The lineage of the Messiah Jesus flows like a river through time. We are shown in Genesis 17 and 18 that God has separated Abraham from the nations around him designating his descendants as the building blocks upon which the Messiah would eventually stand.
The miracle child Isaac, born from the restored womb of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, became the father of twins, Jacob and Esau. Of the two, Jacob was chosen by God to be the next link in the Messiah’s family line.
The story of the two brothers begins in Genesis chapter twenty-five. It had been prophesied by God to the boy’s mother, Rebekah that she would have twins and “the elder shall serve the younger” (verse 23). Esau was the first to emerge from Rebekah’s womb, therefore being seen as the firstborn, the birthright would belong to him. We are shown that as an adult, that title and family privilege meant very little to him. Let’s read Genesis 25, verses 21 through 34. –
Gen 25:29 And Jacob cooked lentils: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
Gen 25:30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Feed me, I pray you, with that same red lentils; for I am faint:” therefore was his name called Edom.
Gen 25:31 And Jacob said, “Sell me this day your birthright.”
Gen 25:32 And Esau said, “Lok, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?”
Gen 25:33 And Jacob said, “Swear to me this day;” and he swore to him: and he sold his birthright to Jacob.
Gen 25:34 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.
Esau thought so little of his birthright, he willingly traded something that was of great value just to gratify a temporary need of his flesh. He could have been included in the Messiah’s royal line, but he disqualified himself because of his lust. “Thus Esau despised his birthright” (verse 34).
Therefore Esau becomes figurative of someone who does not value the spiritual things of God above the physical.
With this in mind, we shall fast forward into the future and assemble ourselves with Jesus and His disciples as He shares with them His parable of the sower found in Matthew 13, verses 3 through 23.
Mat 13:3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
Mat 13:4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
Mat 13:5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
Mat 13:6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
Mat 13:7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
Mat 13:8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
Mat 13:9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mat 13:10 And the disciples came, and said to Him, Why do you speak to them in parables?
Mat 13:11 He answered and said to them, “Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Mat 13:12 For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even what he has.
Mat 13:13 Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
Mat 13:14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, “By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive:
Mat 13:15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Mat 13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
Mat 13:17 For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.
Mat 13:18 You hear therefore the parable of the sower.
Mat 13:19 When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
Mat 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and right away with joy receives it;
Mat 13:21 Yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Mat 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
Mat 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
God sows His word into the hearts of the people. In this parable, we can see Esau in the description of the one who falls away when the going gets tough. This person is the equivalent of someone who is willing to deny Jesus in order to save their flesh. Like Esau, they do not recognize that denying the atonement can cost them eternity. They are trading the permanent for the temporary in order to save their lives or gratify fleshly desires. They are incapable of taking up their cross and bearing it with Jesus to the end. Thus heaven’s gates will be closed to them, and they will not open, even if, like Esau, they cry many tears (Hebrews 12:17, Genesis 27:34-38).
Let’s take this lesson we have learned from Esau’s example and be determined never to forsake Jesus for anyone or anything that is offered to us to take His place. Let’s also emulate Jacob’s example and be someone who values the word of God. In these two men we can see the contrast between the faithful church represented by Jacob, and the apostate church in Esau.
Because Esau was not fully committed to following the Lord, he ended up marrying a foreign wife, which was a grief to his parents (Genesis 26:34,35). She was from a people that worshipped pagan gods. Esau’s lack of commitment to God mirrors that of some of today’s church leaders who also “marry foreign wives” so to speak, by abandoning the absolutes in God’s word and embrace aberrant doctrines. We can look to the Apostle John for his take on this practice. –
1John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
He continues in in chapter four verse six. –
1John 4:6 We are of God: he that knows God hears us; he that is not of God does not hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Esau’s falling away earned him a new name, (Genesis 36:1). He was called Edom and became the father of a nation that lived in opposition to the nation of Israel. Likewise, when apostate church leadership is confronted by believers who are faithful to God’s absolutes, which includes Jesus’ declaration that He is the only way to God,(John 14:6), the true believers will face persecution. This fulfills Jesus’ prophecy that His true followers will be persecuted by members of their own households (Matthew 10:36); family members as well as the church members who are Christians in name only.
Let’s contemplate the example we have been given in Esau, and be determined to deny the lusts of our flesh, pick up our cross on a daily basis, and follow Jesus no matter what the cost. Let’s value our birthright in Him and cleave to Him with all of our hearts. Our future depends upon it because, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Copyright 2023 by H.D. Shively
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