The Bartered Birthright

, ,

God uses us in spite of our weaknesses.

Genesis(102) (Part of the Origins(100) series)
by Stuart Johns(233) on June 12, 2022 (Sunday Morning(349))

Seeking(3), Sovereignty(19), Trust(25)


The Bartered Birthright

(Genesis 25:27-34)



“In 2012, a 19-year-old man from Washington state named Dakoda Garren was charged with stealing a rare coin collection worth at least $100,000. After Garren had completed some part-time work for a woman living north of Portland, the woman reported that her family coin collection was missing. Her collection included a variety of rare and valuable coins, including Liberty Head quarters, Morgan dollars, and other coins dating back to the early 1800s.


Initially, Garren denied any involvement, claiming that the police didn't have any evidence against him. But then he started spending the coins at face value, apparently unaware of the coins' worth. He and his girlfriend paid for movie tickets using quarters worth between $5 and $68. Later on the same day, they bought some local pizza with rare coins, including a Liberty quarter that may be worth up to $18,500.


The news article reported, ‘Garren has been charged with first-degree theft and is being held in jail on $40,000 bond. Which, technically, is an amount he could easily afford if the valuable coin collection were actually his.’”


Source: Eric Pfeiffer, "Man allegedly steals $100 coin collection, then spends at face value on pizza and a movie,' Yahoo! News (9-21-12).





  • ME

    • Bank

        • I worked for a bank in Florida after graduating from college

        • From time-to-time people would bring in money to deposit, not realizing what they had

        • When that would happen, we would ask the Manager or Assistant Manager if we would swap out the bill or coin with a current bill or coin and keep the unique one

        • I have a 1935 Silver Certificate one-dollar bill (it’s not worth much, but it’s unique)

        • I also have a 19xx ten-dollar bill that is in rough shape (again, not very valuable, but unique)

    • Original Nintendo

        • When I was in college, I bought an original Nintendo Entertainment System from twin brothers with all of the games they had

        • Over the years, I purchased other games for it, especially from Blockbuster Video

        • When Nintendo started advertising their new system, the Wii, they shared that you would be able to download all of favorite games from their other consoles, including the original NES system

        • With the potential of having all of my NES games available on the Wii, I sold my console at our garage sale in Missouri before moving to California

        • When Wade bought the Wii, we realized that Nintendo may have oversold the ability to download ALL of our favorite games from the previous consoles

        • Two games

          • Thunder & Lightning

            • I probably bought it for $5-10

            • Complete Price (used cartridge, box, and instructions) - $79.88

            • New Price (new cartridge, box, and instructions) - $320

          • Pinball Quest

            • I probably bought it for $5-10

            • Complete Price - $38

            • New Price - $291.03


  • WE

    • Perhaps all of us have had or have something that we do not realize is valuable

    • Antiques Roadshow [show image]

        • All we have to do is watch Antiques Roadshow

        • It is always fascinating to see what, seems like something insignificant, is of great value

    • Gold & Silver Pawn Shop [show image]

        • Have you ever watched Pawn Stars

        • It is equally fascinating when someone comes into their store thinking that something is really valuable, only to realize that it is not, because it is not genuine or original

    • How many of us have something that we know is really valuable? (do not raise your hand or acknowledge that today, keep it a secret)


Pastor Marc began the eighth toledot (the account of…) last week. ​​ It is the account of Isaac. ​​ We saw the conception and birth of Esau and Jacob. ​​ We do not know exactly how much time passed between verses 26 and 27, but some scholars believe it has been around 20 years. ​​ Esau and Jacob are young men at this point. ​​ We already know that God has chosen Jacob to carry on the Abrahamic covenant. ​​ As we will learn today, neither Esau nor Jacob deserved to carry on the covenant, but God’s sovereign work continues whether or not we deserve it. ​​ Through this narrative, we will learn that . . .


BIG IDEA – God uses us in spite of our weaknesses.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 25:27-34)

    • Occupation (vv. 27-28)

        • Esau

          • Skillful hunter, man of the open country

            • This occupation was not highly regarded by the biblical writers

            • It was not against Jewish law to eat wild game, but the occupation of “hunter” was not consider favorable

            • In Genesis 10:9 Nimrod, the son of Cush, was a mighty hunter

            • In Genesis 27:40, Esau will be “described as one who lives by the sword.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 362]

          • Man of the open country

            • Esau enjoyed roaming around, instead of being tied down by the more traditional occupation of the day

            • Perhaps he was a restless man

          • While Esau and Jacob were twins, it sounds like they were very different, which was what the Lord had said to Rebekah while she was pregnant with them (Genesis 25:23)

          • Even after their birth, there were marked differences in their appearance (Esau was red and hairy; we assume that Jacob was not, since Esau’s appearance was noted by the author)

        • Jacob

          • Quiet man

            • “This is better translated ‘civilized’ or ‘fine.’ ​​ The basic idea of the Hebrew root (tmm) is ‘to be complete, finished, perfect.’ … it probably denotes Jacob as being ‘well-cultured,’ ‘civilized.’” ​​ [Waltke, 362]

            • It can also be translated “wholesome” and normally, within the Old Testament, it has the meaning of innocence or moral integrity (i.e. “blameless”). ​​ This meaning is found in Job 1:1, 8; 2:3; 9:20-22 [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 181]

            • “The word translated ‘quiet’ is elsewhere used as an attribute for someone with high moral character (Job in Job 1:8). ​​ It is most often parallel to the adjective yašar, ‘upright.’” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 549-50]

            • It may be hard for us to see this meaning being true as the narrative continues and we see the cunning way in which Jacob obtains the birthright and eventually the blessing of Isaac

            • But, we will see that God does a transformational work in Jacob’s life as he continues to grow and mature into God’s covenant carrier

            • God uses us in spite of our weaknesses.

          • Staying among the tents

            • Jacob has the more traditional occupation of animal husbandry (shepherd or farmer)

            • Staying among the tents simply means that he is probably working with his father’s flocks and herds

          • Esau and Jacob took very different occupational paths, which may have played a role in their parent’s preferences

        • Parent’s preference

          • IMPORTANT NOTE: ​​ While it appears that Isaac and Rebekah have their favorites, the word “love” here represents a personal preference and not a lack of genuine love for both sons. ​​ Isaac and Rebekah love both of their sons, but they each have a personal preference for a different son

          • Isaac

            • We are kind of given a reason why Isaac preferred Esau

            • Isaac had a taste for wild game

            • This probably did not mean that he hated beef, mutton, or goat

            • Perhaps he liked to mix it up sometimes

            • How many of us can connect with Isaac?

              • I like a good steak

              • I enjoy chicken, turkey, ham, and seafood

              • But I am also adventurous when it comes to trying new things

              • I like venison, bison, elk, and other exotic meats

              • I’ve tried shark, frog legs, octopus, bear, snake, alligator, turtle, and probably some other animals too

              • I have said that I will try anything, once

            • So, Isaac prefers Esau, while Rebekah prefers Jacob

          • Rebekah

            • We are not given a reason why Rebekah prefers Jacob over Esau

            • Perhaps her preference for Jacob is because of the revelation she received from the Lord concerning both boys and how Esau would serve Jacob

          • “Isaac’s love is based on natural senses, Rebekah’s on divine choice and enduring qualities (see 27:1-46).” ​​ [Waltke, 363]

        • The two son’s occupation helps us understand what is happening in the second part of this passage

    • Oath (vv. 29-34)

        • Setting (vv. 29-30)

          • “Once” encompasses a broad range, so we do not have any idea when this took place (my guess is that it was while Jacob and Esau were still young men)

          • Jacob was cooking some stew

          • Esau had been out hunting in the open country

            • He obviously had not caught any wild game

            • If he had he probably would have prepared it himself

            • In Genesis 27:31 we see that Esau prepared the wild game he had caught for his father, Isaac, in preparation for receiving the blessing

            • Both Jacob and Esau knew how to cook

          • Esau was really hungry after hunting in the open country

            • Quick, let me have…!

              • Esau is perhaps feeling weak and/or sick from hunger and needs nourishment

              • I have felt that way recently, while helping one of our sons with a project – we did not want to stop to eat, but at one point I had to stop and eat, because I was not feeling well

              • “‘Quick, let me have…’ translates the root lāʿaṭ (law-at’), a hapax legomenon (word or phrase that appears only once), meaning something like to devour, that is, ‘gulp down’ (NAB, NJPS).” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 392]

            • Red stew

              • Esau is not really aware of what Jacob has been cooking

              • In the Hebrew, Esau is actually saying, “Quick, let me gulp down some of that red stuff, this red stuff.”

              • Only later do we find out what the contents of the “red stuff” are

              • Esau is famished and in that state, he is impulsive

            • We have the parenthetical note about why Esau is also called Edom

              • Edom means red

              • We know that when Esau was born, he was identified in two ways, 1) red and 2) hairy all over

              • Now he is begging for some of that red stuff

          • Esau asked Jacob for some of the red stew he had prepared and Jacob sees an opportunity to get something he wants, that is of value to him

        • Selling (vv. 31-32)

          • Jacob takes advantage of Esau’s extreme hunger by asking him to sell his birthright, before he will give him any of the red stew

          • Birthright

            • What is the significance of the birthright?

            • It obviously included a double portion of the father’s inheritance/estate

            • For Esau that would mean two-thirds of Isaac’s estate

            • For the patriarchs, the birthright not only included material possessions, but also the covenant blessing of Jehovah

            • Jacob understood that the birthright included material possessions and leadership responsibilities both physically and spiritually

            • He was willing to accept those responsibilities

            • Jacob’s desire to have the birthright was not necessarily wrong, but the way in which he sought to obtain the birthright was wrong

            • We do not know if Jacob knew about the divine revelation given to his mother prior to his birth, that the older twin would serve the younger twin

            • If he knew about this, he could have waited patiently on the Lord’s timing for it to be fulfilled

          • Esau did not see the value of the birthright

            • He was more interested in satisfying his hunger than thinking about the spiritual value of the birthright

            • “There is proof enough that he knew he was giving away, along with the birthright, blessings which, because they were not of a material but of a spiritual nature, had no particular value in his estimation, in the words he made use of: ​​ ‘Behold I am going to die (to meet death), and what is the birthright to me?’ ​​ The only thing of value to him was the sensual enjoyment of the present; the spiritual blessings of the future his carnal mind was unable to estimate.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 173]

            • Hebrews 12:14-17, Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. ​​ See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. ​​ See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. ​​ Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. ​​ He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – “Humans are tempted to get their material and spiritual priorities out of order.” ​​ (Gangel & Bramer)

            • Esau definitely put his material priority of hunger ahead of the spiritual priority of his birthright

            • We have all probably given in to the temptation to get our material/physical/social priorities ahead of our spiritual priorities

              • It is simple to do

              • We wake up thinking about everything we have to get done today and neglect to spend time with the Lord

              • We work a full day and feel exhausted at the end of the day, so we decide to skip Wednesday evening church

              • We either work really hard on projects around the house on Saturday or we spend all day recreating and sleep through our alarm on Sunday morning or decide Saturday night that we will skip church

              • We save for a new car, computer, game console, cell phone, appliances, vacation, etc., but we neglect to give to the Lord, through tithes and offerings (we don’t trust God to supply our needs)

              • We try to work out a problem in our own strength, without going to God first, in prayer

              • Our desire to be in a relationship is so strong that we neglect to ask the Lord to guide and direct us to the right person (we can become so desperate that we start looking in the wrong places and eventually compromise our standards and beliefs)

              • Matthew 6:33, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Seek God’s kingdom first (spiritual priorities) instead of the things of this world (material priorities).

          • Jacob manipulates Esau to get his birthright

          • Esau does not care about his birthright, but Jacob wants to make the transaction official and binding

        • Swearing (v. 33)

          • Jacob presses Esau to make it official by swearing an oath

          • Esau did just that – he swore on oath that the birthright of the firstborn was now Jacob’s

          • With the transaction complete, we see the fulfillment of Genesis 25:23, The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

          • Jacob now releases the stew for Esau to eat

        • Serving (v. 34a)

          • Esau receives bread and lentil stew in exchange for his birthright

          • I can just imagine Jacob handing over the bread and stew with a smile of satisfaction on his face

        • Separating (v. 34b)

          • Esau finished his meal and then promptly gets up and leaves

          • The final note from the author tells us that Esau despised his birthright

            • He holds his birthright in contempt

            • Esau treated his birthright with irreverence and rejection [Waltke, 364]

            • Esau did not show the Lord the proper respect He deserved for allowing him to be born first [Walton, 551]

          • “By this incident the author implies that Esau’s decision regarding his religious heritage disqualifies him to succeed his father.” ​​ [Mathews, 395]

    • Application

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God uses us in spite of our weaknesses.

          • “Jacob is distinguished from Esau by his faith in the promises and blessings of God. ​​ He wrongly schemes against his brother because he correctly believes that the birthright in the line of Abraham and Isaac holds tremendous blessing and promise. ​​ Despite all of his weaknesses, Jacob lives within the vision of faith.” ​​ [Waltke, 365]

          • This is true for us also

            • I know my weaknesses and so does the Lord and Satan

            • Satan tempts me in my areas of weakness

            • The Lord uses me in spite of my weaknesses

            • The same is true for every one of us (Satan tempts us and the Lord uses us in spite of our weaknesses)

            • Too often we forget this principle

              • When we fail and give in to temptation we feel like God cannot or will not use us

              • We allow this lie from Satan to keep us from serving the Lord – to do what the Lord has called us to do

            • Forgiveness

              • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

              • The Lord provides forgiveness through confession, so we can continue to be useful for Him

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that God can still use me in spite of my weaknesses, when I confess my sins to Him.

          • God is sovereign, so He will accomplish His plans and purposes for us

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s sovereignty outweighs our failures and flaws.

          • Biblical background

            • Romans 9:11-12, Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: ​​ not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger,” ​​ Just as it is written: ​​ “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

            • Malachi 1:2-3, “I have loved you,” says the Lord. ​​ “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ ​​ “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the Lord says. ​​ “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

            • God had chosen Jacob to be the covenant carrier prior to his birth

              • He already knew that Jacob would manipulate and take advantage of Esau in order to get his birthright

              • He already knew that Rebekah and Jacob would conspire together so that Jacob would also get Isaac’s blessing

              • He already knew how Jacob would deceive Laban in order to grow his own herds

              • He already knew that Esau would hold in contempt his birthright and not value it

              • While it seems like neither Jacob nor Esau were worthy or deserved to be the covenant carrier, God’s sovereignty outweighed Jacobs failures and flaws

              • God knew that Jacob would eventually mature in his faith and be able to handle the spiritual responsibilities of the covenant carrier

          • God’s sovereignty works the same way in our lives

            • We may look at ourselves and think, “I’m not deserving of God’s new covenant through Jesus Christ”

              • We would be right in thinking that, because none of us are worthy of salvation, apart from the grace and mercy of God

              • In His sovereignty, God knew we would need a Savior

              • So, He sent Jesus from heaven to earth to take our punishment for sin

              • He showed us His great love through sending His Son

            • Wayward child

              • Maybe you are going through the heartache of a wayward child right now

              • In the midst of that, it is hard to see how God’s sovereignty is at work, but it is

              • We may know the things they are doing and that they feel like they do not deserve God’s forgiveness or love

              • Hold on to hope, because God’s sovereignty far outweighs their failures and flaws

              • God is able to restore and transform what we think is lost

              • He can use that wayward child to bring others to Jesus for His glory

              • He can take a deceiving, lying person and transform them into an honest, truth-telling follower of Jesus

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in the sovereignty of God for myself and my family.


  • YOU

    • Do you need to realign your spiritual and material priorities?

    • Do you need to recognize that God can still use you in spite of your weaknesses? ​​ (confess those weaknesses to Him today)

    • Do you need to trust in the sovereignty of God for yourself or a family member?


  • WE

    • As a body of believers we need to help hold each other accountable to these next steps

    • We need to share with one another how we need to be held accountable




(Jeanne Steig)


Esau said, “I’m feeling faint.”

“Aw,” said Jacob, “no you ain’t.”

“Papa’s blessing,” Esau cried,

“Is mine by rights. ​​ But I’ll have died

Of hunger first. ​​ For pity’s sake—

My birthright for your lentils, Jake.”

“Your birthright?” Jacob murmured. ​​ “Sold!

Dig in, before the stuff gets cold.”


[Steig cited by Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 551]