Tag Archives: election

Does God Really Hate Esau?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Many Christians are shocked when they read Romans 9:13: “Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'”  Since when does the God of love hate people?  This verse, coupled with the rest of Romans 9, has led many to believe that God does not love all people, at least with regard to their eternal salvation.  He seems to arbitrarily choose some people for salvation and some people for damnation.  But must we interpret this verse in that way?

I think the answer is “no.”  A more careful reading of this passage indicates that the subject is not individual salvation, but Israel’s national role in redemptive history.

Paul is actually quoting from Mal. 1:2-3, and a reading of those verses in the context of Malachi’s book clearly indicates that Malachi is using the word “Jacob” to refer to the nation of Israel and the word “Esau” to refer to the nation of Edom.

This makes perfect sense because Romans 9, 10, and 11 are all about national Israel and her role in redemptive history.  Romans 9 refers to Israel’s past, Romans 10 refers to her present, and Romans 11 refers to her future.

It is a serious exegetical mistake to interpret Romans 9 to be referring to individuals’ salvation.  According to Norman Geisler, “the election of the nation was temporal, not eternal; that is, Israel was chosen as a national channel through which the eternal blessing of salvation through Christ would come to all people (cf. Gen. 12:1–3; Rom. 9:4–5). Not every individual in Israel was elected to be saved (9:6).”

God works through nations to accomplish his will, just as he works through individuals.  Just because Israel was the chosen nation to bring forth the Messiah did not mean that every Israelite would be individually saved.  Individual salvation has never been and will never be based on a person’s nationality.  Paul is talking about the nation of Israel in Romans 9, not individual salvation.

Finally, it is also important to explain that the word used for “hate” in Malachi 1 is a Hebrew idiom which actually means to “love less.”  Norman Geisler explains: “This is evident from Genesis 29:30: The phrase ‘loved Rachel more than Leah’ is used as the equivalent of ‘Leah was hated’ (cf. also Matt. 10:37).”

God does not hate anyone, but he does bless some nations more than others.

Christians and Obama

Many of my evangelical friends have fretted over how Obama received support from Christians in the recent election.  One of our blog readers, Kay, has mentioned her dismay about this many times and asked how we, as Christians, should respond.

Before I say just a few words about our response, I wanted to give you the facts about how religious groups voted in the previous election.  This chart comes from an article in  a March 2009 First Things magazine, written by John C. Green.

Election Chart

After a quick perusal of the chart, you can see which groups shifted support to the Democrat, Obama.  Evangelicals, as a whole did not support Obama, and there was no significant move from the 2004 election.  The two groups that registered significant changes from the 2004 election were conservative Catholics, who swung 17 points from 2004, and ethnic Protestants (primarily Hispanics) who swung 27 points from 2004.

Read the First Things article for some insight into these shifts, but conservative Catholics and Hispanic Protestants were the two major changes from the 2004 election.  They helped Obama win the election.

Now, how should we respond?  I believe we are to respect the office of the President and we are to love and pray for the President.  God has placed him in authority over our nation, and as Christians, we are to respect the authority of those placed over us.

However, where he promotes ideas that are clearly unbiblical, we are to oppose him.  The ultimate authority to whom we answer is God, and where Obama disagrees with God’s word in the Bible, we are to align with God, not Obama.  I fear that the many Christians who voted for the pro-abortion Obama will have some serious explaining to do when they face God.

Our disagreements with Obama must be carried out within the current legal system.  The only time Christians should actually break laws in civil disobedience is when the following four criteria are met:

  1. When the laws are clearly counter to God’s word
  2. When the laws command us to do evil
  3. When the laws negate freedom
  4. When the laws are religiously oppressive

When we engage in civil disobedience, we must refuse to obey the law in a nonviolent way and we must accept the consequences of our disobedience.

Now, not all Christians agree with this viewpoint on civil disobedience, but I think that the Bible supports this position.  If you have a differing viewpoint, let us know, and we can discuss.