Monday, April 12, 2010
Are You Selling Your Birthright?
There is a story in the Bible about Esau: the eldest son who sold his birthright to his younger brother: Jacob. Birthright was the right given to the first born child whose mother was legally married, and was not a slave or concubine. It was for someone who normally would be the heir when his father passed away. The advantage was that he received a double portion of the property (Deut 21:7) and served as the family head (Gen 27:36). Women did not receive birthrights because families were patrilineal or considered paternally. Though the first born acquired the birthright status naturally by birth, it was also like a privilege that could be seized. That is why Reuben’s own was taken away from him. Why didn’t God give it to those after Reuben (Gen 25: 31-34)? Birthright could be taken away from you if you defiled it (I Chr 5:1). He defiled it by committing incest (Gen 49: 1-4). Their father bypassed them for lack of character and charisma (Gen 49:5-10). Instead, he gave it to Joseph his favorite son (gen 49:22-26). Birthrights could be exchanged between the heirs and those who coveted it. That is why it was possible for Esau to give it to Jacob for some bread and portage of lentils. Once exchanged, it could not be taken back. But here is the crux.
And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept (Gen 27:38).
By selling that birthright, Esau showed he loved the world more than God; thereby making enmity with God, for the friend of the world is the enemy of God. That is why God hated Esau. Why could Isaac not take it back, or why couldn’t he give another one to Esau if he could not take it back? He could have given him another one if it was just a physical thing. It was also a spiritual thing. Blessings were spiritual words and words uttered are irretrievable. Balaam said “How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed, or how shall I defy whom the LORD hath not defied” (Num 23:8)? Isaac represented God and once he had blessed him to inherit the birthright, he could not recover it because there could only be one family head at a time.
The promise for him to be the heir was not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith since the just live by faith. Remember that "without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Esau did not have the faith that God will carry him through the hunger. Do you have faith that God will carry you through your situation?
It is the writer to the Hebrews (12:16-17) who gives us a clearer picture of its significance. This passage exposes to us that even repentance and forgivingness will not erase the consequences of certain sins or mistake that we do. Verse 16 explains that just for the moment or the desire to satisfy the immediate desires of the flesh, people like Esau overlook long term consequences. Take a look at unprotected sex or illicit sex as a whole. Just for the pleasure of the moment, many forgo their long term commitments and alliance and break the covenant of the marriage vows. That of Esau was the result of a bad decision, and there are consequences of certain bad decisions we must live with for life. He reacted to his immediate need not looking at the long term consequences.
Spiritually, Jesus is the firstborn, and he takes the inheritance. Then we as his brothers and sisters become the coheirs (Rom 8: 29; Col 1:17-19 Heb 1:2-6). I pray that the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened so that you may know the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance for the saints.
Until then, guard jealously your birthright.
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk
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