Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated

Paul quotes Malachi 1:2-3 in Romans 9:13 where he says, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”  This is a famous passage that many hold up as the decisive passage regarding God’s election of some, but not all people.  This passage is also used to show that God does not love all of His creation, those created in His image.  Sometimes we start quoting Scripture and following our study Bibles to the direct quotes (NT use of the OT) in the OT.  But often, we fail to see if the OT is quoting or referring back to older passages, earlier history in the OT era.

For instance, this passage in Romans 9:13.  Most of the time we will only go back as far as the direct quote from Malachi 1:2-3.  But, lest we lose a major part of the story, and end up using scripture as proof-texts, the original story is found in Genesis.  Genesis 25 tells the whole story of Esau selling his inheritance or birthright to Jacob.  It tells of how Jacob deceived Esau into giving it up.  And because of these actions, we feel justified in also hating Esau and loving Jacob, though being a bit wary in our love for Jacob because of his deception.  However, what we often forget to remember is the eventual outcome of the story between Jacob and Esau.

In Genesis 33 we read the following:

(Gen 33:4)  But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.

(Gen 33:10)  Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.

Jacob, looking at his brother, says that looking at him is like looking at God!  Is this the same man we love to hate?  Is this the same man that God hates?  Is this the same man that we believe God has totally rejected and consigned to eternal conscious torment in hell, even before he was born?  How could Jacob say this?  Is not Jacob standing in direct opposition to God’s will?  Is Jacob showing more compassion than God?  Or is Jacob now in jeopardy of God’s wrath too?

I believe in this story we see a perfect picture of God’s reconciliation to His people, to all mankind.  In Jacob, I think, we see God’s boundless mercy and abundant grace!  I believe we see a picture of not only how God acts because of His nature (love), but also an example of how we are to act as well.    How do you reconcile Genesis 33:4-10 with  Malachi 1:2-3 and Paul’s quote in Romans 9:13?  Think outside your traditional box and send your comments in.


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