“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 12:15-17.
Esau was a man who rejected the fatherly love of God because he hated the restraints that God put on His behavior. Esau failed to obtain the grace of God in two ways: selling his birthright and finding no opportunity to repent. Esau sold his relationship with God for a full belly. The Bible tells us that in doing this he “… despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34). This means that He despised inheriting the promises that God had made to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. It seems that Esau didn’t mind so much the material blessings of God, but he hated the commands for obedience that God required of His people. The Bible tells us that Esau was sexually immoral and unholy. Esau did not want God telling Him how to run his life. He did not want to be told whom he could marry or that he had to forgive the people that had hurt him (Genesis 26:34-35, 27:41, 28:6-9). Esau was the type of guy who wanted to do things his own way. In our day, we would say that Esau was his own man. He did not want to submit to God. It is for this reason that the Bible tells us “…he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears” (Hebrews 12: 15-17).
Lest we feel too badly for Esau, those bitter tears that Esau cried were only the crocodile tears of his own doing. Esau forsook God and forsaking God always results in the bitter tears of intense misery and deep anguish of soul. That is one reason that Hebrews 12:15 warns us to, “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…” This is the same reason the Bible says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Esau sowed the seeds of rebellion to God: he sold out on God; he was sexually immoral, ungodly, and unholy in his behavior. In time, he reaped the crop of misery that these actions always reap. He sowed bitterness and reaped death. As everyone does that drinks to the dregs the cup of bitterness (Numbers 5:18-20; 1 Samuel 15: 31-33; Hebrews 12:15-17; Revelation 8:11).
When the word says that Esau was not given a chance to repent; it means that Esau had sinned so much that he no longer had any desire for true repentance. Esau’s life-style of rebellion rendered him incapable of repenting from his sin. By repeatedly opening himself up to the heart hardening after-effects of sin he became incapable of truly desiring God. He no longer had an ability to repent; because he was incapable of wanting holiness. That is what happens to all people that are given the knowledge of the truth in Christ, but then reject it anyways. The Word warns, “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”(2 Peter 2:20-22).
Esau’s lack of faith in God caused bitterness to take root in his heart. He did not trust that God was in control and ordering everything in His life for his good so He became embittered when life didn’t go his way. He did not believe that God’s commands were promises of blessings. He despised the rules that God made because He refused to acknowledge that God was the boss. His willful unbelief led him to sow and reap a harvest of bitter fruit. In the end, his bitterness cost him his soul, defiled the ones that he loved the most, and ruined all of his relationships (Genesis 26:34; Hebrews 12:15-17).
Esau teaches us that bitter roots grow wild in the soil of willful unbelief. The Bible says “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” (Hebrews 12:6). So when tough times come in our walk of faith we shouldn’t jump ship on our relationship with the Lord. Instead, we should choose to believe the promise of Scripture, which says, “…God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God” (Romans 8:28). God has more than enough grace for each one of us. He is our Father. He is the provider of all of our needs.
Esau learned the hard way that he could not pretend to have a relationship with God. He learned that he could not go to the Word for blessings and ignore His commands. Esau learned that He could not manipulate God with his crocodile tears. Esau learned a lot, and for that reason He can teach us a lot too. The main thing that we can learn from the life of Esau is not to “… Fail to obtain the grace of God; [to see to it] 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. …” By considering the life of Esau we can also learn that God doesn’t honor crocodile tears.