On Despising the Birthright of the Firstborn

When the boys (Esau and Jacob) grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a peaceful (lit. perfect, complete) man, living in tents.  Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.  And when Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished (faint or weary); 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.”  And Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?”  (Notice that Esau esteemed his birthright as not worth dying for.)  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 25:27-34

 Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.  Then he also made savory food, and brought it to his father, and he said to his father, “Let my father arise, and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.”  And Isaac his father said to him, “Who are you?”  And he said, “I am your son, your first-born, Esau.”  (Despite having despised his birthright, Esau still wants to inherit its blessing.)  Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him?  Yes, and he shall be blessed.”  (For because Esau had despised his birthright, now, through the sovereignty of God, neither could he inherit its blessing.)  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, even me also, O my father!”  And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and has taken away your blessing.”  Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times?  He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.”  And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”  But Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his brothers I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine (types of the spiritual food of the sound doctrine of the word of God that sustain one to inherit eternal life) I have sustained him.  Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?”  And Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father?  Bless me, even me also, O my father.”  So Esau lifted his voice and wept (cf. Lk 13:24-28).
Genesis 27:30-38

 I am reminded by these passages of how we must be willing to die to inherit the blessing of our birthright and not despise it as Esau did.  For this is a picture of how we are to be born again into God’s kingdom, and as Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Lk 9:24).  The author of Hebrews reminds us that those true believers who are crucified with Christ come to the “church of the first-born (plural) whose names are written in heaven” (Heb 12:23).  For in identifying themselves with Christ in His death they also identify themselves with Him in His resurrection; i.e., they identify themselves with Him who is the firstborn from the dead (Col 1:18) and the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8:29).  In this way they too shall inherit the eternal life of which the blessing of the first-born is a type.  If, then, we would inherit eternal life, we must also in obedience take up our cross and lay down our lives rather than clinging to the lusts of the carnal flesh as did Esau.  For in disobeying the commands of God we thereby despise His word and our birthright.  For indeed, that word is the living and abiding Word of Whom we are born again so as to have a birthright in His kingdom of righteousness (cf. 1 Pet 1:23).

But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people.  Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be on him (it will not be forgiven him).
Numbers 15:30-31

 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.  Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God (and thus despised the living and incarnate Word of God), and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted (blasphemed) the Spirit of grace (cf. Mt 12:31-32)?  For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.”  And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10:26-31

 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.  For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing (of the firstborn, which is a type of the eternal life that is found by those who come to the church of the firstborn), he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
Hebrews 12:15-17

 For as we have already seen, after despising his birthright Esau still sought the blessing of the firstborn (Gen 27:30-38).  And yet, because he had despised his birthright, neither was it to be that he should inherit its blessing.  May we, then, heed this warning of the author of Hebrews and learn from Esau’s example:  Let us never despise those blessed beginnings and rights and responsibilities of the gospel in our hearts (most especially the need to take up our cross and follow Christ by dying to the carnal flesh), lest in the end we be rejected from inheriting the blessing of eternal life as well.

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