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SERMON: Bowl of Beans for an Inheritance


Image from christart.com

Did you ever think about receiving an inheritance? Usually, we would be embarrassed to admit to it, but evidently Jacob did think about getting his inheritance – and about how to get his brother’s double portion!

We remember the story of Jacob & Esau, mostly because of Jacob’s trickery & duplicity. The Hebrew writer remembered it because of Esau’s foolishness.

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. – Hebrews 12:15-17.

On the one hand, Esau made good sense.

Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me? (Genesis 25:32)

Logical, right? Wrong! True, if he were to die, the inheritance would be worthless. But, was he about to die? Even if he were literally starving to death, would Jacob have let his brother die? If Jacob were so heartless, was there another source of food? Did Esau really think Isaac and Rebekah would abandon him to die?

Esau’s appetite for immediate gratification without regard for consequences drove him into a rash action – that had long-lasting results for the brothers and the nations that came from them.

Because of this, and the related blessing by their father Isaac, Jacob had to leave his father’s house and run for his life. He was gone 20 years before he returned with a new family, a new name, and a new sense of destiny.

In this post, I would like to contrast two other inheritances that involved someone leaving his father’s house – but with far different results.

An Old Story – With a Twist

A man had two sons who worked with him in his business: one was a hard worker, the other a playboy.

The dull son (call him Jack) quietly obeyed Dad. The playboy son (call him Bill) always argued with Dad about almost everything.

Dad does not know how to run the business. He does not trust Bill. He is old-fashioned (he positively lives in the 20th Century!)

Even at home, Bill gets no relief. Dad is always on his case. If he stays out a bit late (after all, he is an adult, and 2 am is not all that late to be getting home, is it?), Dad is all over him.

One day Bill had a great idea! Get the old man to give him his share of the loot – and then he would show them! (Dad is already ancient! He could not live long any way. He is already nearly 50!)

At first, Dad was not too keen on the idea. However, Bill was persistent. He kept at it until Dad borrowed against the business and gave Bill what he asked for.

You can guess what happened next. A few days later Bill left home and went to the Big City where he started spending money like water. It did not take him long to run through the small fortune his Dad had staked him with – and then reality hit him hard, right between the eyes!

When he started getting hungry, he looked everywhere for a job – but he had wasted his time as well as his money. He had no experience or training – so the only job he could get was flipping burgers. He became so hungry he wanted to eat the throwaway burgers, but no one gave him any to eat. He had to get by on what he earned at his minimum wage job.

One day he “woke up” and realized how good he had it when he was at home – and he decided he would eat a little crow and go back to beg Dad for an entry level job. He didn’t have money for a plane ticket, so he had to ride the bus. When he got to his hometown, he called Dad from the station. Dad dropped everything and went at once to get his son.

OF COURSE, you realize this is Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son in a modern setting – with liberties taken along the way, but THE BASICS OF THE STORY are true.

  • He was blessed by his father. There was a foretaste of his inheritance!
  • He wasn’t satisfied. He wanted something far different.
  • The Father gave him freedom of choice – and he chose tragically!
  • In his choice, he messed up big-time!
  • When he came to himself, the Father took him back – forgiven.

What is easy to forget is that this is our story as well.

  • God is our Father; we are his rebellious children who want to go our own way.
  • Like the Prodigal, we demand immediate gratification! We have not been willing to wait for the inheritance with patience. In this, we settle for Esau’s bowl of Pottage – instead of waiting for the promises of God.
  • We are blind to how good we have it! Likewise, we have foretastes of glory – which we tend to ignore & chase the fantasies of the world!
  • We are so eager for the glitter of the kingdoms of the World we fall down to worship Satan – and miss the Glory of the Kingdom of God! We are not like Jesus when he was tempted.
  • As Humans We tend to:
    • Be Blind to the Spiritual, but Dazzled by the Physical.
    • Settle for Lust (selfish taking) instead of Love (selfless giving).
    • Worship & serve the Creature, not the Creator! (cf. Rom 1:25).
    • Choose the things (all of which are perishing) over eternal values.
    • Build our lives on sand, Not on the Rock of our Salvation.
    • Reject God’s Wisdom for Man’s Sophistry, though God’s foolishness is wiser than Man’s wisdom!
    • Choose the counsel of men, not the Council of God (cf. Psalm 1:1-2)
    • In these, we reject our Heritage from God!

CONTRAST THIS WITH ABRAHAM WHEN GOD CALLED HIM.

  • In Ur, Abram Was at Home in a Prosperous, Sophisticated Land.
  • He was called to leave home for an unseen inheritance.
  • God Promised Him a Blessing – And Abram Went Out in Faith.
  • Abraham Had Difficulties Along the Way.
    • Trouble with Lot (brought from his Father’s house).
    • Trouble with Fear & Temptation. (feared Pharaoh & Abimilech)
    • Trouble with Unbelief & discouragement – & even substituted his plan for God’s plan.
    • But he persevered by looking to the city with foundations!
      • He did not receive his inheritance in Canaan.
      • But God blessed him in Eternity.

WHAT ABOUT US?

  • Like Abram, we are at home in a sophisticated, prosperous land.
  • Like Abram, we are called to leave home for an unseen inheritance.
  • But, Will we settle for a bowl of beans or seek the eternal inheritance?
  • God wants to give us so much. “For what is man’s lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on High?” Job 31:2. God gives us Earth today and promises much more: Eternal Life, the Kingdom of God, and Salvation.

Will we accept what God offers?

  • God gives us good in this world, though all is temporary. Is this enough for you? Or are you willing to labor today for the eternal blessing?
  • If we chase the temporal, we lose the eternal.
  • If we value the eternal blessings, God promises we will have a hundred fold in this life as well as inherit eternal life. “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).
  • Actually, there were three, not two, who left home for an inheritance:

THE PRODIGAL, who left his father’s home to spend his inheritance.

ABRAHAM, who left his Father’s home to receive his inheritance.

JESUS, who left home with His Father to give an inheritance.

Which will you choose? To receive the inheritance Jesus gives in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham? If this is your choice, you will receive blessings now in this life as well. Or, you can choose to spend the inheritance of this life with no regard for eternity. Which will it be for you?

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