Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons. The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Hebrews 12:14-29, preached by Nigel Styles last Sunday. You can listen to the whole sermon here.
In Genesis 25, we’re told the story of Esau and his younger twin, Jacob. Esau is the hunter-gatherer type, the Alpha Male, who comes in from hunting one day, starving. Meanwhile, younger brother, Jacob is more the stay-at-home, cooking type who has a delicious bread-and-lentil stew cooking on the fire.
‘Aw, gimme a bit!’ says Esau.
‘Sure,’ says Jacob ‘but it’ll cost you.’
‘What? name your price, my good man!’
‘Your birthright,’ says the quick-thinking Jacob. (That’s all the rights of being the firstborn in the family, including larger bit of inheritance.)
And Esau agrees. He swaps the promise of his inheritance for lunch.
In Hebrews 12:16-17, Esau is given to us as the ‘man of this world’. He is the warning to us of someone who does not endure.
Esau made a momentous decision as he wondered about the value of his birthright. It spelt blessing and privilege and position and power in the future. It’s just like the promises of God for the Christian: they may be wonderful … but they are for the future.
Said Esau: You may, if you like, trust these promises and deny yourself here and go without here. You can take the promises if you like.
But I’m not going to be like that. I’m going to have it now. I’m going to have my portion here. I’m not enduring privation and hunger. I’m going to enjoy myself.
Maybe you have seen a single meal like this ruin a Christian. They indulge themselves. They squander their future with God for a quick nibble of something now. They grab at what Hebrews 11:25 calls ‘the fleeting pleasures of sin’. They abandon striving to be holy (13:14).
The thing is that single meal doesn’t just ruin their life now. It ruins a whole eternity for them. So they never see the Lord (14). They fail to obtain the grace of God (15). Or, in the words of 3:7-4:11, they do not enter the heavenly rest.
Don’t exchange God’s unshakeable kingdom for a single meal, however starving you feel, however appetizing the lentil stew looks. It’s just a lentil stew!