Thoughts on Temptation
Thoughts on Temptation
(Fleshly Reaction vs. Spiritual Response)
Two Bible Passages
When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished. And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.’ Therefore his name was called Edom (red).
But Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ Esau said, ‘Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?’ And Jacob said, ‘First swear to me’; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bred and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
And after He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’
Esau sells his birthright for a bowl of stew
I was reading Genesis chapter 25 today in morning family prayer, and as I read the portion from verses 29 to 34, the Spirit of God reminded me of how our Lord Jesus Christ dealt with the temptation of hunger in Matthew 4:2-4. We read of how Esau was so famished (the actual Hebrew word) that he couldn’t wait a minute more to satisfy his ravenous hunger. He himself says he is so famished that he is ‘about to die’! Here is a man who gets what he wants, and is prepared to sell the most spiritual possession that he has (his birthright) in order to satisfy a moment’s hunger. Here is a man who lived for himself, and for his belly. Are we not reminded of the words of Paul in Philippians 3:18, 19 about the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose ‘god is their belly’? Esau was a man of the flesh, a skilled hunter, his father’s favorite. You could say that he was a man of the world, a dashing sportsman, a celebrity! (How much this world loves celebrities, even celebrity Christians! Celebrity Christian preachers and teachers; celebrity Christian entertainers; celebrity Christian sportstars - we crave for celebrities!) Esau chose his wives for himself, without seeking the advice of his parents (Gen 26:34-35). One is reminded of the fateful words written about the wicked people of the antediluvian age: ‘They took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.’ Gen 6:2. Esau was a man who lived to gratify the ‘lust of the flesh’ and the ‘lust of his eyes’.
The New Testament tells us about Esau – that he was an immoral and godless person who sold his birthright for a single meal, Heb 12:16. In the end he lost his blessing. He did get material blessings, but he lost the spiritual blessings – which are invaluable. The door to heaven was shut on him. The Bible says he was rejected…though he sought for the (spiritual) blessing with tears. The Bible talks of a time of 'weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth', a time of judgment – but then, it will be too late. If we are living like the Esaus of this world, we too will be rejected. We may profess to be Christians, we may have godly parents (Isaac and Rebekah were a godly couple, despite their weaknesses and failures), we may claim to be born again – but if we are still in love with the world, the pleasures and attractions of this frivolous and foolish age, we will be rejected by God. This is the case with so many Christians around the world – trapped in a false gospel, a ‘prosperity gospel’, a shallow and deceitful ‘gospel’ that endorses the ways of the flesh, and has the approval of a wicked and corrupt world. Evangelicals who profess to follow Christ, but pay Him lip-service by failing to ‘carry the cross’ – will also be rejected. The warning about Esau comes in the Book of Hebrews – a book that contains many strong warnings to the children of God. Esau is a warning to those innumerable Christians who continue to flirt with the attractions of the world and succumb fatally to the desires of the flesh.
The Bible is very categorical in declaring that ‘Esau despised his birth-right.’ I ask you: ‘Are you seeking the things above? Have you set your mind on the things in heaven? Are you seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness?’ Or ‘Are you seeking the pleasures of this world? Allowing your mind to be set on earthly things? Seeking self-gratification?’
The Lord Jesus Christ resists Satan
Look at the Lord Jesus Christ! We read about the temptation in the wilderness in Matthew 4. Our Lord had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He was really and truly famished. He must have been really hungry. Satan tempted him to satisfy his hunger immediately. ‘Turn these stones into bread! Your stomach demands it.’ It was a legitimate need. Satan so often goads us to acting on the spur of the moment, reacting to the demands of the flesh, giving in to a bout of anxiety – without allowing us to place the matter before God. Listen to Paul the apostle. He says: ‘I discipline my body and make it my slave…so that I may not be disqualified (from inheriting the prize of God's kingdom and God's Throne!)’ 1 Cor 9.27.
Oh how much is the need for patience and self-restraint. Self-control, is a mature fruit of the Holy Spirit. But we have too many carnal and immature Christians who are unable to live a disciplined and godly life. We say we have faith, but where is the patience? Our Lord refused to succumb to the demands of his hunger. He replied to Satan: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone…but he lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Our spiritual sustenance is more important than our physical sustenance. What does our Lord say? Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness! Matt 6.33
We are unable to wait. We will not trust God to supply our need, but we must decide matters on our own. We go by the reactions of our souls – i.e. by our own reasoning, our own imagination and our own feelings. We will not wait on the Lord till He speaks. We will not be led by the Spirit, as a true son or daughter of God. Rom 8.14
How easily we are carried away by the visible, the material,
the tangible! How blind we are to the invisible, the spiritual, the real! We
fail to distinguish between that which is temporal and that which is eternal.
We walk by sight (or external appearance); we lack the ‘eyes of faith’. 2 Cor 5.7
What a contrast between Esau, the earthly man of the flesh, and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Heavenly Man, anointed by the Spirit!
Note on Eve
Do you know how sin entered into the world? Eve saw the fruit of the forbidden tree. It was a ‘delight to the eyes’ (that’s the lust of the eyes). It was ‘good for food’ (‘good to eat’ - to satisfy the belly) (that’s the lust of the flesh). This is what John the apostle was warning about in 1 John 2:15, 16 – when he warned the children of God about the deceitful tactics of the world!
Eve succumbed to the temptation, and sin entered the world. Esau succumbed to the lusts of his flesh, and was rejected by God. That rejection was permanent. Let Christians be warned about the irreversible judgment of God.
©Pratonix/Roland N Oliver
[For those who are curious about the lentil stew, I thought I should add these two recipes, below]
Note on the Lentil Stew
A word about the red pottage, the lentil stew prepared by Jacob. “It is probable that it was made of Egyptian beans, which Jacob had procured as a dainty; for Esau was a stranger to it. It is very palatable; and to the weary hunter, faint with hunger, its odor must have been irresistibly tempting.” Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.
Recipe for Esau’s Pottage
½ cup olive oil
6 onions, diced
1 lb. lamb, cubed
2 stalks celery
1 green pepper
2 cups tomatoes
1 lb. lentils
2–3 cups water
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Heat the oil; add the onions and saute until tender but not brown. Add the cubed meat (it should be as lean as possible) and let simmer while washing and dicing the vegetables. Add the vegetables and lentils to the meat with 2 cups of water, and simmer gently until lentils are tender. It will take about 1½ hours. Add salt and pepper when the lentils are cooked. Shake the pot occasionally or add another cup of water to prevent sticking. * Serve hot in a bowl or on a plate next to a cucumber salad.· Yield: 6–8 servings
This recipe writer says: “This hearty stew known as Esau's Pottage is so delicious that a brother might even give up his birthright for a mere taste.”
Another Recipe for Esau’s Pottage
From an old cook book. It claims to be the lineal descendant of the soup for which Esau sold his birthright – This cook describes it as ‘the kind of soup to come home to on a winter’s night!’
½ pound green split peas
¼ pound red lentils
2 tablespoons pearl barley
4 tablespoons white beans
1 good soup bone
½ pound shin beef
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 quarts water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Large sprig of parsley
Extra parsley to garnish
Put the peas, lentils, barley and beans into a large bowl, cover to twice their depth with cold water and leave to swell overnight. Next day rinse well. Put the bone and the meat (in one piece) with salt and water into a soup kettle. Bring slowly to the boil, skim, then add the other ingredients. Cover and simmer as slowly as possible for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. When the soup is ready the legumes will have dissolved into a puree, and sieving will be unnecessary. Before serving taste for seasoning, remove the bone, and serve a little of the meat with each serving. Garnish with scissored parsley.