Summary: "We walk by faith, not by sight", a spiritual reality acted out in the lives of Jacob and Esau

“When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents. Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game; but Rebekah loved Jacob. And when Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.’ Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ And Esau said, ‘Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?’ And Jacob said, ‘First swear to me’; 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 on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”

Someone has said about the book of Genesis, that it is “full of the seeds of things”. It is a book of beginnings; some good and some bad. And as we read through it what we find is the planting of the seedlings of history, of the church, of the moral and spiritual truths that men either foolishly ignore, to their destruction, or wisely follow, to their salvation.

It is an illustrative book; by that I mean the accounts of the men and woman as recorded for us there are living illustrations of the doctrinal and spiritual truths revealed to us in the New Testament, by which we are exhorted to order our lives.

For example, in second Corinthians 5, in the context of exhorting the believer, while looking forward to being at home with the Lord, to be mindful that it is also important to try to be pleasing to Him while here in the flesh, Paul interjects the statement, “…for we walk by faith, not by sight…”

Going back to Genesis then we find, not those words, but the acting out of an historical event that sets forth the value and virtue of walking by faith rather than by sight.

Let’s join Jacob and Esau in the kitchen tent now, and make some observations about this fateful day.


Now we’re not going to spend too much time focusing on Jacob today. We know Jacob was a schemer. His name meant ‘one who supplants’. And I have a suspicion that it wasn’t just coincidence that he was preparing this lentil stew at about the time his brother would come back hungry from the hunt.

It was in his nature to scheme. And schemers are selfish people, who spend a great deal of their time scheming; thinking of themselves, planning the next move that will extract something they want from someone… benefit them in some way.

Jacob was cooking up something more than lentil soup that day, and the result of his scheming would set the course of his future.

Now before we shift our focus to Esau, I want to point out that although Jacob recognized the importance of the birthright, his methods were in no way commendable; he too was guilty of faithlessness in his pursuit of first place.

True, it was in God’s plan that he would be first. He had announced that to Rebekah back in verse 23. But if Jacob had paid attention to the history of his own grandfather, Abraham, he might have understood that going out ahead of God and trying to acquire His blessings by our own strength and methods can only lead to disaster.

God promised Abraham a son who would be his heir and through whom the nations would be blessed, and Abraham thought he would help God out a little by going in to Hagar. The ultimate result was the Arab nations, who continue to despise God’s chosen people to this very day.

Jacob had the promise of God that he, the younger, would be served by Esau, the elder. But unwilling to wait, and unwisely ignoring the example of his forefathers, he chose to walk by sight rather than by faith, and spent the coming years living in fear and in exile.

How often, Christians, do we miss the blessings that God wants to pour out on us, and even invite evil and unnecessary suffering into our lives, simply because we are unwilling to wait? Unwilling to pray and place ourselves and our circumstances in His hands, and just wait..?

Faith, by definition, demands patience. And lack of patience with God is lack of faith, is disobedience, is unbelief.

“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways’, declares the Lord.” (Isa 55:8)

And we all prove that statement true on a daily basis. Because His thoughts and ways are high and holy, and our thoughts and ways are base and evil. The separation is infinite.

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