Malachi 1.1-4 & Romans 9.9-13 – Election and the Love of God
Posted: 25 September 2010 in Malachi, Romans

The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.

For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Elsewhere on the internet today, somebody posted a question about whether God loves everybody, with especial reference to the Jacob/Esau motif. The answer to the question is yes he does, because the Creator must almost by definition love his own creation. Rembrandt did not complete the Mona Lisa, and then immediately say, “What an awful painting – it’s absolutely terrible!” On the other hand it is clear that God does not love everybody equally – he has his elect.

One response to the post I have just mentioned was that God might hate somebody when they are sinning, but love them after they repent. That is clearly not what the Jacob/Esau motif is all about. In the Genesis story, as well as in the Malachi passage above, it is obviously the election of Israel which is being talked about. Then, in the New Testament, Paul uses the same motif in connection with the election of individuals.

Throughout the Bible God is portrayed as a God who elects individuals and nations, according to his own good pleasure, and for no reason which obviously inheres in those so chosen. This concept of sovereign election was almost as scandalous in Paul’s time as it is today. But whilst I am usually to be found insisting that the Bible is not a biology or physics text book, it does have one thing in common with them – namely that they are all in the business of reporting objective facts. It is no more open to us to reject what the Bible has to say about election, and decide for ourselves what we would like God to look like, than it is for us to reject the contents of a scientific text book, and decide for ourselves what we would like the laws of nature to look like.

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