Hebrews 12:16-17 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
As I studied this passage, I saw a list of 6 things from verses 12-17 that I thought the writer of Hebrews wanted to warn me about when I was experiencing trials (Desire to quit, disunity with others, lack of concern for other’s salvation, bitterness, sexual immorality, and godlessness). Of that list, “sexually immoral” and “unholy” were the last two. What I didn’t see at first was that the word “or” was not drawing a distinction between those two words, but was actually a “related alternative.”
Sorry. I nerded out for a second.
In other words, the writer of Hebrews thinks sexual immorality has a relation to the story of Esau.
What was the story of Esau and the birthright?
Genesis 25:29-34 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.
Esau and his Birthright – This is the story of a fool who traded great wealth and blessing for a bowl of soup (not even good soup!). This is the story of a man who traded lasting, full satisfaction for immediate gratification. This is the story of a man who “despised his birthright.” Esau allowed his desires to dominate him. He lost the sense of the importance of his birthright. His body overwhelmingly told him that his birthright was not nearly as important at that moment as the satisfaction of a full stomach. The scales of his heart were tilted toward the immediate, and the rest of his life he would pay for that terrible miscalculation.
Sexual Immorality – It is the story of a fool who trades great wealth and blessing for eye candy. It is the story of a person who trades lasting full satisfaction for immediate gratification. It is the story of a man who “despises” his spiritual birthright. It is the story of someone who allows his desires to dominate him. He loses the sense of the importance of his spiritual birthright. His body overwhelmingly tells him that his birthright was not nearly as important at that moment as the satisfaction of sexual gratification. The scales of his heart are tilted toward the immediate, and the rest of his life he pays for that terrible miscalculation.
Hebrews says that Esau wanted to “repent” of his decision to sell his birthright. He might have regretted his actions, but he regretted the consequences of his actions more. He wanted to repent of the consequences. He cried, but his tears could not change anything.
How can we guard ourselves from sin? How can we seek forgiveness? The answer is the same.
Hebrews 10:19-25 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
1. Draw near to God. In the presence of God, darkness flees. He dwells in magnificent light. Darkness cannot live there. Although we are not worthy, we can go confidently by the blood and body of Jesus Christ, who was torn, beaten, and drained for our sins. His sacrifice on our account is perfectly accepted by the Father, and through his stripes, we are healed and cleansed from our sins. Jesus Christ is the perfect mediator between us and the Father, assuring that, as we draw near, we will not face his wrath, but instead his love.
Our consciences are purified by remembering the story of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Our consciences will never feel pure if we feel like we must atone for our own wrongdoing, or heap enough good actions to bury our guilt and shame in the bottom of our hearts. “Not because of who I am, but because of what you’ve done. Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who you are.” We must believe, not in ourselves, but in the one who makes us righteous. He is faithful. He is worthy of our trust. He has done it all for us.
2. Draw near to one another. Church Community is so important to our growth for many reasons: 1) We need to hear someone else telling us the truth of the gospel 2) We need to hear someone else saying they struggle with what do, to give us hope 3) We need to connect with people who have walked ahead of us and can show us the way 4) There is power when a group of people gather around eternal principles, rather than temporal pleasures 5) Darkness runs from light. The more light we shine on our lives with others (transparency), the less darkness will be able to have control over us.
Your birthright includes adoption as a child of God, a loving relationship with the God of the universe, the inheritance of eternity, lasting peace and joy, and, most importantly, life. Jesus Christ purchased your birthright with his blood. It was costly, difficult to obtain, and given to you freely.
Don’t sell your birthright for a bowl of beans.