Hebrews 12:16

Monday, 22 April 2019

…lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.  Hebrews 12:16

The author continues now with examples of a person becoming defiled which was mentioned in the previous verse. He gives two examples, which are connected in one thought in this translation. It probably should separate them by saying, “lest there be any fornicator, or profane person like Esau.” Only the word “profane” should be tied to Esau, unless the author is tying Esau’s selling of his birthright in with the thought of selling himself off as if a prostitute. That would be highly unusual to speak of him in this way.

What seems more likely is that, as is consistent in the epistles, sexual immorality is being condemned. Such actions are not holy, and they bring defilement upon a person. Assuming it is a separate category, he then introduces the “profane person like Esau.”

Esau is frowned upon in Scripture, and his failings are noticeable even from a cursory read of the Bible. But even more, his descendants after him would continue to be a problem. This all started with Esau’s negative attitude about what is important. As the author says of him, “who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.”

The account is found in Genesis 25. He was hungry, and he gave up his honored birthright for a simple bowl of stew. This led to other problems in his life, but all of this was known in advance. When the twins were in their mother’s womb, she received a prophecy about the futures of these two sons –

“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.” Genesis 23:23

This is how it came to be in the history of their descendants. But, of note, is the blessing pronounced upon Esau later –

“Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth,
And of the dew of heaven from above.
40 By your sword you shall live,
And you shall serve your brother;
And it shall come to pass, when you become restless,
That you shall break his yoke from your neck.” Genesis 27:39, 40

Isaac prophesied that Esau would break Jacob’s yoke from his neck. What this means is rather involved. In short, the yoke of Jacob is the Law of Moses. Speaking of the descendants of Edom (who is Esau), known as the Idumeans in the New Testament times, we find in the writings of the Jewish Historian Josephus that about 129 BC John Hyrcanus –

“…subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.”

In other words, the descendants of Esau were assimilated into Israel, and they came under the Law (the yoke) of Moses – which Jacob’s descendants were under. Eventually, these people (meaning the Jews who included the converted Idumeans) were exiled for having rejected Christ. However, at a point future to us now, they will cast off this yoke, come to Christ, and be saved.

Israel is back in the land, and the ancient prophecies of these two men and their descendants are ready to be fulfilled in their entirety.

Life application: What is of value to you? A person may be the manager of a large corporation and make millions of dollars a year, and another person from his school may be a blue-collar worker. When they get together from time to time, the millionaire may brag about his house, cars, and vacations. The blue-collar worker, however, brags about the Lord in his life. Which of the two is in the more favorable position? In the end, there is only one thing that truly matters. Why sell off that which is of the highest value for a bowl of soup? The things of this world will all perish. But Christ, and His love for those He has redeemed, will go on forever. Come to Christ and be granted the greatest Gift of all!

Lord, help us to learn from the lessons we read in the Bible. Help us to see the importance of a life which is dedicated to You, and then to hold fast to that, applying it to our lives and never deviating from Your precepts. Everything else is temporary and it will pass away. But Your word, O God, is eternal. May we hold fast to it now and forever. Amen.

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