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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

January 8, 2024

 Read to Read


Daily Reading: Genesis 25-26


Genesis 25:33

And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.


“Some act first, think afterward, and then repent forever.”  This quote is attributed to Charles Simmons, an early 1800’s American clergyman. There is no better illustration of the truth of this quote than the decision made by Esau in 1980 BC. Over 4,000 years later, many have still not learned from his rash decision.


Esau was Jacob’s twin brother. On a certain day Esau came home from being in the field and was very hungry, so much so that he was faint (25:29). At home he realized his brother was cooking some sort of stew (pottage). Perhaps it was the aroma, or he may have seen the pot on the fire with the tasty stew being sodden, or Jacob may have told him of the stew. We don’t know, but we do know this, Esau made a rash decision based upon feeling rather than fact.


This is the way it is with physical appetites. For whatever reason our body is weakened by its wants. That want is fed by smell, sight, hearing, touch, taste, real or imagined danger or worry. In understanding the difference between the flesh and the soul and spirit please understand this; the flesh has no moral compass. It, the flesh, wants what it wants, and cares not if that which it wants is right or wrong. This is why those who live according to the flesh seldom obey God’s laws or morality, righteousness, or holiness. It is why in the New Testament we are told to mortify the desires of the flesh (Romans 8:13).


In his flesh, Esau believed he would die if he didn’t eat his brother’s stew. Probably not, but that is what his body was telling him. He, Esau, was a man of the field, a cunning hunter (25:27). It seems that if he were that hungry, he could have found some berries, raw vegetables, or something of the field to survive. But his flesh wanted that stew! Had to have it. Couldn’t live without it. Wanted it more than it wanted anything else at that moment. He made a rash decision with lifelong consequences. He sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. This one transaction set forth in motion tragic consequences. Even about 2,000 years later the writer of Hebrews used Esau’s poor decision as an illustration about the rashness, and consequences of sinful actions. Even now, over 4,000 years later his rash action is a warning to any and all about the dangers of being rash. Especially in the fulfillment of fleshly desires.


In Acts 19:36 an unnamed town clerk uttered some words that carry with them the weight of a good command, or at least a strong recommendation, of God. Words to which the wise of the Lord would do well to pay attention. He said: Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.


Do nothing rashly. That is a philosophy to live by, for those rash decisions made through fleshly desires always result in unwanted consequences that cannot be changed, ignored, or stopped; only suffered.  That is one great life lesson drawn from Esau’s story in Genesis 25:29-34.


William T. Howe Ph.D.

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