“Esau I Have Hated”
Israel’s Rejection: Romans 9:6-13
What does this mean? Matthew Poole: “Much is written pro and con upon this argument. But I remember, he that writes a commentary must not too far involve himself in controversy.”
I will explain to the best of my ability and knowledge of the Word. I am not a Calvinist, as I believe it is a heretical teaching. But I do believe in the sovereignty of God to do as He wills. I don’t believe it’s either or, I believe it is both. He can and does control world events and circumstances, He can move hearts and it rains on the just and the unjust; but He also allows free will choices and has bound Himself to those choices.
Paul tells us in v. 5 that there are certain privileges given to Israel, none greater than the Messiah. God incarnated His Son in the flesh of that nation and He choose that nation to show His glory.
Paul dismisses the idea that Israel was responding badly to Jesus because there was something wrong with the Word of God. The gospel is not the problem. The gospel exposed a deep problem with the Jews. The problem with the physical descendants of Abraham was that they did not have in their hearts the same faith of Abraham. They were merely genetically related to him. Paul distinguishes between two groups: those who have the faith of Abraham and those who do not. To prove his point, he returns to the biblical record of Abraham’s children and grandchildren. Something unexpected had taken place. The promised blessings, which should have been given to the eldest son, each time were given to a younger son because that child had faith and the elder did not. And each time, God knew whom would have faith and whom would not, before that child was born. In a Hebrew family, the eldest son is expected to receive the blessing, but never once did this actually happen among the forefathers of Israel:
Abraham’s eldest was Ishmael, but the promise went to Isaac (Ro 9:7,9, Gen 18:10) No Script. pls
Isaac’s eldest was Esau, but the promise went to Jacob (Romans 9:10-13)
Reuben was Jacob’s eldest, yet the promise went to Judah (Genesis 49:8-12, the fourth in line)
God is not bound by cultural rules of seniority. HE reserves the right to give His promised blessings to whomever He wishes. And to whom does He give them? He reveals His answer: to men and women of faith, not to the physical descendants of people with faith, nor to those who try to earn righteousness by zealously performing religious service. As with Jacob, He foreknows who will have faith and superintends over their lives, even before they have been conceived.
V.10-13 are terribly misunderstood. Some erroneously believe that it means God hates certain babies and that His hatred is not based in anything that the child does. Calvinist’s teach this proves “sovereign election” which teaches that God decides to whom He will give faith. Taken out of context, Paul’s words can be misinterpreted to mean that. But in the light that he repeatedly emphasizes faith as the basis for salvation, the point he is drawing from the example of Jacob and Esau, is that Jacob wasn’t loved because he led a better life than Esau but because he had a faith Esau did not have. While in the womb neither child had done any works, yet God already loved Jacob because He foreknew he would have faith. And He foreknew Esau would not. God doesn’t pick a person based on the good or bad they might do. That would make righteousness a reward for good works. The concept of “sovereign election” takes it a step too far, by adamantly opposing the idea that an unsaved person has any capacity to repent and believe. This errant teaching does not hear these verses as saying God knew Isaac and Jacob would repent and believe, but that God decided before they were born which would repent and believe and which would not. This violates the clear teachings of Scripture.
Keep in mind Paul’s overall topic. He is not using Jacob and Esau as an illustration of how individuals are saved, but rather as an analogy representing Jews and Gentiles. The Jews are in the position of Esau and the Gentiles are in the position of Jacob. Abraham’s promise had gone to the younger, and so it is turning out with the gospel. The Gentiles have no claim to the Messiah, yet they were receiving Abraham’s promise instead of Israel. In the same manner as Jacob seized a promise that didn’t belong to him because he had faith, and his older brother lacked it, so believing Gentiles were seizing the gospel that was intended first of all, for Israel. Based on their previous lifestyles Gentiles deserved nothing but God’s wrath, yet here they were inheriting the blessing meant for the “elder brother”.
The rejection of the Jews by the gospel dispensation, did not break God’s promise to the patriarchs. The promises and warnings shall be fulfilled. Grace does not run in the blood; nor are saving benefits always found with outward privileges. Some of Abraham’s seed were chosen, and others not according to the counsel of God’s own will. God foresaw both Esau and Jacob as born in sin, by nature children of wrath even as others. If left to themselves they would have continued in sin through life; but for wise and holy reasons, not made known to us, he purposed to show Jacob grace, and to leave Esau to his perverseness. This instance of Esau and Jacob throws light upon God’s conduct to the fallen race of man.
The whole Scripture shows the difference between the real Israel, spiritual children of Abraham and children of God and those who are Israel in name only, children of the flesh.
What does this mean to us? We can be the children of the flesh (Esau), a Christian in name only or we can be the true children of God (Isaac)
The children of the flesh think they are saved because of their bloodline. I know many people raised in Christian homes that believe they are a Christian because they were raised in a Christian home, or even born in America; or their granddaddy was a pastor; but they have merely assented to a system of beliefs. They believe in Jesus, but they have a dead faith. It’s a belief in name only, thus call themselves by that name. Esau was an Israelite and he called himself as such, but he had no faith in God.
Thus, they believe they deserve the blessing of their fathers. How many people you know think they deserve to go to heaven because they live a “good” life? They believe because they do God service and good works, they are saved.
I was talking to Eva about this last week. I have been reading the OT prophets and in prayer asking the Lord to show me modern day idolatry. The Lord showed me several places that I became aware of years ago: comfort, celebrities, inside and outside the church, worship, our children, humanity (this is humanism) and longevity, but then the Spirit showed me one I did not expect: service to God. Not only does it feel good to serve, but we get accolades and respect from many, even those in the world. Thus, we idolize service and works for God, and those who do such things. Israel thought the same: that because they religiously served God, and did good works that they were in a right standing with Him. (I talked about 1 Cor 13:3 “though I give all my goods to feed the poor” yesterday in Bible study)
Jesus tells us,
Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders (mighty works) in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
The children of the flesh will not repent. Why should they? Like Israel, they were born into salvation. They are Christian in name only. They do not see their need for repentance. They cannot see their sin. They have done nothing wrong.
They say, “What have I (emphasis on I) done?” Like Saul, who took it upon himself to do the ministry of the priest, handling the sacred things of God in an unholy and irreverent manner. Saul supposed because he was king, he could offer the sacrifice to God.
I had a friend that actually told me he was not a sinner like I was because he never did drugs, had sex, drank alcohol, watched porn, etc. His parents were missionaries to Africa and he spent his youth as a missionary’s kid, in and around God’s people and church. What he did not see was his pride and arrogance.
Proverbs 8:13The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.
Like Esau, the child of the flesh believes he deserves the blessing, by his birthright; even though he really despises it.
Genesis 25:29-34 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called [a]Edom. 31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” 32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” 33 Then Jacob said, [b]“Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Genesis 27:36 And Esau said, “Is he not rightly named [a]Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
The writer of Hebrews records Esau as a spiritual fornicator and profane person, who despised something that was considered holy, good, right and true:
Hebrews 12:14-16 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or [a]profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
Esau as a corrupt and profane man, for some food threw away the highest honor which as a son he could have. The word “profane” here refers to one who by word or conduct treats holy things with contempt, and no reverence for what is sacred. This may be shown by words; by manner; by a sneer; by neglect of religious and sacred activities; or by openly renouncing the honors which might be connected with our salvation.
It is clearly implied here that Esau sustained the character of a fornicator and a profane person. The birth-right, in his circumstances, was a high honor. The promise respecting the inheritance of the land of Canaan, the coming of the Messiah, and the preservation of the truth, had been given to Abraham and Isaac, and was to be transmitted by them. As the oldest son, all the honor connected with this, and which is now associated with the name Jacob, would should have gone to Esau. But he undervalued it. He lived a licentious life. He followed his corrupt and carnal desires.
In a time of temporary distress, he showed how little he really valued all this, by bartering it away for a single meal of stew. Rather than go hungry for a short period, and in a manner implying a great undervaluing of the honor which he held as the first-born son in a holy line of men, he agreed to surrender all the privileges connected with his birth.
Like Esau, children of the flesh do not regard the holy things of God, but are themselves profane. I do not associate with people who do not have a high regard for the holy things of the Lord: His ministers- mocking His ministers that preach against sin and mock those who teach holiness; they despise God’s laws and God’s authority. The profane treat His Church as a common thing- continually forsake the gathering and do not hold in high regard its purpose and place. The profane have a low regard for Scripture and scoff at those who hold fast to His Word.
As a profane person, children of the flesh refuse to separate from the world and their carnal flesh. They would rather indulge in the lust of the flesh than crucify their temporary hunger pangs. The very opposite of Esau was said of Moses:
Hebrews 11:24-26 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the [a]passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the [b]reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures [c]in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
The children of the flesh are like their father Esau and will never truly repent.
Hebrews 12:17For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
They might express a sorrow for missing out on something, but they will never truly be sorrowful for their sin.
The child of God says, “WHAT have I DONE?”
Genesis 32:9-10 Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’: 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies.
As Jacob, the truly repentant seeks restoration.
Genesis 33:10-11And Jacob said, “No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. 11 Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have [a]enough.” So he urged him, and he took it.
Repentance has no demands, but rather seeks to fully restore.
Luke 19:8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
Matt and I talk about this all the time: repentance has no demands. It does not require anything in return. It does not even seek to have its place back, let alone a place of honor. It is not “I am sorry, but” or “I am sorry, now you apologize”. It is “I am sorry. Period.” Scrooge saying, “If you will have me”
The child of God receives the blessing by faith. The true believer knows they do not deserve anything. They know they have done nothing good to deserve heaven. In fact, they know they deserve hell and the wrath of God, but humbly accept the eternal inheritance and blessing by faith in the Son of God.
The child of God knows he has no right to be a child of God, but receives sonship by faith. Abraham believed God. We receive forgiveness by faith. We are delivered by faith. WE are restored by faith. Then we obey because we are so grateful to be called His own. How can we not love in return for the great cost of sonship He gave us? The purpose of God’s children is not to do good works, or even to evangelize- we do things because we love Him. Our purpose is to live a life that glorifies the Lord. If you are doing anything that brings glory to you or another man, you are doing it wrong. As His children, we live to bring Him all praise and glory and honor. We are to live a life of light and righteousness to a dark world, a life that displays we are God’s very own.
1 Peter 2:9-12But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
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