“Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright,” Genesis 25:34.
This is a very familiar passage especially for those who can recall the late Dr Ian Paisley’s ministry in the old church on the lower Ravenhill Road, Belfast.
In his earnest contending against the beginnings of the sell-out of Ulster’s godly heritage by ecumenical preachers and the unionist politicians they influenced and misled, Dr Paisley often referred to the utterly reprehensible actions of Esau.
The beginnings of the betrayal back in the early 1960s, has developed, sadly, through continual and increasing compromise with the philosophy of the pro-unity with Rome ‘false prophets’, back-peddling in the face of terrorism, embracing a shameful power-sharing arrangement with Sinn Fein/IRA, which brought that terrorist-supporting group in ‘out of the cold’ into the fold of public acceptance and approval.
This downward slide has reached its latest depths with the Democratic Unionist Party on the verge of endorsing the treacherous exclusion of Northern Ireland from being a truly integral part of the United Kingdom under the terms of the The ‘Windsor Framework’, an arrangement reached by the UK and EU at the behest of the Irish Republic, which has long illegally laid claim to the six counties of Northern. Ireland and which has aided and abetted republican terrorism in an effort to bring that about!
The following headline in yesterday’s ‘Belfast Telegraph’ must alarm every true Unionist!
The report says that “Optimism is increasing across the political divide that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson will lead his party back into the Stormont Executive within the next fortnight.”
The DUP leadership will use every base trick and deceit to fool the Unionist people regarding the true character of any arrangement they come to with the Westminster Government, but it is but the ripening of the fruit of the betrayal that was planted back in the 1960s and of which Dr Paisley repeatedly warned. Sadly and tragically, he also became a party to the betrayal in 2007, when he led the DUP into the power-sharing Executive in union with former IRA commander, the now dead, Martin McGuinness!
Whatever emerges from this conspiratorial arrangement between the DUP and Westminster, it cannot be denied that the DUP have yet again broken their ‘firm undertakings’ to their electorate!
The whole shameful process is but history repeating itself. Man by nature is ‘Esau-like’ in his outlook and behaviour.
I. ESAU, LIKE TODAY’S POLITICIANS, PLACED NO VALUE ON THE BLESSING OF GOD!
1. Esau despised his birthright. The birthright of Esau was a matter of very great importance, of that there can be no room for doubt.
The birthright then had wonderful privileges. This is seen in the blessing Isaac bestowed upon Jacob, deceived by him into thinking he was blessing his first born, Esau.
“Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee,” Genesis 27:28-29.
Later, when Jacob’s deception is uncovered Esau pleads for his father’s blessing, “Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?” Genesis 27:37.
Esau’s plea shows that he was soon to recognise his folly.
2. There has long been a spirit of despising of the godly heritage that is ours here in Ulster. In 1886, Westminster, treacherous as ever, sought to hand our Protestant forefathers into the hands of a Roman Catholic-dominated Dublin government by introducing at Westminster its first ‘Home Rule Bill’. London had little regard for our Protestant heritage!
Our forefathers stoutly resisted London’s scheme, even unto threatened armed resistance, with the formation in 1912 of the Ulster Volunteer Force. The true spirit of loyalty to the British crown, being Protestant, was seen in that virtually all of combat-age in the UVF joined the British Army as the 36th (Ulster) Division, made up of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Rifles and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, at the outbreak of the 1st World War. They paid dearly for their loyalty on the fields on France at the battle of the Somme. It is recorded that: “During the Battle of the Somme the Ulster Division was the only division of X Corps to have achieved its objectives on the opening day of the battle. This came at a heavy price, with the division suffering in two days of fighting, 5,500 officers and enlisted men killed, wounded or missing. War correspondent, Philip Gibbs said of the Division, ‘Their attack was one of the finest displays of human courage in the world.’”
That our loyalist ancestors should show such a spirit indicated that they valued what they then enjoyed. That was epitomised in the slogan under which they resisted the ‘home-rule’ movement. “For God and Ulster”, was their banner. Ulster had enjoyed a mighty blessing from the Lord in 1859, in what is known as the ‘Ulster revival’. It has been estimated that some 100,000 souls were converted or restored to fellowship with God in that heavenly time.
Without a doubt the spiritual atmosphere in Ulster during the ‘Home Rule’ controversy was that of a people still experiencing something of that time of blessing. They were not going to give up such a heritage without a fight.
How the ungodly, compromising Unionism of today contrasts with that of our forefathers!
3. Evidence of the DUP’s despising of our godly heritage clearly marks its history. It has gone from being a people who flew a banner inscribed with the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘The truth shall make you free’ to the embracing and employing of base lies and deception. When was the last time God’s Word was put forward as a reason for the latest position of the DUP?
Rather, in defiance of God’s Word, it has cast overboard its former opposition to ecumenism, sodomy and the increasing number of allied perversions. We have heard the voice of one of its MPs raised in support of a campaign mounted by local alcohol-selling, public houses. It has within its membership and its elected representatives such as are practicing sexual deviants. Its MLAs supported the posthumous pardoning of those found guilty of perversions in the past. Its position on abortion has likewise shown a weakening and a departure from its former robust stance.
All of this has but led on to the abandoning of our former safe and secure position within the ‘Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’, which is what the Union-dismantling post Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland are all about.
II. AS WITH ESAU, GRASPING GREEDINESS LIES BEHIND THIS DESPISING OF GOD AND HIS BLESSING
1. Esau makes plain what is uppermost in his thoughts. “And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” Genesis 25:32. There are few, either friends or foes of the DUP, but have noted its grasping after the financial benefits of remaining in the Stormont Assembly. The payment of wages and expenses have been more important to DUP MLAs than has principle or obedience to God. Professing Christians amongst the MLAs and the supporters of the DUP have been prepared to embrace the departure from former pro-Bible policies for the more publicly acceptable, vote-catching views of today’s increasingly depraved society, whose support they covet!
Such monetary gain as may be forthcoming from remaining in receipt of Stormont’s salaries, is but as Esau’s ‘morsel of meat’. His bowl of ‘pottage’ or stew, was soon emptied, its benefits and satisfaction soon receded, never to be reclaimed! So are the monies gained by the DUP from its sell-out of principle. The sweetness will soon evaporate, if it has not already done so.
2. God’s Word warns of the folly of making fleshly satisfaction our compass and guide. The Bible has strong words to say of those so motivated. “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter,”Isaiah 56:10-11.
Such is the driving ambition of the worldly-minded. They live for time without real thought of eternity. Even professing Christians can be guilty of this. “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica,” 2 Timothy 4:10. Demas is numbered amongst Paul’s fellow-labourers. “There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers,” Philemon 1:23-24. He is found in the company of faithful Luke the physician. “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you,” Colossians 4:14.
But in Paul’s final epistle Demas is declared to be one who has ‘forsaken’ the man of God. He has abandoned, for that is what the word means, his former profession and allegiance. What moved him to do this was because he had come to ‘esteem and prize’ the world and its ways.
In like fashion, the DUP has moved away from the company of policies and principles it once esteemed and has gravitated to a place where the values and views of this world are paramount!
3. Such a compass will only lead downward! “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows,” 1 Timothy 6:10. It is not just the Word of God which issues such warnings. Reported daily in the news we read of the tragic consequences in the lives of those who have sought after this world’s goods above all things. The love of money is a ‘root’ from which springs all forms of ‘evil’; evils which take Christians away from the faith they profess and will pierce (torture) them with many sorrows (consuming grief).
Christians learn the truth of that old gospel warning, issued by the Saviour Himself. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels,” Mark 8:36-38.
Do not just plan with today in mind. Think about the eternal tomorrow!
III. FOR ESAU THERE CAME A DAY OF BITTER REGRET OVER HIS FOOLISH DESPISING OF GOD’S BLESSING
I conclude my article with this verse from Hebrews.
“Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears,” Hebrews 12:16-17.
1. There is an ‘afterwards’ for us all. How unwise to live blinded to the brevity of life, the certainty of death and the eternity that stretches before us all!
Have the members of the DUP forgotten: “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned,” Matthew 12:36-37. The word ‘idle’ means ‘lazy, carelessly spoken’. How much more momentous it will be for those whose words and deeds are chosen deliberately and persistently in the face of opposition from those that love the truth of God!
Likewise, has there been a forgetting of what the Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 5:10? “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
These truths, and not the partaking of the deceitful benefits of ‘eating the forbidden fruits’ offered by the devil and this world, should govern our every thought and step !
2. The obvious distress of Esau when he came to face his folly, should speak volumes to us all. “He was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Repentance is viewed by men as an emotion easily generated whenever it is required!
That is not so.
Consider these words. “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins,” Acts 5:30-31. Please note what the Saviour has been exalted to do. “To give repentance . . .”. Repentance is a gift of God. This truth is repeated for us in Acts 11:18. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”
Esau could not truly repent of his selling of his birthright and undo that folly. He was most earnest in his attempts to do so. “He found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” No one could have tried harder but he failed to undo his tragic action.
The incident of Esau’s selling of his birthright was used by Paul to underscore the danger he warned of in verse 15 of Hebrews 12. “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
Here again is the warning of a ‘root’ from which spring many evils.
3. Involved in today’s political madness, are many Christians. It is to them I particularly address these words. I spent some four years in a former Stormont Assembly. It was a day when the majority in the DUP were faithfully adhering to spiritual and moral principles, though looking back now, I can see the first signs of a deviation from the ‘old paths’!
I can recall a conversation with a civil servant attached to the Assembly Agriculture Committee, of which I was one of the vice-chairmen, when I was required to read out a statement, prepared by the civil service, in the Assembly. I did not like the wording of the statement in places and indicated that I would not read them out as I deemed them a little devious and misleading. The civil servant who had given me the statement, urged me just to read it as it really amounted to little. I still refused. He reacted in what I must say was a kindly and inoffensive manner, saying to me: “Ivan, you should get out of politics for you are not cut out for it!” Well, if ‘being cut out for politics’ involved a less than strong adherence to the truth, he was correct.
That is the danger with the realm of politics. One is surrounded by a delusional atmosphere that generates the notion that you are a person of importance! There are many all around who will seek to enforce this proud notion — for their own ends!
The result is that one can be led away from the solid foundation of God’s Word and give way to the self-exalting notions of the flesh. The wise man tells us the inevitable outcome. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall,” Proverbs 16:18.
Pride and haughtiness are the underlying fabric of the DUP’s position today. God warns that a fall will follow. But sadly, again referring to Hebrews 12:15, “thereby many be defiled”.
The actions of the DUP will bring upon ALL Protestants a defilement for which there will be no solution. It will then be seen that the whole deceitful process the DUP adopted was, in truth, of the spirit of Esau!
A word to the unconverted
Of course this verse has a wider application than just to those engaged in the political chicanery of today.
If you are unconverted then you are engaged in the same foolishness as that of Esau. To neglect what the gospel says and count it as unimportant and to thus ignore the state of your soul and the danger such will place you in and the eternal consequences of being unsaved, will bring you a fate worse than that of Esau’s here described.
The fate of the unsaved is vividly set forth by the Saviour. It is therefore not exaggerated! “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth,” Matthew 13:41-42.
It is a place of eternal suffering. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal,” Matthew 25:46.
Do not be careless about your soul’s salvation or dismiss the gospel as something to be despised. Heed these final words of counsel.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him,” Hebrews 2:1-3.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
25th January 2024