Genesis 25 is a narrative about a careless trade.
There was a shrewd conman named Jacob who also happened to be a gifted cook, and one afternoon he was putting the finishing touches on a delicious, hot stew. Just then, like clockwork, his twin brother Esau returned home, exhausted and starving, from a full day of hunting for wild game. Jacob seized the opportunity to make an unfair bargain with his twin: he offered Esau a bowl of the stew… in exchange for Esau’s birthright. And Esau accepted.
Now, a birthright carried a lot more weight in those days than it does today, especially for the firstborn son. According to Deuteronomy 21:15-17, the firstborn son received twice the portion of the family’s wealth than the other sons. If the family owned a business or was royal, this son would be the successor to the business or kingdom. Esau, as the eldest son, was the rightful inheritor of his father’s wealth and blessing, but was tricked into trading it away for a stupid bowl of soup. His excuses probably seemed so legitimate to him at the time, I’m sure, but were in fact absurd: “You don’t understand! The sun was scorching hot, and I was exhausted! I didn’t bring home a single thing! I was annoyed! I was also starving!”
He traded something of eternal significance to satisfy a temporary itch.
It’s said that hindsight is 20/20. We can all look at Esau’s ridiculous mistake and criticize him as dimwitted and hasty—but how many of us make the exact same mistake? Perhaps Esau’s foolish error is actually the foolish error of mankind.
To some, divorce seems like a great option. Having sex with your boyfriend seems to be a good idea. Looking at pornography seems harmless. Cheating on your taxes seems like the perfect route. Telling that lie seems alright. Engaging in same-sex relations seems innocent enough. The list goes on, but each scenario is actually exchanging something beautiful and good for destruction. Sure, the reasons might feel super justified—today’s culture may even celebrate it—but when the dust settles before God, we’ll realize we traded His supreme blessing for a simple bowl of soup. And while that soup may have tasted good for five minutes, we may have actually squandered our eternal inheritance.
I’ll take it a step further: I think that symbolic bowl of soup doesn’t even have to represent sin. I think it can represent any distraction that keeps us from stepping into our full destiny. Mindless scrolling on Instagram for hours, binge-watching Netflix for the better part of a day, endless gaming, hour after hour of screen-staring… None of these are sinful, just as a bowl of soup isn’t sinful—and, hey, I enjoy Netflix and Instagram as much as the next guy! But if we aren’t intentional, such mindless activities have the capacity to numb us, desensitize us, and medicate us from embracing an eternal perspective.
Hear my heart! I’m not advocating for a person to abandon social media or deny themselves hobbies and fun. One of my favorite evangelists Johannes Amritzer always says, “Live a little down here, too!” The abundant life Jesus gives should be enjoyed! What I am saying, though, is the moment any activity or person distracts us from Jesus, we are trading our birthright for a bowl of soup.
Now, Jesus’ ministry is not about condemning the world (John 3:17), and I never want to do something that Jesus isn’t about. While my words may be sobering, they are not intended to condemn. Hopefully, if you happen to read this piece at an important crossroads in your life, you’ll be challenged to pause and seek Heaven’s perspective. The choices you make have eternal ramifications, so weigh carefully and prayerfully.
And if you have engaged in a bargain leaving you with a simple bowl of soup, there is hope in Jesus. Yes! Jesus delights in restoring people! He loves empowering people who have fallen! Listen to this—the greater the sin He forgives, the more glory He receives! It boosts His reputation as a Forgiver, a Rebuilder, a Mercy-Lavisher! Jesus is radiantly compassionate, intensely loyal, endlessly patient, and I promise, He will be beside Himself with joy to wipe your slate clean and set you up for victorious living!
From my heart,