“I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated.”
What does God mean by saying, “I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated”?
A little insight from history can help. The people in that day would have recognized this statement as a common legal formula a father would use to declare which son would inherit the family property. It didn’t mean he hated the other son; it simply meant he favored one (usually the eldest) with the greater share of the inheritance.
But from the story of Esau and Jacob we know that Esau was the elder brother and Jacob (by deception) received the blessing that would have been Esau’s. God had foretold this result, and he later called Jacob (Israel) to be the favored nation from whom the Savior of the world, Jesus, would come. By choosing Jacob, God showed that his mercy and favor were not based on human birthright or merit (see Genesis 25; 27-28).
Neither Jacob nor Esau deserved God’s favor, and history bore that out. The descendants of both brothers constantly followed their own ways. They also fought bitterly against each other. But while Esau’s descendants (Edom) continued their own way, God always called Jacob (Israel) back, so that the Savior could eventually come from Jacob, as promised.
Let’s praise God that he did, so that all of us from all nations could receive the offer of salvation! God loves us, just as he told the people through Malachi, and he wants us to turn from our own ways to follow him faithfully, in Christ.
O God, help us to follow you, trusting in your love. Through Jesus, Amen.
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