Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time… Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:3-5, 13
“See to it that no one is… unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.” Hebrews 12:16
I want it all, and I want it now. Freddy Mercury
Q: What do the prodigal son and Esau have in common?
A: They could not wait for their inheritance. They wanted it all, and they wanted it now.
This is more than a casual observation or an interesting question for a Bible study class. It is a prophetic warning for the church of Jesus Christ. Esau and the prodigal were not unbelievers, but children of a loving father who had a rich and good inheritance stored up for them. Yet they were immature and impatient. Their desire for instant gratification robbed them of their real reward.
The prodigal’s story ends well, but we should not allow this to confuse us. Many scholars believe that the father’s words to the elder son, “…all that is mine is yours”, indicate that the prodigal had indeed forfeited his inheritance.
Similarly, when Esau “desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears” (verse 17). You cannot have your cake and eat it.
The single biggest theological shift that I have witnessed amongst Christians over the past three decades has to do with exactly this. What was once regarded as a future inheritance is now said to be immediately available. For the first time in the history of the church, there is a widespread consensus that the blessings of God’s kingdom are accessible here and now. We merely need to claim it.
Perhaps some correction was necessary. Perhaps we needed to understand more about the “victory of the believer”. But the pendulum has swung too far. It would appear that some of us are no longer feasting on the bread of life, but on huge bowls of lentil soup.