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by Dr. John Thomas
Esau was the elder, and according to the custom of primogeniture, was entitled to certain privileges, termed birthright.
Now Jacob, whose name signifies "supplanter," wished to supplant him in this right, that he might afterwards be entitled to the precedence over Esau, which God had indicated in saying, "The elder shall serve the younger".
Therefore, before he consented to Esau's request, he said, "Sell me this day thy birthright".
Esau reflected on the demand a little; at length he said, "Behold, I am at the point to die; what profit shall this birthright do to me?
" "Swear then," said Jacob, "to me this day;" and he sware unto him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.
Jacob then gave him the red pottage.
From this time Esau acquired the surname of Edom, which signifies red, and commemorates the fact that "Esau despised his birthright".
When Esau was forty years old, he married two Hittite women, who were a grief of mind to both his parents.
About thirty years after this, when Isaac was one hundred and thirty-one, he determined to bestow his blessing upon Esau, although he had sold his birthright.
But the faithful vigilance of Rebekah circumvented it.
The elder was to serve the younger, and she intended that Isaac's blessing should take that direction.
Accordingly, in blessing the supposed Esau (for his eyes were too dim to see accurately), he said, "God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee".
Here was a blessing, contrary to the will of Isaac, pronounced upon Jacob, whom God had predetermined to bless to the same purpose.
Truly, "it is not of him that willeth, but of God that showeth mercy".
Esau had fully calculated on the blessing, although he had bartered away his birthright, seeing that Isaac had promised to bestow it upon him on his return from the field.
When, therefore, he entered to receive the blessing, and announced himself as the real Esau, "Isaac trembled very exceedingly" when he found that he had been imposed upon; nevertheless, he confirmed what he had done, saying, "Yea, and he shall be blessed".
When Esau discovered what had happened, "he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, saying, Bless me, even me also, O my father!
" And he lifted up his voice and wept.
But the thing that was clone could not be revoked, for the hand of God was in it.
The apostle cites the case of Esau as a warning to believers lest any of them should "fail of the grace of God".
All who are Abraham's seed by being in Christ have obtained the birthright; and are thereby entitled to the blessing of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that hereafter "people should serve them, and nations bow down to them; and that they should be lords over their brethren".
But, if for some temporal advantage they should "sin wilfully," and thus barter it away, "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries".
There is no scope afforded to such for repentance, for they have placed themselves precisely in Esau's position.