These past several weeks, we’ve been taking an in depth look at the people of the Bible. What did God teach them and how can we apply those same lessons to our lives today? Thus far, we’ve taken a look at: Eve, Adam, Abel, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Sarah, Lot’s Wife, Abraham’s Servant, and Rebekah. Today, we’ll be taking a deeper look at Esau.
In Genesis chapter 25, it mentions that Rebekah gave birth to twins. Esau was hairy like a garment. In verse 27, it says, “So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents.” Because Esau hunted wild game, Isaac favored him, whereas Rebekah favored Jacob.
But then, Esau does something that not only is shocking, but set the stage for the rivalry that was about to take place between them. Genesis chapter 25, verses 29 through 34 says, “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 him bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
First, from these verses we can tell that Esau seems to be a hard worker. He stays out hunting and provides game for his family. So, in this particular instance, he came home exhausted. Rather than help his brother and give the stew to him freely, Jacob took the opportunity to try to gains something of it. But that’s a tale for next week. Esau was exhausted and likely starving, so he sold his birthright for some food. On the one hand, he was hungry and exhausted, but on the other, he gave away something so important for so little. Did his birthright mean so little to him?
When God gives us gifts in life, we should take care of them and place God in first priority, rather than what we want. God sees and knows our needs and will provide, but sometimes, He will test our faith and allow us to be pushed to our limits. When Esau was pushed to his, he discarded his birthright. Later, he came to regret it, after Jacob deceived Isaac into giving it to him. As a result, Esau’s response was anger—he tried to kill his brother, forcing Jacob to flee his family and leave for many years.
Not only could Esau have cherished his birthright enough not to give it away for so little, but after Jacob’s mistake, Esau could have forgiven him, and even gone so far as to take responsibility for the fact that he had been the one to sell his birthright to Jacob in the first place. When we are confronted with our mistakes, are we going to pass the blame onto others, or take responsibility for the part we played?
The other aspect to glean from this is also about forgiveness. Right after he lost his birthright, Esau chose not to forgive Jacob for what he had done. After Jacob had deceived Isaac into giving him the blessing, when Esau found out, he was deeply grieved. Genesis chapter 27, verse 34 says, “When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, ‘Bless me—me also, O my father!’”
Esau focused on his own pain and sorrow and it kept him from being able to forgive Jacob for the wrong he had done. When we are hurt by others, sometimes, we are blinded to our own emotions. I’ve done it; we all have. In moments of pain and hurt, we become pretty selfish, because we focus on that pain or how we’ve been hurt. Sometimes, it may even cause us to lash out at our loved ones. But it’s in those moments that forgiveness is most important. What good is forgiveness if it isn’t used when someone makes a mistake and hurts us?
This can be so hard, but we all have to try to remember that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for us—He has already forgiven you and I, so we in turn should forgive others.