Saturday, April 5, 2008

You Are What You Eat #2

2. Esau ate the bowl of bean soup. . .

Here is the second article in my series on eating in the Bible. . .

Genesis 25:29-34
KJV And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name calledEdom . 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swore unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

NIV Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, "Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!" (That is why he was also called Edom. )

Jacob replied, "First sell me your birthright."

"Look, I am about to die," Esau said. "What good is the birthright to me?"

But Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.
So Esau despised his birthright.

What a fascinating incident this is of the two brothers Jacob and Esau, twin sons of Isaac. Esau was born first and by those few moments preceding Jacob in birth, Esau had the right of the first born. This was significant in these times. The first born would receive the greater inheritance. The first born could expect the greater blessing from his father and the last that I will mention, but not least significant, the first born was always to be dedicated to the Lord.

What happens here, what Esau does here is reflective of our life long battle between the spiritual and the carnal. Spiritual things are of the air, of breath. . . intangible. Carnal things are of the physical, of the flesh. . . of meat.

We do not know for sure, but it is just said that Esau came in from the field. It does not say that he came in from 40 days fasting in the wilderness. The Bible does not tell us that Esau was on the verge of death, but only that he was famished after some unknown time in the open country. It is said in earlier verses that one of the distinguishing preferences of the two brothers was that Esau liked hunting and the out of doors, a man's man so to speak, while Jacob liked cooking, the softer things, he may have been somewhat of a mama's boy and true to form in the scene we have before us Jacob is cooking when Esau returns from his adventures out of doors.

Jacob is cooking his soup, stirring it before Esau. Esau wants some of that soup. He's hungry. He's faint, he says that he is in the Hebrew '`ayeph' translated as weary or faint. In the 17 times that this word appears in the Bible, it always means 'very hungry'. It never means starving and on your deathbed. Esau is exaggerating in order to get what he wants. He had a skewed sense of value. He was a man driven by his physical appetites and undervaluing all other currencies in his life. Now he rationalizes to himself, he justifies his filling his gut with what should have been the jewels of his inheritance:

Genesis 25:32
And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

At the point of death? Does that ring true to you? You can spend weeks without food and not be at the point of death from hunger. Esau is a liar. He lies to himself through his words to Jacob.

Both of Isaac's sons hungered. Esau hungered for Jacob's stew. Jacob was focused from the moment of birth upon what he wanted. Jacob was contending with Esau from the time they were born for the birth right, grasping Esau's heel, wrestling with Esau as he would later successfully wrestle with God:

Genesis 25:25-26
And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. (26) And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bore them.

Jacob hungered for the right to be called 'first born'. Esau's hunger was an appetite of the flesh. His craving was for his flesh to be fed. The pangs of the flesh are insistent and loud, and not at all considering of consequences.

In my mind it would be too much to think that Jacob had all this planned out in his mind ahead of time, but whether divinely inspired or seizing upon a long awaited opportunity, Jacob was prepared. He saw an opening and he acted not impulsively, but in culmination of a sign given on his birth day, fulfilling his name. . . offering a bowl of savory lentil soup for the intangible birthright of Esau's.

Another thing to consider, generally you will not ask someone for something or ask them to do something that there isn't at least a possibility that of their saying 'yes'. For example if someone tries to bribe you to compromise your integrity, then you should be very worried, for it must appear to them possible, you must not have made it very well known known that you value your integrity greatly. For Jacob to offer to buy Esau's birthright, to me is an indication that Jacob had reason to believe that Esau did not value it very much.

What a fool Esau was. . . do those words ring in the passages of your mind? And yet. . .how many times have I sold things of great value in my life for something humble and low. . . the moral equivalent of a bowl of bean soup. How often have I felt the pangs of the flesh and given in to them for a lowly bowl of beans. . .This transaction between Jacob and Esau can be seen as a representation of the struggle we face everyday between desires of the holy and of the carnal.

The writer of Hebrews sees this parallel also:

Hebrews 12:16-17
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. (17) For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Esau came to the point where he recognized that which he had so foolishly sold, but it was too late. Some decisions cannot be undone. The pangs of the flesh return and what is gone is gone. Be careful of burning furniture for warmth in the fireplace. The heat of what is consumed there will only last a brief season. The floor will be hard long into the future. . .

Always stop to consider the cost of the meal and what comes with it. Along with the soup, came a lifetime of regret and tears. . .

I love you my God. . .
Please help see the true value of things. . .
Help me avoid the tears of Esau. . .


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