Forever Is a Very, Very Long Time

One of the saddest stories in the Bible takes up just a few verses, but the implications are eternal. It’s the story of the twin brothers, Esau and Jacob, and a bowl of soup. Because Esau was born first, according to the Hebrew law, he had the right to his father’s inheritance. One day Esau was out hunting and, evidently having caught nothing, he came home famished. Jacob was the more “domesticated” of the two brothers, but he was also the most conniving. He stayed home and was cooking a pot of stew. When Esau got home and smelled the stew he craved it with every ounce of his being. Esau told Jacob to give him some stew, and Jacob offered to trade the stew for Esau’s birthright. Esau said “I’m about to die from hunger. What good will an inheritance be to me if I’m dead?” So he took Jacob up on the deal. He exchanged gratification in the short term for his entire future as the eldest son who would rule over his father’s household and possessions when his father was gone (Genesis 25:29-34).

In the book of Hebrews we are encouraged to learn from the foolishness of Esau:

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

(Hebrews 12:14-17 ESV)

Those who have turned to the Lord for forgiveness by confessing their sin and accepting the free gift of salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ have an amazing inheritance awaiting them both now and through eternity. The pages of scripture are full of wonderful promises about the blessings that belong to the children of God in our eternal home. These verses in Revelation are representative:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

(Revelation 22:1-5 ESV)

Forever and ever…that’s a long, long time! How can we even compare the things that seem so urgent and necessary in this life with the forever blessings that will be ours in the future kingdom? Do our day-to-day thoughts and actions betray our hearts, revealing that we are more like Esau who sold everything for the momentary physical gratification that consumed his attention and overwhelmed his best judgment?

Don’t “crave the stew” so much that you throw away an eternal life of bliss! Think about the “forever-ness” of eternity with each and every decision you make because nothing, nothing can compare with the promise that we can “dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” as David says so poetically in the 23rd Psalm. There is not a thing on this earth can taste so good that it’s worth throwing it all away for the gratification of the moment. Once our lives are over and we face God’s judgment, there will be no chance for repentance even though, like Esau, we would seek it with tears.

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