Despising our birthright – Genesis 25:34

Call it temporary insanity. I never should have traded.

For weeks, I’d eaten boxes of a breakfast cereal that wasn’t even my favorite, and for what? All so I could cut off the required number of box tops and send them away for a toy red Ferrari. Every day, I watched as the Post Office Jeep slowly made its way down the street. Every day, I ran out to the mailbox when he’d gone, only to be disappointed. But one day, there it was. at long last. My Ferrari had come!

None of the other ten year-old-boys on the block had anything like it. I showed off my Ferrari with pride. Only one boy didn’t seem so impressed. Ray barely paid it any attention. Using psychology worthy of Tom Sawyer at the white-board fence, he got out his little, beat-up green Corvette, then planted himself on the floor of the garage. He made an obstacle course, and “vroomed!” his way around. Slowly, the enthusiasm convinced me. I had to have that green Corvette! You’ve probably guessed the rest of the story. Ray reluctantly agreed to trade me his “cool” green Corvette for my “lousy” red Ferrari, as a favor to me. If it wasn’t for mom-to-mom intervention, I never would have gotten back the sports car I’d worked for so long.

In Genesis 25:34, a similar scene unfolded. Esau came in from the fields, his stomach churning in ravenous hunger. Jacob had cooked up a tasty dish, but the price would be steep. “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished” demanded Esau (v. 30). Living up to his name, “the deceiver,” Jacob replied: “First, sell me your birthright.” The “birthright” belonged to the eldest son, and included a double-portion of the inheritance, plus the chieftanship (or rule) over the entire extended family. In this case, it also included the future possession of Canaan and the covenant promises that Yahweh had made with Abraham. Foolishly, Esau replied: “I am about to die. Of what use is a birthright to me?” (v. 32). Jacob made Esau take an oath, then served him bread and lentil stew. The trade was done, and the trade was irrevocable.

I got back my red Ferrari, but life isn’t always so forgiving, as Esau learned the hard way. Moments of temporary insanity haunt each of us. God brings incredible blessings our way, yet in a weak moment, we trade them for things that are far inferior.  The apostle Paul observes: “We are not unaware of (Satan’s) schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11b, NIV). Be on the look-out today. Don’t foolishly trade away your birthright.

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Reflections based on Scripture for Day 24, Cambridge Daily Reading Bible, 1995

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