Romans 9:10-13 - And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 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—she was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
God says something really difficult in our reading for today—He says, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." What? How can God love one person and hate another? Especially when we're talking about unborn twins? What a terrible thing to say! (By the way, this is a quotation from the Old Testament, so those of us who have a hard time with it can get upset twice.)
The answer to this lies in understanding what "love" and "hate" mean in this context. God is not saying that He has strong negative emotions for poor Esau, or that He was going to curse him. In fact, if you compare Esau's life to Jacob's, it looks like just the opposite: Esau was a lot happier! While both brothers became leaders and ancestors of great nations, Jacob spent 20 years exiled from home, went through endless trouble with his family, and then had his descendants became slaves in Egypt for 400 years. As far as we know, none of this ever happened to Esau. Humanly speaking, Esau had a much better deal.
So what was the difference, then? Just this: God chose Jacob—Jacob the liar, Jacob the cheater—to be the ancestor of Jesus. It was through Jacob's descendants that God would bring salvation to the rest of the world. In this sense we can say that God "loved" Jacob—and by comparison, you can say he "hated" Esau. Esau was not chosen to carry this burden—to pass on this blessing. His role was to be like all the rest of us—to be a receiver of the blessing.
We might think that Esau has reason to be jealous of Jacob—after all, who wouldn't want to be an ancestor of Jesus! But that's missing the point. God chose Jacob precisely for Esau's sake—yes, and for your sake and for mine, for everybody in the world. God chose Jacob so that God could choose all of us—so that God could send Jesus into the world to suffer, die, and rise again, so that everyone who trusts in Him could become God's children.
So God loved Jacob, yes. But through him, and his great-great-grandchild Jesus, God loved Esau—and everyone He has called to become His own beloved children through Jesus our Savior.
THE PRAYER: Father, thank You for calling me to Yourself in Jesus. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Did you ever get chosen for a difficult job? How did it make you feel?
2. Did you ever miss out on being chosen for a difficult job? How did that make you feel, and why?
3. Like Jacob, God has chosen you to bring the Good News of Jesus to other people. How can you grow in your ability to do that?
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