Esau’s Error

In Jeremiah 49:7-8, while the prophet is speaking against the nations, some interesting words are brought up about Edom – that the “calamity of Esau” would befall them. This is likely a reference back to Genesis and the choices made by the father of their nations.

In Genesis 25:23, God tells Rachel that two nations are in her womb and that the younger will be stronger than the elder. One would be worldly minded and the other spiritually minded. We are familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau, how each parent favored one. Esau is also called Edom, meaning red or ruddy, and we know how Jacob convinces Esau to sell his birthright for food.

The Problems with Esau’s Actions

  • He despised his birthright. Being the firstborn, certain rights and responsibilities were on Esau’s shoulders. He was next in line for the promises of Abraham. He disdained his honorable lineage.
  • His priorities were wrong. He focused on his hunger first. His inheritance came second. He was most interested in instant gratification, and his choices were short-sighted.
  • He repented too late (Hebrews 12:16-17). Esau realized his error eventually, but he came to the realization too late. There was no turning back from the course he set.

Our Application

Our Birthright

Many of us have members of our family who are fascinated with genealogy and history. Spiritually, do we value our spiritual heritage? In Hebrews 11:39-40, the author tells us that the promises to us complete the actions and lives of those that came before. Our spiritual birthright begins with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and all those who came before us. Hebrews 12, then, encourages us to lay aside our worldly influences to continue the race these individuals began, and we should pass this heritage on to our own children. (See Joshua 24:31 vs. Judges 2:10 for a time when this did not take place.) III John  4 – “I have no greater joy than these things, to hear that my children walk in the truth.”

Our Priorities

In Colossians 3:1-2, we are told to seek things that are above rather than what is of this world. Matthew 6:19 reminds us to avoid placing our trust in earthly gain, putting anything secular in a higher priority than spiritual maters. In II Peter 1:3-10, Peter tells us what we should be concentrating on, and, if we lack the correct priorities, like Esau we become concerned with short-sighted needs, and we lose sight of those long-term promises we are given by God.

Correcting Too Late

In Luke 16:19, Jesus begins telling the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in which the rich man looks up from torment to Abraham. He asks for relief from Abraham and is denied. He asks that Lazarus be sent back to warn his family of this fate. However, Abraham denies this request – citing the cannon of scriptures they already had. In Acts 24:25 and Acts 26:27-28, Paul encounters two figures who put off repentance. Matthew 24:42 warns us that the Second Coming will be unexpected. He then tells a parable of prepared and unprepared maidens waiting for a wedding feast – it was too late for the unprepared to enter. FInally, in Luke 15, we know the story of the prodigal son. He took action when he realized the state he was in. This son did not wait until it was too late, and he humbly corrected his ways, being enthusiastically received by his father.


God viewed Easu’s poor choices as a tragedy. The question is if we are walking into the same fate ourselves. We should value the heritage we have as God’s children, making sure our priorities are focused on things above. We don’t know when we will have to give an account to our God, so now is time to repent if you need to.

lesson by Tim Smelser