Transcript of Midweek Meditations podcast episode aired on Wednesday, 15th July 2020.
We read at the end of Genesis 25 a story about Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac. On a particular day, we find Jacob cooking food and Esau returning from the hunt hungry. The famished Esau pleads for food from his younger brother, but Jacob replies, “First sell me your birthright.” (Genesis 25:31)
In response to this, Esau says, “Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32)
Esau swears an oath, selling his birthright to Jacob. The chapter ends with the words:
Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.Genesis 25:34 (NIV)
As we meditating on these words, I want to share with you the reflections of the Church Father, Chrysostom. He says:
I mean, why, tell me, should we be obsessed with a desire for money when the kingdom of heaven and those ineffable [ie. inexpressible] blessings are within our grasp, and why prefer blessings that endure forever and ever to those that are passing and scarcely last until evening?Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis 50.7.
What’s he saying? He’s asking the question, “Do we desire the earthly and temporal things of this world more than the heavenly and eternal blessings of God?”
Maybe it’s not money, maybe it’s something else—experience, knowledge, popularity, relationships, security, and the list goes on. What earthly and temporal things do you treasure more than the heavenly and eternal blessings and promises of God?
Esau despised his birthright and the covenant promise of God. What was that promise? To make the descendants of Abraham into a great nation (qv. Genesis 12:2-3). He sold the promises of God for a bowl of stew.
Focus on things above
How do we treasure the blessings and promises of God? We remember Christ, we remember Jesus. Paul writes to the Colossians:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.Colossians 3:1–4 (NIV)
Preach the gospel to yourself. Remember that you died to sin and you have been raised with Christ. Therefore, set your hearts on things above because that’s where Jesus is. Jesus is your life; if you want life, set your heart and mind on him.
The world will seek to entice you with its temporal pleasures: money, power, status, success. But if it can’t entice you, then it will enslave you with anxiety and fear. It will whisper lies of your failures and weaknesses. It will question your identity and worth.
When the world seeks to turn your eyes and tempt you with its temporary pleasures, set your heart and mind on Jesus. Cry out to him in your weakness, he is faithful to help us in our time of need. Don’t despise, don’t forget, the blessings and promises of God.
Dearest friends, we have in Jesus an eternal promise of blessing and life. Set your heart and mind on Christ and you can find joy and peace in him. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, you are the God of promise. In your providence, you promised the patriarch Abraham to make him a great nation through whom all peoples will be blessed. Through him, through the peoples of Israel, you sent us the Saviour, Jesus Christ. In him we died and were raised to life; and we receive your eternal blessings and promises.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your obedience to the promises of God. In your death and resurrection, we find life, life everlasting. You promise to be with us always, so we ask you now to be with us in our time of need.
Holy Spirit, remind us of the promises of God. Help us not to despise them. Move us and point our hearts and minds to the things of Christ, things above, not on earthly things. Give us a fresh assurance of our security in our Lord Jesus.
This we pray in his precious name, amen.