I have always been troubled by the reference to Esau in Hebrews 12 where it says that his repentance was rejected.
This morning I was reading in Hebrews, portions of chapters 11-13. This little story of Esau is tucked into the middle of chapter 12. The full story is found in Genesis 25. I related it to my meditation yesterday in the book of James on the subject of the fruit of the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law”
How many of these qualities were absent in Esau’s decision to trade his birthright for a bowl of food? He wanted what he wanted and he wanted it now, without any consideration for how this would affect his future. I would say he definitely lacked patience and self-control. I think he also fell short in the faithfulness area. He failed to be a good steward of his inheritance.
His brother Jacob, knowing the value of the birthright, saw his opportunity. It was a devious thing for Jacob to do, to ask Esau to trade his birthright for food, but if Esau was foolish enough to go along with the plan, well, too bad for him.
Jacob visualized his future with the inheritance of the firstborn, while Esau remained focused on his current need and pleasure. Esau gave up something which later he was not able to retrieve. A hasty decision in the moment caused him to forfeit his future happiness and security.
When the time came for Esau to receive his inheritance and he learned it had been given to his brother Jacob, Esau tearfully sought the blessing that should have come to him. But the privileges of his birthright could not be reinstated. He could not go back to the way things were before his decision.
What lesson can I learn from this story? I think the lesson here is to place value on what is truly of worth. It is important to think long term and be patient. It may be necessary to delay satisfying immediate, short term desires in order not to jeopardize the more important long term benefits.
Esau “found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” It does appear that some consequences are irreversible. The result of certain choices cannot be undone. We need to think about this beforehand. Afterward it may be too late.