I got thinking about my dad recently because it was his birthday, March 12. He would be 112 years old if he were still alive. He died at 99 ½, just days after the 9/11 attacks. As I’m remembering him, I’m also studying passages in the book of Genesis. The story of Esau trading his birthright in chapter 25 grabbed my attention.
Remember how Esau came home all sweaty and tired from hunting. He smelled the chili con carne that his brother was making, and begged for some. His crafty brother, Jacob, said, “Sure, bro, you can have some if you’ll give me your birthright in exchange.” Without deliberation Esau says, “Sure.”
What was that all about? Well, I’m glad you asked. My Bible handbook (The New Unger’s Bible Handbook by Merrill F. Unger-Moody Press) says that the birthright involved “(1) paternal blessing and the place as head of the family; (2) the honor of being in the promised line out of which the Messiah should come (Shem-Abraham-Isaac); (3) the exercise of the family priesthood.”
I’m convinced that all Scripture is there for our instruction so I asked myself, What is my birthright? I’m a Christ follower, what does that mean? Here’s a short list I compiled:
- I was made in God’s image-Mark 12:14
- Every day of my life is sovereignly planned-Psalm 139:16
- God’s thoughts toward me are positive-Psalm 139:17-18
- I’m his work of art-Ephesians 2:10
- God loves me-Lamentations 3:21-23
- He’s going to write a new name on me-Revelation 3:12
- He has put his seal on me-Ephesians 2:22
- He sees me as wearing the righteousness of his Son-Philippians 3:9
- He chose me-Ephesians 1:11
- He has given me the ministry of reconciling the world to him-2 Corinthians 5:18-19
The list could go on and on with what the Bible says is our legacy as children of the King. Surely we cannot take that lightly.
But my next question was, what is my personal legacy of being born into the Jones family and brought up by godly parents. Isaiah 38:19 says that fathers should tell their children about God’s faithfulness, and I was certainly told and taught by word and example.
I learned to respect people, work hard and serve others. My sisters and I got no allowance. We memorized Scripture to get awards and a free week at camp.
I went with my mother sometimes when she called on needy people in the community or hospital and so I learned something about service. I learned as we sat around the living room each morning having family devotions that the Bible is central to life.
I remember that we often entertained visiting missionaries and sitting around the table hearing their stories and asking them questions. I often gave up my bed for them.
I learned forgiveness from my father who forgave the sheriff who, while speeding at 70 miles an hour through a school zone, struck and killed my sister, Martha Mai. He forgave the nurse who gave the wrong blood transfusion to my other sister, even though Arloween died as a result.
I do not take this birthright lightly. While Esau despised his birthright and kicked it aside I’m determined to squeeze all the good I can from mine.
What is your birthright from your parents or from God and, more importantly, have you claimed it?