I remember the first time I heard a teaching on Jacob and Esau. It was many years ago, and I couldn't believe that someone would sell their birthright for a bowl of soup! I will say that there is nothing quite like a perfect bowl of hot soup, with a crusty piece a bread (I can practically taste Panera's french onion soup with extra cheese)...but come on, for your BIRTHRIGHT!?!
The very concept blew my mind.
"When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, "Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished." Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, "First sell me your birthright." Esau said, "Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?" And Jacob said, "First swear to me"; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright." Genesis 25: 29-34
Now in this teaching, it was all about how foolish Esau was and how he was not blessed or favored by God, due largely to this action. And I judged Esau harshly in my heart. But funny thing about hearts...they become less judgemental as you experience life.
So what meaning does "birthright" have for us? When Christ died and arose he became the first among many brothers. There is a birthright of righteousness, blessing and favor we receive in faith through Jesus.
When we moved here to Colorado, I expected angels to sing when we crossed the state line. I expected a ray of sunshine to follow our car as we drove into the city. We had never obeyed and followed God in such a radical way before. But that didn't happen. Not that God wasn't with us EVERY step of the way. But there was no physical evidence that we were in the middle of God's Will for our lives. The first 8 months we were here were the most difficult of our lives. God had told us to to come to Colorado for the first step toward full-time ministry, and we knew He had AMAZING things in store for us. But when you get bogged down with life: wondering how you are going to keep the heat on, or where your next meal is coming from you say to yourself, "Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?"
I remember those moments so well, where we were standing on the precipice of unbelief. So tempted to take the (seemingly) easy over the perfect. And we were tempted to sell the future God had for us (birthright) for some comfort (bowl of soup). Daydreaming about how wonderful it would feel knowing that a paycheck was coming, job security, or money in the bank. Then a very soft spot formed in my heart for Esau. I realized: I am Esau.
But Jesus has redeemed me from myself, and there is grace that overtakes me to keep me on the path God has laid out. So, although temptation has been there more than once to take the bowl of soup, we will take hold of the birthright purchased for us.