Chapter 9 of Romans began with Paul revealing his heaviness of heart and sorrow due to so many of his fellow Jews rejecting their Messiah. Had God failed?
Romans 9:6-14 (KJV)
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara 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.
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Immediately in verse 6 Paul concluded that God's Word had not failed. He then made a shocking statement. Not all those who claimed to be Israel were Israel! This would have cut the Jews to their hearts. They counted on their physical ethnicity as the key to God's kingdom, and yet, here was Paul denouncing the very foundation on which they stood.
Paul explained beginning in verse 7. Abraham, the man whom the Jews called their father, had several children. Yet, it was only through Isaac's seed that the Jews descended. The other children, even though they could claim descent from Abraham, were not part of God's people.
In verse 8 Paul made a further distinction. The other descendants of Abraham, not from Isaac's line, were children of the flesh and were not children of God. Only the children of the promise were counted as God's children. In verse 9 Paul reminded his readers that God had promised Abraham a son, but Sarah and Abraham had tried to fulfill God's promise by their own devises (by fleshly means). Although Ishmael was born a descendant of Abraham, he was not the son promised to Abraham. That distinction fell to Isaac who was born by miraculous means through God's Word of promise.
When Rebecca was pregnant with twins by Isaac (verse 10), God had already made a determination of which twin would be called by God (verse 11). Paul made this point to demonstrate that God's process of election had not resulted from any works that an individual had done, but that it was solely through the sovereignty of God.
Verse 12 relates what God had said to Rebecca concerning her sons. The elder (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob).
Genesis 25:23 (KJV)
And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
Paul then quoted Malachi 1:2-3 (verse 13).
Malachi 1:2-3 (KJV)
I 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.
The use of the words "hate" and "love" are not due to strong positive or negative emotion for or against Esau and Jacob, but rather a comparative term relating to preference. God decided that it was to Jacob that the blessings of promise would flow.
Was God unrighteous in His decisions (verse 14)? Paul answered strongly, "God forbid!"
Stay tuned for part 2!