I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.(Malachi 1:2-3)
The book of Genesis draws attention to the life of third Patriarch, Jacob, the son of Isaac and the twin of Esau. His life is told in several chapters in Genesis, and is of extreme significance to all of the world and to the plans and purposes of God.
First of all, Genesis recounts the birth of Isaac and Esau. Rebekah had trouble in labor, and inquired of the Lord about it. She was told by the Spirit of the Lord,
And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.(Genesis 25:32)
That “…the elder shall serve the younger…” runs counter to the way man prioritizes his children, usually it is the first-born who has the pre-eminance. But the book of Genesis and the story of the Patriarchs is a revelation of election, God’s sovereign choice of individuals.
Election in this sense is not ‘election unto salvation” for both boys could have been saved personally from their sins. Rather it is a matter of election by God to bring salvation into the world via the seed of the woman. Jesus would tell a woman at the well in Samaria, “…Salvation is of the Jews”.(John 4:22)
Who was chosen to bear the seed of the woman mentioned in Genesis 3:15? Not Ham and Japheth, but Shem, and not Lot but Abraham, and not Ishmael, but Isaac, and not Esau, but Jacob.
And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.(Genesis 25:17-18)
There is some misunderstanding in this verse, which brings out the personal biases of people as they read it, (this is part of what scripture does, it reveals hearts).
First of all it is a passage about personal human likes and dislikes. Isaac loved Esau, for personal and carnal reasons. He loved his hunting, venison and a son who was an outdoorsman, as any father loves an athletic or virile son.
When it says Jacob was a plain man, the Hebrew word means, “Perfect”, “upright”, “complete” or “Whole”. Studylight.org has an interesting page on it,
“And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents” (Genesis 25:27) derives from תמם tâmam (Strong’s #8552) a verb meaning “to be complete in number, time or character”, indeed it is used in an early biblical context, in Job 22:3, to describe walking “uprightly” in parallel to the term צדק tsâdhaq (Strong’s #6663) meaning “righteous”. Studylight.org Plain
There was nothing effeminate about Jacob, the text simply tells us that Jacob was complete and upright.
Jacob’s mother Rebekah loved him, no doubt ever mindful of the prophecy given before his birth that God had chosen Him to be the chosen heir of the promise.The only one who matters in election though, is not the mother or father, but God. God chose Jacob.
Man choses one person, but God choses another, and often the choice of God presents an offense to unregenerate man. In this way the text of scripture actually reveals the (fallen) hearts of men.
It has become the conventional wisdom to this day, that Jacob cheated Esau, and was a lying conniver. But the scripture text teaches no such thing. No where does God accuse Jacob of wrong in the manner of his dealings with Esau, or even his father Isaac. But man does.
There are two stories in Genesis by which people commonly (but erroneously) draw the conclusion that Jacob cheated Esau; the incident of the pot of stew, and the incident of JAcob dressing up like Esau to gain the blessing.
And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.(Genesis 25:28-34)
In the account above, of Esau coming home from hunting, hungry enough to sell his birthright for Jacob’s stew, all that scripture establishes is that Esau was a profane man, without any sense of the spiritual or the holy. There is no indication of Jacob plotting and scheming to take anything away from his brother, he just happened to be making lentil soup, at the time that his brother returned from his hunt.
Esau was the firstborn, jacob and Esau both knew it. But there is no reason to doubt that they had both heard their own birth story and the prophecy which accompanied it. I don’t believe Jacob had to make the trade to buy the birthright, for God had already said that “The elder shall serve the younger”.
This story doesn’t establish Jacob’s duplicity, rather Esau’s profanity and unworthiness to receive the Abrahamic blessing. The epistle to the Hebrews warns us,
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.(Hebrews 12:15-17)
The story of Jacob and Esau is not merely a morality tale, we are talking about the people chosen to bring into the world the seed of the woman who would save the world and crush the serpent! God had chosen Abraham, and Isaac, and now Jacob! Not Ishmael and Esau! God chose Judah, who would come through Leah, not Rachel!
Isaac was intent upon ‘blessing’ his favorite son, Esau, with the very blessing of Abraham, even though he knew what God had said about the two twins. Rebekkah wasn’t going to allow that to happen, neither was Jacob.Look at Rebekkah’s deception in a similar way to the deceptive tale of Nathan to King David about the poor farmer and his only beloved sheep! It was a ruse to get David to see the error of his ways, and it worked!
Isaac’s blindness is shared by much of the world today. He couldn’t tell the chosen Son from the other brother.
The lesson of this passage is that afterwards, Esau wanted to receive the blessing, (After he had profaned the idea of a birthright), but could not. There was nothing he could do to undo his situation,(Found no place of repentance). The incident of the stew didn’t disqualify him, it just served as an example that he was disqualified.
God’s election of Jacob stood, and not because Jacob was better than Esau, but simply because God in His Sovereign prerogative chose Jacob and not Esau to bless the whole world through the Messiah.