Hebrews 12:16-20
Heb 12:16 (KJB)
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
Profane person - Worldly, common, unsanctified
Morsel of meat - Meal
Sold - Gave away or gave up
In the previous verse the writer was speaking about anyone in the congregation who may be unsaved which is evidenced by a root of bitterness which could spread like a growing tree in a congregation. Here the writer gives an example of the type of person which would be a troublemaker in the congregation. Esau did not think of the long term effect of his immediate decision to sell his birthright for one meal. How many Christians have traded their testimony for one act of sin not considering the long term effect of that act. (Gen 25:34 KJV) Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright. Esau literally despised his birthright. The word “despise” carries with it the idea of “having contempt for.” This type of action springs up from what is inside a person. If a person is unsaved all you can expect from them are actions like that of Esau and this is why the writer brings him up. If an unsaved person is in the congregation, they could sell out the congregation to the authorities or they can cause many problems which could destabilize the church. It does not take much temptation for an unsaved person to perform an unsavory act which could affect many.
Heb 12:17 (KJB)
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.
Afterward - Later
Carefully - Showing a concern of the person doing the searching
Here was the tragic aftermath of Esau’s quick decision. There was only one birthright and Esau was not going to receive it back from Jacob. If Esau would have thought his decision through, he would have realized that if he received the birthright, then he would be in the line of promise but he was not because he chose the meal. He had given up not only an earthly inheritance but a spiritual inheritance. When he tried to regain the blessing it was too late and this brought tear to his eyes. (2 Cor 7:10 KJV) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. There is no evidence that he truly repented of his actions and suffered the sorrow of the world which is normally based upon “poor me.” Since Esau remained unsaved, his sorrow was self-centered and he probably mourned over the loss of material things more than anything else. The bottom line is that Esau’s action was irrevocable. As Christians we should always remember this principle because if we do something sinful, the consequences may not be reversible.
Heb 12:18 (KJB)
For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
Here the writer makes a comparison between Christianity and the Mosaic law. He is stating that being a Christian is not like coming to Mt. Sinai when God was on the mountain. The description given was that when God was speaking to Israel giving them the law. (Exo 19:9 KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. The realities in view here is that those who have become saved through Christ are not coming to the same situation which prevailed at Sinai. There the law was given to Israel but through Christ came grace. When a person becomes saved, they are indwelled with the Holy Spirit quietly plus it is done individually whereas Sinai was given in a corporate setting to the whole nation of Israel.
Heb 12:19 (KJB)
And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
(Exo 20:19 KJV) And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. Israel had feared the Lord at Sinai and had asked Moses to speak to hear the words of God and then convey them to the nation. This principle is what starts the book of Hebrews. (Heb 1:2 KJV) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Today God has spoken to us by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As Moses was the mediator for the nation of Israel, Jesus is the mediator for the entire body of believers.
Heb 12:20 (KJB)
(For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
Whether it was a man or beast, no one was allowed to touch the mountain when God was there because wherever God was, that was a holy place and no one could approach God. This is the same principle with the Ark of the Covenant. It represented the holiness of God and sinful man could not come near it. That is why Uzzah died steadying it, he was unclean and the holiness of God cannot allow uncleanness in His presence. (2 Sam 6:6-7 KJV) And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. {7} And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. The great contrast here is how difficult it was to approach God through the law and how easy it is to approach Him through Christ. This verse also tells us that not only did they fear the episode at Sinai, they were also unable to endure the yoke of the law because it was a yoke of bondage. It is showing the Hebrew Christians the great difference between the Mosaic law and the gospel of grace and how futile it would be for a person to desire to go back under the law.