God loves the whole world. He loves everyone – you, me, your neighbor. He loves presidents and prime ministers. He loves scandal-plagued clerics and drug-ridden athletes. He loves runaway dads and negligent mothers.
God loves everyone… except Esau.
As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:13)
Why did God hate Esau?
He didn’t. God loved Esau. You may recall that Esau and Jacob were the grandsons of Abraham. Esau was a man’s man; Jacob was a mummy’s boy. Esau was the first born, but through deception, Jacob inherited his brother’s birthright.
In the passage above Paul is quoting an old prophecy (Mal. 1:2–3) to show how God chose one of the twins (Jacob) but not the other (Esau).
The descendants of Jacob (the Israelites) received the favor of God but the descendants of Esau (the Edomites) did not.
God might just as easily have chosen Esau in which case Malachi would have said that God hated Jacob. But God chose the deceiver. He chose the second-born, the supplanter, the sinner to be the beneficiary of his grace.
We look at Jacob and ask, “Why him? What made him special?” And we miss the point. Jacob was not chosen because he was special; he was special because he was chosen.
God was looking to display the riches of his glory so he chose Israel. He blessed one nation so that they might reveal his goodness to the others.
Sadly, they failed.
The Israelites were not good ambassadors of God’s favor, but God’s plan was not thwarted. From among their number came Jesus who died for the whole world – including the descendants of Esau.
Why does God choose some?
The wrong way to read this verse is to say that God chooses some and rejects others.
“God chose Isaac over Ishmael. God chose Jacob over Esau. God might not choose me.”
Nope. It can’t happen.
Through the cross God declares his love for everyone of us. He calls you and me and Esau to come home.
If it seems that God chooses some, it’s because he is looking for prophetic people who will serve as signposts to the One who died for all.
In the end, it’s not about Isaac and Jacob who were elevated. And it’s not about whichever celebrity minister or prophet or artist who seems to be flavor of the month. It’s about Jesus who was lifted up so that he might draw all to himself.
Through the cross, God declares, “I love you and I have chosen you.”
Grace welcomes all to the table of his abundance.
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