Genesis 25:1-34

Genesis 25 begins with the account of Abraham’s new marriage to Keturah, and the six male children she bore him. She most likely also gave birth to many female children, which are usually not listed in a genealogy. We also have the account of Abraham’s death, and the transfer of God’s blessing to Isaac. It is interesting that both Isaac’s and Ishmael’s genealogies are recorded here in the text, and the twins that were born to Isaac and Rebekah. The birth of Jacob and Esau introduces us to the conflict that occurred between these two men, which is also incorporated in the next several chapters in Genesis. However, Jacob and his children will be the prominent topic from here to the end of Genesis. Therefore, Genesis 25 is a pivotal chapter in the history of the nation Israel. Scripture records, Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east. This is the sum of the years of Abraham's life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth. There Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife. And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac dwelt at Beer Lahai Roi” (Gen. 25:1-11).

Abraham’s marriage to Keturah.  Vs. 1-6

I have already established in a previous study that Sarah died when Abraham was 137 years old (Gen. 23:1). Abraham lived another 38 years with Keturah, while having many more children, which proves that Sarah was the one with the fertility issues during their marriage. Abraham then dies at the age of 175 (Gen. 25:7). These facts reveal that Abraham must have been a very spry old guy to go on to father this many more children in his old age. Keturah was Abraham’s third wife, after Sarah and Hagar. Most of the male children that Keturah bore to Abraham went on to establish their own people groups and nations. One of Keturah’s children, Midian, went on to become the father of the Midianites who lived in the area which is today, Saudi Arabia. You remember that Jethro was called a “Priest of Midian,” and Moses married his daughter Zipporah (Ex. 2:16).

It is important to note that when Abraham realized that he was getting ready to die, he “gave all that he had to Isaac,” because he was the child of promise, and heir to all that God had promised him (Gen. 25:5). However, Abraham also distributed many gifts to the children of the sons of his concubines, and he sent them eastward from the land of Israel to separate them from his son. These people groups today form the Arab nations of the Middle East.

One question mark in this record is when Genesis 25:6 calls these other children “sons of the concubines.” This phrase seems to refer to Keturah as Abraham’s concubine, as does the passage found in 1 Chronicles 1:32. Yet, Genesis 25:1 clearly states that Keturah was Abraham’s wife. Which then is correct? Many Bible scholars believe that Keturah was Abraham’s concubine, but then became his wife in later years. This is just one of those questions that we don’t have enough information about to make a definitive statement.

The death of Abraham.  Vs. 7-11

After Abraham death, we see the first mention of a phrase that will be used many times in the first five books of Moses. That phrase is that Abraham was, “gathered to his people,” at the end of verse 8. This phrase does not refer to Abraham being placed in the cave with Sarah, because obviously the use of the word people is plural referring to many individuals. In addition, at this time Sarah was the only one who was buried in the cave of Machpelah. The terminology of being gathered to his people is used to refer to being gathered to another place beyond this life. Specifically, this is describing Abraham being gathered together with all those who died in faith waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise of a redeemer. This is a very important topic, because the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation talk about life after death, and the choice each of us must make for where we want to spend our eternity. It is extremely important to realize that there is a specific place that you will go to after you die, but where will that be? Your body will dissolve back to the dust from which you came, but your spirit will live on with God, or apart from Him (Gen. 3:19; John 7:34; John 8:21; John 14:1-3). Jesus declared that there are only two places you can go. In John 5:28-29 Jesus made it absolutely clear when He taught, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” If there is anyone who knows what is after this life, Jesus would be the one I would listen to first.

Paul also declared that, “We know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:1-8). Our earthly house, or tent that we live in today, is our physical body. A tent is a temporary dwelling place, just as our physical body is temporary for our life today. But our permanent heavenly building that is from God, is our new body that is fashioned like His glorious body (Phil. 3:21). When you die you will go somewhere, but the question is where. Make sure you have a personal assurance of where this will be before you die.

Where was Abraham going?

Before the death and resurrection of Christ, Abraham was going to a place that Jesus referred to as Paradise, or Abraham’s bosom. Remember when Jesus was on the cross, and one of the thieves acknowledged his sin, confessed Jesus as Lord, and believed that Christ would enter His eternal kingdom that very day, Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Paradise was not heaven, but it was a place of great comfort where all those who died in faith went to wait until the Messiah would come and put away sin forever (Heb. 9:26). Jesus also explained where Paradise was, who was there, and who would not be there in Luke 16:19-31. This passage is not a parable, because parables never use the specific names of individuals. As you read this account notice that Abraham was in paradise, and gathered to his people, just as the Scriptures taught. Jesus explained, There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

The important point to remember in this passage is that this is where people went before the death and resurrection of Jesus. Why? Because their sins were only covered, and not put away. It is important to compare these two words in God’s Word (Ps. 32:1; Ps. 85:2; Heb. 9:26). The Hebrew word covered means to forgive and conceal, but the Greek words to put away mean to forgive and remove completely. Therefore, these believers in Paradise needed to have their sins finally and forever removed completely. But after the cross, the Scripture declares that Jesus led these people that all died in faith into heaven, and they are today part of what’s called the first resurrection (Eph. 4:8-10; Rev. 20:5-6; 1 Peter 4:5-6). These individuals are there in the presence of God right now, and enjoying their eternal reward (2 Cor. 5:8). Today if you die, you will go directly into the presence of God, not into the bosom of Abraham, even though Abraham will be there waiting for you. Paradise has moved into the presence of Jesus. This is why it is so important that Jesus declared in this account in Luke 16 that this is where Abraham was. He had been gathered to his people, with all those who had also died in faith. 

Abraham’s death and burial.  Vs. 7-11

The text now continues with the fact that Abraham was buried in the cave of Machpelah alongside his wife Sarah. Notice that both Ishmael and Isaac were together to bury their father, Abraham. These two brothers were not living in the same area, because when Ishmael was cast out of Abraham’s tent, he and his mother Hagar lived in the wilderness of Paran which was south near the Red Sea (Gen. 21:21). It was good to at least see these two men in unity over the death of their father.

But then this section of Scripture immediately turns from the death of Abraham to this statement in verse 11 that, “God blessed his son Isaac.” God’s blessing was upon Isaac just as God had promised to do to all the descendants of Abraham. This is an acknowledgment of the faithfulness of God to His Word. Now remember this statement that God blessed Isaac, because as the story of his life unfolds, it is not going to look like God was blessing Isaac and his wife. Isaac resided in “Beer Lahai Roi,” which was approximately 80 miles north of where Ishmael was living in the Wilderness of Zin. The words, Beer Lahai Roi mean “The well of the Living One that sees me.” This natural spring is where the Angel of the Lord found Hagar and Ishmael after they had fled from the conflict that she had with Sarah earlier in the Genesis record (Gen. 16:7-13).

The genealogy of Ishmael. Vs. 12-18

Scripture continues, “Now this is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's maidservant, bore to Abraham. And these were the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names, by their towns and their settlements, twelve princes according to their nations. These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. (They dwelt from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt as you go toward Assyria.) He died in the presence of all his brethren” (Gen. 25:12-18).

The twelve sons of Ishmael are listed in this text, as well as where they lived, which was east of Egypt toward Assyria. These would be the lands today which incorporate the nations of Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. Each of his sons started their own individual nations. In addition, we are told that Ishmael live 137 years.

The genealogy of Isaac.  Vs. 19-28

Now we come to the most important part of this chapter, because here is revealed the birth of Jacob and Esau. These two men will take up almost half of the rest of the book of Genesis. Scripture states, This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If all is well, why am I like this?’ So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her: ‘Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.’ So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Gen. 25:19-28).

As you read this account of Isaac and Rebekah’s inability to have children, you will probably think back to the statement in verse 11 where God promised to bless Isaac. But if Isaac was so blessed by God, why then were they not able to have children? What was God seeking to accomplish in these two parents through this trial? In addition, they had to wait for 20 years before she could become pregnant, because it declares in our text that Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah, and he was 60 years old when she gave birth to her twins (Gen. 25:20; Gen. 25:26). Now this trial seems very similar to the trial Abraham and Sarah had to endure as they waited for Isaac to be born. Their wait was for 25 years after the promise. Always remember, God does what He purposes to do in His own time, not on your time schedule.

Now this brings up one of the most asked questions that I have had in my ministry, which is, “Why does God take so long to answer prayer? Why does He make us wait?” It was not a lack of faith in Isaac. It is clear from these passages that Isaac was a man of faith, because he “Pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren.” Rebekah was also a woman of faith, because she inquired of God for understanding concerning the battle that went on within her womb. This was a praying couple, who believed in Yahweh. So, why does God wait to answer our prayers? Let me give you several reasons from God’s Word.

First, sometimes God waits to answer a need, because you are not asking for His help. In the epistle of James, we see this exact issue brought up to the people of God. He wrote, You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Why were they not praying? If you read the context, these believers were caught up in lusting after worldly things. Their focus was not on the Lord, but on earthly pleasures. This is why we must always pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1).

Second, sometimes God waits to answer a need, because even though you may be asking in prayer for something, you may have the wrong motives, or you are asking selfishly. James addressed this issue in the very next verse when he declared, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). The word amiss means to ask wrongly or with evil intent. Sometimes a person can be simply praying for their own will to be done, and not God’s will (Matt. 6:10). God knows my heart and motives and will respond to me based on this fact. Rather, we should look into God’s Word to determine what His will is, and pray in harmony with it (Eph. 5:17).

Third, sometimes God waits to answer, because you are not asking in faith. James also addressed this issue when he encouraged the people to pray. He said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8). If a person is praying, but praying in unbelief, then this man is double-minded about whatever he is praying for, and this will hinder any answer to his prayer. Again, a believer needs to understand what the will of the Lord is by opening up his Bible, and the result will be faith to pray with confidence (Rom. 10:17).

Fourth, sometimes God waits to answer, because He has a different timing in mind to meet this need. God’s timing is always perfect. Think of all those who prayed for the first coming of the Messiah, or those who are now praying for the Second Coming of Christ to occur. As Paul said concerning the first coming, But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). Everything that God does is in His own timing, because He is fulfilling His purposes in a multitude of lives. He has a providential plan that He is working out, that sometimes we just don’t understand. He is bringing about circumstances at just the right time, at the right place, and to obtain the right result. Never forget this! Just as Abraham and now Isaac had to wait for God’s timing for their children, so He has a divine plan that He is working out in your life.

Fifth, sometimes God waits to answer, or refuses to answer, because you are praying contrary to His purposes. What I think should happen in my life or others’ lives, may be completely different than what God wants to take place. God warns His people about this issue through the Prophet Isaiah when He declared, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’” says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8-9). In fact, some of God’s ways and purposes are past finding out in this life. Paul said, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! "For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” (Rom. 11:33-34). So, remember, His ways are higher than your ways!

Sixth, sometimes God waits to answer, because your heart is not right in the sight of God. The psalmist wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66:18). Isaiah also warned the people of God, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). Note that it is not a case that God cannot hear, but that He will not hear. Jesus taught the same thing in the New Testament when He taught, Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). In other words, Jesus was saying, get this sin reconciled with your brother first, and then come and fellowship with Me.

Seventh, it is also important to understand that God’s delays are not necessarily God’s denials. Sometimes God delays to act, because He is seeking to bring greater glory to Himself. This principle is best illustrated by the account of Christ’s delay in coming to heal his friend Lazarus whom He dearly loved. This delay to come to Lazarus resulted in his death (John 11:5). But Jesus said to all who were present that, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). Jesus didn’t want to just heal Lazarus, He wanted to raise him from the dead! This dramatically brought greater glory to the Father, and gave greater proof that Jesus was truly the Messiah (Is. 35:4-6). Therefore, don’t get discouraged at God’s divine delays, but ask Him to reveal what might be the reason why this delay might bring Him greater glory.

In conclusion, which of these issues were at work in the fertility issues with Isaac and Rebekah? We will never know, because the Scripture does not tell us. Other times Scripture does reveal the details of why something has occurred or doesn’t occur in a person’s life, but in this case the reasoning for why God made Isaac and Rebekah wait for 20 years for their children is past finding out. When you come to these types of circumstances, you must trust God that He will direct your path (Prov. 3:5-6). Continue to pursue God in prayer, and wait for His providential direction. If you are struggling with issues concerning the will of God right now, I would encourage you to further study this topic with these documents that I have linked below.

How to understand the will of God:

Principles to help you find God’s will:  

The battle for supremacy.

After Rebekah gets pregnant, a new problem occurs. The two children in her womb are struggling with each other. What does Rebekah do? She prays for understanding for what is going on inside her, and the Lord answered her. She prayed, ‘If all is well, why am I like this?’ So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her: ‘Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.’

God explains that this battle within her womb was illustrative of the battle for supremacy between a stronger and a weaker nation. Ultimately, Jacob and Esau did become the heads of two different people groups and nations. Jacob became the father of the Jewish people and the nation Israel, and Esau and his children became the head of the Arab nations. Jacob populated the land of Israel, and Esau became the nation of Edom in the land that is Jordan and Saudi Arabia today. These two individuals were fighting then, and they are still at odds with each other today in the Middle-East. Prophetically the Bible declares that there will be this conflict right up to the end of time. The Prophet Zechariah predicted, Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zech. 12:2-3). So, when you hear that now there will finally be peace in the Middle-East, don’t believe it. The people who say this do not know the Scriptures (1 Thess. 5:3).

The birth of Jacob and Esau.     

This struggle between Jacob and Esau continued on from the womb to the point of their birth. Esau was born first, and he came out with very reddish and hairy skin, so they called him Esau, which means to be hairy. The nation that Esau formed was Edom, which means red. Jacob came out second, and he had his hand clutching onto Esau’s heel. They named him Jacob, which means heel-catcher, supplanter, or conniver. Note that the way these two children were in the womb followed them into adulthood, as you will see throughout the rest of the book of Genesis. Why weren’t they changed as they grew up? Was it not enough discipline by the parents? There is only so much that parents can do in molding their children. I have found that you can discipline and teach children, but they have their own personalities and sovereign will. John Rosemond in his book “Parenting by The Book” said, “The power of a child’s choice is more powerful than the power of the best parenting.” Remember that Adam and Eve had the best Father, and they still rebelled against Him. Even Solomon placed the ultimate responsibility of how a child turns out on the child himself (Prov. 13:1; Prov. 15:5). However, it would take God wrestling Jacob to the ground and crippling him before he would yield to the Lord. Only then did God change his name and transform this rebel.

Family favoritism.

However, parents do have a significant responsibility for not stumbling their children. We see this responsibility violated in the lives of Jacob and Esau, by considering the statement in verse 28, where it declares, “Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” Isaac and Rebekah were also part of the reason for the rift between their two children. When parents play favorites among their children, I guarantee you that the siblings know it, and will resent you for it, and will resent each other also. The favored child will also exploit this fact with whoever is playing favorites. Isaac and Rebekah made a grave mistake with their favoritism that will ultimately divide their family. Isaac’s motivation for his favoritism was that he enjoyed the meat that Esau would bring him from the field, because he was an excellent hunter.

Scripture also declared that Jacob was a mild man in verse 27. This word mild literally means that he was spiritually upright in his character. This word mild is translated other places as blameless or upright when referring to Job (Job 1:1). Jacob was also described as a man who dwelt in tents, so he was more of an indoor type of guy, while Esau was an outdoorsman. However, just because they were different, should not have caused this family’s favoritism. As parents we must always seek to understand the aptitudes and talents of our children, and encourage them to pursue what they are passionate about. Favoritism should never be allowed in any family, because if it is allowed, it will always destroy and divide a family. Unfortunately, we will see favoritism again in Jacob’s life with Joseph, which resulted in more family drama among his siblings (Gen. 37:3).

Esau sells his birthright.  Vs. 29-34

The record of these two twins now turns to a pivotal point in their lives, when Scripture reveals that Esau despised his birthright and sold it to Jacob for a bowl of stew. Scripture declares, “Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.’ Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright as of this day.’ And Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?’ Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me as of this day.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright” (Gen. 25:29-34).

The first thing you must understand is what the birthright was. The birthright was the spiritual and financial benefits given by right to the firstborn son of the family. When the father of the family died, he would give a double portion of the family’s wealth to the firstborn son, and he became the spiritual head of the family. You find this instruction given in several passages of Scripture. In Deuteronomy 21:17, Moses instructed the people of God, and told them that they should acknowledge the firstborn son, “By giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.” Why did he get this benefit and privilege? Because he was the beginning of the father’s strength, and first in the birth order (Gen. 49:3).

The second and third aspect of the birthright was called the blessing from the father. This blessing transferred the legal and spiritual authority over the family to the firstborn. You see this aspect of the birthright in Genesis 28:4, when you see Isaac blessing Jacob, and he declared that God was giving him, “The blessing of Abraham, to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham.” Here Isaac gives Jacob the rights of the covenant blessing of Abraham. Isaac passed down to Jacob this blessing, as Abraham had passed it to him.

Therefore, there were two issues, the birthright, and then the blessing of the father. The birthright was the legal right to these blessings, but when the father pronounced the blessing, he was sealing the deal so to speak to his firstborn son.

Esau despised the birthright.

It is important to mention that Jacob did not deceive Esau concerning the birthright, because he knew exactly what he was selling to Jacob for a bowl of stew. Why did Esau sell it? Because Scripture declares that he despised it. He could care less about the rights of the firstborn, and the spiritual, legal, and covenant promises of God. Notice how the New Testament handles Esau and his actions. In Hebrews 12:15-17, the apostle calls Esau a fornicator and profane man. The Greek word for profane means godless, impious, or worthless. The apostle warns us not to be like Esau, when he wrote that we should all be, “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.”

Why did Esau make such a foolish decision? First, the Scriptures make it very clear that Esau was not a spiritually inclined person, but was a profane and impious man. In other words, he could care less about spiritual things and was living in an ungodly way, but Jacob did care about spiritual and moral issues. Yes, Jacob took advantage of this situation to get what he wanted, but he wasn’t an altogether ungodly man.

The second reason Esau made such a foolish decision was that he allowed his decision making to be dictated by his feelings. He allowed his exaggerated sense of hunger to rule him at that specific moment. When Esau declared, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” Was he really about to die? No! There obviously had to have been something else in the tent at that moment that he could have quickly eaten to satisfy his immediate hunger, without resorting to selling his birthright. He simply wanted what he wanted, and he wanted this food now. Decision-making based on feelings, and instant gratification will always cloud your judgment. He only considered the momentary satisfaction and pleasure he would receive right then. This kind of faulty reasoning is usually part of every temptation that comes your way. Think of Satan’s temptation of Eve in the Garden. She only considered, “That the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise” (Gen. 3:6). She then yielded to the temptation and ate and gave to her husband. Look at all the problems that we suffer today, because Eve was moved by her feelings instead of being restrained by God’s command. Whenever you make decisions based on your angry attitude, when you are emotionally depressed, or because of your lustful desires, you are bound to make the wrong decisions. When you are tempted by some momentary pleasure or something that you want right now, bad decisions will always follow. Rather, you should first consider God’s commands, or the biblical principles that you know are correct. Then pray, and ask Him to guide your decision-making so you can bring glory to the Lord.

I have lost count how many people over the years that have come for counseling, and they tell me of some decision they have regretfully made, and wish they could do it all over again. They say to me, “What have I done? Look at the consequences in my life.” When you wait and pray about decisions, you will be able to consider those long-term consequences, because every action has a consequence. The sowing and reaping principle in Scripture is a very real one that affects each of us. God told His people in Hosea 8:7, “They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.” Or, Solomon declared, “He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow” (Prov. 22:8). Oh, that we would realize that the sorrow is real, because with each disobedient decision, the sorrow will only increase. When you yield to temptation based on your desire for a momentary satisfaction and pleasure, you are going to pay for it with great sorrow.

We should all follow the example of Moses. He chose to do the opposite of seeking momentary pleasure in one of the most important decisions of his life. Scripture records that he chose, “Rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward (Heb. 11:25-26). Why did he make this decision? He knew that pleasure was something that was passing, but the greater riches were the eternal rewards he must be focused on.

Remember, your decisions in life will determine everything. This was absolutely true with Esau. Each of his choices in life ultimately made him a bitter man. Life is simply a series of choices.  Your choices will either bring the blessings of God into your life, or your choices will bring the sorrow of the whirlwind. No one, not even God, can force you to make the right decisions. My encouragement is to choose to believe His Word, trust that He loves you just as He said, and obey His command. You won’t be sorry if you do!