Open Your Bible
Genesis 25:27-34, Genesis 26:34-35, Genesis 27:1-46, Genesis 28:1-5, Hebrews 12:14–17
The early 2000s were a treasure trove of television game shows. If you don’t already know this by heart, let me explain. (And if you do, you are my kind of people and can pass “Go” to collect $200.)
While I’ve always had infinite admiration for Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune, and my brother claimed he bonded best with our father over Family Feud, it was a blonde British woman named Anne Robinson who really raised the bar for game shows. Host of The Weakest Link, (which came aired at 4 pm, just in time for my elementary-school self to hop off the school bus and grab a cheese stick), Anne was known for her no-nonsense TV personality, and I adored her for it.
On the show, a team of contestants would take turns answering trivia questions with the goal of getting the most correct answers within a specific amount of time. When time was up, the team voted on the weakest link (a.k.a., the worst player in the game). Then it was time for the most memorable part of the show, when Anne would announce the loser by addressing the individual by name and proclaiming, “You are the weakest link. Goodbye.”
It’s easy to treat the story of Jacob and Esau like another episode of The Weakest Link. Which brother is doing the right thing? Who deserves favoritism? Who does God love more?
First, we have Esau, who sells his birthright to Jacob for stew. Then, we have Jacob, who steals the blessing that was rightfully Esau’s. If I were the judge, I’d conclude that they were both at fault. They’re both weak links.
Esau’s story is much like ours; he gave in to his fleshly desires and lost the most valuable thing in his possession. But he was also hurt and wronged by his own flesh and blood, his brother Jacob. It’s the oldest and truest story we know: Our flesh chose sin, and our hearts chose betrayal. Pain is a constant in our stories. We are the weakest links. And yet, God didn’t say goodbye to us in our weakness—far from it, actually. He did the exact opposite: He sent His Son to reverse the curse by bearing the weight of our sin, a burden that had rightfully been placed on us.
These stories in Genesis, set just after creation story and the Fall, and long before the birth of our Savior, show us how deeply we need redemption. We cannot be trusted with things of value like birthrights, brothers, or blessings. An intervention is necessary, and thanks be to God, an intervention is coming. But first, we must take this opportunity to realize our humanity, grieve our sin, and repent. We cannot proclaim His strength without first admitting our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
“And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal. For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, even though he sought it with tears, because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance” (Hebrews 12:16–17).
Any average ruler (or game show, for that matter) would certainly have chosen for Esau, Jacob, you, and I to pack up our bags a very long time ago, at the onset of our failures. But because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are welcomed into eternity instead of turned away. What a prize indeed.