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

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“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.

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