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Verses of Genesis 25

32

Genesis 25:32 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

DISCOURSE: 41
THE BIRTHRIGHT TYPICAL OF THE CHRISTIANS PORTION

Gen 25:32. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

IT may be considered as a general rule, that no man abstains from any thing which he has purposed to do, for want of some excuse of expedience or necessity to justify it. A melancholy instance of infatuation we have in the history before us; an instance singular indeed as to the immediate act, but common, and almost universal, as to the spirit manifested in it. Esau, having come home from hunting unusually oppressed with fatigue and hunger, set his heart upon his brother’s pottage; and not only agreed to sell his birthright for it, but confirmed with an oath the alienation of that inheritance, to which, by primogeniture, he was entitled. To justify his conduct he offered this vain and false apology, “Behold, I am at the point to die; and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” But the fact is, as the historian informs us, he “despised his birthright.”
Let us then consider,

I.

Esau’s contempt of his birthright—

There were many important privileges attached to primogeniture among the Jews—
[The first-born was by God’s appointment to have dominion over his brethren [Note: Gen 27:29; Gen 27:37; Gen 49:3.], and to enjoy a double portion of his father’s inheritance [Note: This was not optional with the parent in any case. Deu 21:15; Deu 21:17.]. But besides these civil, there were also some sacred privileges, which he possessed. The Messiah, of whom he was to be a type, and who, in reference to the ordinances of birthright, is called “the first-born among many brethren [Note: Rom 8:29.],” was to spring from his loins [Note: In one instance this privilege was separated from the foregoing one; and both were alienated from the first-born; the former being given to Joseph, and the latter to Judah, as a punishment of Reuben’s iniquity in lying with his father’s concubine. 1Ch 5:1-2.]. Yea, in some sense, the firstborn had a better prospect even of heaven itself, than the rest of his brethren; because the expectation of the Messiah, who was to descend from him, would naturally cause him to look forward to that great event, and to inquire into the office and character which the promised seed should sustain.]

But these privileges Esau despised—
[He accounted them of no more value than a mess of pottage: nor did he speedily repent of his folly and wickedness. If he had seen the evil of his conduct, he would surely have endeavoured to get the agreement cancelled; and if his brother Jacob had refused to reverse it, he should have entreated the mediation of his father, that so he might be reinstated in his natural rights. But we read not of any such endeavours: on the contrary, we are told, “He did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way;” so little did he value, or rather, so utterly did he “despise, his birthright.” On this account is he stigmatized by the Apostle, as a profane person [Note: Heb 12:16.]: had he disregarded only temporal benefits, he had been guilty of folly; but his contempt of spiritual blessings argued profaneness.]

Jacob’s conduct indeed in this matter was exceeding base: but Esau’s was inexpressibly vile. Yet will he be found to have many followers, if we examine,

II.

The analogy between his conduct and our own—

The birthright was typical of the Christian’s portion—
[The true Christian has not indeed any temporal advantages similar to those enjoyed by right of primogeniture: but he is made an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ. He has a distinguished interest in the Saviour, and an indisputable title to the inheritance of heaven. And hence they who have attained the full possession of their inheritance are called, “The general assembly and Church of the first-born [Note: Heb 12:23.].”]

But the generality are like Esau, having,

1.

The same indifference about spiritual blessings—

[Some excuse may be offered for Esau, because he knew not what a Saviour, or what an inheritance, he despised. But we have had the Saviour fully revealed to us; and know what a glorious place the heavenly Canaan is. Yet too many of us think as lightly of Christ and of heaven, as if neither he nor it were worth our attention: yea, we are ready at any time to barter them away for the most trifling gratification: and what is this, but to imitate the profaneness of Esau?]

2.

The same insatiable thirst after earthly and sensual indulgence—

[Though Esau pretended that he was near to die, it was only an excuse for his profane conduct; for it cannot be conceived, but that, in the house of an opulent man like Isaac, there either was, or might easily be procured, something to satisfy the cravings of nature. But he was bent upon having his brother’s pottage, whatever it might cost [Note: His extreme eagerness may be seen in his words, “Give me that red, red.” Being captivated with the colour, he determined to get it, whatever it might be, and whatever it might cost: and from thence the name Edom, which signifies red, was given him. 0.]. And is it not so with those who yield to uncleanness, intemperance, or any base passion? Do they not sacrifice their health, their reputation, yea, their very souls, for a momentary indulgence? Do they not say, in fact, ‘Give me the indulgence of my lust; I must and will have it, whatever be the consequence: if I cannot have it without the loss of my birthright, be it so; let my hope in Christ be destroyed; let my prospects of heaven be for ever darkened; let my soul perish; welcome hell; welcome damnation; only give me the indulgence which my soul longs after.’ This sounds harsh in words; but is it not realized in the lives and actions of the generality? Yes; as the wild ass, when seeking her mate, defies all endeavours to catch and detain her, so these persist in spite of all the means that may be used to stop their course; no persuasions, no promises, no threatenings, no consequences, temporal or eternal, can divert them from their purpose [Note: Jer 2:23-24.].]

3.

The same want of remorse for having sold their birthright for a thing of nought—

[Never did Esau discover any remorse for what he had done: for though, when the birthright was actually given to Jacob, he “cried with an exceeding bitter cry, Bless me, even me also, O my father [Note: Gen 27:34.],” yet he never humbled himself for his iniquity, never prayed to God for mercy, nor endured patiently the consequences of his profaneness: on the contrary, he comforted himself with the thought, that he would murder his brother, as soon as ever his father should be dead [Note: Gen 27:41-42.]. And is it not thus also with the generality? They go on, none saying, What have I done? Instead of confessing and bewailing their guilt and folly, they extenuate to the utmost, or perhaps even presume to justify, their impieties. Instead of crying day and night to God for mercy, they never bow their knee before him, or do it only in a cold and formal manner. And, instead of submitting to the rebukes of Providence, and kissing the rod, they are rather like a wild bull in a net, determining to add sin to sin. Even Judas himself had greater penitence than they. Alas! alas! what a resemblance does almost every one around us bear to this worthless wretch, this monster of profaneness!]

Address,
1.

Those who are still despising their birthright—

[Reflect a moment on your folly and your danger. Place yourselves a moment on a death-bed, and say, ‘I am at the point to die; and what profit do my past lusts and pleasures now do me?’ Will ye then justify yourselves as ye now do, or congratulate yourselves on having so often gratified your vicious inclinations? Suppose on the other hand that ye were dying, like Isaac, in the faith of Christ; would ye then say, What profit shall my birthright do to me? Would it then appear a trifling matter to have an interest in the Saviour, and a title to heaven? Consider further, how probable it is that you may one day, like Esau, seek earnestly the inheritance you have sold, and yet find no place of repentance in your Father’s bosom! We mean not to say that any true penitent will be rejected: but the Apostle intimates, what daily experience proves true, that, as Esau could not obtain a revocation of his father’s word, though he sought it carefully with tears, so we may cry with great bitterness and anguish on account of the loss we have sustained, and yet never so repent as to regain our forfeited inheritance [Note: Heb 12:17.]. At all events, if we obtain not a title to heaven while we are here, we may come to the door and knock, like the foolish virgins, and be dismissed with scorn and contempt. Having “sown the wind, we shall reap the whirlwind.” Let us then “seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near.”]

2.

Those who value their birthright above every thing else—

[Amidst the multitudes who pour contempt on spiritual blessings, there are some who know their value and taste their sweetness. But how often will temptations arise, that divert our attention from these great concerns, and impel us, with almost irresistible energy, to the commission of sin! And how may we do in one moment, what we shall have occasion to bewail to all eternity! Let us then watch and pray that we enter not into temptation: and, however firm we may imagine our title to heaven, let us beware lest our subtle adversary deprive us of it: Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into the heavenly rest, any of us should seem to come short of it [Note: Heb 4:1.].]


Verses of Genesis 25

32

Consult other comments:

Genesis 25:32 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Genesis 25:32 - Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

Genesis 25:32 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Genesis 25:32 - Geneva Bible Notes

Genesis 25:32 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Genesis 25:32 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 25:32 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 25:32 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Genesis 25:32 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Genesis 25:32 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 25:32 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)