Tag Archives: Esau

Is God Sovereign or Does Man Have Free Will?

Post Author: Bill Pratt  

Some Christians believe that God’s sovereignty over events on earth means that he ignores or overrides the free will of human beings. Other Christians believe that God only makes decisions after seeing what human beings will decide, and thus he is not really sovereign over everything. Under this second view, events on earth seem to split into things God controls and things humans control.

Both of these views, however, are wrong. The biblical view is that God is both sovereign over everything, and human beings have free will. We see this illustrated in Genesis 25. In verse 23, God tells Rebekah that Esau’s descendants (the nation of Edom) will be weaker than Jacob’s descendants (the nation of Israel), indicating His sovereignty over human history.

But in verse 34 we see that it is Esau who despised his birthright. The biblical author is indicating that Esau is not some impotent pawn being pushed around a chessboard by God, but an active participant in giving up his birthright. These two verses illustrate that God is sovereign and that Esau is free to reject his birthright. Both are true.

Does the Bible Say that God Blesses Everyone Equally?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Some Christians seem to think so, but nowhere in the Bible does God promise that every believer will receive the same material rewards on earth.  In fact, the Bible tells us that each believer will even receive different rewards in heaven.

God loves every person, but God’s love does not guarantee that he will bless each of us in the same manner. God blesses in ways specific to each person. We are given unique parents, siblings, experiences, material wealth, heath, intelligence, and talents.

For example, in Genesis 25, when God blesses Jacob and makes him the father of the Israelites (instead of Esau), that is His prerogative. It is silly to compare one person’s blessings to another. In fact, covetousness is a sin! The Bible tells us to be content with what we are given, not be jealous of other people’s blessings.

Commentary on Genesis 25 (Jacob and Esau)

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

God has promised Abraham that his descendants would be blessed with great numbers and with the promised land of Canaan. In turn, they would also be a blessing to all mankind. In previous chapters, we learned that Abraham’s son, Isaac, was the child of the promise. But now that Isaac has married Rebekah, we want to know who will receive the blessing from God after Isaac has died. Which child of Isaac will the covenant pass to?

In verses 19-21, we see that Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, is barren (just like Sarah was). She cannot conceive a child. Isaac prays for Rebekah and 20 years later she becomes pregnant. Barren wives becoming pregnant, is a repeating theme in the Bible. The biblical writers want us to understand that these births require the supernatural intervention of God. Without God, the plan of redemption could not occur. Remember that the Israelites are reading these words before they enter the promised land. They are being reminded that God intervenes and He is in control of the outcome.

In verse 22, we learn that Rebekah is having a rough pregnancy. It seems as if, first of all, there are multiple children in her womb, and second of all, that they are battling each other! The situation is so serious that Rebekah asks God to tell her what is happening.

In verse 23 God tells Rebekah that there are two children in her womb. Each child will be the father of a nation, but these nations will be separated from each other. They will be at war, in other words. One nation will be stronger than the other.

In the ancient near east, the oldest child always received a double portion of the inheritance, and thus the younger children were always expected to serve the oldest. But when God tells Rebekah about the twins inside of her, he flips this relationship completely around. In her case, the older child would serve the younger. God’s choice is not always man’s choice.

In verses 24-26, we learn that the first baby to come out is named Esau and the second to come out is named Jacob. The Israelites, who were reading these words 600 years after these events occurred, would have immediately known which two nations would come from Esau and Jacob. Esau’s descendants would become the nation of Edom, and Jacob’s descendants would become the nation of Israel. The father of the Israelites was Jacob, and the father of their enemies in Edom was Esau, Jacob’s brother.

Verses 27-28 tell us that Jacob and Esau were quite dissimilar. Because Esau was an outdoorsman, Isaac preferred him. Jacob, on the other hand, was more of a home-body, and his mother Rebekah preferred him.

In verses 29-34, a famous biblical incident occurs. Esau returns from an outdoor foray, and he is famished. Jacob has prepared a lentil soup and Esau desperately wants some. Taking advantage of the situation, Jacob demands that Esau give up his birthright in order to get some of the soup. Surprisingly, Esau agrees. The chapter ends with the following words: “So Esau despised his birthright.”

This incident is significant for a few reasons.  First, we learn how it is that Jacob, the second-born, is granted the status of being first-born, and how he thus inherits the double portion from Isaac. Second, since the firstborn would be the child of promise – the child that receives the covenant promises passed down from Abraham to Isaac – we see how Jacob becomes the father of God’s chosen people, the Israelites. Third, and tragically, we see that Esau did not seem to care about the covenant promises, and thus thought it nothing to give away his birthright.

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.