The Berean Expositor
Volume 20 - Page 98 of 195
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"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing
from the living God."
The words of Amos 6: 12 seem to have some reflection upon the "peaceable fruit of
righteousness" and the "root of bitterness"; "Ye have turned judgment into gall, and the
fruit of righteousness into hemlock." The effect of this root of bitterness is "trouble" and
"defilement". A reference to John 18: 28 will show the nature of the defilement--
something that was profane, something from which a Jew would shrink.
We have next to learn in what sense Esau was a fornicator, and what bearing it has
upon the teaching of this passage. There are two outstanding events in Esau's history that
are recorded against him. One is the selling of his birthright for a mess of pottage; the
other his marriage with women outside the covenant:--
"And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth:
if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are the daughters of the
land, what good shall my life do me?" (Gen. 27: 46).
The word "fornication" is not to be taken literally, but is rather explained by the
apostle to refer to "a profane person". Now this word profane (bebelos) is made up of the
particle be, denoting privation, and belos, a threshold of a temple; hence one who was
debarred from entry into a holy place. In the same way the Latin word profanus means
one who stand pro fano--at a distance from a temple; hence, too, our English word
"fane", a church. Esau had no appreciation of either his birthright or the holy nature of
the covenant of God. He becomes a warning to the Hebrews who were being tempted to
cast away the precious and enduring substance of their heavenly birthright for the mess of
pottage of present carnal ease.
Verse 17 is a complete explanation of the difficult passage in Heb. 6: There the
exhortation is to go on unto perfection. "But", says the apostle, "it is impossible for those
who were once enlightened . . . . . if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto
repentance". So, of Esau it is written: "For ye know how that afterward, when he would
have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though
he sought it carefully with tears." Esau and his example stand out in the closing portion
of Hebrews, as the children of Israel in the wilderness stand out in the opening section
(chaps 3: and 4:). The warning is for the Hebrews who, like their fathers and like Esau,
were in danger of drawing back, turning aside, losing the heavenly for the sake of the
earthly. Heb. 8: 7 continues, "Then should no place have been sought for the second",
showing that the two covenants are here in view. The apostle now brings before the mind
the two mountains, Sinai and Sion, which are explained in Gal. 4: as representing the
two covenants, Sinai standing for "Jerusalem that now is, and is in bondage with her
children", and Sion for "Jerusalem that is above, which is free, and the mother of us all"
(Gal. 4: 21-23).
We have in Heb. 12: 18-21 Moses, the mediator of the old covenant, and in
Heb. 12: 22-24 Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and it is under the new
covenant, and not under the old, that the birthright can be enjoyed.