Chapter 9 has some language in it that causes difficulty for some people. Did it get your attention? Here it is again. Paul was quoting Malachi 1:2-3. He said, “As the Scriptures say, ‘I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.’”
What? God hated Esau? What’s up with that?
Well, as it turns out, this type of language in the Hebrew was used more in the comparative sense. God was comparing his affection of the two boys, Jacob and Esau. When God said he hated Esau, the meaning was that He loved Jacob more. It was not an active hate.
There are other examples of this language in the scriptures. You’ve heard, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth Him.” That’s Proverbs 13:24. In Matthew 6:24 we read, “No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other”. And the verse that so many misunderstand is when Jesus said in Luke:14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother”.
All of these are comparative. Obviously a parent does not actively hate his child by not disciplining him. Of course, withholding discipline is not at all a good way to raise a child, but often times a parent does this because he loves the child too much. Again, this is misguided, but it is not active hate.
Also, I wear many hats as far as the work I do. When I first began podcasting, I had a windshield repair business. I still do. But now I do podcasting, which is another “master”. I am also a professional voice artist. Another “master”. And I have this great new book. Marketing that is another master.
Guess what. I don’t have the same amount of enthusiasm for each of those things. I enjoy them all, but truth be told, I do have a favorite. That doesn’t mean I hate the others.
And you know Jesus does not want us to hate our parents in the way that we use the word “hate”. He just meant that we must love Him more than our parents.
Now, as for why God loved Jacob more than Esau, Paul addressed that as well as it can be in the following verses of chapter 9. It sort of boils down to “God is God and we are not.” We really cannot fully understand God’s reasoning, because our minds are so much less than His. As people who trust that God is love, we have to accept His goodness as a matter of faith. And in my own life, He has demonstrated countless times that He is worthy of my faith. So I’m ok with His decisions.