Confessions of a Pastor - I hang onto this world more than I cling to heaven!
I have asked you before if you like your name. How many of you do like your name? How many don’t? How many here have a Bible name? Do we have the four gospels present? M-M-L-J? Any Bible ladies? Eve-E-Mary? Hopefully no one was named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz! Did you know that in the days when the Bible was being written, the Israelites often chose names for their children based on various criteria?
Some babies were named because of an incident at their birth or their names were based on some hope or prayer of their parent. The name Zechariah means “God has remembered.” Some babies received the name of an everyday object, like Tamar means “palm tree” and Tabitha means “gazelle.” Some parents named their children after referencing the time of day they were born. 1st Chronicles 8 tells us about a man named Shaharaim. His name means “dawn.” He had a son named Hodesh which means “new moon.” Sometimes the condition of the mother at the time of birth inspired a name. For instance Leah means “exhausted” and Mahli means “sick.” Some children were named as a reference to their character or their appearance. Jacob means “deceiver.” “Korah means “bald” and Esau means “hairy!”[i] I’ve got to show you what God showed me about this hairy man named Esau! Turn in your Bibles to the letter called Hebrews. Do you need a Bible? (Hebrews is found on page 829.)
I am a member of a men’s small group. We meet on Tuesday mornings at the Tim Horton’s inside the Ohio Health Building at Polaris and Africa Road. We are studying through the New Testament and find ourselves in Hebrews 12. Now when I open up any book of the Bible I ask myself one basic question. Why was this book or letter written? Why was Hebrews written? I gave you this little book (Know Your Bible) more than a year ago. And this little book says that Hebrews was written to remind us that “Jesus is better than any Old Testament person or sacrifice.” Hebrews is not about coffee. Hebrews is about people – Hebrews or Jews who became Christ followers and now find themselves being persecuted for their faith. Judaism was a legal religion in Rome.[ii] Christianity was not. They are thinking of converting back. They are wavering in their faith and so this author is trying to convince them that Jesus is superior to Moses or any other OT person! Find Hebrews 2:1. (Read) People were drifting away and this author wants to pull them back. He uses Esau as an example to pull them back. Turn to Hebrews 12:14. (Read 14-17) (Vs. 14: His book is called the Holy Bible, marriage is called Holy Matrimony and his people are called a Holy Nation.) (Vs. 15: Disappointment leads into resentment. Resentment leads to bitterness and bitterness leads to jealousy.) (Vs. 16: Turn to Hebrews 13:4) Examples are interesting. They can be either good or bad. Let’s dig further into the life of Esau. His story is found in Genesis chapters 25 thru 36. Turn to Genesis 25:19. (Read 19-32) Now you may not be familiar with birthright, but I bet you are familiar with birth order. William Cane wrote a book called The Birth Order Book of Love. He said this, “While other factors, such as age, race, and gender, all play a role in shaping personality, research indicates that the number one factor influencing personality is birth order. Birth order is defined as your rank in your sibling constellation: firstborn, middleborn, lastborn, only child, or twin.”[iii] Who is first born? Any middle born? Any babies of the family? Are you an only child? Any twins? John Chilcote is a twin! Here’s his brother! (Arnold pic/actual bro) William Cane developed a birth order chart: Firstborns tend to be orderly, organized & bossy. Middleborns are good negotiators and unafraid of authority. Lastborns are funny and creative. An only child tends to be dependent. Now Esau was a first born twin. Cane says that twins typically have a soft spot for their other twin.[iv] Apparently that’s not true for Esau & Jacob, at least not at first. Now just what is a birthright?
“A birthright was a special honor given to the firstborn son. It included a double portion of the family inheritance along with the honor of one day becoming the family’s leader”[v] whether that be a chief or even priest. Esau doesn’t realize what he has! Time and time again these words are repeated in scripture? This is Exodus 3:6: Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." But this is what it could have said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Esau." PLEASE pause right now and answer this question. Is it possible to make a decision and that decision changes the course of your life? Eve bites the fruit – Adam does the same! Cain whacks his brother Abel over the head. Noah begins the ark; God closes the door and sends the rain! Lot’s daughters get their father drunk. Abraham leaves the familiar for the unknown! Moses kills an Egyptian. David spies Bathsheba! Rahab hides the spies. Esau despises his birthright!
Allow me to share with you my second Confession as a Pastor! I’m more like Esau than I care to admit! I confess to you that I hang onto this world more than I cling to heaven. I find myself sometimes wanting to be a friend of this world MORE than a friend of God. I long for the physical instead of the spiritual! I am enamored with instant gratification.
Look at how Esau responds to Jacob in Genesis 25:32. (Read) Really, isn’t he just exaggerating? WHAT GOOD IS IT? Talk about being short sighted. I don’t care about the future. I am only interested in the present which means my empty belly needs to be filled! Find verse 34. I have to ask you this – what’s your bowl of stew? What is staring you in the face that is a bad decision waiting to happen!
My bowl of stew is my boyfriend. He says to take our relationship to the next level we have to have sex. My bowl of stew is my addiction. I can’t function without it. My bowl of stew is my job. I can’t work without lying. My boss expects me to falsify records. I honestly don’t have enough faith in God that he would help me find another job. My bowl of stew is money! I will sacrifice anything – even my integrity – to make a buck. My bowl of stew is this person at work. She’s married but I don’t care. I’m married and I don’t care! She’s interested in me. My life is boring – my wife is boring. To jazz things up a bit I’m gonna take this woman out! My bowl of stew is death! I see death as the end. The truth is - I pray people out of heaven all the time. I don’t care what God wants. I want that person with me! My bowl of stew is my self-esteem. Satan keeps telling me I’m nothing. That I don’t amount to anyone or anything. So I cut. I cut my wrist or my leg to feel something. It physically hurts but at least I feel something. What feeling I hate though is the guilt I feel afterwards. I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done. Because of you are made in the image of God – you don’t have to cut anymore! You matter to God! Esau also matters to God. Esau made bad decisions. He gave up his birthright. He married women his parents did not approve of. So does that mean that God did not love him or won’t bless him? Not according to Genesis 36. This entire chapter is devoted to how God blessed Esau’s life despite his bad decisions. You see a bad decision doesn’t have to be final. Let’s get real practical! How does a person overcome a bad decision? Realize there are some things you can’t change in this world. Have you heard of Petco? They specialize in pet supplies. They also groom dogs. There’s a Petco in Hawaii and a lady named Gladys Kapuwi took her Pomerian-Maltese mix puppy named Dodo to be groomed. But when she got her puppy home, she noticed that something was missing—like part of her dog's ear. Now here’s what crazy. Whoever snipped part of Dodo’s ear off tried to super glue it back on.[vi] It didn’t work. Some things cannot be fixed. You are either going to move on or hold a grudge. You are either going to get better or get bitter. Esau can cry all he wants. His mom and brother tricked him. He’s not getting his father Isaac’s blessing which means first born or not the older brother is going to serve the younger brother. Even though Esau loses this incredible gift he doesn’t lose out on God’s love.
Are you? Here’s the only way you will lose out on God’s love and grace in this world. Do you remember those Hebrew or Jewish Christians in Hebrews 12? They are thinking about giving up. Their stew was persecution! Truly I don’t blame them. Their property was being taken. Can I give you a few fun facts? What is special about this sentence? “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” This sentence uses every letter in the alphabet. What is unique about these three words: racecar, kayak & level? You can read them right to left or left to right. (palindromes) Name four common words in the English language that end in “dous.” Tremendous – hazardous – stupendous and horrendous. (Josie Obit[vii]) That’s a horrendous decision. Life is a series of choices.
[i] www.homiletics.com/Esau(allaboutjesuschrist.org Retrieved June 13, 2007
[ii] James E. Smith, The NT Books Made Simple, 132
[v] LABN, Genesis 25:31