(103) Inscrption 8_Esau Got a Raw Deal

Notes & Transcripts

Inscription: Writing God’s Words on Our Hearts & Minds

Part 8: Esau Got a Raw Deal

Genesis 25:29-34

January 31, 2010


Main Point(s) of sermon:

·         Esau overvalued the soup and undervalued the birthright, something we all do.

·         We must learn to delight in the glory of God above all else.

·         We can’t get back what we have traded away, but we can begin again and be redeemed.

Objectives of sermon:

·         Persuade us to stop getting screwed!



·         Read Esau stories and Hebrews

·         077, HP 2010,

·         Listen to Driscoll and/or Teaching Co.

Scripture reading: Genesis 25:21-28

Prayer: Learn from sinners and saints, taking lessons to heart.

Sibling Rivalry

Q   How many of you have known a kid who seems to be sweet and innocent, but really was working the system?

It’s amazing how quickly Sarah learned to control the situation by making Grace mad. When Grace hit Sarah, we learned to find out what Sarah did. “Sarah’s ‘tagonizing me!”

Q   How many of you were that kid?

Jacob was that kid, and he learned how to work his brother. His name sounds like “heel,” basically meaning “trickster.”

Esau on the other hand was the big, gruff, and dull big brother. He was hairy, which meant he was uncivilized. Here is a “good ‘ol boy” who thinks with his stomach. (And given some other references, and something else.)

Genesis 25:29-34  29 ¶ Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished.  30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)

The English hides the uncouthness of the sentence, more like “Let me gobble up, please, that red stuff, this here red stuff.”

 31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”  32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”  33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.  34 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.

Again, the English hides Esau’s unthinking, almost beastlike nature: “He ate, he drank, he got up, he left, he despised.”

Moses set up the story to show Esau is out of his league – pulling one over on him is like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s like the sheriff fooling the folks in “Blazing Saddles.”

·         You can just see Jacob running out to tell his buddies what a dummy Esau was.

Likewise, when his friends heard he got soup from Jacob, they would have suspiciously asked how much it cost him...”but he threw in some bread!”

Losing our shirts

When preaching the stories of the Bible, the purpose of good preaching is to help us see ourselves in the characters, and hopefully avoid their mistakes.

·         Esau’s story is our story – the human experience is defined by trading things of great worth for things of little worth.

We love the stories of priceless painting being sold for nothing, because we want to be the person doing the buying, but we are actually the sellers.

The Bible is filled with stories of bad trades – this is the most comical, but not the most extreme:

1. Adam and Eve traded paradise for an apple.

2. Israel: The powerful and living God for a golden calf.

3. Pharisees: The praise of God for the praise of men.

4. Martha: Sitting at Jesus’ feet for doing the dishes.

5. Judas: The son of God for 30 pieces of silver

Just as bad (in the words of Jesus): What good does it do us to gain the entire world but lose our soul? (Matt. 16:26)

·         Compared to that the Native Americans who sold Manhattan for $24 got a really good deal (yes I know this is a myth).

In short: We are getting raw deal every time trade temporary thrills for the eternal joy in the glory of God.

The glory of God

What is God’s glory? It is the full radiance of his goodness. It is the source of all that is good. Everything that is joyful, and pleasing is in some manner a reflection of God’s glory, even if it’s corrupted.

·         Like Esau, we are in the habit of trading some little bit of temporary happiness for a limitless lasting joy.

As the firstborn, he had rights to a twice as much of the estate as Jacob. His problem wasn’t that we wanted too much, he settled for too little.

·         Isaac was very wealthy (Gen. 26:12-13), multi-millionaire, so Esau literally paid millions for that bowl of soup.

·         Even Michael Jackson would have passed on this trade.

My professor told us of a cop whole lost his marriage, job, and pension as a result of a one night stand. The wife bitterly wondered if it had been worth $100,000.

Esau’s two mistakes

Q   How did Esau, that cop, and us make such a monumental error, get ripped off that bad?

As I see it, he (and we) made two mistakes:

1. He lived for instant gratification.

v. 32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”  If you can walk in and say you are starving to death, you’re not! And it’s not like there wasn’t food around. Drink some goat’s milk or something!

·         Worst case scenario: Go tattle to dad.

The real issue was that he wanted it and wanted it now! And this is way too familiar. How many of you have paid way too much for something because you didn’t want to wait?

·         Like Esau, we will sacrifice some future good for a present pleasure.

And this is message that is fed to us every day by the world around us “Live for today.” In the words of Meatloaf, “A wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age.”

·         Tell that to the lonely, broke old guy whose past is filled by broken relationships and family that hates him.

How can you avoid being that guy? Chose delayed gratification, over instant gratification.

2. He overvalued the soup and undervalued his birthright.

For the most part, Moses just reports the stories without commenting on them, but in this rare instance he has to say something “So Esau despised his birthright.”

By treating it with such low regard (less important than the instant gratification of soup) he showed contempt for it. We are tempted to make Jacob the bad guy here (and he will get his), but Esau did not deserve the birthright.

This is not simple gullibility, it is wickedness:

Hebrews 12:16   16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.

Our bad trades

I wish we could say we are different, but we each consistently overvalue the passing thrills of this earth and undervalue the glory of God.

1. We pursue money instead the richness of God.

2. We choose sexual immorality over intimacy with God.

3. We compromise our beliefs to gain acceptance from pseudo-friends rather than acceptance from God.

4. We are filled with pride in what we have done and what we know rather than humbly resting before our Maker.

The list could go on, and these are just the things that are innately sinful. What about the things that are fine in themselves, but are put before God:

1. We numb our minds (and rears) with TV rather than cultivating your relationship with God.

·         Reading a book to 2:00 am (as I have) is not any better.

2. When we are worn or need comfort, we turn to a friend (or a beer) for comfort, before the Holy Spirit.

3. We pour ourselves into our family or job (or ministry!) rather than finding our identity in God.

Q   How often do you justify choosing a good thing over a God thing, specifically because it’s a good thing?

Changing our priorities

So how do we stop trading the glory and goodness of God for trinkets?

1. We must see and feel the shallowness of the things of this earth.

Even the best things on earth are still temporary. How much more the sinful and destructive things?

·         At least Esau’s soup wasn’t poisoned, unlike many of the things we trade God’s glory for.

We need to pray for the Spirit to help us see things in proper perspective.

2. We must exalt the joy in the Glory of God.

On this point, I was very unsatisfied with what other pastors said on this topic – they emphasis avoiding the thing of this world, not helping us genuinely desire God.

·         If I can impart something to the people around me, it is to help us know and feel that God is what we really want.

The best way I know to do this is to look at the joys God has given us and say “This is just the tiniest taste of the joy that comes from the glory of God – dive all the way in!”

The lie of Satan in the Garden, which we still believe is that God is not good, but the Bible sharply contradicts this:

NIV Psalm 16:1 Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” 3 As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. 4 The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips. 5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Walking a fine line

On one hand, God has not promised an easy life for Christians, and I reject any doctrine that says otherwise. Many Christians have not received their “portion” in this life, yet they have found their joy in God.

·         Furthermore, whenever we get our eyes off of God and onto his gifts, we are trading Him for a “mess of porridge.”

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

On the other hand I want to contradict in the “miserable Christian” ideal that is far too prevalent, as if the best Christians are the ones who don’t enjoy God’s earthly joys.

One reason for this misconception is our failure to read the Torah and Psalms – the Prophets and the NT were written in times of tribulation and don’t give us a picture of normalcy of joy.

·         Like a good father, God wants to bless us with as much joy as he can without distracting us from him.

So I am left with this – seek first God, desire him and his kingdom and righteousness above all things as your highest joy, and then when these little joys are added to you, enjoy and relish them as reflections of his glory.


To sum all of this up, I want to persuade all of us (myself included) to stop getting cheated, to learn to prize and treasure God and his glory above all else, in every decision.

1. Repent for despising God by trading him for trivial things.

2. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you lower your appraisal of this world and increase your appraisal in God.

But to do this, you must be submitted to Jesus as your King. The Gospel (and all of Christianity) can be summed up like this:

We are under a death sentence for scorning God as we have, but Jesus took that sentence upon himself and died in our place. If we repent, and accept him as our Lord and savior, we can know the joy of knowing God and being known and loved by him.

Q & A

End of Service

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