Jacob and Esau

Daily Reading – Genesis 25:19-34 & Genesis 27

The role reversal that takes place between Jacob and Esau would have been shocking in the patriarchal society where they grew up. However, despite Jacob’s deception, we learn that it was God’s unconditional election that chose Jacob to be the one through whom the promises made to Abraham would come true.

Look at this passage from Romans 9:6-18

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were 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— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

God’s choice does not depend on man’s desire or effort. It also does not depend on his birthright.

In the Old Testament, God used unconditional election to teach his people about his love. By passing over the older brother Esau and choosing to use Jacob, God showed Israel that he is no respecter of persons. Many years later as Israel was having some hard times in the days of Malachi, the people cried out against God because they did not “feel” loved.

God says in Malachi 1:2

2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.”

Israel saw the immediate distress of their circumstances and cried out against God, “How have you loved us?”

God’s response is, “I chose you. When the blessing could have gone to Esau, I chose your father Jacob to be the father of my people. “ While Esau’s heritage is left to the jackals of the desert, Israel received the covenants of promise and the ultimate pledge of God; “I will be God to you.”

Against the natural order, God chose Jacob to become the physical nation of Israel. Romans 9 shows that God, the very same way, chooses whomever he pleases to be part of the spiritual family of Abraham, regardless of man’s desire or effort.

Galatians 3:29

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Why did God choose Jacob? Why is Romans 9 and the doctrine of unconditional election in the Bible?

One reason is to show the true nature of his love, just as he did to the Jews in the days of Malachi. As we look around at the trouble we face in this world we sometimes lose sight of the reality of future grace.

In the midst of the chaos, when we cry out to God, “Where is your love?”, God says, “I chose you.”

Look at God’s words from Ezekiel 16,

16 Again the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, 3 and say, Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. 4 And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. 5 No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born.

6 “And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ 7 I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.

8 “When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. 9 Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 10 I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. 12 And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. 14 And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God.

This is the doctrine of unconditional election. God saw us naked and bloody in a field where no eye pitied us and we were without hope. He passed over us and cried out, “LIVE!” Then, when we were old enough for love he spread his garment over us and entered to an everlasting covenant as his Son came to earth to claim his bride. Now he has elevated us to the position of royalty where we are co-heirs with Jesus in the coming kingdom.

Despite any good we have ever done and in spite of all the sin, God passed by and said, “This one’s mine.”

The doctrine of unconditional election is in the Bible for believers to know, no matter how bad things get on this earth, that God has us in his hand and he will never let go.

The doctrine is designed only to give us peace and security. If we try to push our understanding of God’s election using our limited philosophical abilities we will exceed the truths taught in Scripture and draw conclusions that might not be true of the character of God.

Remember Isaiah 55:8-9,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways

    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Thank you Jesus for choosing to rescue me from myself. This is unconditional and undeserved love.

The Emmaus Trail is a weekly devotional study that explores the theme of God reconciling himself to the world through the redemption of his Son which is found in all of Scripture. 

Luke 24

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

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