Friday, 9 August 2013

For God so loved the world, except for Esau who he hated...

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (Romans 9:13)

There are some verses in scripture that, at a glance, can seem quite confusing and even contradictory to what we know to be true about God, Romans 9:13 being a perfect example. In fact, the whole of that chapter has being misused and abused for hundreds of years by some sects within Christianity. Something that gets missed often in the above mentioned verse is that the word hate which is translated as  “saw-nay” in Hebrew or “miseo” in Greek does not mean “hate” in the sense that we use it in English, if that is what the writer wanted to convey he would have used the words “bazah, ma’as or to’evah”, the word used in  Hebrews actually means to “love less” than “or “prefer over”. If I said to you that I loved chicken less than bacon and you concluded that I hated chicken you would be grossly mistaken. So it’s not that God hated Esau the individual and predestined him to go to hell and Esau was just living out those predetermined steps, but rather the text tells us that Jacob was preferred over Esau in relation to being chosen in the lineage for the nation of Israel. That is ultimately what the context of Romans 9 is about. 

Similarly, we see the same word (miseo) is translated as hate in Luke 14:26.

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Everyone knows that we are called to love our wives, children, even our enemies (Eph 5:25, Mat 5:44, Luke 6:27,35), the word hate then clearly cannot be taken to literally mean despise or loathe in these verses. It makes so much more sense if we understand it as “anyone who loves his family more than me cannot be my disciple” and similarly “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I overlooked (in favor of Jacob)”.  Scripture calls us to love our enemies, it would be fair to assume that God holds Himself to the same standards that he gives us. 

We need to be careful of steering the boat to far to the left as well though. Texts like 2 Pet 3:9 and Gen 6:6 reveal that God can love and judge simultaneously. It is not Gods love that saves us, it merely provided us with a way to be reconciled to Him (Jn 3:16). 

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