Bible Articles

Bible Articles

Profanity According To Esau

"Profane - an adjective showing contempt or irreverence toward God or sacred things; blasphemous." (American Heritage Dictionary).  Esau's story, related first in Genesis, is noted several times in the Bible. Taking God's name in vain, of course, is a common way in our world to indulge in profanity. Esau's profanity is used as a warning by the writer of Hebrews in Chapter 12:15-17: "...looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 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."


It is a very sad thing to "fall short of the grace of God", or to make poor choices that cause us to experience bitterness that will fill our later lives with troubles. Esau and his twin brother Jacob had godly parents who loved them and wanted to be a blessing to them. The birth of these boys was an answer to fervent prayer (Genesis 25:20-26). Desired children often have a better chance in life. As the boys grew to manhood, however, it seems that Isaac favored Esau; Rebekah favored Jacob. Favoritism brings special problems into families.


As a young man, Esau made poor choices that affected his life and the lives of his descendants. One day, when he came home from hunting, he smelled the stew that his brother Jacob was cooking. When Esau asked for some, Jacob proposed that he sell him his birthright. The birthright was a special blessing reserved for the firstborn son in a family. Since Esau was the first of the twins to be born, the birthright rightfully would be bestowed on him. While the birthright in any period of Bible history was very important, it was especially so in Patriarch families. As the eldest son, he would be the head of the family following his father's death. As such, he would be a priest who would offer the family sacrifices and spiritually lead the family in God's will. He would receive the promise which he then would have the right to bestow upon his firstborn son.


Jacob's proposed trade (his bread and stew for Esau's birthright) seems to have been quickly accepted by Esau. His response was "Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?" (Genesis 25:32). Jacob had Esau swear to the transaction, "Thus Esau despised his birthright." (Genesis 25:34b). The promises of God made to Abraham and Isaac were now to be fulfilled in Jacob.


By a single poor choice, Esau altered the course of human history. He soon moved on to increasingly wrong decisions. He married two wives--Judith and Basemath--of the Hittites, an idolatrous people of Canaan. These were a "grief of mind" to Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 26:35). The posterity of Esau were the Edomites who troubled Israel for hundreds of years.


The sin of Esau is a reflection of his profane attitudes and resulting actions. He regarded his physical needs above his spiritual blessings and opportunity to serve God. He exchanged future blessings for the immediate satisfaction of his appetites!


Esau's sad story should serve us as a beacon against profane attitudes and actions in our lives. Consider these passages and principles as you think of the dangers of a profane attitude toward life:


Matthew 6:31-33 - "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."


1 Corinthians 9:27 - "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."


Philippians 4:19 - "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."


Exchanging spiritual blessings God will give us now and in eternity for present satisfaction of our appetites is profane and is precisely the sin of Esau. One of the marks of maturity in young people is the ability to delay immediate gratification for future happiness. Actually, people of all ages need to make decisions based upon God's will now and in view of His promised blessings in the future. It is easy to be one who is "blind and cannot see afar off" (2 Peter 1:19).


The closing words of the Hebrews 12:15-17 passage quoted at the beginning of this article record the sadness that came to Esau following his profane decision: "...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."


Leading a profane life, thinking only of the "here and now", seeking immediate satisfactions while disregarding the future consequences of our actions, is the sin of Esau. Let us resolve that we will not "fall short of the grace of God" and accept and submit to His will, believe His promises, and anticipate heaven in the future.


Washington Gladden, in his song "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee", has pointed us to a certain kind of life:


"In hope that sends a shining ray,

 Far down the future's broad'ning way,

 In peace that only Thou canst give,

 With Thee, O Master, let me live."