No chance to repent, seriously?

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.

What changed after Easter?

We have just celebrated Easter, the resurrection of Christ. What is the significance of the coming of Christ to earth? What changed after Easter?

The answer is found in the Bible. The significance of Christ appears in the Old Testament as well as the New. A great deal of richness is lost if one does not know the “back story.” There are many layers of truth to be uncovered, not unlike an archeological dig. I find the process fascinating.

I had a small insight concerning Christ in my devotional time this morning. My reading was from the book of Ezekiel, portions of chapters 42-44. In these chapters instructions are given for sacrificial purification. One very marked historical difference after Easter is the discontinuation of sacrifices in the Jewish tradition for those who called themselves disciples of Christ, later known as Christians.

Animal sacrifice for cleansing from sin and atonement of guilt were prescribed by God after the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, were delivered by Moses from slavery in Egypt. In chapter 42 of Ezekiel we read of the necessity to make “…a separation between the holy and the common.” Throughout the Bible we are reminded of the holiness and righteousness of God and we see him at work to make a way for an unholy and unrighteous people to approach him. “I will accept you,” he declares in Ezekial 43, when the conditions of sacrifice are met.

This ritual of sacrifice was a considerable burden for the nation of Israel. If the people were straying from God, one of the first signs was the forsaking of sacrifices or the profaning of  sacrifices by disregarding instructions.

Jesus is metaphorically referred to as the “lamb of God,” because he came to put an end to animal sacrifice. He became the final and perfect sacrifice for sin. When Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness there was an occasion when God sent poisonous snakes among them to punish them for their disobedience. Moses, according to God’s instruction, made a serpent of brass and fastened it to a pole and lifted it up for the people to see. Anyone who looked at the snake could be healed (Numbers 21). Just like the snake-bitten Israelites in the wilderness were saved on the day when they looked at the serpent, so anyone today can be forgiven, healed of their sin by looking at Jesus their Saviour. It is so simple.

What stood out for me in my reading was the fact that God’s attitude towards sin has not changed. He still separates the holy and the common. Another translation says, “the holy and the profane.” Forgiveness through Christ is a remedy for sin and disobedience. It is never an excuse to continue in our snake-bitten, and poisoned condition.

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:18-23