IF MANY JEWS DID NOT LOVE JESUS, DID GOD’S WORD FAIL (ROMANS 9:6)?
Since the Jewish people had descended from Abraham and enjoyed God’s provision and instruction for so many generations, the fact that when Jesus came, many Jews, though not all, rejected him raises the question of whether God’s Word ultimately failed.
God’s Word has not failed and never will fail. Abraham has three kinds of offspring.
One, he has physical descendants.
Two, he has spiritual descendants who are not biologically related but are related by mutual faith in Jesus Christ.
Three, he has physical and spiritual descendants like the Apostle Paul who writes Romans and descends from Abraham both in birth and new birth.
To answer this question, Paul turns to Genesis 25. There we read that Abraham’s son Isaac had two sons, who become the focus of attention in the subsequent twelve chapters of Genesis.
The conflict between the boys began in the womb as they wrestled for preeminence. Curious as to what was occurring in her womb, Rebekah prayed to God for insight, and he told her that the boys would struggle throughout their lives. The older would serve the younger, and each boy would grow into a nation in conflict with the other (Esau became the nation of Edom and Jacob became the nation of Israel).
The first son born was Esau, which means “hairy,” and he was also called Edom, which means “red.” Apparently he was a red and hairy child, perhaps like Elmo on Sesame Street. The second son born was Jacob, which means “trickster,” and he came out
of the womb grasping his brother’s heel. As the boys grew, Esau was the man’s man who hunted, ate wild game, and was favored by his father. Jacob was a momma’s boy who preferred to stay around the house and be doted on by his mother.
As the firstborn, Esau was entitled to the family birthright, which would grant him a double portion of his father’s estate and leave him as the head of the family upon his father’s death. It also allowed him to receive a special blessing from his father. One day, Esau came home hungry, and his brother, Jacob the trickster, got Esau to trade his birthright for a meal. In this account, the younger brother displaced the older, as had happened previously in Genesis with Cain and Abel and Isaac and Ishmael.
At the bottom of Esau’s sin was indifference about God’s covenant promise to bless the nations through the descendants of Abraham, a blessing that would ultimately bring forth Jesus Christ. Esau flippantly dismissed God’s covenant for the sake of a meal. In short, neither son was particularly holy in their early days, and both lived as most unrepentant sinful men do. Amazingly, this struggle between two brothers in the womb continued well into the future. In fact, many years later it reached its climax when King Herod, a descendant of Esau, sought to slaughter Jesus Christ, a descendant of Isaac. (Matt. 1:1–2; 2:13.)
Paul then goes on to argue that before Jacob and Esau were born and before they had done anything good or bad, in pure, predestining grace God chose to have the younger brother rule over the older and supplant him as the head of the family through which Jesus Christ would be born. Paul quotes Malachi 1:2–3, which is a source of great interpretive controversy. Some commentators claim that Malachi is saying that God, for no reason whatsoever, chose to love Jacob and hate his brother Esau. Admittedly, this makes God appear cruel and capricious, a sort of eternal Russian roulette. Other commentators make an argument from the original language, claiming that the word hate literally means “to pass over” or “not choose to use,” so that God chose to work through Isaac to bring forth Jesus and chose to not work through Esau.
Finally, looking at the context of the verse, still other commentators argue that Paul shifts from speaking of God’s election of Jacob over Esau in Genesis to speaking of their descendants in terms of the nations of Israel and Edom, which proceeded from these men, respectively. They further argue that in the days of Malachi, Edom sinfully sought to destroy Israel; thus, God’s hate for them was justifiable and not capricious because he was responding to their hatred of his chosen people.
From this admittedly complex section of Scripture, we get a glimpse into the Father Heart of God. How is it encouraging to know that God’s character is faithful, consistent, and dependable, not prone to irrational emotion or spur of the moment decisions like ours often is?
This is an excerpt from Pastor Mark’s Romans 8-9 commentary Duck Duck Doom. You can get a free e-book copy on our store here.
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