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Written by Victoria Radin   

JACOB I HAVE LOVED, BUT ESAU I HAVE HATED

“As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’ What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’” (Romans 9:13 from Malachi 1:2, 3 & Romans 9:14 from Exodus 33:19)

Jacob and Esau

The story of the twin brothers, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25), would lead the reader to believe that Jacob took advantage of his famished brother, ‘stealing’ Esau’s birthright. In reality however, Jacob’s destiny was chosen by God. Before Rebecca gave birth to the twins (Gen. 25:23), God told her that two nations were in her womb, and that the stronger, older one would serve the younger. Later we learn, Jacob’s descendants became the nation of Israel and Esau’s descendants became the nation of Edom. The traditions that existed in the culture of their day help clarify what happened to bring about this family division.

Before the “Law” was given to Moses, the father or head of the household would perform the priestly duty of offering sacrifices to God on behalf of his family. The firstborn son was usually given the blessing of carrying on this privilege after the father’s death. He also received a double portion of the family’s wealth. All firstborn sons were considered to be the priesthood of God.

The writings of the Hebrew sages indicate that Esau was an evil man. He violated a woman betrothed to another, rebelled against God in taking wives among the cursed Canaanites (Genesis 36:1), and allowed a bitter root to take hold in his life (Genesis 27:41). This demonstrated that he was sexually immoral and godless, not qualified to be the head of the family. The New Testament confirms the rabbis assessment of Esau:

“…lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” (Hebrews 12:26)

The sages teach that Jacob knew Esau was unworthy to carry on the priestly duties assigned to the firstborn and exposed Esau’s shamefulness by offering him lentil stew in exchange for his birthright. Jacob, having secured the inheritance, then schemed with his mother to trick his father, Isaac, into giving Jacob his blessing, the blessing reserved for his favored son, Esau. It seems that this trickery was sanctioned by God because it appeared that Isaac’s reasoning had failed along with his eyesight. God Himself confirmed that Jacob, renamed Israel (Genesis 32:28), was His firstborn son (Exodus 4:22).

Today, many of those in opposition to Israel are from among the descendants of Esau and Ishmael, one of whose daughters Esau wed (Genesis 28:9). The entire book of Obadiah is devoted to God’s condemnation of Edom (Esau’s descendants) and all who would commit violence against Israel and divide the land God gave to her:

“…to the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. For violence against your brother Jacob…you shall be cut off forever. [And also] when foreigners entered…and cast lots for Jerusalem––even you were as one of them.” (excerpts from Obadiah 1:10, 11)

Ezekiel also devoted space to the promised destruction of Edom:

“…therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country.’” (Ezekiel 36:5)

Although it can be clearly understood from the scriptures that God intends to use Israel in His end-time plan to destroy Edom (Ezekiel 25:14), Edom is only a type in the Old Testament of all enemies of God, a type of all evil, and Jacob a type of God’s favored.

Esau/Edom

In Hebrew literature, Esau and all his offspring, i.e. Edom, became synonymous with evil. This traditional thought came about because Esau was the first one to attempt the ‘annihilation’ of the Israelites, Jacob’s offspring, even before Jacob had a wife (Genesis 27:41). Over millennia, Satan has used different strategies to defeat God’s chosen people: Egypt and Russia tried to enslave them; Haman and Hitler tried to annihilate them; Assyria and Rome dispersed them throughout the world where most nations despised and persecuted them. Unlike the others, though, Greece, through the Greek general, Antiochus IV, who called himself Epiphanes (God manifest), sought only to destroy their distinctiveness as Jews through assimilation into the Greek culture, known as Hellenism.
The Hellenistic lifestyle with its focus on the perfection of man and the beauty of Greek form: physical, intellectual, philosophical, and cultural, is the antithesis of Judaism which focuses on God and His beauty reflected in His creation and His Word. It is said, though, that the captivity of the Jews by the Greek General Antiochus IV was only a precursor to a deeper, darker, more insidious captivity that would follow––the Captivity of Edom. This captivity would eventually affect the whole world.

The Hebrew sages say the prophet Daniel saw not only Greece taking Israel captive (third kingdom of Daniel 2:39), but Greece spreading its philosophy, through intellectual prowess, out to the four directions of the world, moving swiftly like its other image, the leopard with four wings (Daniel 2:39, 7:2-7), and ruling the whole earth. The rabbis say that the Hellenistic culture, the spirit of Edom, was transferred to Greece's successor, Rome. Rome was the carrier of Greek culture and the last kingdom identified by Daniel before the coming of the Messiah.

Although the Hellenistic empires of Greece and Rome cease to exist, the spirit of Edom still rules the modern world. It epitomizes man's final exile from God, holding much of mankind captive to a civilization that views itself as ethical, moral and humane, caring for knowledge, peace, life, and ecology––a civilization where man is primary and God or gods fit into man's agenda. Historians say that there is almost nothing in our society that doesn't have its roots in ancient Greece. Even the apostle Paul used the term “Greek” to be synonymous with “gentile” or “all unbelievers” (Romans 1:16; 2:9, 10; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11 for example).

This spirit of Edom, they taught, would continue to empower the West until the last days. Its captivity would be the last captivity of the Jewish people before Israel's redemption and the coming of the Messiah. Where Antiochus failed in his attempt to destroy Israel through outward assimilation, Edom has succeeded to do inwardly to many Jews and now also to Christians. The Captivity of Edom is the greatest enemy that the people of God (Israel, and the Church) have ever faced.

On a broad scale, the struggle between Jacob and Esau is much more than the struggle between two brothers. It is, instead, a struggle between the ways of the world and the ways of God: mankind's struggle between good and evil, between Hellenism and biblical Judaism which is the ‘religion’ of the Bible and the root of Christianity. God’s love of ‘Jacob’ and hatred for ‘Esau’ resulted from the way each pursued what God offered to mankind. The scriptures actually state that Esau “despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34).

The Lord told the prophet Samuel: “…those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” (1 Samuel 2:30c)

Because Esau put his [natural] hunger before his birthright [spiritual hunger], the Lord said that He hated Esau. In typology, God was saying that He hates all who put natural desires before spiritual desires: (all emphasis authors)

"Jacob [those seeking heavenly rewards] I have loved; but Esau [those seeking worldly rewards] I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage.…they shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, and the people against whom the Lord will have indignation forever.'" (Excerpts from Malachi 1:2-4)

Jacob/Israel

Jacob understood the importance of God’s blessing in his life. He proved this once again when, while on his way back to his own land from Padan Aram, he wrestled with a man until the break of day. Jacob would not let go until he received his blessing. The “man” was none other than the Lord Himself (Genesis 32:26-28). The Lord honors those who seek Him with persistence, those who will not let go until they are blessed!

“For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalm 107:9)

The Church-of-the-firstborn (Hebrews 12:23), which is the priesthood of God (1 Peter 2:5), must have a single eye towards the things of God. The Lord said:

“I [God] love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me……that I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.” (Proverbs 8:17, 21)

“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

“For to everyone who has [a zeal for God’s blessings], more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have [a zeal for God’s blessings], even what he has will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:30) (emphasis authors)
In the end, the Lord promises that:

“The house of Jacob [a type of natural Israel] shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph [a type of the church or spiritual Israel] a flame; but the house of Esau [a type of the world or evil] shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau…” (Obadiah 13:18)

 
 
 
 
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