At the time of your new birth, you received a birthright. God expects you to guard it zealously and value it above all else. Don't exchange it for a bit of nothing like Esau did! He was so profane (base, common, low down) as to trade something eternal and spiritual for something very temporal and material. What about you?
Search the Scriptures and become acquainted with the glorious facets of your birthright. Let me get your project launched with just a few verses pertaining to this. Hebrews 11:16, 1 Peter 2:9-11, and 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 place us solidly among God's special covenant people. In 1 John 5:11 God places it "on the record" -- He has given us eternal life in His Son. Matthew 11:28 makes us beneficiaries of a rare commodity -- rest. Hebrews 4:16 gives us bold, unlimited access to God's mercy, grace and help. First John 5:4,18 promise us victory over the world, the devil and our flesh. Colossians 2:10 promises fulfillment.
Are you hanging on to your birthright no matter what? Do not sell out for the "common stuff" of life!
Esau, a man absorbed with the present. Esau, a man distracted by the temporal. Esau, a man driven by his passions. No wonder Esau despised his heritage and his inheritance. No wonder he settled for soup.
Now let's be as honest and sincere as we can. Here is our question: What are some situations where we just might have Esau Priorities? When might we choose according to material "imperatives" rather than according to spiritual principles?
Money vs Service. Money is imperative in our society. Without it we can't very well cover the expenses of living in the present and preparing for the future. Even so, this imperative must yield to the principle of service. Would you rather be a voluntary service teacher on the Mexico mission field or a gizmo assembler in an Oregon manufacturing plant? (Should your rathers have anything to do with the matter, anyway?) The choice is between $200 a month and $7.50 an hour. NO, IT ISN'T!! But I'll let you determine what the real choices are. On the other hand, your decision may not involve mission fields and manufacturing plants. It may be as "simple" as donating your time (and delaying a certain acquisition) to the deacon's remodeling project.
Pleasure vs Sacrifice. Fun is another imperative. Well, let me try again with more palatable terminology. Rest, recreation and relaxation are essential to our well-being. Whatever we call it, the imperative of pleasure must yield to the principle of sacrifice. It may involve giving up a softball-and-pizza evening to mow the church cemetery and pull weeds in a widow's garden. I know, that's really not much for sacrifice, but sometimes it is those "small" ones that really defeat us.
Convenience vs Conscience. Dare we call convenience an imperative? Perhaps not, but we certainly do dare live as though it were precisely that! But the Christian must choose to live by the principle of conscience, no matter how much that may inconvenience us. Got any practical applications for this point?
Oh, one more thing. Did you notice that the first items in the three sets above are not necessarily wrong or out-of-bounds for the Christian? But then, neither is soup!
So there you have it, incompletely compressed into a few paragraphs: Will you die for your spiritual heritage or will you opt for the soup kitchen? I must remind myself here (and you can listen in) that this question is not most accurately answered in the monumental decisions, but in the normal decisions of everyday life.
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