The oldest story in the book
by Ps Phil Sharp, 11 Feb 17
The oldest story in the book
We see it all the time, in the media, in churches, in our day to day lives and the people around us.
It’s called… the big sell out.
You know what I’m talking about. These amazing, talented, gifted people who give it all up to satisfy a temporary desire. It can be as small as eating that brownie they know they shouldn’t or taking that job they know they shouldn’t. It can be as big as taking that bribe or that woman they know they shouldn’t.
But the end story is still the same. They sell out their future for instant gratification.
Let me tell you a tale of two brothers… Esau and Jacob.
Esau was the oldest, which in Bible times was a big deal. It meant that, by birthright, he would become the head of the family and he would get a double portion inheritance.
Jacob was his twin, and only missed out on this birthright by a matter of minutes.
What a massive disappointment that would be, to only just miss out, and what a massive thing for Esau to inherit that birthright… by a matter of minutes!
But if you read Gen 25:29 – 34 you learn that Esau gave it all up… for a bowl of stew!
As the story goes, Jacob was busy cooking up a stew when Esau came in from the field absolutely famished. Within a matter of minutes, Esau traded his birthright, handed it over to Jacob, for a bowl of stew. He thought so little of the privilege that was bestowed upon him that he sold it for a bowl of stew.
For the sake of hunger, to satisfy an appetite, he sold his birthright.
Stop and think about that for a minute.
You know, trading your birthright, or “selling out”, is nothing new.
Let’s look one of the oldest stories in the book, the story of Adam and Eve.
The whole world is theirs, created for them to inherit. There was just one condition. No eating the tree in the middle, the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Created in God’s own image, born of His spirit, I mean, He breathed his very life into them and gave them everything they could ever want or need.
And yet, they cheapened their birthright. They sold out for a piece of fruit.
And you know what, we’ve all done it… except for one.
Let’s jump over to Matthew.
Jesus is at the river, He is baptised, His father speaks, and the Holy Spirit descends on Him like a dove.
He is then led out to the wilderness for 40 days. He is weak, He is hungry and He is a target.
Enter the devil, time to give Jesus a bit of a taste of this temptation thing.
He tempted Jesus to sell out, tempted Him to sell his inheritance, His birthright, His ministry and His calling for a loaf of bread… for the accolades of men… for the kingdoms of the earth.
“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (Matt 4:3)
Hello? What’s he saying? Will you sell out, will you obey me for a bowl of bread?
Then he takes Jesus to the top of the Temple…
Throw yourself down everyone will know how awesome you are. Will you sell out for out for popularity or prestige? Will you sell out for acceptance and accolades? (Matt 4:5-6)
Finally, he takes Jesus to the mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world. (Matt 4:8)
They are mine and I will give them to You.
Wait, how are they his?
Because Adam and Eve sold out for a piece of fruit.
But in all things, Jesus refused to yield to the temptation. He has experienced the pressure of temptation, as we do, and has set an example for us to follow.
Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
So this brings us to two big questions.
- What has God given you? What gifts and talents has he placed in your life? What abilities, anointing and call of God is on your life? What is your birthright?
- Where do you sell out? What appetite do you have that causes you to sell out? What rights and privileges do you give up? What authority do you give over?
We all have different points at which we sell out. But, when we are tempted, to sell out remember, with God’s grace we can stand strong.
Let me leave you with two powerful, but encouraging, scriptures.
1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.