ROMANS 9:9-13 (1)
(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 9/7/08 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Please turn in your Bibles to Romans 9. I'll begin reading with verse 9 and go through verse 13:
Romans 9: (9) For the Word of promise [is] this, According to this time I will come, and a son will be to Sarah. (10) And not only so, but also Rebekah conceiving of one, our father Isaac, (11) for [the children] not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of the [One] calling, (12) it was said to her, The greater shall serve the lesser; (13) even as it has been written, I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau.
I really had to think hard about how to divide this passage up into manageable sermons, because this is definitely not a one-sermon topic, unless you want to be here for a long time. And I'd rather keep your attention by being short than trying to fit everything into one sermon. So we'll see how it works.
Because we're in the part of Romans 9 that talks about Jacob and Esau, I want to spend most of our time in the Old Testament where it talks about Jacob and Esau. Then in another sermon, the Lord willing, we'll get into how Paul applies this in Romans 9.
So let's first turn to Genesis 25 and start with verse 19:
Genesis 25: (19) And these [were] the generations of Isaac, the son of Abraham: Abraham fathered Isaac. (20) And Isaac was a son of forty years when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Padan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to him for a wife. (21) And Isaac prayed to Jehovah for his wife for she [was] barren. And Jehovah was entreated for him, and his wife Rebekah conceived. (22) And the sons struggled together within her. And she said, If [this is] right, why am I this way? And she went to ask Jehovah. (23) And Jehovah said to her, Two nations [are] in your womb; even two peoples shall break from your body. And one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. (24) And her days were fulfilled to bear. And behold! Twins [were] in her womb. (25) And the first came out, all of him red like a hairy robe; and they called his name Esau. (26) And afterward his brother came out, and his hand [was] holding to the heel of Esau; and his name [was] called Jacob. And Isaac [was] a son of sixty years when she bore them. (27) And the boys grew up. And Esau became a man knowing hunting, a man of the field. And Jacob [was] a simple man, living in tents. (28) And Isaac loved Esau, for game was in his mouth. And Rebekah loved Jacob. (29) And Jacob boiled soup. And Esau came from the field, and he [was] faint. (30) And Esau said to Jacob, Please let me eat of the red, this red [soup], for I am faint. On account of this his name is called Edom. (31) And Jacob said, Sell me your birthright today. (32) And Esau said, Behold, I [am] going to die, and what [good is] this, a birthright to me? (33) And Jacob said, Swear to me today. And he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. (34) And Jacob gave bread and soup of lentils to Esau. And he ate and drank, and rose up and left. And Esau despised the birthright.
Now let's go over to chapter 27 and read the entire chapter:
Genesis 27: (1) And it happened when Isaac [was] old and his eyes were dim for seeing, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, My son! And he said to him, Behold me. (2) And he said, Behold! Now, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. (3) And now please lift up your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go to the field and hunt game for me. (4) And make for me delicious things, such as I love, and bring to me, and I will eat; so that my soul may bless you before I die. (5) And Rebekah heard when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. And Esau went to the field to hunt game, to bring [it] in. (6) And Rebekah spoke to her son Jacob, saying, Behold, I heard your father speaking to your brother Esau saying, (7) Bring game to me and make delicious things that I may eat, that I may bless you before Jehovah before my death. (8) And now my son hear my voice, that which I command you. (9) Go now to the flock and bring me from there two good kids of the goats. And I will make them into delicious things for your father which he loves; (10) and you shall bring it to your father and let him eat, so that he may bless you before his death. (11) And Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, Behold, my brother Esau [is] a hairy man, and I a smooth man. (12) Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall be like a deceiver in his eyes, and I shall bring a curse on me, and not blessing. (13) And his mother said to him, Your curse [be] on me, my son; only listen to my voice and go, take for me. (14) And he went and took and came to his mother. And his mother made delicious things, such as his father loved. (15) And Rebekah took the clothing of her elder son Esau, the costly ones which were with her in the house. And she dressed her younger son Jacob; (16) and she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands, and on the smoothness of his neck. (17) And she put the delicious things and the bread which she had made in the hand of her son Jacob. (18) And he went in to his father and said, My father. And he said, Behold me. Who [are] you, my son? (19) And Jacob said to his father, I [am] your first-born, Esau. I have done as you said to me. Rise up now, sit and eat of my game, so that your soul may bless me. (20) And Isaac said to his son, How then have you [quickly] found [it], my son? And he said, Because Jehovah your God made it come to me. (21) And Isaac said to Jacob, Come near now and let me feel you, whether then you [are] my son Esau, or not. (22) And Jacob came near to his father Isaac. And he felt him, and he said, The voice [is] the voice of Jacob and the hands are Esau's hands. (23) And he did not know him, because his hands were like the hairy hands of his brother Esau. And he blessed him. (24) And he said, [Are] you then my son Esau? And he said, I [am]. (25) And he said, Bring to me and let me eat of my son's game, so that my soul may bless you. And he came near to him; and he took and he ate. And he came to him, and he drank wine. (26) And his father Isaac said to him, Now come and kiss me, my son. (27) And he came near and kissed him. And he smelled the smell of his clothes. And [he] blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son [is] as the smell of a field which Jehovah has blessed. (28) And may God give you of the dew of the heavens, and of the fatness of the earth, and much grain and wine. (29) May the nations serve you and peoples bow to you; be a ruler to your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow to you, and cursed [be] those who curse you, and blessed [be] those who bless you. (30) And it happened that when Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, then it came about that Jacob had hardly gone out from the face of his father Isaac, and his brother Esau came in from his hunting. (31) And he also made delicious things and came to his father. And he said to his father, Let my father rise and eat from the game of his son, so that your soul may bless me. (32) And his father Isaac said to him, Who [are] you? And he said, I [am] your son, your first-born, Esau. (33) And Isaac was terrified with a very great anxiety. And he said, Who then [was] the one who hunted game and came to me; and I ate from [it] all before you came; and I blessed him? Yea, he shall be blessed. (34) When Esau heard the words of his father he cried out a great and very bitter cry. And he said to his father, Bless me, me also, my father. (35) And he said, Your brother came with deceit and took your blessing. (36) And he said, [It is] because his name [is] called Jacob, and this twice he took me by the heel; he took my birthright and, behold, now he has taken my blessing. And he said, Have you not reserved a blessing for me? (37) And Isaac answered and said to Esau, Behold, I have set him over you as a ruler, and I have given him all his brothers for servants; I have girded him with grain and wine. And what then can I do for you, my son? (38) And Esau said to his father, Is one blessing [left] to you, my father? Bless me, me also, my father. And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. (39) And his father Isaac answered and said to him, Behold, your dwelling shall be from the fat of the earth and from the dew of the heavens above; (40) and you shall live by your sword, and you shall serve your brother; and when it shall be that you [are] restless, you shall break his yoke from your neck. (41) And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him. And Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning [for] my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob. (42) And the words of her older son Esau were told to Rebekah. And she sent and called her younger son Jacob. And she said to him, Behold! Your brother Esau is going to ease himself on you, to kill you. (43) And now, my son, listen to my voice, and rise, flee for yourself to my brother Laban, to Haran. (44) And stay with him some days until your brother's fury turns away, (45) until your brother's anger turns back from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. And I will send and take you from there. Why should I also be bereaved of two of you [in] one day? (46) And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life from the daughters of Heth. If Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these from the daughters of the land, what is [my] life to me?
Okay, first let me briefly go over the lineage so we have some historical context. Adam was the first man. Adam was the father of Seth, Seth was the father of Enos, Enos was the father of Cainan, Cainan was the father of Mahalaleel, Mahalaleel was the father of Jared, Jared was the father of Enoch, Enoch was the father of Methuselah, Methuselah was the father of Lamech, Lamech was the father of Noah, Noah was the father of Shem, Shem was the father of Arpachshad, Arpachshad was the father of Salah, Salah was the father of Eber, Eber was the father of Peleg, Peleg was the father of Reu, Reu was the father of Serug, Serug was the father of Nahor, Nahor was the father of Terah, and Terah was the father of Abram. Abram took a wife named Sarai, but he had a son through Hagar, Sarai's slave-girl, and the son's name was Ishmael. God gave Abraham the covenent promise in Genesis 17 and changed Abram's name to Abraham, changed Sarai's name to Sarah, and told them that He was going to establish His covenant with a son who had not yet been born. This son was Isaac. Remember in the last sermon we saw that the promise was to ISAAC, NOT to all of Abraham's offspring, so it was not the children of the FLESH who were the children of God, but the children of the PROMISE were the children of God. Since we didn't read this passage last time in which God established His covenant with Isaac, and since this has to do with Romans 9:9, I think now would be a good time to read this to show how the covenant is with the children of the promise rather than the children of the flesh. Let's read Genesis 17:1-22:
Genesis 17: (1) And when Abram was ninety nine years old, Jehovah appeared to Abram and said to him, I [am] the Almighty God! Walk before me and be perfect; (2) and I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you very much. (3) And Abram fell on his face. And God spoke with him, saying, (4) As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. (5) And your name no longer shall be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham. For I have made you a father of many nations. (6) And I will make you very fruitful, exceedingly. And I will give you [for] nations. And kings shall come out of you. (7) And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and your seed after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and to your seed after you. (8) And I will give to you and to your seed after you the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession and I will be their God. (9) And God said to Abraham, You shall keep My covenant, you and your seed after you in their generations. (10) This [is] My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your seed after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised. (11) And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin. And it shall be a token of the covenant between Me and you. (12) And a son of eight days shall be circumcised among you, every male in your generation, he that is born in the house, or bought with silver from any son of a foreigner who [is] not of your seed. (13) The child of your house and the purchase of your money circumcising must be circumcised. And My covenant shall be in your flesh for a perpetual covenant. (14) And an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, his soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant. (15) And God said to Abraham, You shall not call your wife Sarai [by] her name Sarai, for Sarah [shall be] her name; (16) and I have blessed her and have also given to you a son from her. Yea, I have blessed her and she shall become nations; kings of people shall be from her. (17) And Abraham fell on his face and laughed. And he said in his heart, Shall [one] be born to a son of a hundred years? And shall Sarah bear, a daughter of ninety years? (18) And Abraham said to God, Oh that Ishmael might live before You! (19) And God said, Your wife Sarah truly shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. And I have established My covenant with him for a perpetual covenant with his seed after him. (20) And as to Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall father twelve chiefs, and I will make him a great nation. (21) And I will establish My covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year. (22) And He finished talking with him. And God went up from Abraham.
So now we're up to Isaac in Genesis 25. Isaac took a wife named Rebekah, and Rebekah had twins. When a woman has twins, the babies aren't both born at once; one is born first, and then the other one is born. These were the first two sons of Isaac and Rebekah, so the one who was born first had all the privileges of being a first-born son, which included the birthright, as I will explain later, the Lord willing. So who was the baby who was born first? It was ESAU. So ESAU was the first-born, so he had all the privileges of being the first-born. He was born with thick red hair all over him. The baby who was born second was JACOB, and Jacob was holding onto Esau's heel when he came out, which was a sign of things to come. But this wasn't the FIRST sign of things to come, was it? Look back at verse 22. The twins, while they were still inside of Rebekah's womb, STRUGGLED with each other. They were FIGHTING each other. And when Rebekah asked God what was going on, God said this in verse 23: "Two nations [are] in your womb; even two peoples shall break from your body. And one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." Now this was something unexpected, wasn't it? In the Old Testament, the first-born son had the position of preeminence. Yet God said that the firstborn was going to be UNDERNEATH the second-born and that the second-born was going to RULE OVER the first-born and get the privileges that the first-born would have had. He went further and said that the people, the NATION, who came from the second-born would be stronger than the people, the NATION, who came from the first-born.
Let's turn over to Malachi chapter 1 and read verses 1-3:
Malachi 1: (1) The burden of the Word of Jehovah to Israel by the hand of Malachi: (2) I have loved you, says Jehovah. But you say, In what way have You loved us? [Was] not Esau the brother to Jacob? Yet Jehovah declares, I loved Jacob, (3) and I have hated Esau and have made his mountains a desolation, and his inheritance [to be] for the jackals of the wilderness.
Here we see some even stronger language. Not only will the older serve the younger, but God says that he LOVED Jacob and HATED Esau. Although I'm not going to go into God's love for Jacob and hatred for Esau now, it is important to note that God used these words to describe His attitude toward Jacob and Esau. The Lord willing, we will go into this in more detail in the next sermon.
Now why do you think God did this? Why do you think God turned things upside-down and made the second-born first and the first-born second? Why would the blessing and inheritance and privileges go to the second-born rather than the first-born? That went totally against the tradition. Why would God do this? Think about this while I go on to summarize what we read in the two passages in Genesis.
Esau was a hunter, while Jacob worked closer to home, probably tending to livestock. In verse 29, we see that while Jacob was making soup, Esau came from out in the field, probably hunting, and Esau was exhausted and hungry. Esau begged Jacob for some soup in verse 30. Instead of just giving Esau some soup out of the kindness of his heart, Jacob said he would only give him soup if he gave up his birthright. Now the birthright is a special right of the firstborn son in which the son gets a double portion of the father's inheritance, rulership over rest of the family, and the parental blessing. It also signified the spiritual blessing of the promise. Esau, at that moment, did not care anything about the future blessing; he was ruled by his hunger, and he swore to Jacob and sold his birthright to Jacob. The Bible says that he despised his birthright. He treated it as nothing. Yet was Jacob not at fault in this as well? Jacob was being cruel. He used his brother's hunger to manipulate his brother. But this was all in God's plan.
The next story is in Genesis 27. When Isaac was old and couldn't see, he asked for Esau to bring him some prepared meat from an animal Esau had killed, and while eating this meat, he wanted to bless Esau. Now this parental blessing was part of the birthright. It's not clear whether or not Isaac knew of the vow that Esau had made to Jacob to give up his birthright. But if Isaac had blessed Esau, then this would have trumped Esau's selling the birthright to Jacob. This is exactly what Esau was hoping. However, with the devious help of his mother, Rebekah, Jacob deceived his blind father into blessing him instead of Esau. While Esau was out hunting, Rebekah prepared goat meat to make it taste like game, and she put the skin of the goats on Jacob's hands and neck to make Jacob feel like Esau, who was hairy. So Jacob brought this goat meat to Isaac, and Isaac felt the goat hair that felt like Esau's hair, and Jacob lied to his father, even using God's providence as a pretext for his lie, about how he killed the animal so quickly. And when Isaac asked Jacob who he was, Jacob lied to his father and told him he was Esau. Isaac then blessed Jacob, thinking Jacob was Esau, based on the lies of Jacob, with help from his scheming mother. And then we have Esau coming back from hunting, and both Isaac and Esau dismayed when they found out what Jacob had done. So here again, God's promise was fulfilled, even through scheming and lies. And if you look further on in chapter 29, you'll see that Jacob gets a taste of his own medicine when he works seven years for what he thought was marriage to Rachel, and he wakes up to find that he has been deceived by Laban and has to work another seven years for Rachel.
So now I ask again: Why do you think God did this? Why do you think God turned things upside-down and made the second-born first and the first-born second? And now, why do you think God blessed the devious Jacob instead of the hard-working Esau? Before I get to the answer, I want to say how amazed I was when I looked at commentaries on these passages. I was amazed at how good they made Jacob look. Jacob was a conniver and a manipulator and a deceiver. He stopped at nothing to get what he wanted. He got what he wanted through his wicked scheming and deception. There's no prettying this up or glossing it over. It's like the commentators were trying to make it so Jacob somehow deserved the birthright and the blessing. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, Jacob's wickedness serves to ACCENTUATE what God is getting across here.
So now let's look at why God did this to end this sermon and prepare for the next. Let's turn back to Romans 9, and let's read verses 11 through 13:
Romans 9: (11) for [the children] not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of the [One] calling, (12) it was said to her, The greater shall serve the lesser; (13) even as it has been written, I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau.
Why did God do this? SO THE PURPOSE OF GOD ACCORDING TO ELECTION MIGHT STAND. Before the twins had done anything good or bad, God chose one and rejected the other. And instead of choosing the first-born and rejecting the second-born, He chose the second-born and rejected the first-born, to show us that His choosing is not based on tradition or works or man's sense of fairness or anything else but HIS OWN PERFECT WILL, so there is NO ROOM FOR FLESH TO GLORY. It is ALL FOR GOD'S GLORY. It shows, once again, that God's actions are UNCONDITIONAL. God does not accept or reject, love or hate, show mercy or harden, based on ANYTHING that man does. He does everything to the praise of His glory, and His glory alone. Let's read 1 Corinthians 1:28-29:
1 Corinthians 1: (28) And God chose the low-born of the world, and the despised, and the things that are not, so that He might bring to nothing the things that are, (29) so that no flesh might glory in His presence.