The notorious twentieth century atheist George Bernard Shaw had one great quote when he said, “Youth is wasted on the young.”
How many have looked back at decisions they have made earlier in life and wished they knew then what they know now?
Countless parents have prayed they could impart some modicum of wisdom to their children. They know the decision their child is about to make will hurt them or lead them astray, yet all of the words in the world will not change their minds.
Only through time and experience will they understand that they should have headed in another direction.
That’s what we see in Hebrews.
The last place many sects or denominations pull the concept of a Christian turning away from Christ or apostasy, is in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews.
Hebrews 12:25 states, See that you do not reject the One who speaks; for if they did not escape when they rejected Him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven.
The word “reject” here is the Greek word apostrepho, which means to turn away.
As with any concept in the Bible, context is everything. It is very easy to make a single verse say what one wants it to say, yet in the passage as a whole, it may mean something very different.
The context for verse 25 is the story of Esau’s birthright.
The story of Esau can be found in Genesis 25. In that passage it can be seen that this historical figure had been out hunting and came home very tired and hungry.
Jacob, the younger brother was cooking a savory meal and offered Esau dinner in payment for his birthright. Because the older brother’s mind was clouded by hunger, he gave his future away for a few calories.
In Hebrews 12:17 it’s clear Esau later expects to inherit his birthright, yet he’s rejected because of his flesh-driven decision. Once a birthright is given away, it cannot be taken back.
The author of Hebrews is telling us here, “Don’t be like Esau.”
All the way through the book of Hebrews, he shows us that the Christ-followers he’s talking to are trying to return to an easier life without persecution.
They adopt many of the Jewish practices they had previously rejected, take up teachings from various sects to somehow shield themselves from their uniqueness in Christ.
The author is reminding them to stand tall and stay strong. The point he is making is clear: Do not move away from what has been taught, or you will be like Esau – missing out on the blessing due you because of your own disobedience.
Even though Esau traded his birthright, he was not removed from the covenant family of God.
He was not outcast or separated from God, just not given the blessings of his father’s birthright. The same was true for these Hebrews.
By adopting those traditions rejected by God, they did not lose their salvation, just their close relationship with God and the peace and hope He offered them.
1 Corinthians 10:23 says, Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.
Only through years of walking with the Lord can one gain enough wisdom to understand how each and every decision may affect his or her walk with the Lord.
Use this Old Testament character as a reminder and “Don’t be like Esau!”