by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4 January 21, 2018 Humble, Texas
13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
1901 ASV Translation:
13 Even as it is written,Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.
I. Even As It Stands Written...
A. The place where it was first written is Malachi 1:3.
1. Malachi was the last of the prophets to Israel before "the period of silence" that we know as the inter testamental period between Malachi and John the Baptizer. It lasted between 430 to almost 500 years, a very long time for the people of God to go without the voice of God in their midst. Also, Malachi was written more than 1000 years after the births of Jacob and Esau.
2. The setting of Malachi 1:3 is a contention between Yahweh and "Israel" (a name that had, for several centuries, referred to the ten and a half tribes that had separated themselves from the house of David and were taken away by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., but is now resurrected to refer to those who returned from the captivity in Babylon).
a. The contention consisted of Yahweh's profession of love for Israel against the cynicism of Israel as the people pursued their own interests and ignored the heart of a relationship with Yahweh.
1) The issues of "Love" are varied and complex, but, at root, it is a Self-sacrificing commitment by Yahweh to the actual good of Israel/Jacob without regard for the issues of "Justice" and "what is deserved". Paul's argument is that "before the twins had 'performed' any deeds of whatever kind", Yahweh had declared to Rebecca that the "greater" would be slave to the "lesser".
2) The facts of this "Love" focus upon Yahweh's actions of "redemption" as Genesis 3 had already introduced the horror of Sin's invasion of humanity as an absolutely dominating twistedness that demanded of Yahweh's "Justice" that the twisted be eternally damned.
a) This "redemption" had already been declared by Yahweh to Eve in the form of a promised "seed" who would restore the twisted to straightness.
b) It had then been pursued by Yahweh's promises to the fathers as those promises centered first upon Abraham and then on to Isaac and Jacob and each succeeding generation.
c) Those promises centered upon the provision of that "Seed" and His impact upon human beings in the totality of their humanness (body, soul, and spirit) for the duration of creation (forever and ever).
d) And, as "Love" is, of necessity, a fixation of intent upon specific objects, there was, in every generation, a decision by God to visit the benefits of His "Love" upon certain specific individuals with the inevitable consequence of not visiting this "Love" upon everyone.
i. Reality is. Decrying it creates a lot of noise, but it does nothing to alter it.
ii. It is accepted by all men everywhere that there is a distinct difference between human beings by which difference some have lives of "blessedness" and some have lives of "accursedness". Even those whose screeching of the unfairness of such a reality actually prove this awareness by reason of their screeching. That abominable noise is, at root, the declaration by the "screecher" of his/her own superiority over those who refuse to hear their screeching with agreement, thus claiming the "distinct difference" that exists between them and those who reject their noise (they are "superior" and their opponents are "knuckle-draggers").
ii. This "acceptance" is also pervasively determined by all men everywhere to have its roots in the difference that exists between the righteous and the wicked. This difference is real and traceable by behavior and the consequences that flow out of this difference are also real and traceable. We live in a cause-and-effect universe, without debate, and consequences are generally traceable backwards to their causes. The righteousnesses of the righteous bring them good and the wickednesses of the wicked bring them disaster.
b. Yahweh's argument is that His dealings with Esau was the proof of His claim.
1) Yahweh goes back to "Israel's" original name, "Jacob", and argues that even though Esau was Jacob's brother, He had settled His love upon Jacob and His hatred upon Esau.
a) This "hatred" was not unique to Esau in that Yahweh's choices of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all resulted in a consequential hatred for the "unchosen".
b) This is not an "injustice", but, rather, an imposition of "Justice" upon all who are the "unchosen". The chief benefit of being "chosen" is the "Life" that flows out of God to those whom He loves, and the chief problem with being "unchosen" is the release of those whom He does not love to their own status as enslaved sinners who are, by nature and birth, "of their father, the devil".
c) God does not have to "actively" "hate"; all He has to do is allow "Sin" to work its disasters upon its servants. But, He does, sometimes, take specific action to frustrate the goals of those who gleefully pursue their animosity toward Him.
2) This was a return to events that had taken place a thousand years previously. Paul has argued that God had decided to settle upon Jacob before he and Esau were born and had done nothing either good or evil, and had declared this to Rebecca while she was carrying the two boys in her womb in the form of "the greater shall be slave to the lesser".
3) The downline outworking of this choice of Yahweh is an entrenched hatred of Esau that was so profound that Yahweh declared that He had laid Edom, the "heritage" of Esau, waste. Additionally He declared that Edom's attitude of "we shall overcome" would be met by His destruction that would be sufficiently great as to cause Edom to be called "The Border of Wickedness" and "The People Against Whom the Lord Hath Indignation Forever".
c. Yahweh's contention consists of His expectation that "Israel" should respond to His love with love, but did not.
3. It is this thousand year development in the history of "Israel" and "Esau" that reveals what it means for God to "love" and to "hate".
II. The Point of the "Its Stands Written" Text of Malachi.
A. It establishes Paul's argument that "being loved by Yahweh" does not underwrite "loyalty" on the part of "Israel" as "Israelites" and it reveals that the difference maker is not in the character or actions of the twins but in the determination of Yahweh to fulfill His words to "the fathers".
B. In terms of character and actions, both Esau and Jacob demonstrate their bondage in and participation with the sin that was unleashed upon this creation in Genesis 3. Neither of them was "better" or "worse" than the other, but Yahweh had made certain promises to the fathers that had been believed and were to be fulfilled by Yahweh Himself. Thus He "settled" His love upon Jacob and His hatred upon Esau and "Israel" had a thousand years of history to look back upon to discern their special place in the "Love" of Yahweh.