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O Lord, we pray that You would deal bountifully with us, Your servants, that we may live and keep Your Word. Open our eyes that we may behold wonderful things out of Your law. Your testimonies are our delight. They are our counselors. Speak to us, God, for we are listening. In Jesus we pray. Amen.
Please turn in your Bibles to the first book of the Bible, Genesis. We come to the end of chapter 25. We’ll be reading verses 27 through 34. Genesis 25. Last week we saw the birth of Esau and Jacob, these twins in Rebekah’s womb, miraculously conceived as she was barren. She received the word from the Lord that these two boys were two nations, jostling, struggling, fighting within her, and the stronger would come from the younger, and the older would serve the younger.
And now we have the first fulfillment of that word of the Lord, as we see here how the younger supplants the older, and in particular how the older gives up what he should not.
Verse 27: “When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” 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 his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
It is one of the most famous lines uttered by a Christian in the last 100 years, and I bet many of you have heard it before: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
That one sentence from Jim Elliot is well-known precisely because Elliot, along with four other missionaries in South America, lost their earthly lives that we cannot keep and gained an eternal reward and not only that, but gained a legacy of Gospel fruitfulness, that people to whom they were trying to share the Gospel have come to embrace the Gospel, and so in losing what they could not keep, they gained what cannot be lost.
To be a Christian is to understand that what we have in Christ and who we are in Christ is more important than anything we can experience, anything we may suffer, or any desire we may have here on earth. To be a Christian means that what we have in Christ and who we are in Christ is more important than any earthly experience, or suffering, or desire. Being a Christian means knowing what we can let go and knowing what to never, ever give up.
In the last several years, we’ve been hearing more and more stories of apostasy. Now we believe as Reformed Christians that once you are truly justified you cannot become un-justified. You do not lose your salvation. And yet, the Bible is replete with examples of people who have some connection to Christ and the Church and they commit apostasy. They fall away. They were not truly born again, not truly justified, and yet they had some connection, and most of us know from experience that that happens.
Of course, as the stories are told, we don’t usually hear the word “apostasy,” that’s sort of an old-fashioned church word. What you hear instead are stories of de-conversion, they’re sometimes called. Or de-construction. Those who leave the faith, either to go into atheism or agnosticism or to a form of progressive Christianity that’s so far gone that it’s not even Christianity anymore. There’s a name given to these people, “ex-vangelicals,” because they are ex-evangelicals. They have lost, they have left behind an evangelical, a Bible-believing faith.
You don’t have to look hard to find stories of these de-conversions, of these ex-vangelicals. You may know some in your own family, among your friends, perhaps that describes you this morning, even though somebody made you come to church and you’re still here. There’s no shortage of explanations for these de-conversions.
Some of the explanations are sociological, that you just move from one stage of naivete to some greater state of maturity to leave behind these childish things, as they’re interpreted.
Or sometimes the explanation is political, that the person was tired of conservative politics that so often is in evangelical churches and so they had to leave that behind.
Or the explanation is ecclesiastical, that because of hypocrisy in the Church or hurt experienced in the Church, people had no choice but to leave all of that behind.
Other times the explanation is familial, that they came from a rigid, domineering, oppressive kind of family structure and in leaving that behind, they left behind their family’s faith.
And, if we’re honest, each of those explanations may sometimes have a part to play on a human level, sociological, political, ecclesiastical, familial.
But what’s often missing when we interpret these stories of de-construction or de-conversion, is a theological explanation. How does God’s Word explain above all of these earthly circumstances, and it’s true that there are hypocrites in the Church and people can be hurt by the Church and by their family, all of that can be true. What, however, is the larger theological explanation?
Well, here is one inspired theological explanation for why some people once connected to Christianity fall away from Christianity. It comes from Hebrews chapter 12: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. See to it that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.”
Did you hear in that passage, Hebrews chapter 12, verses 15 and 16, two theological explanations for why people connected to Christianity sometimes fall away from Christianity?
This is not the sermon, this is all just leading up to the sermon, but it connects, we’re getting to Esau.
One, did you notice, bitterness springs up. Here’s where the other explanation, sociological, familial, ecclesiastical, may have a part to play on a human level. But as there are hurts, disappointments, perhaps even being sinned against, or maybe it’s just an interpretation of being sinned against and its necessary discipline or correction, but bitterness springs up, which when wreaks havoc in a person’s life, which then leads them to defilement, to throw away their status as sanctified, that is set apart, and to become defiled. That’s one theological explanation and you won’t hear that explanation, bitterness.
The second explanation Hebrews gives us, people choose sexual immorality or some other kind of unholiness, and then choose that in place of and instead of their spiritual inheritance. You can read sometimes, I forget which one of the Huxley’s it was, who was honest enough to say that their philosophy of hedonism was developed because they simply wanted to do what they wanted to do with their bodies, and they developed a very sophisticated, metaphysic, ethical, philosophical system that was really there because they wanted to do certain things, and so some choose. They may have many other, very high-sounding, high-minded explanations, and may have even convinced themselves, but Hebrews tells us at least one of the explanations, bitterness one, two they choose sexual immorality. They choose unholiness.
Now I know college campuses are different and some are very intellectual and some are party schools, but most campuses, most campuses, if you talk to college students and you try to share the Gospel, they may have some sort of intellectual objection that they’ve borrowed from somewhere, but at its heart, what they really want is I want to do on Friday and Saturday and Sunday and Thursday it starts and actually okay, every night, I want to do what I want to do, and this Jesus thing that’s fine for you. I don’t want to get up on Sunday, I don’t want somebody to tell who I can or can’t hook up with or what sort of thing I can do.
When I was in college, and I went to a Christian college, one of my, the guy right next to me, he wasn’t my roommate but he was next door in the dorm, he said very clear to me early one, he said he was living for one thing. He had had sex when he was in high school and he said, “As far as I’m concerned, nothing could possibly be better.” That’s what he was living for. And I can tell you that he was, because he was in my room one time and I won’t go into more any details. That happens. Some people live for that. Whatever you’ve grown up with, and I saw it, and you see it, and anyone who works on a college campus, they see it. People come up with all sorts of reasons and really they want to live a certain way.
Esau was like too many people. He chose to fulfill his immediate desires instead of getting God’s blessing. He chose to fulfill those desires now instead of waiting for the blessing later, and this is the choice that thousands of Christ-influenced people, I don’t say Christians because they’re not in the truest sense of the word Christians if they fall away, but Christ-influenced people make these decisions.
And it’s the choice that Esau made back in Genesis 25. Look at our text. No one comes out like a hero in this text. You have Isaac, he comes across weak, he’s playing favorites, he’s got a favorite son. And the reason Isaac favors Esau is because he gives him the food he likes, not exactly a good reason to have a favorite.
Rebekah, she also has a favorite. Now she comes across strong, we’ve already seen she’s a strong woman, but as we’ll see in the rest of Genesis, she also can be somewhat scheming. On the one hand it’s hard to blame her – she received a word from the Lord that the older will serve the younger, so she may be justified in her mind why Jacob is her favorite.
Jacob is too shrewd for his own good. His name means “grasp the heel,” that he’s one who is trying to supplant another, a trickster, a schemer, a deceiver. Now in Jacob’s favor you could say at least he believed in the promise, at least he believed in the value of the birthright. So he has that going for him, that he wants to have the birthright for his own, but he goes about it in the wrong way, and yet God sovereignly uses it for His purposes.
So this is a family that has a lot of issues, we would say. And the point of the story is not to point to any of the family members as exceptionally praise-worthy. The story is not to make a hero out of Isaac or Rebekah or Jacob. The story is not about the merits of the patriarch and his family. It’s about God’s sovereign purposes being fulfilled even through this very imperfect family.
And there are lessons to be drawn here, in particular as we look at Esau. Now incidentally, there’s a theological point here. As we’ve seen God’s sovereignty that from the womb He chose Jacob, Romans will tell us “Jacob, I have loved, Esau, I have hated.” This is the principle of election at work. Before they had done anything good or bad. But lest you think that that high view of divine sovereignty eliminates human responsibility, no, very quickly we see that Esau is faulted here for despising his birthright, so he is still responsible for his choices and for his actions. Isaac is weak, Rebekah is cunning, Jacob is opportunistic, but Esau is faithless. Literally, he has no faith in the promise.
The blessings that God had given to Abraham, passed on to Isaac, were by birthright to belong to Esau. Humanly speaking, the great nation promised to Abraham should have come through Esau. The promised messiah, humanly speaking, should have come through his line. The Promised Land should have belonged to Esau. The birthright was his, and the summary statement in verse 34 says it so painfully well, “He despised his birthright.” That means he counted it as something worthless, worth less than a literal bowl of stew.
Now some of you like stew. I don’t even like stew. It’s not even a Chicago deep dish pizza or a Krispy Kreme donut or a pizza with donuts on top. Whatever. It’s not that. It’s a bowl of red lentil stew.
Why did Esau make such a bad choice? Why do people compromise? Why do people do the very opposite of that famous line from Jim Elliot? Why do people give up what is of immense value in exchange for something of so little value?
Well, let’s look at the recipe, no pun intended, the recipe for Esau’s tragic choice.
Number one, he was short-sighted. He was short-sighted. He was living for immediate gratification. He did not want to hear about what he might gain later. He knew he was hungry right then.
You’ve heard me say before sin makes us stupid. Sin makes us stupid. I’m sure you have seen people in your life. You scratch your head and you say how could they throw all of that away and make such an illogical choice? Because sin makes us stupid. And probably, if we’re honest, at some point in our lives, someone has looked at us that way, too.
No one logically weighs out in a moment of rational thinking as they weigh the pros and cons of an extramarital affair. Let’s see, I can have these few minutes on the one hand, or I can hurt deeply all the people that I love, I can set in motion difficult relationships with my children for the rest of my life, I can throw away whatever sort of position or standing or reputation that I’ve spent a life to build up. Let’s see, let’s see… Is this going to be worth it? No one weighs it in a moment of rational thinking.
Sin makes us stupid. Now praise God, He can forgive us. He can redeem us. He can bring healing, even for our greatest failures.
But we see this tragic mistake Esau makes because he is so short-sighted. It’s such a classic example. He is hungry and he wants to eat.
Did you also notice, and I don’t want to make too much of this spiritually, but it seems to be a fair point, he was exhausted, verse 29. Do you know when you shouldn’t make really important life decisions? When you’re absolutely exhausted. Pastors joke about this sometimes, but it’s really true. Don’t be making career decisions on Monday morning. You just had this high, you gave it everything you had, you know, pastors wouldn’t make it. That’s the time to quit. And just a little word, and most of you are really good about this, but if you do have something, you know, a nice piece of constructive criticism, it’d probably be heard better on Thursday or Wednesday than Sunday at like 12:45 or Monday morning. If you’ve got an encouragement, that’s a good time for it, because you’re exhausted.
And all of you know that just in life. That’s when you are weakest and you start to convince yourself because nothing’s gone right at work and your wife doesn’t seem to be treating you well or your husband isn’t paying attention to you, the kids have been absolutely terrible, and everyone’s got some sniffle and you’re so tired of this COVID thing and you convince yourself, well, you deserve just a little bit of sin, deserve to just indulge a little bit of voyeurism or a little bit of self-pity or a little bit of revenge or a little bit of gossip or bitterness.
When you’re exhausted, you become short-sighted. You don’t make good decisions. Too often we resemble Esau. We’re all too willing to trade in eternal rewards, eternal blessings, for full bellies or for academic credentials or large portfolios.
And look, it’s always easier for us to see what other people are obsessed with because that’s not us, and so for some of us we say why do people make so many compromises in life for money? It’s just money. Well, you don’t care about money. But for someone else, it’s why do they make so many compromises just so the ten people in their doctoral field will think good of them? Well, because you’re not in there. Or why would they give up their Christian convictions for six popular girls in middle school to like them? Because we don’t think clearly and we can’t see beyond our own immediate sphere of what seems most important to us, whether it’s money or fame or popularity or credentials.
The problem is not just that Esau was unholy. Hebrews tells us he was. The problem was that he was foolish. Every one of us can see that. You have the birthright and you sell it for soup. Rather than waiting patiently to prepare a meal, the promised blessings that would come later, you trade it all in for instant gratification.
There’s a famous study years ago that supposedly tracked with young students and they were given a test at an early age that they were put into the room by themselves and the tester said there’s a marshmallow. You can have that marshmallow, of if you wait until I come back in a little bit, I’ll give you two marshmallows. Well, what do you do? Well, most scarf down the marshmallow, and supposedly the study tracked them and the children that waited for the second marshmallow went on to, you know, they’re probably all Nobel prize winners, all right?
Now I was probably the kid that took the marshmallow and made a s’more out of it or something and ate it right away and got everything a sticky mess and then asked for more.
But the point is simply this: Are you and I learning the lessons, not just with food, but with spiritual things? To delay our insatiable appetite for instant gratification?
Part of becoming an adult, at least what used to be an adult, is that you learn how to say yes to hard things now in order to get better things later. In order to get better things later, you say yes to hard things now. If you want the marriage that goes 50, 60 years and the couple that walks throughout the neighborhood, shuffling around, holding hands, been through all of life together, you want that? You need to die to some things now.
Just like any athlete will tell you, for training, or anyone who learns an instrument, or anything you want to be good at, you have to delay your gratification. There’s probably someone here this morning within the sound of my voice who needs to hear this message, because you are not thinking straight. Sin is making you stupid, and you’re halfway in or your big toe is right at the line to make a really foolish decision in life, and God wants to keep you from that. He wants to show you Esau, say don’t do an Esau. We all can see that Esau trading his birthright for a pot of stew was not worth it. Don’t let sin make you stupid.
Here’s the second thing we see. So Esau was short-sighted, number two, he was uninterested in the promises of God.
This birthright, probably just a verbal promise, don’t know there was some sheet or calfskin that they passed around, here it is. But the birthright implied several things in the ancient world. Number one, it meant a double portion of the inheritance. We see that in Deuteronomy. Number two, it meant that the oldest son would assume headship of the family, of the clan, when the father died. Number three, in particular with Abraham and Isaac, it meant the promise of unimaginable blessing, a great name, a great nation, God’s presence. All of this was wrapped up in the birthright.
We have many records in the ancient world that birthrights were transferable. You could do this sort of thing. You could sell it, you could trade it, you could barter it, you could exchange it. And Jacob is very clever. Notice he says twice, “Sell me the birthright now,” verse 21, he is a salesman, right now. We know this person, he’s itching to buy a car now, don’t let him off the lot before he drives away in one of these cars. Right now I want you to buy something.
And then, when he says, “now, okay, I will,” then he says “swear to me.” So this is the ancient equivalent of I want you to sign on the dotted line, this is making it official, it’s been notarized, there it is, stamp affixed, this has legal binding value. Swear to me.
And he did it. Because Esau was literally faith-less. He heard of those promises, no doubt, from Isaac. Surely from his dad, he was his dad’s favorite. Maybe even Isaac was unaware of the word that the Lord had given to Rebekah. We don’t know if Isaac knew about that word. Maybe Isaac had sat down on occasions and had told Esau all that will be yours, my oldest son, my beloved son, my good, skillful hunting son who gives me the food I like, it’s going to be yours. The family, the inheritance, the blessing of my father Abraham. And Esau didn’t care at all. What is that?
No one de-converts, no one deconstructs their faith, without considering as of little value the eternal promises of God. They believe either they don’t exist, they believe that they are not tied in any way to faith, or they simply believe that it’s very small potatoes compared to what you want now. And that’s what we’re like as human beings. It’s easy to see in other people, it’s hard when it’s right in front of us.
I remember hearing a story of a teenager one time getting this lesson about the things of God and the girl said, “but I want a boyfriend now.” Yeah, as an adult it’s easy to say, “well, you’re 15, it’ll be okay.” But it doesn’t feel that way when you’re 15.
Just like whatever you have right in front of you when you’re 45 feels like the most important thing in the world when you’re 45. I need this now, what good does it do me to get something in heaven if I don’t have this now? If I don’t have money now, if I’m not popular now, people don’t like me now, if everyone in my circle hates me now? What good is it to me?
Esau despised his birthright, and when we trade in the things of God for the things of the world, we may think it’s a simple, understandable, defensible position, but it is a great affront to God, His goodness, His glory, and the promises that He makes to each one of us as His children. He was uninterested in the promises of God.
And then finally, he was consumed by his desires. Let’s think about desires. Because our world tells us that our identity is found in our desires. You are what you feel. If you feel like a different gender, you are a different gender. If you feel one set of sexual desires, you should act on those set of sexual desires. And to deny fulfillment of those desires is not simply to deny someone happiness, it is fundamentally to undermine their truest identity. That’s what the sexual revolution has been about. That those desires, in particular desires related to sex and gender, those desires define you. That’s your identity. That’s who you are. So if someone says, “No, no,” or if God says, “you can’t act on those you, you should not, that’s not best for you, that’s not glorifying to Me,” that’s not just, well, I might be unhappy about it, it is an assault, an affront to your entire identity, which is why our culture will not let people have two different opinions. Okay, well, I’ll just do this and you can think it’s wrong. No, because in you thinking that these desires are mistaken in me, you are calling into question my entire identity, my value, my personhood, and so your nonacceptance of my desires feels to me like you’ve erased me, violence to my very person, hatred of my very identity. Desires define us.
Of course, we are wildly inconsistent with this philosophy in life. You cannot pretend to be another race; we’ve seen even examples of this, no matter how much you feel like another race. You may have desires to eat all the time and there are all sorts of programs that help to reorder and reform and reshape your desires so you don’t want to eat all the time. So we’re wildly inconsistent.
Some desires, well, obviously, you can’t do that, and then other desires, well, that defines you and if you can’t fulfill that, then your entire identity has been called into question.
The dominant message we receive is that our desires, set apart a few of these, are absolutely, unquestioningly, must be fulfilled. Even as Christians, if we’re quick to say, “Well, I don’t think that way,” even as Christians we can believe that our emotions, our experiences, are uncontrollable and unquestioned.
For most of history in the West, not just with Christian theology, but just Western philosophy, they distinguish between the lower appetites and the higher appetites and the idea was that reason should have control over your lower appetites, your desire for food, your desire for sex. That’s Western philosophy.
Christian theology says, well, even your reason is tainted by the Fall, so you can’t always count on your reason, but the power of the Holy Spirit working in you by God’s grace through the Word ought to have control over these appetites and desires.
In other words, it is a very new thing in the history of the West to say you have desires, the thing to do is always to fulfill those desires. Trust those desires.
And we must remember that part of having a biblical worldview is not just having certain propositions that we think about God and the world. Having a biblical worldview means letting the Bible interpret our experiences for us. None of us just experience life. We all interpret what we are experiencing.
As I’ve said before, if you receive a pain in your side, in your abdomen, and you know that you are pregnant, and you’re nine months, that pain tells you one thing. If you know you are not pregnant and it’s on the right side and it’s getting worse and worse, and it’s becoming excruciating and you think it might be an appendix rupture, that tells you something else. You can have a pain, both painful, both in the same sort of area, I know they don’t feel the same way, I’m not trying…. But they’re pain and you interpret them very differently based on the experience.
If you’re a child and your parents say “I want you to drink this medicine because you’re sick and hold your nose, it doesn’t taste good but it’s going to help you feel better.” Okay, it doesn’t taste good, but you interpret that versus somebody grabs you and says “You’re coming with me. Drink this poison,” and they taste exactly the same, but who’s giving it to you, under what circumstances, you interpret the experience very differently.
And so we have this inconsistency in our world, that we have no longer given ourselves the ability to interpret our experiences. We simply sometimes say that’s a good experience and that’s a bad. I’ll give you an example. Imagine you go into a doctor’s office and you say, “I’ve struggled my whole life with these feelings, and I’m finally ready to do something. I want you to remove both of my hands.” The doctor would say something like, “Friend, something is wrong and I feel for you and I want to help you, but I cannot remove both of your hands. That’s not going to help. Let’s talk about some other way.”
But if you said, “I’ve struggled my whole life with these feelings and I’m finally ready to do something about it, I want you to remove my sexual organs,” you might be a hero, and the doctor, depending on where he or she practices, might be in trouble for not doing what you wanted to be done.
What’s the difference? The difference is how the world frames and tells us to interpret our experiences, our desires. In one, the desire surely should not be fulfilled because though it might elicit concern and care, it’s troubling and not to be satisfied, and yet in the other the world tells us it is under every circumstance to be encouraged and celebrated.
Esau was defined by his desires, and they deceived him. They deceived him because he had a better identity as the firstborn of Abraham [sic], and he gave it away. He became a profane man. We use that word just with swear words usually, profanity, but profane. It’s an important word. It means to treat what is sacred with irreverence and disrespect. That’s what he became, a profane man, that he treated what was sacred, God’s promise to him, and he treated it with irreverence and disrespect.
And do you see what Moses, by the Spirit, is doing here in this depiction of Esau? And it’s very deliberate and once you have the eyes to see it, you won’t un-see it. Esau is being depicted as an animal enslaved to his desires.
We have two cats. Yes, I know, you can confront me later, but we have two cats, because I’m a soft parent, and the one, they’re supposed to be outside, which means they’re always scratching up the furniture inside. But one likes to sleep outside, and one likes to sleep in the garage, and I’m usually the first one up in the morning and the one is always meowing and scratching at the front door and the other one is ready at the garage door, and I open those and you would think that these cats had been on a 40-day spiritual fast or something, that they had not been fed when in reality they are overfed, like all our pets, and they were fed mere hours ago. But they rush upon me and meow and scratch my leg and usher me in, practically carrying me like Elijah in the whirlwind, into the garage, immediately at their bowl, bowl number two. You can hardly even pour the food in there without them ripping out of their hand. Why? Because they’re cats, because they’re animals, because they want to eat. That’s what they know. Here’s food. Nothing else matters in this moment. I just need to eat.
That is how Esau is depicted.
You can’t exactly even see it as clearly in the English as you do in the Hebrew. He says let me eat some of that red stew. The Hebrew is “ha-a-dom ha-a-dom.” Not a-dam, that’s man, but ha-a-dom, it sounds like Edom, which is the other name for Esau. A-dom means red stuff, red. What he really says you could literally translate it, “give me that red stuff, red stuff.” He sounds like a barbarian, and he exaggerates the extent of his need. He says, now surely every parent can relate to this, verse 32, “I am about to die.” Now true, maybe he was out on a hunting trip for days, but the fact that he walked there and he’s speaking and he’s standing, he’s not about to die. All of us have had children say, “I’m starving, I haven’t eaten in four minutes.” That’s Esau here, “I’m starving.” The picture of Esau is one emotional, impulsive, fainting, gasping, gulping, slurping. You can almost see him wiping off his mouth, throwing down a napkin, letting out a belch as he walks away. The picture is that he was not made nobler for satisfying these desires. He was made lower. He became like an animal.
Because do you see the play on the words in the description here? Verse 27: Esau was a skillful hunter.
He’s the hunter. Jacob’s not the hunter. He’s a man of peace, he’s a quiet man, stays by the tent, he’s a homebody.
Esau is the hunter. He brings home the great game. But what happens? The great hunter has become the hunted. He comes with all of his skill, he has no food to show, and with just a morsel of red lentil stew, he becomes the prey, ensnared in Jacob’s trap, just an unsuspecting animal who doesn’t see the wire mesh all around or the jaws that are about to snap down on him, just a little mouse getting the piece of cheese, just a bear wandering into the trap. There he is, the hunter became the hunted. The one who knows how to trap and kill the animal has become the animal himself.
To satisfy every earthly desire does not make you more human, it often makes you less human.
Now not all of our desires are sinful, of course. We’ve been reading these Scriptures about the desires of the Lord. To be a Christian is to have our desires reordered to the things of God. Buddhists say problem in life is you have desires, get rid of desires. The Bible doesn’t say that. The Bible says as fallen creatures, your desires are often wrong, desire what is better. Desire God, follow God and His promises. Combat these earthly lower desires with these better, more glorious promises.
So let me finish and speak to three types of people who may be here.
One, maybe you are ready to ditch the Christian faith. You’ve de-constructed your family, you’ve de-constructed your church, you’ve de-constructed your theology, and to be sure you may have really encountered sin against you, and we do not minimize it. But let me ask you this: Have you de-constructed your own experiences? Have you considered how your own interpretation of those experiences may not be 100% pure or 1000% accurate? Have you considered the choice that you’re about to make, or the journey that you’re about to embark upon? Are you ready to make that trade?
Here’s a second group of people. Ready not to ditch the whole Christian faith, but you’re ready to jettison a core tenet of traditional Christian teaching. It may have to do with sex, that’s often what it has to do with in our day and age. Ah, I still love Jesus, I’m all about God, He’s a God of love. But listen, do you ever know of anyone who starts by jettisoning one core tenet of the faith and stops with just one? Do we know people? I don’t know people who change their views on sexuality and marriage and then 10 years later they are all fired up about penal substitutionary atonement and the sovereignty of God and election and inerrancy and the plight of the lost and saving the unreached people from Hell and the need for personal holiness. It doesn’t happen. And surely there is a connection in our day between compromising our views on sexuality and living compromised sexual lives. It is hard to be addicted to pornography and then dare to say that someone else’s sexual choices aren’t pleasing to God. It’s hard to watch the things that many Christians excuse themselves for watching these days and then turn around and say, “Well, yes, sexual sin is actually a big deal. I just watch it all the time and I’m really entertained by it and it was in the top 10 on Netflix so I had to.” Are you ready to jettison a core tenet of traditional Christian teaching? Just think, you won’t stop there.
A third group of people, those who are ready to sell off your spiritual blessing for a meager bowl of cultural lentil stew. This is perhaps the most common among us. You don’t mean to leave Christianity behind. You don’t mean to leave behind the faith once delivered for the saints. But you’re ready to make a very foolish decision, and to trade in the blessing of your marriage or the blessing of having uncomplicated relationships with your children, or the blessing of going to bed each night with a clean conscience, the blessing of knowing the smile of God. And you’re ready to trade that it because you’ve got to get these group of people online to like you. You’ve gotta move up the ladder. You can’t give up this job. You’ve gotta get into this school. You’ve gotta do this thing.
The stories like this one with Esau are in the Bible so that we sit up and yell in our heads, or maybe out loud, how could Esau have done it? It’s so obvious. Esau, why?
And if you consider that what may seem obvious to everyone around you, you’ve now convinced yourself is just a good tradeoff in life, look in your heart. I need to look in my heart. Because all of us have the capability to be as dumb and as foolish as Esau.
Well, you say, “I thought Genesis was all about faith and the promise. This seems like a don’t be dumb kind of dad sermon.” But do you see how this is all about faith? Esau did not believe in the promise.
So this is not just a message of “hey, go be smarter people.” You won’t live a smarter life unless you have greater faith in the promises of God. Here’s what I mean. Listen to these promises, you’ve heard them before:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That’s a good promise.
“Blessed are those who mourn, they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek.” The world tells you you’ve gotta elbow everybody, you’ve gotta be a jerk, you’ve gotta be a bully. Blessed are the meek, the world says you’ll inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful.” The world says go get ’em, make ’em pay. Jesus says blessed are the merciful, they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see” what? God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” Not the conflict stirrer-uppers. The peacemakers. They shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom.”
“Blessed are you when others revile you, persecute you, utter all kinds of evil against you on My account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven.”
Every one of the beatitudes Jesus says, can you believe in a better promise? Can you trust Me? Can you trust Me? Pass on the world’s mess of stew and believe Me for all the blessings that are yours and are yes and amen in Jesus.
Let’s pray. Father in heaven, help us to heed this warning. See to it that none of you fail to obtain the grace of God and no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. Keep us, preserve us, direct our hearts and our thoughts to things above. In Jesus we pray. Amen.