Sunday, 21 October 2007 00:00

Sacrificing the Eternal for the Temporal

Genesis 25:24-34 (KJV)

And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

Have you ever missed out on something really big? Maybe you had opportunity for an investment, or you had the opportunity to take a job with a small company and passed it up, only to watch profits soar. Esau is a person who sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. The firstborn son possessed the birthright, and it made him the priest of the home, in charge of spiritual matters, and promised a double blessing. Why did Esau pass this up?

  1. There are certain feelings resident in the person who misses spiritual blessings.
    Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. We have warrant to believe that he was only fifteen at the time this occurred. Youth has a way of missing the eternal blessing.
    1. You feel the sensual more pleasurable than the spiritual (v32).
      Esau saw the stew. He smelled the stew. He sold his birthright. Some will say of him, "But he was starving." God never intended for our appetites to be filled apart from His plan for our lives. Christ alone has the power to give meaning.
    2. You feel the immediate more important than the ultimate.
      When you fill your appetites apart from God's will, you ultimately end up full of despair, bitterness and emptiness. The trap of the temporal is that it promises to fill you up with pleasure and happiness—but it never ultimately lasts—ever.
    3. You feel the "here and now" and not the hereafter.
      The only way your focus can be on heaven is to live in light of your death. "It is wise to think soberly and seriously about my departure from this world; this is one reason the Bible teaches us to number our days and put our house in order because I will soon pass from the land of the dying to the land of the living." Earnest Reisinger.
  2. There is a certain finality that characterizes the person who misses the spiritual.
    Esau lost the blessing. He sacrificed the birthright for a bowl of stew. Some of you hear this story and think "How silly of Esau!" But you are doing the exact same thing. "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" (Hebrews 12:17). Nobody can be sure when that line is crossed, but there comes a day when the person who has lived his life for the pleasures of this world, and missing out on the real and eternal pleasure that Christ brings, will long for it, but will be unable to find it at all.
  3. There are certain failures that come to the person who misses the spiritual.
    The problems associated with people who sacrifice the eternal for the temporal are:
    1. Unrestrained living"[Guard yourself] lest there be a fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright" (Hebrews 12:16). Profane—to take that which is sacred and use it for unsacred purposes.
    2. Unhealthy relationships—Though God informed the family of Isaac to not marry heathens, we find Esau marrying women from foreign lands.
    3. Ungodly children—The descendants of Esau were called the Edomites. This is an interesting tidbit of information, particularly since King Herod was an Edomite. A man who cares nothing for the eternal perpetuates this in his kids.

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