Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. –Genesis 25:34
Esau walked into the house and there was his brother, Jacob, making a delicious smelling lentil stew. His brother said, “I’ll give you a bowl of this stew if you give me your birthright.” Jacob was always trying to make deals like this.
Esau laughed and said, “I’m hungry, Jacob, but not THAT hungry!”
No wait, that’s what he should have done. Instead, he raised his fork, and forked over his dad’s inheritance, his leadership and position in the family, all for a bowl of steaming lentil goodness.
What are some of the bad deals you’ve made?
- Jan and I bought a used car from a high school kid without taking it to a mechanic. 7 minutes into taking possession of it, flames began to pour out underneath the hood. Jan got our money back, but that’s a deal I wish we’d never made.
- When I lived in Kansas City, some guy was going door to door selling alarm system contracts. We signed up for a 6 year monthly plan, which they held us to…even though we moved after 4 years. Man oh man I wish we hadn’t agreed to that deal!
- And more than once upon a time, I’ve given up my birthright, just like Esau. I’ve turned my back on the blessings God’s given me to do something…stupid. Self-destructive. Selfish. Or even just because I craved something else.
Yep. I’ve made some bad deals. I’ll bet you have too. Well the Good News is that Esau recovered, as can we. It wasn’t like God was out to get Esau, but more that Jacob was willing to move his life in a direction Esau wasn’t yet ready or willing to take. Bad deal or not, God never gave up on Esau.
Years later, the two brothers unite on a field. Jacob is ready for bloodshed from his angry brother, but Esau is gracious and forgiving and beautiful. I don’t know if God so much as helped Jacob steal his brother’s birthright, as he helped set these two young men on faithful courses with their lives.
Bad deal. Good God.
There are many lessons to be learned from the story of Jacob and Esau, but one of those lessons should NOT be that God is some kind of a used-car salesmen looking to take advantage of our shallowness.
Rather, God can work through us even when we’re gullible, shallow, and impulsive. It was a bad deal, to be sure, but Esau came out alright. As did Jacob.
The next time you agree to a bad deal, (and there will be a next time) don’t let it eat your lunch.
You’ll likely be hungrier for Good News next time,
so don’t stew in your juices about it.
(if you have a good pun using the word ‘lentil’, I’d love to hear it)
Have a great week,