Jacob Have I Loved

Text: Romans 9:9-13

It is important to note, by way of context, that Romans 9 through 11 deals with the spiritual condition of unbelieving Israel, who had rejected their Messiah. Now, in the present Dispensation of Grace, these who are Israelites according to the flesh find themselves not part of the “Israel of God”.  This is the audience Paul is addressing concerning their current status.

It is also helpful to define what the word “election” means in Scripture.  Is it properly defined as the act of selecting some individuals for salvation from sins, as the Calvinist would contend?  In Isaiah 42:1, we understand that the servant referred to here as “mine elect” is none other than the Lord Jesus.  We may cross reference Mathew 12:18 to further confirm this.  Obviously, the Lord does not need to be saved from sins.  Therefore, the assumed definition of “election” is not valid. 

We also see that this definition is not supported in Isaiah 45:4 where the nation of Israel is identified as God’s servant and His elect.  Also, the Body of Christ is declared to be the “chosen” of God before the foundation of the world.  Hopefully, you can see that a proper definition of “elect” or “chosen” would be the appointment to a place of purpose or service. More could be said regarding this, but this should be enough to help us understand what is going on with Jacob and Esau.

Romans chapter 9 is one of the key texts that Calvinists use to support their teaching that a sovereign God predestinated some individuals to be chosen to be saved, while others are not.

Jerome Zanchius, a follower of John Calvin, wrote “Election is that eternal, sovereign, unconditional, particular and immutable act of God where He selected some from among all mankind and of every nation under Heaven to be redeemed and everlastingly saved by Christ.”  

Some Calvinists hold to the teaching of Dual Election. The idea that since some are chosen by God to be saved, then others are chosen to be lost.

John Calvin declared, “Whom God passes by, He reprobates, and from no other cause than His determination to exclude them from the inheritance which He predestines for His children.”

A favorite “proof text” is Romans 9:13 where we read, “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”  They infer from this that these two individuals (Jacob and Esau) are representative of God’s will to redeem some people and not others.

Let’s take a deeper look into our text passage and determine if this interpretation stands up against the testimony of the Word of God.   

We begin with the back story of Sarah and Rebecca.  These two barren women shall bring forth the sons through whom God will produce the Nation of Israel.  Israel will be the elect agency through whom He will fulfill His purpose in the Earth. Verse 11 informs us that God’s purpose will not be based on any man’s works, but by His will and work.

Our passage contains two quotes that should give us understanding regarding this issue of God loving Jacob and hating Esau.    For verse 12 in Romans, cross reference Genesis 25:22-23.

And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be  so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.  And the Lord said unto her, TWO NATIONS are in thy womb, and TWO MANNER OF PEOPLE shall be separated from thy bowels; and the ONE PEOPLE shall be stronger than the OTHER PEOPLE; and the Elder shall serve the Younger.”

We see here that Two Nations are represented by Esau and Jacob.  Can it be clearer that this is not about one’s salvation from sin, rather which nation God is pleased to work out His purpose through?  It is simply the fact that God would appoint Israel to a place of purpose and service, and not Edom (the descendants of Esau). 

Yes, but what about the elder (Esau) serving the younger (Jacob)? And what about Romans 9:13…Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated?

As individuals, there was never a time when Esau ever became a servant to his brother Jacob.  However, the descendants of Esau (the Edomites) did become the servants of Jacob’s descendants (Israel).  God loved and favored Israel but hated Edom.  This quote in Romans is from Malachi 1:2-3., written some 1400 years after Jacob and Esau lived.

The burden of the Word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob.  And I hated Esau and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”

1Chronicles 18:13 bears out this fact of the Edomites becoming servants of Israel.

And he put garrisons in Edom; and all the Edomites became David’s servants. Thus the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.”

What we have here in Romans 9 is the sovereign will of God being worked out through whatever instrument He chooses. It is not supportive of the teaching that God chooses some individuals to redeem and not others.   This, and the following examples of Pharaoh and the Potter and clay, will serve to explain the present predicament of unbelieving Israel, as to why God’s purpose through them is temporarily suspended, and how that God is now pleased to work out His purpose through the Body of Christ.

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