There is one thing quite noticeable in the Bible. Very often you will find together, one of God’s very best, and one of Satan’s very, very worst…like the case of Cain and Abel. Abel was one of God’s best, and his brother was one of the worst. He was a murderer. Then in the case of Jacob and Esau, Jacob turned out at the last to be one of God’s very best, and his own brother, his twin, one of the worst. He had a great influence on others, and because of him there are many people who are outside of the Kingdom of God today.
I would like to speak a little about these twins. These two brothers grew up together in one home, under the very same influence – everything the same, and still one ended with God, and the other ended far from God, and both had an influence. Jacob loved and lived for the things that God loved. Esau loved and lived for the things that God hated. There are people in the world tonight, friends, who are loving and living for things that God hates, while others have turned from their own way and have begun to live for the things that God loves. You have studied many times the story of these two boys, Jacob and Esau; how they grew up together, worked together, ate together, maybe even fought together. Then the time came when they chose. Isn’t it a marvelous thing that in life we can choose? Little by little, that choice is going to send us in one direction or another. Jacob chose the things that are eternal. He loved the things that God loved.
There certainly were many good marks about Esau. He was not lazy. He was a good provider. His Father loved him. It doesn’t say that his Father loved Jacob. Esau made some mistakes at the beginning of life. He married into the world, and he saw that his wives were a continual grief to his Father and Mother. So, he tried to correct that, and took a wife of the daughters of Ishmael, which was a little closer, anyhow, than his former wives. I think that in some ways, Esau tried to please his Father and Mother. The trouble with Esau was that he never came to an end of himself. He never came to the end of his own way; never made a covenant with God. Some people depend so much on their own goodness. We were talking to a woman some time ago in the city of Manila. We were having meetings and quite a few children were coming. We went to visit a certain home because the children had been coming, but their Mother, a widow, had never come to the meetings. So, we asked her to come to the meetings. She said, “Why should I go to the meetings? I never do anything wrong. I am always at home, cooking and taking care of the home. I am not doing anything wrong.” That is not why people go to heaven, just because they are not doing anything wrong.
The reason why people go to heaven is because God has put something in them already, from heaven. John 3:13 “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. You could say it like this: Nothing can go to heaven, only what has come from heaven.” Nobody can go to be with God unless there is something from heaven in them already. That is what it means to be a child of God. It is more than being good. It means that God gives a portion of His Spirit that enables us to understand and enjoy the things of God. If a person claims to be a Christian, and they enjoy the things that God hates, there is something wrong with that person’ profession. A true Christian receives a portion of the nature of heaven, and when they pass from earth to heaven, they only go to a fuller enjoyment of that Spirit and nature. Nobody can go to heaven unless they have something from heaven in them now.
Esau, while he may have had some good marks as far as man is concerned, still he never, never came to the realization of his own need of God, and of making a surrender to God, and of letting God do something in his heart and life. But Jacob was different. Jacob was a crooked supplanter, and he knew how to get the better, and how to take advantage of his brother and others. Jacob had some marks in him that were not very nice. But, the time came later on in life when Jacob got down on his knees and surrendered his life to God, and he vowed, “If you will be with me, and keep me in the way that I go, I will serve you all my lifetime.” God showed Jacob, there is a way for you. There is a way like a ladder. There is a way that reaches all the way from where you are to God in heaven. There is nothing lacking, there is everything you need to help along the way. Jacob is not the only one who has seen that ladder. This is the way for everyone. You can take one step, however small and
feeble that step may be, but it separates you a little from the world. You can continue taking steps, so that the things of the world will lose their value to you, and you value more the things that are eternal. Jacob saw the ladder, and he walked on that ladder, and God helped him. Nobody can walk on that ladder; nobody can walk in the way of God without the help of God.
Esau was a great hunter. Jacob was in the house and he was cooking something. Esau came in from the field and he was hungry. Some people have just never been able to say “No” to themselves in hardly anything. They have no control. Esau came in from the field, and he had control over himself. Maybe he was used to having his own way. Jacob said to him, “Sell me this day thy birthright.” Esau had the right to the birthright. They were twins, but he was the oldest, and he had a right to the largest part of the inheritance. Jacob knew that Esau didn’t really prize this very much. So, Esau sold it, right there, just for a mess of pottage, just for something to satisfy his fleshly appetite, just for something for himself. When Esau sold his birthright, he was no longer the firstborn. Jacob got the big portion because he valued it. Then Jacob had a right to the blessing and the inheritance, and everything. Later on Esau tried to get that, but he couldn’t get it. God saw to it that he couldn’t get it because he had sold it. Later, when it came time to get the blessing, Esau thought he would get the blessing, but he couldn’t get it. He wept with exceeding bitter tears, but he couldn’t get it. It was sold. Many people are selling their birthright to the Kingdom of Heaven just for foolish things. You would wonder if people really believe that God is looking on.
It may not be for silver, it may not be for gold,
But still by tens of thousands, the price of life is sold.
Sold for a Godless friendship, sold for a selfish aim,
Sold for a fleeting trifle, sold for an empty name.
Sold in the mart of science, sold in the seat of power,
Sold at the shrine of fortune, sold at pleasure’s bower.
Sold where the awful bargain, none but God can see;
Ponder my soul the question, “Shall He be sold by me?”
I think it is easier to sell this birthright than most people realize. Esau sold the birthright and thought he could still have the blessing, but he couldn’t. This is what a lot of people think too. They choose the things of the world, the things that God hates, and someday they will want the blessing. They will weep and wail and gnash their teeth, but no, they have sold their birthright. Jacob prized that birthright, and he got it. Esau found no place of repentance, although he sought it carefully and with tears.
I have pondered quite a little over this man Esau, and some things that we see even in our own experience. Sometimes we will see people who live for things that displease God, and they justify themselves in doing it. They use verses in the Bible to prove what they are doing is right in the sight of God. Some of you people have been studying the Epistles of the Thessalonians, and in 2nd Thess. 2:4 it tells us of Satan setting himself in the place of God. He tries to get people to believe that his way is God’s way; his interpretation is God’s interpretation, and that the way he wants you to go is the way God wants you to go. He sets himself in the place of God, shewing himself that he is God, and putting forth ideas to make you believe that that is God’s way.
Another thing you notice about people. When they get a wrong spirit in them, they are like Esau. He sought for a place of repentance and found no place. If a person is not honest, and they continue to justify themselves in wrongdoing, in things that are a bad example to other people, and are not according to the teachings of Christ, and they continue to justify themselves in wrongdoing, even though some day they might want to repent, they won’t be able to. We blind our eyes by our willful justification of our wrong doing, and destroy our own conscience. Then we can’t repent. We do not know how to repent. I have heard people trying to repent, to say, “I am a sinner.” When a person really feels that they have done wrong, they feel like a dead dog. When a person knows that they have sinned that they have done wrong, and they have really sinned, and they are willing to turn from their sin, when there is true repentance, there is forgiveness, absolute forgiveness from God and from God’s people too. But when a person accuses others – “Yes, I have done wrong alright, but it is not my fault. Others have done wrong too, and I am not as bad as they are.” That is not true repentance. Repentance is a gift of God, just like salvation. It is a gift when God can make us see we are wrong and what to do about it. God pity the people that don’t see that there is anything wrong with them, and just go and believe they are right, to the destruction of themselves and other people.
I was talking to a young man not long ago about yielding his life to God, and he said, “You know, the biggest trouble is unbelief.” I said, “What do you mean by unbelief?” Do you have any doubt that there is a God? “Oh, no,” he said, “I know there is a God.” “Do you have any doubt but that this is God’s way and God’s Truth?” “I have no doubt about that.” “What kind of doubt, then do you have?” “Well, I have doubts like this: I have questions many times about things that I am doing. Are they really wrong? These habits that I have: are they really wrong? What is wrong with them?” Did you ever hear that voice? That has been the voice of the adversary, from the Garden of Eden until now. “Hath God said?” “Will I go to hell if I continue doing as I am doing now?” If Satan can make you believe that wrong things are not so bad, and will not destroy you, then it is very hard for God to help you. It is a wonderful thing if God can show us the things that are wrong and we know that they are wrong and we are willing to do something about it. There’s a ladder that reaches from where you are, to God. You can save yourself and others. But unless your salvation means more to you than anything or anybody on earth; unless it is more precious to you than anything or anybody on earth, you will never get to heaven.
The birthright meant more to Jacob than anything else, and he got it. In the book of Romans Paul uses Jacob and Esau to show that the Jews were like Esau. They had the birthright, the promise, the Bible. They had everything, but didn’t value it. They depended a lot on their self-righteousness, and what they were naturally, just like Esau did. But the Gentiles came by choice. In the 9th chapter it tells us that it is not what you are naturally that counts. The Jews had everything. Even Christ came to the Jewish people, but they were setting up their own righteousness, and did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God. God has a right to choose whom He is going to give the birthright to. He is not a Jew who is a Jew naturally, but one who is a Jew spiritually. God has a right to choose. He doesn’t have to cast his pearls before swine, nor to give that which is Holy to dogs. “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will, He hardeneth.” Doesn’t the Potter have power over the clay? Here is a piece of clay, and you make it into two lumps. Of the same lump you can make a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor. Certainly God doesn’t have to submit to men and women who have no love for clean, pure holy things.
It doesn’t make any difference what you do, how much money you might give, or anything along that line. The Pharisees were those who were teaching people the Bible, but they themselves were not born again. They were not God’s children, even though they believed the Bible and believed in God. It was pretty hard for Paul. He was a Pharisee himself. But God saw that Saul, as he was called then, was a good man, even though he was blind. God had mercy on Saul, opened his eyes, and Saul did something about it too. He turned away from man’s way and walked in the way of God.
Many years ago when I was a little boy, God’s servants came to our home. My Mother never thought that maybe the way she was worshipping was the will of God. But my Father sometimes used to ask, “Why are the preachers here in the Bible different from our preachers?” He had an opportunity, and went to a meeting, and later on God’s servants came to our home, and my Father and Mother went to the meetings. Sometimes they would say, “I know that it is not in the Bible that way.” But when they would go home they would find it. By and by they could see that if ever God had a people and a way upon earth, these are God’s people, and this is God’s way. But when they were children and worshipping in a false way they had taken a vow: “I will never, never leave the church as long as I live.” But now what about this?” Here are God’s people and here is God’s way. Surely God will not hold us responsible for a vow that we made in ignorance. I am glad that they had the courage to make their choice to walk in God’s way. The reason I am preaching the Gospel is because I knew there were others in the world who would be just as grateful as I am, if only they knew God’s way. What if nobody had left their home, left their country, and come to our place to show us God’s way? Where would I be?