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Trading Heaven for a Bowl of Stew
The Story of Jacob by Brian Carlisle

Text Version | Afrikaans

Flower readers

Some years ago, I took several teenagers from our home church to another town to play a game of basketball against a church whom we fellowship with. This was no professional game or tournament. We were just ten guys who were out to have some fun. I will change the names of the teenagers so no one is embarrassed by this story.

sun When we arrived at the park to play, the other church team had not arrived, so we began to practice. After a while, we began to wonder if the other teenagers were coming, so I went to find them. Ten minutes later, I arrived with the news that the other teenagers would arrive in just a few minutes. But when I returned to my group of teenagers, they were jumping around with excitement.

"Wait until you hear what happened to us!" one of my friends shouted.

"Gary almost got into a fight with a group of boys who wanted our basketball court!" another one shouted.

"What happened?" I asked.

"These five big, older boys came up and told us to leave because they wanted our court," Tim explained. "We told them 'no,' that it was first come first served, and we were here first. They knew we were right, so they started to leave."

Can of Coke "Okay," I thought. "Not too much excitement...yet."

"Suddenly, the biggest boy looked at Gary and told Gary to give him his Coke to drink."

"What did you say, Gary?" I asked.

Gary pushed his chest out proudly and replied, "I set my Coke behind me and told him that he would have to kill me if he wanted my Coke."

I wanted to cry right there on the spot. Why? Because I had been trying to get Gary to accept Jesus as his Savior for so long. Each time I tried, Gary would always respond that he wasn't strong enough to resist temptation and serve God.

"Gary," I wanted to shout, "if you would defend your faith with the same courage and determination you were willing to use to defend your Coke, no one would ever be abel to convince you to turn away from God!"

Several years have passed since that afternoon, and Gary is very tall and powerful. Gary is so strong, no one will stand in his way. Yet Gary still is not a Christian. Why? He's not strong enough to be one, he claims.

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This has always reminded me about a story in the Bible about two brothers—twins as a matter of fact. Their names were Jacob and Esau.

Jacob was a farmer with soft smooth skin and Esau
 was a hunter Although they were twins in birth, they looked and acted totally different. Jacob was a farmer with soft, smooth skin. Esau was a hunter. He was big, strong and covered with hair, especially on his arms, face and neck.

One day, Esau went out into the woods to hunt for some food. Esau walked and crawled all day and never was able to kill himself something to eat. When Esau returned home that evening, Esau walked passed Jacob's tent. Jacob was in front of his tent, cooking a big pot of stew over his campfire.

Can I have some please "Oh, that smells good!" Esau grunted, as his stomach began to growl.

"Yes, it is," Jacob smiled. "I put everything you like in this stew. Actually, I think that this stew is the best stew that I have ever made."

"Can I have some, please?" Esau begged. "I'm so hungry, I think I'm going to die!"

"Well," Jacob began. "I was planning on giving away what I didn't eat to one of my friends. He's hungry, too," Jacob slyly replied.

"Please. I'll give you anything!" Esau promised.

"Anything?" Jacob grinned.

"Yes. Just give me a bowl of that stew!" Esau shouted with hunger.

I will give you a bowl of my stew for your birthright "I'll give you a bowl of my stew for your birthright," Jacob offered.

Now a birthright was something very valuable back in those days. When a father died, his oldest son, who had the birthright, would receive the biggest part of the inheritance. He would get more land, more cattle, more money, more servants - more of everything that his father owned. And since Esau was born just a few seconds before Jacob, Esau was the oldest and therefore he had the birthright.

For one bowl of soup Esau gave away the most valuable item he owned - his birthright When their father Isaac died, Esau was to inherit a whole lot more than Jacob. However, before the father died, he would call in his oldest son and pronounce a special blessing upon him. This was considered more valuable than the cattle and servants he would receive.

"Yes!" Esau eagerly shouted. "What good is my birthright if I die of hunger tonight? I won't be alive to inherit anything, so my birthright has no value to me!" The Bible says that Esau despised his birthright.

For one bowl of soup, Esau gave away the most valuable item he owned - his birthright. Esau, by giving away his birthright, gave away cows, sheep, goats, land, servants, money, and his family blessing for one bowl of stew that probably made his stomach hurt all night.

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Heaven Now how are these two stories connected that I have told you? First, they are both true. Second, both Gary and Esau valued something small and cheap, more than they valued the greatest gift ever given to man.

As a Christian, we are part of the family of God. God has promised us many things for our life here on Earth, but He has also promised us eternal life and a mansion in heaven where there will be no more hunger, pain, enemies, or anything bad.

Heaven is going to be a wonderful place! It will be greater than we can ever imagine, and all we have to do is keep serving God. Sometimes serving God is easy. Other times it may be difficult, but we must protect our birthright, our inheritance in Heaven. One day in Heaven will be worth all the trouble and trials we have here on earth.

Never give up your birthright! Never give up serving God! Don't trade it for food! Don't trade it for friends! Don't trade it for fame or money! Nothing here on earth can compare to the wonderful blessings that God has waiting for you in Heaven!

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What was the name of Jacob's twin brother?
Which brother loved to hunt?
What member in the family rightfully owned the birthright?
What did Esau take in exchange for his birthright?
What kind of things are people tempted to exchange for their spiritual birthright?


Sometimes it may seem like Heaven and the enjoyment of your birthright is so far away. But remember the story of Jacob and Esau and how Esau sold what was most important for something of very little importance - a bowl of soup. Never give up serving God for anything in this world.


"...that ye have in heaven a better and enduring substance" (Hebrews 10:34b).


Dog and boy praying

Dear God, thank You for sending so many before me
to teach me the way to live. Help me to never
give up serving You, no matter what Satan offers me.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Genesis 25:24-34

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Jacob and Esau coloring Page
Jacob and Esau
Esau Trades His Birthright
Colour the Bible Book 1: Genesis - 2 Chronicles
Story of Jacob (Bible Colour and Learn)


Selling Your Birthright (Word Search)
Stay True Maze
Birthright Puzzle (Answer Key)
Jacob and Esau Word Search
Jacob and Esau Matching Activity
Esau and Jacob Worksheet
Jacob & Esau Activities (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Jacob Word Search
Fill in the Blanks
Word Search
Crossword Puzzle
Jacob and Esau: Put the events in correct order
Bible Detectives: Genesis
Extreme Adventures with God: Isaac, Esau, and Jacob (Kay Arthur)
Jacob's Dream Poster

Lot, Stock, and Pharaoh:
Quizzles About Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph

child reading a book

Growing with God
A Very Expensive Bowl Of Soup
Two Brothers, Jacob and Esau
Esau and Jacob
Rebekah-Mother of Twins (Bibletime Books)
The Almighty Bible: Genesis
The Birth of a Nation - Abraham to Joseph
The Comic Book Bible: From Adam to Jacob
Twin Trouble: Jacob and Esau Learn to Forgive


Jacob's Bowl Clay Craft
Jacob and Esau crafts
Jacob and Esau painting craft

birds singing

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
Children's Music

CDs and Videos

Bible Comes Alive Series (Your Story Hour)
Brothers at War - Episode 5 (Animated Kids Bible)
Jacob DVD (Bible Collection)
Jacob and Esau: The Stolen Birthright (SuperBook DVD)
Jacob the Man Who Fought with God
The Story of Jacob and Joseph
Bible Story DVDs for Children

Resources for Parents & Teachers

Soup Pot Name Tags
Jacob and Esau (Adobe Reader Required)
Lesson Ideas For Jacob and Esau
Genesis 25
The Life Of Jacob
Jacob Becomes Israel
Jacob and Esau by Charles Spurgeon
I Isaac Take Thee Rebekah

Different Children, Different Needs:
Understanding the Unique Personality of Your Child

Five Love Languages Of Children
Extreme Adventures with God: Isaac, Esau, and Jacob (Kay Arthur)
Bringing Up Boys (James Dobson)
On The Way 3-9s Book 1 - Creation, Abraham & Jacob Curriculum
On The Way 11-14s Book 1 - Abraham, Jacob, The Messiah, Jesus Said 'I Am' & Ruth Curriculum

Children's resources

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Last updated March 20, 2017.

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