When Isaac decided the day to pass out blessings to his sons had come, Esau was eager to obey his father’s request regarding a special meal of wild meat. Whistling, he headed to the woods. What better way to get in the mindset of a blessing than to do what was his joy to do? A good hunt surely indicated his good fortune. Perhaps, knowing he was his father’s favorite son, he hoped to collect on the blessing of the firstborn even without the tangible items and clansman title that he’d felt such indifference toward on that bitter day he’d made such an unfair exchange with his brother. He slipped into the forest, the place of his comfort zone, as he entertained ideas of retribution and restoration.
When Esau returned to his aging father’s tent with the prepared savory meat, however, he discovered a deceptive plot had been afoot in his absence. As a result, Jacob, possessor of the ill-gotten birthright, now had the elder-brother blessing as well. In bitterness of heart, Esau cried to his father Isaac, “Bless me, even me also, oh my father.… Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?”
Isaac regretfully told him he had given the best to Jacob. There wasn’t much left to bestow upon Esau.
Still Esau persisted, “Hast thou but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, oh my father.” He pleaded with agonizing tears, knowing he had lost everything. He’d foolishly given up what was rightfully his by birth, and in a moment when he hoped to recapture some of what he’d lost, deception prevented his getting the blessing he’d hoped to receive.
Esau had finally recognized the value of what he’d lost. He had chosen to obey his father, but it was too late. He had missed out on the birthright and the blessing that could have been his.
Hebrews 12: 15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or a profile in person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears…” Esau could never recover what he had lost. Not the birthright he’d treated callously. Not the blessing he’d assumed he’d receive.
However, Isaac did provide this alternative blessing: “Behold thy dwelling will be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven above; and by thy sword thou shalt live, and thou shalt serve that brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.”
Esau was given the hope of breaking free of the noose Jacob’s deception had put upon him. The key was in the words of his father.
Had he stopped to examine the double meaning of Isaac’s words, Esau could have discovered a secret: He could have dominion by looking at his blessings, by living by the sword, and by serving his brother. Instead, Esau saw no greater value in those words of his blessing than he had in his birthright. Bitter, he lived out the blessing as if it were a curse. He lived off the land, used his sword to become chief of his people, and served Jacob with the inferiority of a younger brother.
“And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father had blessed him.” By hating what Jacob had done, hating the blessing upon Jacob, and, dare I say, hating his own blessing, Esau harbored unforgiveness and kept himself in an unrepentant state. He blamed the deceiver and never accepted responsibility for his weaknesses and wrongdoing. He failed to admit his shortcomings, and he failed to acknowledge his blessings. While the corn and wine belonged to Jacob, Esau possessed the provision of his father’s benediction. With a shift in perspective, he could have dwelt, abode continually in, the fertile, vigorous places of life while simultaneously delighting in a perpetual spiritual refreshing, heaven’s mist. Instead of living by the sword in his hand, he could have enjoyed the edge of sharpness of character. Instead of becoming servant to his own bitterness, he could have humbled himself and served his brother. Instead, he perpetuated bitterness and small thinking so that generations later, when Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, had the opportunity to bless Israel, Jacob’s descendants, they didn’t. Esau had not come up under the blessing of the words of his father; his posterity failed to do so as well. They would not let Israel pass through their territory as Israel followed God from Egyptian captivity. Instead of saying that Israel had paid its dues with its slavery Egypt, instead of choosing to stand with their brother in celebration of God’s favor upon them, instead of forgiving past wrongs and unifying in fresh hope, Edom sought to make things difficult for Israel. Like their father before them, in their moment of dominion, they failed to break the yoke.
Past foolishness may prevent us from fully recovering what was ours by right of spiritual birth, and our inattentiveness could have permitted the deceiver to rob blessings we had hoped to receive. But our Father who cherishes us has given us His Word, a blessing of provision that can turn things to our good. We can choose to remain blinded by what is lost rather than seeing what is in our power to gain. We can hold tightly to bitterness and blame. We can fail to see our own error and justify our wrong choices. We can make excuses for our lack of victory. We can stay short-sited, forever failing to appreciate what is at our disposal.
However, if we behold what God has placed in our hands, we can treasure the gift we’ve been given: blessings in the natural and the spiritual realms; a sword to defend what IS ours and to gain new ground, a sharpness that gives us the edge, a spiritual sword, the everlasting Word; restoration of relationship and thus, reconnection with our lost birthright.
It’s the blessings provided to Esau that release us from the pain others may have caused, the loss the deceiver may have perpetuated, and the regret of our own foolishness. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God…” “And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” against the adversary. “…by love serve one another.” It is the Father’s blessing that permits us to rise and in the rising, fling off the yoke of past mistakes and failures to find a new yoke, one that is easy with a burden that’s light.
Tip/Tidbit: Are you using the hidden benefits of God's blessing on your life to overcome the past and to reach for a brighter future?