"Esau I Hated." Really?

Church Family: Did God really "Hate Esau?" (Rom. 9:13) Ok, so let's back up and start with the first half of that verse, "God loved Jacob." He did? Jacob the liar, cheater and polygamist? Jacob the husband of four women, and many concubines, resulting in twelve sons and one daughter? Jacob the leader of a dysfunctional family? Jacob the father of sons who hated one of their brothers to the point of planning to have him killed but then changed their minds just to sell him into a life of slavery in Egypt? God loved that Jacob? Yes!

Jacob and his family was filled with unrighteousness and yet God loved Jacob and chose him “though he was not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue not because of works but because of him who calls” (Rom. 9:11). God chose Jacob unconditionally to bring forth His chosen people and the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. Does this kind of unconditional electing love of God mean that God is unrighteous? Umm, no. Was there injustice on God’s part by choosing Jacob who stole his brother’s birthright by deceiving his father? By no means! Now to be clear, God hated all that Jacob did and his selfish choices, but God loved Jacob in Christ. This is the same way that God loves us today on this side of the cross. God loves us with an everlasting love as we are united with Christ. Christ’s righteousness is declared to be our righteousness as our sinfulness is declared to be His sinfulness (2 Cor. 5:21). This is how God loved Jacob. Jacob’s faith made him righteous. This is how God loves us, our faith makes us righteous..

But what about Esau? What does it mean, “Esau I have hated” (Mal. 1:3)? First, Esau remained in his sin, guilt, and condemnation. Esau remained a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3) as he was faithless. Having no faith kept him in his own unrighteousness. This is how we all were before God had mercy upon us. God was angry with our unrighteous wickedness. God is angry with the wicked every day. In fact, biblically speaking, God hates wicked people who remain in their wickedness (Ps. 11:5; 5:5; 7:11-16; 145:20; Prov. 15; Luke 13:27-28; Rev. 2:6, etc). However, in God’s hate there is nothing unrighteous, cruel, unkind, vindictive, bitter or out of control. This hatred of God for Esau, and to all sinners, is a holy and righteous despising and contempt for all that is anti-God and hateful and brutal and flamboyantly ungodly.

Second, this verse (Rom. 9:13) is also somewhat of a comparison between Jacob and Esau. For example, remember when Jesus told His disciples, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). Jesus was not saying, go home and hate your parents and your children. Jesus loved and honored His parents. Jesus was saying very clearly that He expected His disciples to make Him the highest priority in their lives. Who do you love the most in your life? Your children, your spouse, or Jesus Christ, the Son of God? As those whom Christ died for and redeemed from sin and death and rescued from God’s wrath, He expects that in comparison to our love for Him the love we have for anybody else, children or spouse or anybody, diminishes into insignificance. In fact, when we set that family love alongside our eternal love for the One who is our God and Savior it should effectively look like hatred. That is difficult to receive, but Jesus’ point rings loud and clear – your love for Me should make every other love look tiny.

This short verse in Romans 9:13, can be difficult but it is meant to be a reminder for us that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31), “for the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deut. 4:24).

See you Sunday, loved by God because of Jesus Christ, Steve

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