31 December 2014
WHAT! BUT DOESN'T GOD LOVE EVERYONE? By Jeff Franks
Every follower of Christ, at some point in his journey, will encounter God's puzzling declaration
in Romans chapter nine, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." What! But doesn't God
love everyone? Like Jacob, I find myself wrestling with questions of time and eternity, questions
of God's will and my own. If God hardened Pharaoh's heart, who's to say he won't harden
mine? If my life is predetermined then what point is there to this tiresome daily fight with evil?
So what if I fail? "Why does he still find fault, for who has resisted his will?" Paul asked, as if
just for me, in that very same chapter. One's nose could get "put out of joint" over all of this, to
say nothing of Jacob's hip!
For a fortunate few, the problems resolve easily in the truth that God exists outside of our
space-time continuum and is in no way bound by it. Here's the idea in a nutshell: Because God
is omniscient, he knows the end from the beginning of every person, so he already knows
exactly whom he will sovereignly elect for his purposes. Simple right? Not so fast!
Take the case of the patriarch Jacob. If he were this godly, upright man of good character who
always made the right decisions, I could more easily understand the phrase "Jacob I have loved
. . ." (Rom 9:13) That is, I could agree with the simple idea above that God chooses right every
time because he knows all things. However, from the moment of his birth, when he emerged
holding his older brother Esau's heel, Jacob was known as the deceiver, the manipulative cheat
who always connived to achieve his own ends. His whole life dramatized the meaning of his
name: supplanter! Likewise, who needs to look hard within his own heart to find something that
he knows God hates? So the real mystery is not, "Why did God hate Esau?", but rather, "Why
did God love Jacob?"!
Notwithstanding all his misdeeds and character flaws, there came a time when Jacob wrestled
all night with the Angel of the Lord. When morning came, one touch of the Angel's finger
dislocated his hip, leaving him limping for life. But something else happened in Jacob's spirit. In
a moment he was humbled, he was broken, and his heart was changed. Jacob's spirit, hitherto
bound by time and flesh, was somehow touched by God's unseen, eternal hand. Along with
many prominent Bible scholars, I believe the Angel of the Lord was none other than the pre-
incarnate Messiah -- Jesus, the Son of the Living God!
Could this have been the one defining moment in time, whereby God would now eternally say,
"Jacob I have loved?" The Bible did not record such a moment for Esau. Many years earlier,
their grandfather had just such a moment, memorialized by the famous words, "Abraham
believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3, Genesis 15:6) The
Apostle Paul's moment also came one day in a blinding flash . . . on a road to Damascus.
The question that leaves me troubled, or should at the least deeply concern me, is who am I to
God? Am I Jacob? Or am I Esau? What will heaven's epitaph declare for my life? For me, the
deciding issue cannot be one of character or even good works, as important as those things are.
Far more defining and of eternal consequence must be the question of whether I have wrestled
with Eternity. That is, with the Eternal One. Has my defining moment come? Have I heard
heaven's knock and opened the door? If the heavens declare the glory of God, how can I say I
have not heard? Like Jacob, am I in the number of those whom God loves?
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and
they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." (John 10:27, 28)
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at
the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine
with him, and he with Me." -- Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:19,20)
Photo: Jeff Franks, Striped Butterfly