“And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’” (Romans 9:10-13).
Unless each of the Messiah’s forefathers had only one son, choices were inevitable. For God to accomplish His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus our Lord, Jehovah had to make some selections/elections. Those descendants who were chosen were blessed in ways far greater than those who were not chosen.
In light of this truth, Malachi writes about 1,500 years after the lives of Isaac’s twin sons: “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated” (Malachi 1:2-3).
Because the word “hate” usually refers to intense animosity or abhorrence, this statement has become quite problematic to some. With the help of Matthew and Luke, Jesus Himself helps us to accurately understand the intended meaning of Malachi’s use of “hate”. Our Lord declares:
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).
As these parallel statements reveal, sometimes the word “hate” is used by Bible writers to mean “love less”. This is a much different concept than “not love at all”.
Because Jacob (and not the firstborn Esau) was chosen to be the next link in Jesus’ genealogical chain, he would be blessed in ways far greater than his brother. Esau was still loved by God, but in comparison to his younger brother, his family would not have the spiritual privileges Jacob’s would (cf. Romans 9:4). In light of the profane man Esau chose to become (Hebrews 12:16), God’s wisdom in choosing Jacob is vindicated.
There is no unrighteousness with God.