The legacy of Esau has always intrigued me. While his father and brother are highlighted in the “golden chapter” on faith, Hebrews 11, Esau is listed with the fornicators and is called “profane” (or “godless” depending on your translation). When he went to his father for his blessing, he didn’t receive it. Even though he sought it, he couldn’t take back his choice (or found no repentance). I wondered for a long time why Esau was called godless, why his godlessness was linked with fornication. How are these things linked?
It’s easy to say “I just can’t understand why Esau would give up his birthright for a meal. I would never do that.” But the longer I studied this scripture, the more I realized that I, and maybe you, have done this more than once. What God showed me in Esau’s story is the effect of hunger on us. Esau isn’t the only “hungry” person I found in my study. I realized that a lot of us are trading our birthrights to satisfy temporary hungers and it convicted me enough to write this post.
In our lives, we can be “hungry” for many things. Some women are hungry for a husband. Some are hungry for professional advancement. Some are hungry for children. Some are hungry for material gain. Not all of the things we want are bad; it’s when our hunger for them leads us away from God that they become a problem.
In Esau’s case, he was physically hungry. He had been out in the field and came in so hungry he was faint and weak. He insists that he’s on the point of death he is so hungry. He tells Jacob that his birthright wouldn’t be any good to him if he were dead, and he carelessly gives it away for food. After he eats, he gets up and goes on his way, not realizing what he has given up.
I wonder why Esau didn’t come in sooner and address his hunger. Why did he let himself get so hungry he’s sure he’ll die if he doesn’t have food. Yet we let things become such an urgent need for us that they become all we can focus on. We convince ourselves that we will die for want of them. For example, when I started writing my book, I really wanted to get married. I focused so much on getting married that I would throw up wedding plans and marriage guides. If anything had marriage in its title, it had my attention. I was willing to listen to just about anyone’s philosophy on love and marriage. I was hungry for it. There’s a term for being so hungry that you lose your ability to function as yourself, hangry. I’ve felt that several times over. Esau was convinced he was at death’s door. It’s my opinion that he wasn’t really at the point of death– if he were, he wouldn’t have eaten and then been able to go on his way as if he weren’t dying minutes ago–but I know that phantom feeling that you’re just going to die if you don’t have something you want because I’ve lived with it. Here’s the thing, though–I’m still here! I didn’t die because I didn’t get married. You won’t die if you don’t get whatever, either. Unless it is a medical necessity that you have it, you’ll be just fine.
Esau also went to the wrong person. Esau and Jacob struggled with each other in their mother’s womb. Their differences further separated them. Jacob was more concerned with what he could get out of his brother than helping him. Sometimes when we are hungry, we go to the wrong person to fulfill our needs. The women we talk to about wanting a husband don’t have husbands; the people we complain about our jobs with are unemployed or underemployed. We look to men to fill us and we wonder why we are still hungry.
Esau didn’t understand the discrepancy between what he was receiving and what he was giving away. The birthright of the firstborn entitled him to an inheritance of property and other benefits that were worth far more than a meal. Esau also lost his blessing from Isaac when Jacob impersonated him. What he received in return was so minimal in comparison. Several times in the New Testament, the Bible identifies Christians as heirs (Romans 8:17; Titus 3:7; Gal. 3:29; 4:7). We are in line to inherit the promises of God. But we often give that birthright away in favor of temporary fulfillment. The wages of sin is death and separation from God. So when we give in to temptation and fornicate, commit adultery, lie, steal, gossip, etc., we are exchanging our inheritance for death. These people have no place in God’s kingdom and no part of His inheritance.
We have to stop going from temporary satisfaction to temporary satisfaction that are moving us further and further away from God and aren’t even fulfilling us. Christ tells the woman at the well that whoever drinks water from the well will thirst again, but whoever drinks the water He will give them will never thirst again. That’s true fulfillment and satisfaction. The difference with being hungry for a relationship with God is that our hunger will be satisfied. The bible says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”
There are other things that I got out of this study, but you’ll have to buy my book when it comes out to read about them. 😉 I’m so excited about the last little areas of the book coming together. It’s a lot more in-depth than I could have imagined when I started writing it.