The Value of Jacob’s Birthright (Genesis 27:25)

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In modern times, it’s hard for us to understand the importance of a “birthright.”

To be fair, we understand the idea of leaving something behind for your children. Whether that’s an inheritance, a business empire, or just simply a good name (or a bad name), we all inherently understand the link between us and our descendants.

We want to leave them something that they can bank on (no pun intended), and so we go to great pains to leave behind something of value.

But a birthright, in the Old Testament sense, was something different entirely.

Not only did the oldest inherit the lion’s share of his father’s possessions when the father died (Deuteronomy 21:15-17), he also took on the mantle of patriarch of the family. He became the de facto leader of a family that could, in some cases, be extremely powerful.

Such was the case for someone like Isaac, who, when he knew he was near death, called Esau to his bedside in order to bless him. 

But even for Esau, the blessing involved more than just material possessions. As the eventual prayer stated, this was a blessing straight from God Himself. It wasn’t just that you were the oldest son in a normal family; you were the oldest son of the promised son — the one that God promised way back in Genesis 12 would bless the earth.

In other words, it’s a pretty big deal.

It’s surprising, then, that Esau thought almost nothing of selling that birthright for a random pot of stew. He obviously didn’t value it as he should — that much is clear — or else he wouldn’t have given it up so easily. 

Thousands (possibly millions) of sermons have been written about the fact that we have a “spiritual birthright” from God. I love those sermons. I’ve preached those sermons.

But here’s another thing to chew on from this: Are we communicating the value of that birthright to our own children?

If you’ve been a Christian for any number of years, you know how valuable this birthright is. Chances are, since you’re reading this, that knowledge is growing daily.

But are you communicating it to your children and grandchildren so that they don’t make the same mistake that Isaac did? I’m sure Isaac told him something about how great that birthright is, but it’s very possible he didn’t enunciate it as clearly as he should.

If he did, maybe Esau wouldn’t have sold it for a pot of stew.