«As it is written, Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated’ » (Romans 9:13).
IS THIS really so? Can God love someone and hate another? Where are His love and justice? The dictionary defines «to hate» as «to dislike strongly.» Does that mean that God loves one person and strongly dislikes another? How can that be possible?
We need to keep in mind that the biblical expression does not in any way mean hatred (as malice or animosity), but choice (as distaste or disapproval). For example, Jesus said that we have to hate our father and mother and even our own lives in order to follow Him. This does not really mean hating our parents or ourselves, but rather, following Him before anything else (see Luke 14:26; Matt. 10:37).
Now then, we still have a problem, because God chooses one and not another, right? Hence, it must be said that the text is not referring to people, but to leaders and heads of the two groups. Paul explained the reason why God chose Jacob and rejected Esau, as well as the people who descended from them: Israel and Edom.
When God chose Israel as His people, He did not do so by virtue of hating other nations, but in order to use Israel as a channel of blessing for other people. Choice does not make God unjust, but rather, has the intention of extending the blessing to everyone.
No one is left out of the opportunities of salvation, but God chooses the instruments for doing so. Before, it was Israel, as long as it fulfilled His purpose. Today, it is the church which has to fulfill the objective.
Nevertheless, Exodus 9: 12 says that it was God who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and it repeats it several times in the two chapters that follow. Why was it Pharaoh’s fault, then?
We have to remember here that what is recorded in the Bible about what God does, as well as what He allows is attributed to Him. That is, He «produces» what He does not prevent or impede.
A person’s heart is hardened because he or she chooses to reject the opportunities received through the work of the Holy Spirit. Every opportunity of salvation that is rejected hardens the heart even more, and this make the individual responsible for his or her choice.
The rise of nations, their development, and their fall very often seem to depend on their own will, effort, ambition, or whims, but «in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, behind, above, and through all the play and counterplay of human interests and power and passions, the agencies of the all-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will‘ (Education, p. 173).
Be assured today that you can feel loved, chosen by God, confident, and strong to face the day, because the One who holds the universe in His hands can also hold your life.