HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
We live in a fast-food, microwave-driven society. We want things easier, quicker, and less expensive. This message pervades today’s marketing efforts through commercials and online advertising. And while there is nothing inherently wrong about wanting things faster and cheaper, if we aren’t careful, we can allow that spirit to leak into our spiritual lives which can have devastating effects. God does not work on the premise of faster and cheaper; it’s often the opposite – mostly, He works on timetables that don’t line up with our human understanding and He rarely takes the path of least resistance when working out His divine solutions.
In Genesis 25, we read a powerful story that relates directly to this very issue. Eldest son Esau came home famished from hunting. His brother Jacob was conspiring with their mother to take advantage of Esau’s weakened position, knowing he would come in exhausted and desire a quick solution. As you would expect, Esau asked for some of the food and Jacob saw his opportunity. He offered a trade – he would give Esau his stew if Esau gave Jacob his birthright (A birthright was the right to the inheritance and spiritual leadership of the family). This was a major, one-way advantage trade. You would think Esau would never consider such a trade, but exhaustion and short-cut thinking can cause you to make very poor decisions.
Esau accepted the deal. It seems absurd that Esau would sacrifice something so valuable for something so small, but the truth is, it happens to all of us. We can find ourselves settling for less for the sake of satisfying short-term appetites. There is no shortcut to daily living in God’s blessing and promise in our life. Growing in our relationship with Him and experiencing His best never happens in a microwave, it happens through our daily consistent walk and pursuit of knowing Him more.
That is why the writer of Hebrews says, “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” Hebrews 12:16
God did not take the shortcut in bringing about our salvation. He provided the ultimate sacrifice for our sin – His own Son. God is not interested in the easy way out, but in the best way through.
In his book, A Hunger for God, John Piper writes, “God rewards fasting because fasting expresses the cry of the heart that nothing on the earth can satisfy our souls besides God. God must reward this cry because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
You can be sure God will respond to your fasting – because as Piper writes, you are demonstrating your heart’s cry and God loves to reward those who diligently seek him!
Genesis 25:19-34 (ESV)
These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-Aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”
When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. Afterwards, his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
When the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he ate off 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.
Hebrews 12:16 (MSG)
Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise, you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.
Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.