Sunday, October 28, 2012

God hated Esau

I am often confused when I read the Old Testament. One particular story from way back towards the beginning that would always make my brain wrinkle was Jacob and Esau. Mainly the line that tells us that God loved Jacob, but Esau He hated. As I have worked through this story over the years, I have began to better understand God. It is a story that shows the truth of who God truly is, it should shatter the belief that is growing in popularity that because God is love, then no one will have to spend eternity in Hell. This belief is charged by people who want to say that a loving God could never send anyone to Hell, that we all must be given a final chance to accept our place in Heaven. To paraphrase a little Francis Chan here, I wish this were true, I wish I could sit back and believe that each and every person's eternity were not at stake. But the scriptures are clear that there is a Heaven and a Hell, and it is made clear for us that there are people headed to both. 

As we furthered our study in Ian Thomas' The Saving Life of Christ this week, we were again introduced to the story of Jacob and Esau. We were challenged with answering some pretty tough questions, and in the end gained a valuable understanding of God. The question that sits at the front of my mind this morning was this, Why did God hate Esau?

I was initially struck by the fact that this was not the question I usually think of, I usually get stuck on the Did God hate Esau? In itself the question that our pastor posed was convicting for this reason: I had missed the very point of the story, it is never about "if" God hates Esau... God says He does... its about why. We, or more specifically I, think that the Bible is so mysterious and I must do some deep, deep thinking in order to understand what its really saying. What I realized at the posing of this question is that sometimes, God is very clear in His word. Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. So, why did God hate Esau?

We were charged, in our small group, to come up with a condensed, to the point argument to place before the class to show why God hated Esau, and why He loved Jacob. Those who know me have probably figured out by now that I am not condensed, and rarely am I to the point. I have learned along the path of my life that if I talk long enough, I can usually convince someone I am right. (thats a whole different post)
So, as discussion ranged at our table from this specific story of Esau despising his birthright, to the New Testament and the words of Jesus, we developed a very lengthy, very solid answer... or at least a very disorganized idea of what we knew to be a great answer. My proclivity to talk alot, and I mean alot, landed me as my groups spokesperson, and somehow, our answer came together as  the first small group to present our case:

Why did God hate Esau, but love Jacob?
To steal the words of Major Thomas, Esau was Satan incarnate. Although he was, by the standards of the world around him, a great man... a man's man... Esau had become full of pride, he rejected his birthright from God, stating that he had no need of God. He did not want anyone to dictate how his life was going to flow, where he should go, or what his future would hold. Esau, by the guidance of his own flesh, turned and rejected God. We learn later that this is the only unforgivable sin in existence, the failure to recognize our own need of God and our dependence of Him. God, being God, and ultimately just, and right, had no choice because of His hate of unrepentant sin, but to hate Esau. Jacob, on the other hand, was a scum. He was a liar, a cheat, and a twister... just as his name means. He was a weakling, tied to his mom's apron and by all standards of the world, a useless piece of dirt. He conned his way into the birthright of Esau, and deceived his brother. But, Jacob was different. He hit a point at which he realized his need for God. Jacob approached God and told Him what he was, honestly and truly seeking forgiveness. Jacob had come to realize his own filth and unworthiness of the birthright he had stolen. His repentance was pure and his desire to allow God to change the path of his life was honest... we learn later in scripture that God delights in the honest heart of a pure seeker. God had to love Jacob. So much so, that God does not just tell Jacob that its all ok, He changes Jacob's name to Israel. Just as Paul teaches us, when we come to God with open repentance and a desire to allow God's power to change us, the old life passes away and we are a new creature. 

Thats about as condensed as I can really get on such a topic, and it bears noting, as Pastor Derek did, that in order to truly understand what all of this means, we must strengthen our understanding of God. We must not confuse our own belief of what hate and love are for their true meaning. Hate is simply an intense, emotional dislike. It is not associated with action, or even anger. Godly love is an act of the will for the benefit of someone other than ourselves. God had a strong, emotional dislike for Esau because of the choices he made, but God would still act for the benefit of Esau, allowing him, time and again, opportunities to make things right. God had the same strong, emotional dislike for the choices that Jacob had been making. But when, out of His love, God offered Jacob another chance to make things right, Jacob chose to lay down his useless existence and to pick up God's purpose and power. 

God is all encompassing, and in Him we find grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness... but just as much, we find work, judgement, punishment, and hate. These are the same attributes we find in each one of us, and if we truly search ourselves, we will find that they are greatly out of balance. If we will submit our will over to the power and perfection of Jesus Christ, allow Him to be our Lord, and if we will make that choice to surrender daily to His will, He will work through us to put these qualities into their rightful place. It is through that submission of will, that dying daily, that allows us to follow Him, and allows Him to work through us to complete the good work He has already begun.

If you are sitting there this morning, and happen to read through this, have you ever felt like God hates you? If you say no, I'm going to think you are a liar. I know there are times that God hates me. If thats where you are this morning, do yourself a favor, pray. Ask God why... be open and ready for His response. Ask with a desire and willingness to allow God to work through you to make it right. Know that there is nothing that you can do to fix it, to make it right, to be forgiven. Your forgiveness is already available, your victory over the weight and wages of your sins has already been won... all you have to do is accept it. Pray to God, as Jacob did, call yourself by your own name, seek with an open and honest heart. God promises that if we seek Him in this way, He will allow us to find Him. If you are unsure how to go about this process, I suggest finding a local church this morning... they're everywhere (if you haven't noticed). They should exist to help us in these times. If you are anywhere nearby, I shamelessly plug First Baptist Nixa... please don't go any further in your life feeling the hatred of God upon you, move forward in repentance and love. Allow God to remove that burden from your shoulders, and to wrap you (as is His deepest longing) in His love. God's love is unconditional, and unending. It exists in perfect balance with His wrath, we choose where we sit on that scale.

No comments:

Post a Comment