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Sunday, 26 August 2012

God HATING Esau???

Way back in 1974 I found myself sitting next to a very distressed man at St Jude's Anglican Church in South London. When I saw his despair, I turned to him and asked what was the matter.

He then explained to me that he had read in the Bible that God loved Jacob, and HATED Esau. He felt that he had committed enough sins in his life for God to hate him too. Having access to a Bible, he turned to Romans 9:13: Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. I saw the tears and the fear of Hell in his eyes. Over time, I can't remember what I said to him, neither was I able to go into depth back then, for I had only been a true believer since early 1973, and as a strapping twenty-one year old, I still had a lot to learn.

Whatever I said to him in reply I can't fully remember, but his grief ceased, his spirits lifted and his face shone with a new found freedom. Then this guy, all of two metres tall and a physique to match, gave me a bear hug in gratitude, and after the service left in a better state of mind.

I wish I could remember what I said to him back then. But even with the basic learning I possessed, there was a good chance that the individual named Esau was referred to as a nation of people, as suggested in Malachi 1:2-5, from where Paul quoted when writing to the church in Rome. Here, the prophet writes that God had loved Jacob but Esau he had hated and has turned his mountains into a wasteland suitable for jackals. In addition, a people always under the wrath of the Lord, mainly for oppressing Jacob, that is, Israel, and refusing access for Moses and the fledgling nation to pass through their land on their way to Canaan from Egypt (Numbers 20). It was a typical example of the antagonism Esau (Edom) had against his younger brother. And they were under the wrath of God, according to the prophet Malachi, which was before Jesus Christ was crucified, through which God had made peace with the world, including Edom. It is through this peace that Edom, along with his cousins Moab and Ammon, will escape the future times of trouble. More of this later. But just before Esau and Jacob were born, God did not say anything about loving one and hating the other. All he said was that one will serve the other.

Esau was the older of the two brothers born to Isaac, the son of Abraham, and his wife Rebekah, who did not have children for the first twenty years of marriage. When Rebekah eventually gave birth to twins, it was already confirmed by divine decree that Esau shall serve Jacob.

But during their lives, Esau never served his younger brother! Esau was his father's favourite son, an icon of masculinity. He went out each day hunting for game, which would feed the entire household, including the servants. In other words, he was the breadwinner, the pride of Isaac his father. Jacob, on the other hand, was Rebekah's favourite son. As a Mummy's boy, he stayed at home, engaged in "women's work" according to eastern culture. Jacob did the cooking, prepared the table, took care of the tablecloth and cutlery and did the washing and tidying up. Jacob, as with the rest of the family, was sustained by Esau's hunting skills. To bring this to modern times, one can say that Jacob stayed at home with Mother while his brother went off each day to work at the shipyard.

Jacob was the craftier of the two. As their father grew old and his vision became impaired, the rest of the family knew that the time for the blessing from Isaac was drawing near. One day, Esau came home hungry and bitterly frustrated in not catching any game. Jacob saw an opportunity to steal his brother's birthright. When Jacob offered some stew to his hungry brother in exchange for his birthright, Esau was too hungry and frustrated to give a moment's careful thought. Not long after, Isaac called for Esau to go out on a hunt and bring back game for him to feast on, and he will receive the blessing. Rebekah overheard the conversation and sent her son Jacob to fetch a goat and prepare it for his father, while Esau was out. Jacob's objection to all this was the deceit, not because he felt that it was wrong, but in fear of being caught out by his father. However, his mother disguised him with some fur on his neck and arms, and clothed him with his brother's clothes, making him feel and smell like his brother Esau.

Isaac was surprised at the rapidity of the dinner being prepared and served. After the meal, Isaac called in his son, believing him to be Esau. In fact, his vision was impaired, therefore blind. His sense of touch fooled him, as did his sense of smell. Only his sense of hearing was telling him the truth, and immediately aroused his suspicion. Jacob had to lie to his father in order to keep him deceived and receive the prophetic blessing.

Meanwhile, Esau returned from a successful hunt and prepared the feast. But when he discovered that his brother, through deceit, had stolen his blessing, he was furious, and vowed to kill Jacob. Rebekah had to send her favourite son away to spare his life. Lying and deceit is always sinful, no matter the circumstances. Rebekah's punishment was that after sending her favourite son away, meant for a duration of just a few weeks or several months at most, she was never to see her son again, having died before his return.

Jacob remained in exile for more than twenty years at his uncle's tent. But when the time came for him to return to Canaan with his own family, he was literally terrified of his own brother, and prepared gifts to offer for peace and reconciliation. When the two eventually met, Esau was far from angry. Rather, he was joyous to see his brother return, and both went to the tent of their elderly father Isaac, still alive but widowed. After his death and burial, the two brothers went their separate ways, Jacob remaining in Canaan while Esau settled on Mt. Seir, a territory south and east of the Dead Sea.

The people of Edom, descendants of Esau, were never subservient to Israel. Rather, the two became hostile to each other. Not long after the exodus, Moses begged the king of Edom to allow his people pass through their land, promising that nothing of theirs would be taken or even disturbed. But the Edomites railed at Israel and even sent troops to destroy or disband the fledgling nation. Their unkindness to Moses and all Israel was what brought the wrath of God, and not Esau himself! It was a part fulfillment of what God had told Abraham that he will bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 12:3). It was not until nearly a thousand years after Jacob and Esau had died that Edom became subservient to Israel under King David, who set up garrisons across their land.

Edom's subjection under King David foreshadowed a greater fulfillment which, even in the present day, is still future from our standpoint in time. In the book of Daniel, there is a prophecy which foretells the deliverance Edom will share along with cousins Moab and Ammon (Daniel 11:41). This verse is in context of a passage (verses 36-45) which many, if not most, Bible students consider to be the rise and reign of the future Antichrist, the Man of Perdition of the second chapter of 2nd letter to the Thessalonians. In short, God will deliver Edom, Moab and Ammon from the terror of the future world dictator. So who is Edom, Moab and Ammon? According to Biblical chronology, they are all descendants of Terah, Abraham's father. Abraham had a brother, Haran, whose son was Lot, making Lot the nephew of Abraham. Lot became the father of  Moab and Ammon. The present city and capital of Jordan, Amman, comes from the name Ammon.

Therefore the three nations of Edom, Moab and Ammon makes up the modern Arabs who to this day, are an irritant to Israel. At present, Edom is by no means serving Jacob. Rather, it has been one of Israel's oppressors for many years, particularly from 1948, the year the sovereign nation of Israel came into existence. This is the age of grace. God in Jesus Christ has removed all hostilities between himself and mankind, including Edom and the Arabs in general. God's grace is available for all believers in Jesus Christ being God and the Jewish Messiah, regardless of which nation the believer comes from. For God so loved the world - all who believe will receive eternal life and be saved. Therefore who will Esau be serving? I think it's none other than Jesus Christ himself, the seed of Jacob. This will be the final fulfillment of the prophecy Rebekah received from God during her pregnancy, that their Messiah will come from the younger brother Jacob, whom Esau, and everybody else, will willingly serve.

God hating Esau? Not anymore! Jesus Christ died on the cross to reconcile all mankind to himself. Now that looks very much more like the love of God, not hatred.


  1. Fascinating post! Praise God that although the Jews rejected their Messiah, this opened the door for Gentiles to be grafted into the blessings intended for Israel. "Whosoever" will have faith in His death, burial and resurrection as the only way to Heaven will have eternal life with Him there, no matter what their race, nationality, or ethnic origin.
    God bless,

  2. In many ways, Esau seems to have been preferable to Jacob, but he didn't consider the things of God important. Rather than trusting God, he tried to solve everything by his own efforts, whether getting food when hungry or planning to kill Jacob to obtain the blessing. Jacob considered God important, although he didn't trust him until after his return from Haran,

  3. Of course God doesn't hate, but the story of Esau and Jacob is about God's choice really; He picked Jacob and not Esau to be the ancestor of the Chosen People. Great post as ever.