Summary: Main idea: Give up our need to consume, because it is keeping us from enjoying the Kingdom.
This sermon is by James Choung of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. You are also invited to visit James’ blog at http://www.jameschoung.net/.
About eight years ago, I was in Manhattan celebrating my 25th birthday. A friend and I were in the middle of Times Square, waiting in a long line at TKS booth for discount tickets to a hot new show: "Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk." We couldn’t wait for Savion Glover to tap his way onto the stage and into our hearts. This was no ordinary tap dance, mind you, this is hip, uncut modern tap -- if you’re talking about jazz, it’s the difference between Lawrence Welk and John Coltrane. This would be terrific stuff.
A gentleman with ragged, balding hair, a tan smock and blue jeans spotted with paint came up to us to offer tickets.
"Which show are you looking for?"
"Bring in Da Noise, Bring in da Funk"
"I have some. Great seats, center, near the front. $50 a piece."
I looked at my friend, and she looked at me. We had a quick conversation with our eyes: Would we be able to get tickets at the booth for today? And this close? Can we trust this guy? $50 doesn’t sound like a bad deal, does it? We shrugged, and grabbed our cash from the nearest ATM. The deal was done, and we hoped these tickets would be as good as he said they would be.
When we walked into the theater, we were ushered upstairs. Not a good sign „o front and center, right? We found ourselves in the back right corner of the theater, in the second to the last row. As the curtain rose, we noticed that the theater wasn’t as packed as we may have thought; it was sparsely attended. To add insult to injury, we found out those tickets would’ve cost us only $25 at the booth. We were ripped off.
Ever been ripped off? We give up something valuable for something worthless. It’s frustrating. But what if I said that there’s a greater rip off occurring? What if, every single day, something out there is trying to rip us off, to take away something very valuable, something central to our purposes and meaning for life? Do you ever get the feeling that life isn’t exactly what it’s supposed to be? What if we were being ripped off every day of something core to who we are, and we didn’t know it?
Our birthrights: God’s presence in our lives
First, let me set up the scene. It’s the story of twin brothers. Esau is the older brother of the two, but by seconds. They definitely weren’t identical twins, because they were as different as licorice and soy sauce. If Esau is the Discovery channel with his love of the outdoors, Jacob is Home and Garden Television with his love for the indoors and cooking. Esau is a strong, burly Crocodile Hunter, while Jacob is a scheming yet quiet Iron Chef. These guys are polar opposites.
One day, Esau returns from a day of hunting. Read Genesis 25:29-34
What does Jacob want? He wants Esau’s birthright. Esau, according to the account earlier in this chapter, was born first of the twins. He came out hairy like a rug (I can’t imagine a hairy baby, but anyways), which is a possible meaning of the name, Esau. Jacob came out second grasping his heel, the meaning of his name. In Hebrew, this became a saying for someone who was played jokes, deceived or was rebellious. If you were one who grasped the heel, you were deceptive, rebellious or a jokester (which is a form of protest or rebellion.) Since Esau was born first, he had the advantage of the inheritance. The father would normally divide his inheritance (land, possessions, etc.) into equal parts plus one, and then give the older son a double portion. (It’s great to the be first born, eh?) This was Esau’s inheritance, his birthright. It was his privilege as the eldest of the family. The birthright is an extremely valuable thing.