BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: and Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:29-34 KJV).
The passage above is a popular one. Esau lost his birthright because he sold his birthright to his brother for a plate of pottage of lentiles. He was hungry and had asked his brother for his red pottage but the younger brother said that the only condition for parting with his pottage was if he would sell his birthright to him. He did and lost it because he valued that meal more than his birthright (a right of the firstborn) which would have entitled him to a double portion of their father’s inheritance being the firstborn. According to Deuteronomy 21:15-17, “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and they have borne him children, both the loved and the unloved, and if the firstborn son is of her who is unloved, then it shall be, on the day he bequeaths his possessions to his sons, that he must not bestow firstborn status on the son of the loved wife in preference to the son of the unloved, the true firstborn. But he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his” (NKJV).
When Esau sold that birthright, nothing changed physically but something had changed in the spirit realm. He satisfied his hunger that moment quite well but not permanently because he would be hungry from time to time – that was where he missed it. He exchanged something that would last longer for satisfaction that would last only for a short period. The result of his folly showed much more later but it was too late for him. The father, Isaac, had wanted to bless Esau but crafty Jacob, assisted by their mother, deceived Isaac, who blessed Jacob despite suspecting that something was wrong – the voice was Jacob’s voice, but the hands were the hands of Esau (Genesis 27:22).
By the time Esau came with the venison to receive his father’s blessing, his brother had received the main blessing; he could only beg for a ‘leftover blessing’. He prepared the ground for his brother to defraud him when between the two of them he had despised this same birthright and sold it for a plate of pottage.
The Bible warns, “Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:16-17, NKJV).
In that scripture, Esau is referred to as a profane person. The Greek word translated profane is bebeloos meaning wicked. Its verb form, bebeloo, means to desecrate. That means what Esau did, amounted to wickedness because he desecrated his birthright – he didn’t value it hence he sold it to someone who was also hungry (that was why Jacob prepared the meal in the first instance) but could afford to forfeit his meal to obtain something he considered was of a higher value.
According to the New Living Translation, Esau was immoral or godless: “Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau” (Hebrews 12:16 NLT). That was because he despised his destiny. Remember he said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32 NKJV). That was a lie of the devil he believed. He wouldn’t die if he had rejected Jacob’s offer and waited a little more time to prepare what he would eat – a meal that would not mortgage his future.
What is ‘Jacob’s pottage’?
How does this concern you? It does because there is always a ‘Jacob pottage’ that you may be tempted to ask for at one time for the other. You want it badly but it comes with a cost. On the other hand, there is a Jacob who won’t part with what you desire unless you offer him something of a higher value that is yours. That person may be your boss, your friend, your fiancé/fiancée, your relation, etc.
What is ‘Jacob’s pottage’? ‘Jacob’s pottage’ is anything that anyone (the devil) is offering you in exchange for your destiny, anything that you’re being offered but will mortgage your future, something of value that will rob you of another thing of yours that is of a higher value. It is anything that will steal from you today what God wants to give you tomorrow. It could be the pleasure of sin today that will deny you of God’s treasure tomorrow.
Sin is attractive to man
Sin is always attractive to man. “And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom’” (Genesis 25:30 KJV). Did you see that? Red pottage! So inviting! Sin is alluring; sin is appealing; sin is tempting particularly to the eye. How did Esau know the pottage was red? – Because he saw it. How did Eve come about desiring the forbidden fruit? – Because she looked at it. Genesis 3:6 says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (NKJV). How did David get entangled with Bathsheba? She looked at her nakedness. 2 Samuel 11:2 says, “As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath” (NLT). That’s clear enough. You don’t take your bath with your clothes on!
You must be careful what you watch; what your eyes look at. Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust upon a young woman” (Job 31:1 NLT). Your eye gate is very important. Don’t gaze at just anything. That’s why the Bible warns against the lust of the eyes. This, together with the lust of the flesh and the vain-glory of life, is not of the Father but is of the world (1 John 2:16).
Sin is tempting but you don’t have to fall into its temptation. Every sin starts with a lie! The devil tells you nobody will see you, nobody will find out, you can’t be caught, everybody is doing it, nothing will happen, you’ll do it just only one time, you must do it now, this is your time to enjoy yourself, etc. These are all lies of the devil which people always regret later for believing the devil. Jesus said, “There is no truth in him [devil]. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 NLT). If you believe the devil’s lie, you’ll have yourself to blame.
Like Esau, Reuben lost his birthright. Reuben, Leah’s first son, wanted sex but he didn’t have to sleep with his father’s wife or concubine. If he had slept with his own wife, it wouldn’t have been a sin. “Drink water from your own well — share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in public, having sex with just anyone?” (Proverbs 5:15-16 NLT) But Reuben went in to sleep with Bilhah, the wife/concubine of his father, who was actually a maid of his mother’s sister and rival, Rachael.
Reuben’s father never loved his mother; he never wanted to marry her – he was deceived to marry her (Genesis 29:16-30). It was the younger sister, Rachael, she wanted. Because Rachael did not conceive in time, she gave Bilhah to Jacob, in line with oriental practice, to bear children through her for her husband. Bilhah bore Jacob two sons – Dan and Naphtali (Genesis 35:25).
But Reuben couldn’t tame his appetite for sex; he committed incest. When he committed the sin, there is no record that his father said anything. Genesis 35:22 says, “And it happened, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard about it” (NKJV). Did you see that? He heard about it but we’re not told he did anything.
Just like Esau, it looked as if nothing had happened. His father heard about it; he might not have done anything but he didn’t forget that evil. Sleeping with his father’s wife/concubine amounted to disgracing his father. This was what Absalom did as advised by Ahithophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather (2 Samuel 11:3; 23:34) and David’s counselor, after Absalom had deposed his father, David. “Ahithophel told him, ‘Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, for he has left them here to keep the house. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted him beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will give you their support.’ So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went into the tent to sleep with his father’s concubines.” (2 Samuel 16:21-22 NLT). Part of verse 21 in the New Century Version says, “Then all will hear that your father is your enemy.” Sleeping with his father’s concubines meant a total declaration of hostility with his father, a great insult.
As I’ve said, there was no record Jacob did anything when he heard about Reuben’s grievous sin, but years later, on a day that was most important, the father visited his sin on him. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7 NKJV). On a day when Reuben was supposed to receive his father’s blessing, his father brought his sin to remembrance. “Reuben, you are my oldest son, the child of my vigorous youth. You are first on the list in rank and honor. But you are as unruly as the waves of the sea, and you will be first no longer. For you slept with one of my wives; you dishonored me in my own bed” (Genesis 49:3-4 NLT). Legally speaking, he remained the first-born but he lost the right to the birthright. He was the first-born but immorality, just as in the case of Esau (Hebrews 12:16), cost him his right to double portion of his father’s inheritance.
Though morally weak, Reuben is not presented in the Bible as a generally bad person (Genesis 37:18-22, 29; Genesis 42:22, 37), but the incest he committed was his undoing. No great person came out of that tribe just as his father pronounced that Reuben would be first no longer – shall not excel. In fact, Moses had to pray in Deut 33:6 that the tribe of Reuben it wouldn’t go into oblivion. “Let the tribe of Reuben live and not die out, even though their tribe is small” (NLT). Beware of one moment of indiscretion, one night of carelessness! It may cost you everything or so much. O Lord, have mercy!
What is your ‘Jacob’s pottage’?
What amounts to ‘Jacob’s pottage’ that may make you forfeit something of higher and greater value? What is that transient enjoyment that will disqualify you from entering into your rest? What is that thing that you can possess today but will speak against you on a day that matters most? Is it pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, a sinful habit or a particular secret sin? Run from anyone who’ll lure you into any of these.
Esau ate ‘Jacob’s pottage’ and he lost his birthright. He wept later for it but it was too late. The joy of yesterday turned to sorrow as we saw in Hebrews 12:17. How devastated Reuben must have been that day when their father gathered his children to speak to them about what would happen to them in the future. But, instead of a blessing, he received the reward of his sin! Supposed enjoyment cost him his destiny. 1 Corinthians 6:13 says, “You say, ‘Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food.’ This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them. But our bodies were not made for sexual immorality” (NLT).
Eating ‘Jacob’s pottage’ will make you forfeit your destiny, and it may just be too late to recover it. It may give you a momentary advantage but you’ll be robbed of enduring inheritance.
‘Jacob’s pottage’: Samson, Joseph, and Moses
Samson ate ‘Jacob’s pottage’ when he went into sexual immorality with Delilah (Judges 16:1-31). His hair was shaved; he was captured by the Philistines and humiliated. He died with his enemies. His ministry of twenty years came to an abrupt end (Judges 16::31). Consider your destiny. Lamentation 1:9 says, “Her uncleanness is in her skirts; She did not consider her destiny; therefore her collapse was awesome; She had no comforter. ‘O LORD, behold my affliction, for the enemy is exalted!” (NKJV) According to Proverbs 6:26, “a prostitute will bring a man to poverty and an adulterous may cost him his very life” (TLB). Don’t eat with the devil at all. Don’t deceive yourself you have a long spoon to outsmart him!
Unlike Samson, Joseph refused to eat ‘Jacob’s pottage’ even when Mrs. Potiphar offered him on a platter of gold (Genesis 39:6-12). Despite Mrs. Potiphar’s pressure on him to sleep with her, Joseph considered his destiny; he chose the path of righteousness. “But Joseph refused. ‘Look,’ he told her, ‘my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do! He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I ever do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God’” (Genesis 39:8-9 NLT).
Joseph didn’t sell his destiny. His destiny was preserved though he suffered unjustly. Through the things he suffered, God still fulfilled his plan for his life. He obtained his inheritance because he chose not to eat ‘Jacob’s pottage’. Who is promising or offering you monetary or material gifts, employment, promotion, or school admission to sleep with you? Or is it an invitation to lunch or dinner or even an offer of a piece of meat pie or sausage roll, a plate of pepper soup, a new handset or laptop to sleep with you or even deflower you? That’s ridiculous! Are you that cheap? Don’t be stupid! Flee from such people. Children and youths, in particular, must avoid awakening love until the time is right until they’re ready (Song 8:4).
Moses refused to eat ‘Jacob’s pottage.’ He rejected the throne of Egypt to fulfill destiny. “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26 NKJV).
Moses refused to eat ‘Jacob’s pottage.’ He rejected the throne of Egypt to fulfill his destiny (Hebrews 11:24-26). Moses was being groomed to become the Pharaoh one day. He was enjoying luxury in the palace but that was nothing to Moses. He knew God had a better plan for him and chose destiny above the fleeting, passing pleasure of sin. That’s why we know about Moses today whereas Pharaoh is just a general title of the over 170 pharaohs historians believe reigned as kings in ancient Egypt during the pharaonic period which lasted more than three thousand years. The actual names of none of them ring a bell as much as Moses’ name.
‘Jacob’s pottage’: Adam and Eve; Jesus Christ
Consider how Adam and Eve on one hand, and Jesus on the other hand were tempted to eat ‘Jacob’s pottage.’ Adam and Eve ate it and were evicted from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24). But Jesus didn’t eat ‘‘Jacob’s pottage’’. Satan tempted him but he didn’t fall (Matthew 4:1-11).
When the devil saw that Jesus didn’t fall into the first two temptations, he upped the ante. Look at that last temptation: “Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. ‘I will give it all to you,’ he said, ‘if you will only kneel down and worship me’” (verses 8-9 NLT). That was enough for anyone not conscious of his destiny to fall into. Satan was promising Jesus what God had already given him by inheritance. He wanted to derail the work of salvation that Jesus came to the earth to do. Unfortunately, there are many people today worshipping the devil to become rich, amass wealth or gain earthly power.
Glory be to God! Jesus overcame the devil’s temptations. Through Adam and Eve, sin, and indeed death, came into the world but through another man, Jesus, the resurrection came (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21).
What To do
1.Renew your mind daily with the Word of God. This helps you to make the right choices and decisions based on the Word of God. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 NKJV).
2. Love the Lord; don’t love the world. Asked which was the most important commandment of the Law of Moses, Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NLT). If you love the world, you’ll forsake the Lord like Demas, an associate of Paul, who later abandoned him and most probably the faith because he loved the world (2 Timothy 4:10). 1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (NKJV).
3. Fear the Lord. It is the fear of the Lord that keeps us away from evil; those who don’t fear the Lord are capable of any evil. Proverbs 16:6 says by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). According to Job 28:28, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding” (NKJV).
4. Keep away from every appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Abstain from every form of evil” (NKJV). Resist the devil; don’t assist him. James 4:7 says you should resist the devil, and he will flee from you. That was what Joseph did by fleeing from Mrs. Potiphar (Genesis 39:13). The story might have been worse than going to prison if he had stood there. And that was what Samson failed to do. You can’t be sitting on the lap of Delilah and think you could overcome a high level of demonic seduction (Judges 16:19-21).
5. Develop your recreated human spirit to say “No” to anything contrary to the word of God without being sentimental. Feed your spirit man on the Word of God – not on junks, sensual materials. Don’t seek to please humans above God. Those three Hebrew boys were bold enough to say “No” to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:8-25). Peter and the other apostles were so courageous to tell the Supreme Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 NKJV).
Conclusion: Beware of ‘Jacob’s pottage’ as you interact with people daily. Don’t let anyone steal your destiny. Beware of satanic exchange. “There is an evil I have seen under the sun, as an error proceeding from the ruler: folly is set in great dignity, while the rich sit in a lowly place. I have seen servants on horses, while princes walk on the ground like servants” (Ecclesiastes 10:5-7 NKJV).
Don’t let temporary enjoyment now deny you eternal enjoyment later. Abraham told the rich man, “Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish” (Luke 16:25 NLT).
Beware of ‘Jacob’s pottage.’ “For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever” (1 John 2:15-17 NLT).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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