Well, when we read Romans 9 we see that Paul explains God is sovereign; He can bless and curse whomever He wants to. Now before you go thinking, “that’s not fair” or “what’s the use of trying if God is this big, old meanie who does whatever He wants”, remember God’s character.
God is righteous, just, and fair. As it says in Hosea, “I am God, not a human being.”
Okay, so God is not a man who by whim of emotion hated Esau. So there must be a good reason. And we should look at that reason so we can avoid being like Esau. As we study the story of Esau, we discover there are actually several reasons why God hated him. Today we will look at one of them.
Esau was self-centered, living for the moment, and godless. Being the firstborn had no value. He preferred to be out hunting rather than tending to his inheritance and learning the ways of Adonai from his father and grandfather.
His grandfather?! Yes, if Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, and died at 175, then he was alive for the first 15 years of the Esau’s life. Esau would have heard the story of creation and the story of the flood. He would have heard from Abraham how the Creator called him from the land of Ur and promised to give him land and a family so large that no one could count them. He would have heard first-hand how his grandmother, Sarah, was barren and by a miracle of God gave birth to his father when she was 90. He would also hear how his parents had prayed for 20 years for his birth. Or maybe all those stories bored him. Maybe, like so many teenagers today, he headed out the door to do his own thing rather than having to listen to another long, boring story.
Obviously it all meant nothing to him because he sold his birthright to his twin brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew. Why? According to Esau he was “about to die” from hunger. Seriously? This man was a prince. His grandfather, Abraham, had accumulated so much wealth that he had to split off from Lot. His father Isaac added more to that and had so much that the Philistines asked him to leave their area. And yet here he was, starving to death ready to give up the right of firstborn for a bowl of vegetable soup! There wasn’t even meat in it!
So what exactly did Esau sell? What was the right of firstborn?
When it comes to inheritance, the firstborn is entitled to a double portion. That means if there are two children, the firstborn gets two-thirds of the estate, and the second child gets one-third. Likewise, if there are three children, the estate is divided into four, the firstborn getting half, and the remaining two children one-quarter each.
So maybe Esau was thinking that one-third of the estate was plenty. But there’s more.
The firstborn becomes the head of the family. As the head, he operates in the role of the priest in the family. In this case, he would be the one to lead the family in the worship of Adonai, teaching the family His statutes, laws, and ordinances. But wait! What laws? The giving of the law didn’t happen until Sinai.
When we look at Genesis 26, where God met with Isaac, God explained He was going to bless Isaac “because Abraham heeded what I said and did what I told him to do – he followed my mitzvot, my regulations, and my teachings.” So there was something that Abraham knew about God, and he passed that on to Isaac who in turn passed it on to the twins. Or did he?
Remember, Genesis 25 tells us that Esau became a skillful hunter while Jacob stayed in the tents. It was in the tents that Jacob learned from his parents the way of Adonai. It was in the tents that he would observe his father leading the family, worshiping God, and running the family business. Jacob would know the value of the covenant promise God gave to Abraham and confirmed with Isaac. He would know that the greatest inheritance for the firstborn is that covenant promise.
But Esau spent his time doing what he wanted. And what he wanted was to hunt and be outside. And when he came in, he wanted to eat. It reminds me of how we are today with a need for instant gratification. Think about it. Jacob was cutting a deal. He offered Esau instant gratification – a bowl of vegetable stew – in exchange for the covenant promise from God.
At the snap of Esau’s finger he could have had a team of servants prepare a feast for him. But he couldn’t wait. He didn’t want to wait. He didn’t want to think about the consequences, because he wanted instant gratification. Whatever God had to offer him, he wasn’t interested. So when Jacob offered him a trade, he took it.
So what can we learn from this?
- We should have our priorities in order, keeping God and family in the forefront of our minds.
- The promises of God, even when they seem slow in coming, far outweigh the satisfaction of the moment.
- We should always stop and think about the consequences of our choices.
Does it make a little more sense now, why God hated Esau? Did you learn something new? If so, be sure to share this post and come back for part two!