Esau was a likable person who was skilled at the art of hunting. He was handsome, rough, and tuff and was admired by men and women. Yet it is clear that Esau was accustomed to giving in to his appetites. He knew nothing of delayed gratification. If he wanted it, he pursued it. He had no spiritual desire and no sense of the eternal; consequently, he could sell his birthright and not regret it.
Jacob and Esau were as different as night and day. Esau would have been the most likable and the one who would have been the most impressive. Jacob, on the other hand, was deceitful and manipulating. The most significant difference, however, was that Jacob loved God, and Esau did not. They remind me of the parable Jesus told of the two sons: “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “’I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go” (Matt 21:28-30). Esau would have been the one who would have made you think he would come through for you, but he would not. Jacob would have been eliminated from the start with his conniving scheming heart, but God would transform him.
Esau’s selfishness fueled his arrogance and dismissive attitude. God didn’t matter, nor did the divine promise of his grandfather and father they had so long hoped to see. Esau could not see beyond what was in front of him. His life was guided by pleasure and desire for his personal comfort. His choices set him on a tragic course that took him away from God and away from God’s blessings.
Every generation faces the same challenge. If we live with no eternal view of heaven life will be just what you can see and experience here. It will be what we eat, what we wear, what we do—utterly void of the unseen. Paul put it this way, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:18).
Once when Jesus’ disciples had been caught in a horrific storm, and they feared they would drown, they woke Jesus up who was sleeping in the stern of the boat. They asked, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (Luke 8:24). Jesus got up and “…rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.”
Then Jesus asked his disciples a penetrating question: “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). The disciples were utterly speechless. Luke gives us their reaction to what just happened, “In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
Where was Esau’s faith? It was non-existent. He was self-reliant and disinterested in the things of God. His legacy is a godless legacy. Jacob was also self-reliant, but when he came to the end of himself, he turned to God. Jacob experienced that same awe of God the disciples did in that boat. His faith was real, and because of that Jacob left a legacy of faith. Jacob gave us Joseph, a man after God.