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Esau Fails to See the Big Picture
Genesis 25:29–34; 32:3–23; 33:1–20
IN ESAU the Bible paints a powerful picture of a leader without vision. While the eyes of some folks may be larger than their stomachs, in this case the problem was exactly the opposite.
Isaac and Rebekah’s firstborn son, Esau, loved the great outdoors from very early in life. He became a skillful hunter, growing strong and resourceful and as rugged as they come. But he lived so completely in the present, depending solely on his own strength and resources, that he repeatedly failed to clearly see the future.
Esau succumbed to the kind of temptations that still entice leaders today. Take a look at six characteristics of Esau’s nearsightedness and see whether any of them might trouble you:
1. Esau focused solely on the here and now, convinced that tomorrow never comes.
2. Esau relied on his natural gifts and on his birth order rather than on God’s plan.
3. Esau’s shortsightedness prompted him to give up the ultimate to get the immediate (a single meal).
4. Esau, favored by his father, may have thought that Isaac’s love would bail him out of any poor decision he might make.
5. Esau’s limited vision caused him to marry a Hittite, a choice which grieved his parents.
6. Esau’s clouded vision blinded him from the deception of his brother Jacob.
In a legacy symbolic of his life, Esau’s descendants became the enemies of Israel. Whenever you see the word Edom or read of Israel’s clashes with the Edomites in Scripture, think of Esau, for it is through him that these persistent opponents of Israel came into existence. The animosity between these two ancient peoples can be seen even in the Psalms: “Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, who said, ‘Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation!’” (Ps. 137:7).
Today we remember Esau as a self-centered man with faulty vision. Hebrews 12:15, 16 tells us to examine ourselves, “lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.”
And yet God extends His grace! Before Esau died, he showed that he had matured. Genesis 32 and 33 describe a fearful meeting between Esau and his estranged brother. When the pair finally meet after years of separation, Esau embraces the deceiver Jacob and forgives him on the spot. Could it be that before he closed his eyes for the last time, Esau finally saw with clear vision? Perhaps. But imagine what might have been had he developed that vision sooner!
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