“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the LORD says. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.” Malachi 1:2-3
I don’t want to run from this difficult passage so I have been researching and believe God is clear and consistent about two things: He hates sin but loves the sinner. Yet, this verse says that God hated Esau.
In English, to hate someone is to strongly dislike them and to feel intense hostility at the thought of them. In Hebrew though, it means something else. Ancient Hebrew was pictographic, a language consisting of shapes and pictures. The picture for hatred was a thorn, something with a sharp edge, something from which you back up and go around. Thorns cause pain and are something to avoid. Esau’s sins were the kind that sent arrows through the heart of God. He found no delight in Esau’s company and made it clear He did not dwell with the wicked – with those who intentionally, and over a long period of time, chose evil. “The righteous will never be uprooted but the wicked will not remain in the land.” Prov. 10:30
Esau was the only person in scripture that God says he ‘hated’, was repelled by. It was a serious offense that Esau didn’t prize his birthright, God’s blessing of covenant passed down through the firstborn. He thought so little of it that he carelessly traded it for his brother’s stew. He rejected the ways of Yahweh. In spite of this, Esau momentarily came to his sense when he realized what he’d done and he wanted it back. God spoke through Isaac and didn’t withhold it. Esau was given an inferior blessing, but still a blessing.
Does God stop loving? Does He delight in judgement? He says, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” Jeremiah conveyed God’s heart when he wrote, “I sent all my servants the prophets again and again saying, “Oh, do not do this abominable thing which I hate.” God’s arm of mercy is so long that He gives chance after chance for repentance. Doesn’t this put people’s judgement of God in perspective? Many avoid the O.T. because God appears to them to be brutal and angry. Daughter of Promise, He is patient, merciful, and long-suffering way before judgement comes. He came for the sinner, he seeks them in order to win them, and he died for them to give them a chance to have their sins forgiven and start again as God’s child.
I am in awe that that You are a just God; One who takes sin seriously. Mine was so sobering that You sent Your Son to atone for me. Don’t let me forget why I am in relationship with You. Amen