Rom 9:10-14 “And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.”
In the seventh verse of this chapter, Paul references the promise of God made to Abraham that “In Isaac shall thy seed be called (Genesis 21:12).” He begins in this tenth verse with the assurance that these were not just idle words. God had made a decree and He would bring it to pass. In this is manifested the power and purpose of God.
Isaac took Rebecca to wife, and she conceived and brought forth twin boys. Before they were brought into the light of day, God manifested His divine purpose. He displayed His right to choose (elect) according to His own purpose in grace. This was clearly the divine choice of God, based solely on His purpose. Since the boys had not yet been born, neither of them had any work that could account for God’s choosing.
It seems that this is one of the most difficult things for people to grasp as they read God’s word. We live in a world where we are taught that how much we gain is directly related to how much we work. However, if we take an honest look around, we can see that this does not really hold true even in the natural world. There are multitudes in the world who labor diligently and yet have very little to show for it.
God had a purpose in choosing Jacob over Esau. He was assuring us of His power to bring about His will in spite of the thoughts of men. God’s divine choosing is His proof to us that it is not about what we have done. It is all according to the purpose of He that has the ability and right to call (give us a family name). He also teaches us by this election that the first man Adam (the elder according to the flesh) was made to be subject to the second man Adam, Jesus Christ (the younger according to the flesh).
We see the proof of God’s purpose in our lives when He calls us to bring our carnal nature into subjection to His spiritual nature that He puts in us. We do not receive this spiritual nature because of any national or carnal birthright. We receive this spiritual nature from God because it is His purpose according to election. The elder shall serve the younger.
If we believe the scripture, then we must believe that God loved Jacob and hated Esau. I believe we must be careful, however, with how we handle God’s hatred of Esau. The root of this word “hate” as used here is the exact same word that Jesus used in Luke 14:26 when He said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” This “hate” does not so much indicate a wrathful rejection as it does an admonition that the ways of the Lord are more to be desired than the ways of men.
Regardless of how we view this subject of election, some things are clear. God does make divine choice, and it has nothing to do with the works of man. He makes this divine choice to fulfill His own purpose. Finally, God is not unrighteous because He exercises election to fulfill His purpose.
May God grant us the grace and courage to believe the truth of His word even when we may struggle to understand the full measure of His purpose!