I want to devote one more day to the example of Esau found here in Hebrews 12:16-17. We are told he sold his birthright for a single meal! First, let’s consider what his “birthright” was in those days. The birthright among the ancient Hebrews conferred upon the eldest son the right and privilege of spiritual leadership within the family and carried with it a double portion of their father’s estate, which indicated authority over their younger siblings. Slighting the birthright was a slighting of ministry in God’s name, but also a slighting of honoring one’s family name.
We may look at Esau and conclude that we would never make such a bad choice. However, the reality is that each and every time we choose the temporal, physical, and material over the spiritual we are doing exactly what Esau did. Our choice may not have the long-term ramifications or consequences that Esau’s choice had, but the choice is in the same vein none the less. We opt for the crumbs from the world’s table rather than the feast set out before us at the King’s table. And our King does have a table for us. “You prepare a feast before me in plain sight of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). Note even in this reference from Psalm 23, the feast of the King is spread out for us while dealing with adverse conditions. Our enemies are right there surrounding us. They are in plain sight. It is a good and encouraging reminder that God’s provision is sufficient and faithful whether the circumstances of life are good or bad.
Now back to Esau. Let’s take one more glance at this tragic Old Testament figure. Verse 17 says, “for you know that later when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance, although he sought the blessing with tears.” Basically, once Esau made this decision he could not go back and undo it. He also could not make up the lost time and opportunities that were now in the past. Esau had a change of heart. He wanted it all. He wanted the pot of stew and the birthright. He wanted to be regarded as the future leader of his family and still have a favorable standing among the Hittites (the enemies of God). He wanted to be famous in the world and yet remain faithful to God.
As I stated earlier, he wanted it all. However, we learn throughout life that we truly cannot have it all; that to love is to live with discriminating affection. We learn from the Bible that we cannot serve two masters and that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. “Elijah approached all the people and said, ‘How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision? If the Lord is the true God, then follow Him, but if Baal is, follow him!’” (1 Kings 18:21) Joshua exhorted the people to choose today whom they would worship, but as for him and his family they would be worshipping the Lord. (see Joshua 24:14-15)
No amount of regret can transfer us back in time to change our decision or make up for lost time and opportunity. So, let’s not run the race of our lives like Esau. Let’s not be impulsive in making decisions, for like Esau, later we may greatly regret the choices we have made especially during the heat of the moment.
One final and yet very important word. The present is your time of hope, of a fresh beginning, of new opportunity. There is forgiveness and restoration that flows to us continually from God. We cannot go back and change the past, but we can move forward in God’s love, mercy, and grace. Let the blood of Christ cover whatever failures are in your past and keep going. God redeems our past too. Do not ever stop! Do not ever quit! Do not ever give up! God never gives up on you!