Many are familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau. In Genesis 25, the older brother Esau is famished from hunting and “sells” his birthright, the greater inheritance, to his brother for a pot of stew. We can all relate to the sacrifice of greater riches for temporary physical comfort.
In chapter 27, Jacob then poses as Esau to steal the blessing from their blind and infirm father—and Esau weeps bitterly then at the blessings that were lost. Most people stop teaching at this point, focusing on the negatives; but the story doesn’t end there; far from it. You see, God still had a blessing for Esau with a very telling promise: “when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.” (v.40). The word translated as “dominion” in the KJV is often mistranslated as merely restless in other translations – changing the meaning of the blessing. Many read this and think that Esau will be blessed when he grows restless. The opposite is true, actually, and a proper understanding of this blessing contains a profound insight for how we are to be blessed in life. That rich phrase in the Hebrew actually implies that when Esau has dominion OVER restlessness he would break the yoke.
Why a restless spirit steals our birthright:
Most of us relate to God, not from what we HAVE already in Christ, but from a mournful, restless feeling of lack. The Bible, however, teaches that we already have all spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Every blessing in the Bible after Christ ispast tense! So why do we act as though we are still spiritual paupers and orphans?
God knew what Esau needed to walk in blessing. Esau was living below the inheritance God had for him. It was his heart, not his actions, that stole his blessing. Like the Prodigal Son who squandered his blessing before “coming to himself”—to who he really was and who he was destined to be—Esau had to learn a few things before he was postured for the blessing.
We look at Jacob and think, “How could God let him steal the blessing like that?” But in his heart, Esau was trading the blessing before Jacob ever stole it. The Bible says that Esau, though he wasn’t even aware of it himself, despised his birthright. How do we despise our birthright? When we don’t value each moment – when we keep thinking, “I’ll be happy when…” – when we live as though what we HAVE is invaluable and what we don’t have is valuable. All any of us have is this moment. Jesus was fully alive because He was fully in the moment. If you value what you have, you won’t spend it cheaply. If your moments are precious, God can give you gifts that you will enjoy, not despise and squander.
When this spirit is governing your actions, even if you get what you think you want, the joy of it will be passing and you’ll be on to the next thing that you want because you never trained your soul to be satisfied in this moment. God wants to bless what is in your hand. In the Bible He promotes the people who use their gifts of time and talent wisely. This is called “stewardship” and is the key to greatness. Greatness isn’t something far off. Greatness is the accumulation of little moments lived well. But when you think that today’s actions aren’t meaningful, you cheapen your existence. If your life is cheap – if your time is cheap, you’ll squander it cheaply on sin and self-pleasure.
God has already given us our inheritance. If you are still waiting for something, you’ve completely missed the point of this life. Prayer shouldn’t be wasted begging God to give us our inheritance but rather in seeking how to wisely use what we already have. We are called the sons of God, co-heirs with Christ, kings and priests. When this isn’t the reality of how we see ourselves, we have traded our blessing and birthright in our hearts long before we ever get to the place of sinning. What you do, flows from who you are in your heart (Matthew 15:19,20). If your heart is restless, always looking for something that it thinks it doesn’t have, you will be blessed to know that Esau broke this yoke and you can too.
When next we see Esau in Genesis 33, he is blessed beyond measure. His story didn’t end with a stolen birthright. God didn’t plan for him to wallow in the mire for the rest of his life. God needed to show him that he was a favored, beloved prince in order for him to treat his life as such and value what he had. Beloved, we need this confidence before God.
Knowing Your Identity in Christ
If you really know who you are in Christ, you can never sell your inheritance for something so cheap. But if you relate to God out of shame and lack, you will fold like a two dollar suitcase when temptation arises because you already see yourself as dirty.
God is waiting, not for you to get it all right, but to trust that His goodness is better than your badness; to know that who you are in Christ is greater than the old, dead man you used to be. Run to Him and find that He is waiting with open arms, with grace in abundance to restore you to the fullness of your Heavenly identity and destiny.