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Is There Any Partiality With God? What Does God Mean By “Jacob I Loved and Esau I Hated?” (Part Two)

Posted on May 22, 2014 at 9:47 AM Comments comments (115)
Texts Malachi 1: 1-3; Romans  9: 13


In Part I of the introduction, I began with the introduction of Malachi 1: 1-3, Romans 9: 13, two among the many difficult texts in the Bible. These texts raise a question about God’s partiality.  Part II is the continuation of the introduction.

Malachi 1: 1-3 and Romans 9: 13 give birth to the ongoing debate within Protestantism regarding salvation among Calvinism, Lutherianism, and Armenianism.  It is not my intention to address all the theological positions regarding salvation of these denominations.  My focus is on “election”.  In fact, at the time of Malachi’s prophecy, around 430 BC, there was nothing like the “isms” above.  All these theological debates developed during the Reformation with the posting of Luther’s 95 theses, which were mainly intended for academic disputation on October 31, 1517 AD.[1] In the election debate, Calvinism believes in an unconditional election to salvation with those outside the elect foreordained to damnation (double-predestination). Lutheranism holds to unconditional predestination to salvation for the elect.  On the other aisle of the salvation controversy is Armeniansim, which teaches that election is conditional in view of foreseen faith or unbelief.[2]

This debate is huge in Protestantism and each group had produced volumes to prove its position. This makes the understanding of salvation too complicated. This major theological debate within Christianity has no winner to this day. I believe the ongoing controversy was not the original intent of the minor Prophet Malachi. My desire in this Journal is not to discuss every position, but rather, to prove that the strong word hate used in this context reaffirmed God’s election of Jacob, the rejection of Esau mentioned in Genesis 25: 22-23, and purposely rejected Esau’s sin for God’s election and sovereignty. Because of the importance of this controversy, I will address this topic from biblical, historical, and prophetical perspectives. The key issue that I want to address is, “Does the word, ‘hate’ used in the case of Esau imply God’s hatred of Esau as a person or is He referring to Esau’s sinful behavior against His sovereignty?” 

I believe, after a careful examination of the texts, God also loved Esau but hated his sin of rejecting God’s sovereignty for the election of his brother Jacob. This Journal series will prove why. The texts, that we are studying, refer directly to God’s election of Israel, and the Gentiles respectively. And there is no partiality in God’s election. God does what He pleases (sovereignty). The Apostle Paul argued that man is in the hand of God just as the clay is in the Potter’s hand.  The will of God in everything is perfect. Therefore, God’s choice in by-passing the birthright, in the case of Esau and many others, as we will study in this Journal series, is impartial. What many commentators have not seen in this covenant language is the parallelism embedded in this text. “Parallelism generally refers to the repetition of content by using the same or a similar construction, but using different words that have similar or related meanings.”

The truth that is found in Scripture is that Jacob and Esau were blessed. Esau’s descendants were the Edomites, a kingdom that was very powerful then. Jacob was also blessed, his descendants became Israel and the family line of the Messiah. They committed sins and God punished them impartially.  The question that we need to ask ourselves as we study this topic is, If God hates sinners then why did He lay down His life for sinners? 

To be continued. 

[1]E. Fahlbusch &  G.W. Bromiley.  In The encyclopedia of Christianity (Grand Rapids, Mich.;  Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans;  Brill.,2005).