Chicken Soup in Exchange for the Soul
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Chicken Soup (in exchange for) the Soul
I’m continually amazed by the bible. It’s really not that difficult to see this ancient book as “living”, not when you consider that the Person who wrote it is still alive.
That’s not really what amazes me, although that would be amazement enough for most any one. No what really amazes me are the ways by which this age old book can be “made alive” by Him who is alive and authored it.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read the story of Jacob and Esau, but I can tell you that I’ve seldom gotten anything from hearing it and it wasn’t until there arose a need in my life personally that this story offered any life at all. That’s what amazes me.
We find the story in Genesis 25:29-34, where we read in the NKJV that;
“Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary.
And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.’ Therefore his name was called Edom.
But Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright as of this day.’
And Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?’
Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me as of this day.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.
And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way.”
Jacob, whose name means “supplanter” or “heel grabber” simply means that Jacob was a “taker.” Or, to put it in present terminology, Jacob was a manipulator. He took advantage of his brother’s hunger and exploited him.
All of us have either done the same thing or have had it done to us. There really is nothing new under the sun, just as we’ve been told in Ecclesiastes 1:9 and either manipulating people or being manipulated by them is nothing new.
Here, in our story, we have two men who have the closest of relationships. They grew up together in the same house, ate the same meals together, roamed the hills in search of adventure together and more than likely, shared the same bedroom. It’s hard to find a relationship that’s closer than that of brothers.
Everything that one brother had, the other had. They shared the same mother, the same father and the aunts and uncles of one were the aunts and uncles of the other. They probably shared their shared toys with shared cousins who’d come to visit. There wasn’t much that one had that the other didn’t have a part in, except for one thing.
The birthright was excluded from this list of “all things in common” and it was this right that was immeasurably precious to the one for whom it was reserved and upon who it was to be bestowed.
The birthright was comparable to what we refer to in our day as a “will.” In it, if it happened to be written, were some specific items that were to become the possession of the first born son when his/their father had died.
Before his death, if the man had two sons, he would divide his land into three equal parts and the eldest son was to receive two of them. If the man had three sons he would divide the land into four equal parts and the first born son would receive, by virtue of having been born first, two of those parcels of land. This was his birthright.
All that the father possessed, not just land, was to be distributed to his sons before his death and often times we see this “reading of the will” as the father lie on his death bed.
There are many other details concerning the birthright that are intriguing, but taking too long a look at it will only take away from the point of this particular article. Suffice it to say, the birthright was important, especially to the one whose right it had become.
There are many things that you and I have received from our Father and those particular things are ours, not by virtue of our having been born first; but, because we are “in Him” who is the First born from the dead. (Colossians 1:18 & Revelations 1:5)
We also know that our Father has said that “He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) With the emphasis being on the words “with him.”
By virtue of being “found in Him” and the Father having given all things to His only begotten/firstborn Son, we have an inheritance. It goes without saying that none of us deserve it, just as the one brother didn’t earn it; it was just his because he was born first.
Now, in our story we have one brother who’s been out looking for something, but not having any success, he comes home. He was returning to his fathers’ house, which is always a good thing to do, but while on his way home to get something to eat, he runs into his own brother. Presumably a person he should be able to trust and had trusted for many years. But, what happens?
“Please feed me…for I am weary.” Hungry and weary people are vulnerable to almost anything and Esau is no exception. In spite of the fact that he was known for his abilities as a hunter, a “man’s man”, an outdoorsman who was rough and tough, here we see him susceptible to being taken advantage of. His macho lifestyle won’t protect him from what is about to come his way and it comes from the one person he had trusted for many years, his own brother.
Well, Jacob, the heel grabber, the manipulator sees an opening in the armor of this otherwise rough, tough hunter and fires an arrow of selfishness right into his own brothers’ soul. “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” Notice how quick he was to seal the deal; there was no way he would allow his brother time to recuperate from his weariness or give him time to eat, filling up the emptiness inside.
In this story, you and me are either Jacob or we are Esau. Even though this encounter took place hundreds of years ago, it is being reenacted or will be soon, in our lives. How so?
There are two very significant words in the story of these two brothers. Notice we are told that “he (Jacob) gave him ‘bread’ and ‘stew’.”
Bread, as we know from our time in the Word, is representative of Jesus; He, as He said of Himself is the “bread from heaven” or, as He says “I am the bread of life.”
He was the seed planted in Mary’s womb. Mary, being made from the earth, received the seed in the same way the ground does, deep inside and in the darkness where no one can see any evidence of Jesus at all, but He’s there.
In Mary, as with wheat and not to mention, as inside you and me, the seed grows and in time it emerges from the depths. In Mary’s case, her tummy swells. Just as with wheat, there comes a time when the soil begins to swell upward as the seed of wheat pushes its way through the earth. So much more could be said about this, but for now, let me just say that I wish we would give our young brothers and sisters the time needed for the seed to grow, rather than to force them out into the streets to witness or into the pulpit to teach or place our unreasonable demands on them to “enter the ministry.”
In due season, the wheat is cut down, just as at Calvary, when the Maker of wheat was cut down, ground up and thrust into the fire of hell. But, in order to make bread, the wheat must be mixed with some very specific ingredients. There needs to be water or all you can hope for is fried wheat. Jesus supplied the water, for when the soldier thrust his spear into Jesus’ side, there flowed out blood and water.
As much as I would love to paint the whole portrait available to you and me, in this analogy, I feel compelled to leave it be and allow you the time you need to meditate on it and see one more way you can enjoy what He did for us at Calvary. Truly, He is the bread of life, the bread from heaven, our manna in the wilderness wanderings of our time on earth.
Bread is also a sure sign of fellowship. The communion table is set up in many of our churches, in that place where we meet to share with one another those things that our Father has given us. I can only wish that communion would have the place in our churches that Jesus meant for it to take and we’d do away with the tradition of only having communion once a month.
But, for now, notice that Jacob offered his brother “fellowship” and we’d be safe in saying that he gave him “Jesus.” He gave him bread and…
This is where the plot thickens and sickens. He gave his brother bread and as it says a “mixture” for that is what stew is. A mixing together of certain ingredients and although I could easily devote an entire chapter explaining what the scriptures say about “mixture” of any kind, I’ll only share one or perhaps two.
Jesus says (not “said”, but says today) something about “mixture” in Revelations 3:16 and although we misapply it and use it to tear down instead of build up, there is one word in this verse that is well known among the saints and that word is “lukewarm.” What does it mean to be lukewarm?
Lukewarm water is a mixture of one part hot water and the same amount of cold water. Jesus is very clear that He prefers we be one or the other. A saint that is “hot” is, as we say “on fire” and although I have some concerns about this term, overall it’s a good thing. A saint that is “cold” is one who appears to be hard hearted and disinterested in the things pertaining to the kingdom. What Jesus is saying here is that He can “use” (horrible, horrible word) hot water and that He can, by the flaming fire of the Holy Spirit make cold water “hot.” What He can’t work with is water that is a mixture of hot and cold.
Jacob gave his brother a mixture, stew and bread, but he gave it in exchange for something much more valuable than his paltry meal of chicken soup. He took something from his own brother that pertained to his person, his soul, his life hereafter and what did Esau have to show for it? Read the rest of the story and see for yourselves, it wasn’t good, well, it wasn’t good for years to come, but God has a way of making beauty of relationships that have gone up in smoke and left us with an ashtray heart.
How does this apply to us? In many ways, I’m sure. Let me share some possible scenarios with you and you determine before the Lord, which, if any of these are the Lord speaking to you personally.
Esau came in from the field. He was hungry. We all can relate to that. We spend our Monday’s through Friday’s out “in the field” and come Sunday, we are weary and come looking for something to eat. As any son would do, we make our way to our Father’s house and we come for bread. Our souls, our emotional stomachs, are empty and we are hungry. Hungry for the “bread from heaven” and starving for fellowship and because of that, we are vulnerable and more susceptible to being manipulated than we care to admit.
We are hungry for many things, things of substance. We hunger for love, we are starving for attention, we crave acceptance and if we’re not mindful of this and vigilant (not paranoid), we too are vulnerable. Not just to the god of this world, but also vulnerable to a brother who is not aware of what it is that he is requiring of us. None of us know ourselves as well as we’d like to believe.
At the time of your “new birth”, having been born again by, in and through the Firstborn being formed in you, you have some things that are yours, your birthright. There are some things your Father intends to give to you, not because you deserve them, but simply because they are your inheritance. An inheritance is given upon the death of the one who has bequeathed them to another. Jesus died and since God was in Christ, there has been some things “willed” to us by our Father.
But, on our way to church, or worse, at church, there’s my brother, your brother; pastor So-n-so or Elder “What’s His Name” and although they have “bread” they also have “the meat of the Word” for you too. They are eager to extend the “right hand of fellowship”, they have bread. (Galatians 2:2)
Hungry and weary people are the most vulnerable people I know of and although all of us have bibles and all of us could spend much more time in communion with our Father, who would most certainly “fill us with every good thing” we aren’t convinced that the Father loves us as much as He loves the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, we trust these men to feed us.
Being weary and hungry in the world is what sent us searching in the first place, just as Esau was “in the field” and looking for something to meet a need he felt deep inside and after not finding it, he was weary. He was vulnerable and because of that, he gave up what his father had for him in exchange for “chicken soup.”
Just a couple more thoughts for you to prayerfully consider and I’ll be done. I do thank for your being patient with me and reading this far. It’s important and it could be a message for some of you from Him who is Faithful. I’m just the mail man.
Why are we told specifically that Jacob gave him “lentils?” Most of you know that lentils are “beans” and all of us know what affect beans have on us. While it’s true that lentils/beans are very filling, there is a downside to eating them.
They “puff” us up, filling us with gas and eventually we are so bloated and sooner or later, that build-up has to be released somewhere. The whole room stinks because of it.
In the same way, there are teachings that have the ability to “fill us up” but, rather than being truly “filled” we are puffed up because of taking them inside us, just as Esau took those beans inside of him, and what can we expect because of it? Our lives begin to stink and those around us know it better than we do.
“Brother, let me take you aside and expound with you and for you some of the deep truths of God’s word” they say, but it’s not so much what they say, but how. Learn to discern when a man is “full of beans”, that is, he is so full of himself and his knowledge of this mystery or that biblical secret, but everything about him stinks.
I don’t think it’s coincidental that “flattery” and “flatulence” share the same four beginning letters and although there are many ways we can begin to be alerted by the Spirit to refuse their “beans”, I will only mention “flattery” as one device used. Because nothing puffs us up as quickly as being flattered.
People that tell us what we want to hear are all around us and if we would learn to be wise in this generation of vipers, we would hear the “hiss” of the serpent hiding in the garden. One way you can spot a serpent is; a serpent will say “hiss” while a servant will say “His.” Who’s getting the glory? The praise? The attention? A serpent will always tell you to “look at yourself” while a servant will tell you to “Look at Him who was crucified.” The one offers a bowl of beans, the other offers you only Jesus Himself.
The “meat of the word”, as so many are proud (puffed up) of laying claim to is not the discovery of some deep dark secret which is revealed to the theological elite, but the meat of the word is clearly shown for what it is by none other than Jesus Christ.
“My meat…is to do…the will of Him…who sent Me.” Found in John 4:34 and Jesus expresses clearly that “meat” or anything of substance, or that which is truly filling, nutritious and satisfying is simply doing what the Father has sent you to do.
But, we have men among us who will not only offer the “bread” of fellowship, but they will offer us some meat, but it’s mixed with beans. All you have to do to fill this need inside of you and find some rest from your own weariness is give them what your Father has given you, your birthright.
Learn to hear your Father if and when He warns you that you have just been asked, by a brother, to give up what is yours by birth, in exchange for your soul.
Take the “bread” of fellowship, certainly, join with them in “eating the bread of life”, but pass on the beans, before they pass through you and your life stinks up the whole room. If it puffs them up, makes them proud of what they have, then trust me, you don’t want it.
Learn to hear your Father offer you bread and as you grow you’ll learn what His meat is for you. Guard, with a gentle forcefulness, your birthright and when a trusted brother offers you something that will puff both of you up, you can listen, but you don’t have to eat it.
Beans, like some teachings, will fill you up, but they won’t last long. If, at the end of the day, you are hungry, it could be that you didn’t ask your Father to “give us this day, our daily bread.”
If you didn’t, well, you are going to be hungry, weary and after the manipulator, Jacob, finds you, you’ll be full of beans. Esau was “set free” from his weariness and “free” from hunger, but he’d also been freed of his birthright.
You can always tell when it’s Jesus, because He won’t take something from you when you’re hungry and weary, He’ll give you Himself, the bread from heaven. He is your birth, right?
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