JACOB AND ESAU
What’s the Difference?
By Henry Jaegers
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. (Malachi 1: 2,3)
In considering the verse before us, have you ever been somewhat bewildered by these words spoken by God to Israel? It seems to contradict everything that we have preached concerning God; that God is a God of love and that he loves all men regardless of what they may have done. Is this verse saying, that this great God loves some men and hates others?
As I have contemplated these verses, I realized that there had to be something or some reason that God said this. There is no contradiction here. The meaning of the statement as we view it in its setting, and as a comparison is made to Jacob, the rendering has to do with loving less than the other. But even this explanation does not solve the problem. What God is saying in this verse, is that he hates the direction that Esau has chosen to go and God hates the separation that has resulted from Esau's choices to live his life without God.
Now that gives us a little perspective on why God said what he did. God still loves all men passionately, but he hates the wickedness that caused men to be estranged from him; he still, will have all men to come to the knowledge of the truth but he does not interfere with the choices we make. If we choose the right way, blessings follow, but if we choose the way apart from God, then there are consequences of that choice as well. Esau chose the path away from God and thus instead of being the friend of God became the enemy of God by his choice. If we choose to follow God, then we choose the way of grace. On the other hand, if we choose, like Esau has, to ignore God. then we become under his wrath.
In Romans chapter 1 verses 18, we are told, "for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness".
One way to explain this, as we did previously in another writing, that God has many attributes. A.W. Tozer, in his book "the knowledge of the holy", he defines an attribute simply as "something that we can know about God". That is a good explanation that we can grasp. In his book, he goes on to give a further explanation and definition of many of these attributes. And yet, it does not deal with them all.
It is hard for us to conceive of this matter because they far surpass our ability to figure it all out. God has many attributes; some of them being mercy, love, long-suffering, blessing, wrath, and we could go on trying to enumerate them all. All of these attributes tell us who God is and what he is like, and yet they are all beyond human comprehension. God is who he is, with all his attributes, and he is that way all of the time with all of them in place. I am not telling you this to confuse you?
The verse from Romans tells us that the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Whenever a man lives in rebellion to God, he triggers the attribute called "the wrath of God". When we walk in obedience to God and delight in his ways, the attribute that is in place is mercy, grace, and blessing.
To try to put it simply, it means that when we choose the wrong path of life, we trigger forth of that particular attribute that either helps us or sometimes destroys us. God is always a God of love, all the time he is also a God of wrath all the time and that particular attribute is displayed by the path we choose to walk. We are not finished with the subject, but I find it necessary to deal with this matter as we move on to discover the basic difference between Jacob and Esau; why God loved Jacob and hated Esau. We will deal more clearly as we progress in our next devotional.