In 1976 three men organized a partnership and started a personal computer business. Only a short time later one of the partners began to have serious reservations about the prospects of the fledgling company. He decided to sell his 10% stake in the partnership for $800.
The partnership eventually grew to become a major corporate player in the personal computer industry, with over a billion dollars in annual sales. If he had held on to his shares, that reluctant partner’s 10% interest could have been worth as much as $1.5 billion today!
The Bible relates a similar story about one such person, who sold what he believed was worthless—Esau, Isaac’s first–born son. We read about his story in Genesis 25:29–34: “Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.’ Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright as of this day.’ And Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?’ Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me as of this day.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
The Hebrew word for “despised” is bazah; and, according to Brown–Driver–Brigg’s Hebrew Lexicon, it means “to regard with contempt, to disdain, to consider despicable, vile and worthless.” Esau held his birthright in contempt, considered it despicable, vile and worthless. As a result God loved Esau less than Jacob, and described him as a profane, or wicked, person (Mal. 1:2–3, Heb. 12:16).
Esau was so focused on his immediate, physical hunger that a bowl of stew seemed like a good deal in exchange for his birthright. How did his priorities get so skewed? How did he lose sight of what had real and lasting value?
The Bible refers to those men and women, whom God has called out of this world, as the firstfruits and His firstborn (Rev. 14:4, Heb. 12:23). God is training us now in leadership, preparing us extensively to become kings and priests in the Kingdom of God when we will be placed in authority over cities, ruling under Jesus Christ (Rev. 5:10). As God’s royal priesthood, we will be responsible for teaching humanity the ways and laws of God (I Pet. 2:9). What an awesome birthright we have! Truly an incredible inheritance awaits us!
Several years ago, I shared a meal with a friend at a restaurant in Toronto. He told me, “Look around you, Ross. There's around 20–30 people in this restaurant. And the two of us are very likely the only ones here who know the truth. What a tremendous blessing.” We have the knowledge, the understanding of His Plan for all mankind. If we remain faithful, we will be in the place of safety, the first resurrection and the Kingdom of God.
Although our Christian walk will be filled with trials and tests, God exhorts us to endure to the end, steadfast and immoveable in His Truth, zealous in His way of life.
Where is our focus today? Are our priorities skewed toward the immediate and physical? Do we appreciate the value of what God is offering us? Or do we try to “make deals”, to compromise with and partake of this world, believing we can somehow make up for it later?
Only WE can disqualify ourselves from such an awesome inheritance. We cannot—we must not—cheapen, hold in contempt or profane our truly priceless, precious birthright as Esau did. He did not think about the long term, and he came to regret his rash decision. Now is our opportunity to take advantage of our calling, to show God what we value. We must not sell out for a bowl of stew.
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