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Jacob and Esau

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/03/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

                                                          Jacob and Esau

                                                        A Sermon                                                           (No. 241)

                          Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 16th, 1859, by the                                               REV. C.H. SPURGEON                                       At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.



              "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."Romans 9:15.

          DO NOT IMAGINE for an instant that I pretend to be able thoroughly to elucidate the great mysteries of           predestination. There are some men who claim to know all about the matter. They twist it round their           fingers as easily as if it were an everyday thing; but depend upon it, he who thinks he knows all about           this mystery, knows but very little. It is but the shallowness of his mind that permits him to see the           bottom of his knowledge; he who dives deep, finds that there is in the lowest depth to which he can attain a deeper           depth still. The fact is, that the great questions about man's responsibility, free-will, and predestination, have been           fought over, and over, and over again, and have been answered in ten thousand different ways; and the result has           been, that we know just as much about the matter as when we first began. The combatants have thrown dust into           each other's eyes, and have hindered each other from seeing; and then they have concluded, that because they put           other people's eyes out, they could therefore see.               Now, it is one thing to refute another man's doctrine, but a very different matter to establish my own views. It           is very easy to knock over one man's hypothesis concerning these truths, not quite so easy to make my own stand           on a firm footing. I shall try to-night, if I can, to go safely, if I do not go very fast; for I shall endeavour to keep           simply to the letter of God's Word. I think that if we kept more simply to the teachings of the Bible, we should be           wiser than we are; for by turning from the heavenly light of revelation, and trusting to the deceitful           will-o'-the-wisps of our own imagination, we thrust ourselves into quags and bogs where there is no sure footing,           and we begin to sink; and instead of making progress, we find ourselves sticking fast. The truth is, neither you nor           I have any right to want to know more about predestination than what God tells us. That is enough for us. If it           were worth while for us to know more, God would have revealed more. What God has told us, we are to believe,           but to the knowledge thus gained, we are too apt to add our own vague notions, and then we are sure to go wrong.           It would be better, if in all controversies, men had simply stood hard and fast by "Thus saith the Lord," instead of           having it said, "Thus and thus I think." I shall now endeavour, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to throw the light of           God's Word upon this great doctrine of divine sovereignty, and give you what I think to be a Scriptural statement           of the fact, that some men are chosen, other men are left,the great fact that is declared in this text," Jacob           have I loved, but Esau have I hated."               It is a terrible text, and I will be honest with it if I can. One man says the word "hate" does not mean hate; it           means "love less:""Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I loved less." It may be so: but I don't believe it is. At any           rate, it says "hate" here; and until you give me another version of the Bible, I shall keep to this one. I believe that           the term is correctly and properly translated; that the word "hate" is not stronger than the original; but even if it be           a little stronger, it is nearer the mark than the other translation which is offered to us in those meaningless words,           "love less." I like to take it and let it stand just as it is. The fact is, God loved Jacob, and he did not love Esau; he           did choose Jacob, but he did not choose Esau; he did bless Jacob, but he never blessed Esau; his mercy followed           Jacob all the way of his life, even to the last, but his mercy never followed Esau; he permitted him still to go on in           his sins, and to prove that dreadful truth, "Esau have I hated." Others, in order to get rid of this ugly text, say, it           does not mean Esau and Jacob; it means the nation; it means Jacob's children and Esau's children; it means the           children of Israel and Edom. I should like to know where the difference lies. Is the difficulty removed by extending           it? Some of the Wesleyan brethren say, that there is a national election; God has chosen one nation and not           another. They turn round and tell us it is unjust in God to choose one man and not another. Now, we ask them by           everything reasonable, is it not equally unjust of God to choose one nation and leave another? The argument           which they imagine overthrows us overthrows them also. There never was a more foolish subterfuge than that of           trying to bring out national election. What is the election of a nation but the election of so many units, of so many           people? and it is tantamount to the same thing as the particular election of individuals. In thinking, men cannot see           clearly that ifwhich we do not for a moment believethat if there be any injustice in God choosing one man           and not another, how much more must there be injustice in his choosing one nation and not another. No! the           difficulty cannot be got rid of thus, but is greatly increased by this foolish wresting of God's Word. Besides, here is           the proof that that is not correct; read the verse preceding it. It does not say anything at all about nations, it says,           "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to           election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the           younger,"referring to the children, not to the nations. Of course the threatening was afterwards fulfilled in the           position of the two nations; Edom was made to serve Israel. But this text means just what it says; it does not mean           nations, but it means the persons mentioned. "Jacob,"that is the man whose name was Jacob" Jacob have I           loved, but Esau have I hated." Take care my dear friends, how any of you meddle with God's Word. I have heard           of folks altering passages they did not like. It will not do, you know, you cannot alter them; they are really just the           same. Our only power with the Word of God is simply to let it stand as it is, and to endeavour by God's grace to           accommodate ourselves to that. We must never try to make the Bible bow to us, in fact we cannot, for the truths           of divine revelation are as sure and fast as the throne of God. If a man wants to enjoy a delightful prospect, and a           mighty mountain lies in his path, does he commence cutting away at its base, in the vain hope that ultimately it will           become a level plain before him? No, on the contrary, he diligently uses it for the accomplishment of his purpose           by ascending it, well knowing this to be the only means of obtaining the end in view. So must we do; we cannot           bring down the truths of God to our poor finite understandings; the mountain will never fall before us, but we can           seek strength to rise higher and higher in our perception of divine things, and in this way only may we hope to           obtain the blessing.               Now, I shall have two things to notice to-night. I have explained this text to mean just what it says, and I do           not want it to be altered" Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." To take off the edge of this terrible           doctrine that makes real some people bite their lips so, I must just notice that this is a fact; and, after that, I shall           try to answer the question,Why was it that God loved Jacob and hated Esau?               I. First, then, THIS IS FACT. Men say they do not like the doctrine of election. Verily, I do not want them to;           but is it not a fact that God has elected some? Ask an Arminian brother about election, and at once his eye turns           fiercely upon you, and he begins to get angry, he can't bear it; it is a horrible thing, like a war-cry to him, and he           begins to sharpen the knife of controversy at once. But say to him, "Ah, brother! was it not divine grace that made           you to differ? Was it not the Lord who called you out of your natural state, and made you what you are? "Oh,           yes," he says," "I quite agree with you there." Now, put this question to him: "What do you think is the reason           why one man has been converted, and not another?" "Oh," he says, "the Spirit of God has been at work in this           man." Well, then, my brother, the fact is, that God does treat one man better than another; and is there anything           wonderful in this fact? It is a fact we recognize every day. There is a man up in the gallery there, that work as           hard as he likes, he cannot earn more than fifteen shillings a week; and here is another man that gets a thousand a           year; what is the reason of this? One is born in the palaces of kings, while another draws his first breath in a           roofless hovel What is the reason of this? God's providence. He puts one man in one position, and another man in           another. Here is a man whose head cannot hold two thoughts together, do what you will with him; here is another           who can sit down and write a book, and dive into the deepest of questions; what is the reason of it? God has done           it. Do you not see the fact, that God does not treat every man alike? He has made some eagles, and some worms;           some he has made lions, and some creeping lizards; he has made some men kings, and some are born beggars.           Some are born with gigantic minds and some verge on the idiot. Why is this? Do you murmur at God for it? No,           you say it is a fact, and there is no good in murmuring. What is the use of kicking against facts? It is only kicking           against the pricks with naked feet, and you hurt yourself and not them. Well, then, election is a positive fact; it is           as clear as daylight, that God does, in matters of religion, give to one man more than to another. He gives to me           opportunities of hearing the word, which he does nor give to the Hottentot. He gives to me, parents who, from           infancy, trained me in the fear of the Lord. He does not give that to many of you. He places me afterwards in           situations where I am restrained from sin. Other men are cast into places where their sinful passions are           developed. He gives, to one man a temper and disposition which keeps him back from some lust, and to another           man he gives such impetuosity of spirit, and depravity turns that impetuosity so much aside, that the man runs           headlong into sin. Again, he brings one man under the sound of a powerful ministry, while another sits and listens           to a preacher whose drowsiness is only exceeded by that of his hearers. And even when they are hearing the           gospel, the fact is God works in one heart when be does not in another. Though, I believe to a degree, the Spirit           works in the hearts of all who hear the Word, so that they are all without excuse, yet I am sure he works in some           so powerfully, that they can no longer resist him, but are constrained by his grace to cast themselves at his feet,           and confess him Lord of all; while others resist the grace that comes into their hearts; and it does not act with the           same irresistible force that it does in the other case, and they perish in their sins, deservedly and justly condemned.           Are not these things facts? Does any man deny them? can any man deny them? What is the use of kicking against           facts? I always like to know when there is a discussion, what is the fact. You have heard the story of King Charles           the Second and the philosophersKing Charles asked one of them, "What is the reason why, if you had a pail of           water, and weighed it, and then put a fish into it, that the weight would be the same?" They gave a great many           elaborate reasons for this. At last one of them said, "Is it the fact?" And then they found out that the water did           weigh more, just as much more as the fish put into it. So all their learned arguments fell to the ground. So, when           we are talking about election, the best thing is to say, "Put aside the doctrine for a moment, let us see what is the           fact?" We walk abroad; we open our eyes; we see, there is the fact. What, then, is the use of our discussing any           longer? We had better believe it, since it is an undeniable truth. You may alter an opinion, but you cannot alter a           fact. You may change a mere doctrine, but you cannot possibly change a thing which actually exists. There it           isGod does certainly deal with some men better than he does with others. I will not offer an apology for God; he           can explain his own dealings; he needs no defence from me,

                                                  "God is his own interpreter,                                                   And he will make it plain;"

          but there stands the fact. Before you begin to argue upon the doctrine, just recollect, that whatever you may think           about it, you cannot alter it; and however much you may object to it, it is actually true that God did love Jacob,           and did not love Esau.               For now look at Jacob's life and read his history; you are compelled to say that, from the first hour that he left           his father's house, even to the last, God loved him. Why, he has not gone far from his father's house before he is           weary, and he lies down with a stone for his pillow, and the hedges for his curtain, and the sky for his canopy; and           he goes to sleep, and God comes and talks to him in his sleep; he sees a ladder, whereof the top reaches to           heaven, and a company of angels ascending and descending upon it; and he goes on his journey to Laban. Laban           tries to cheat him, and as often as Laban tries to wrong him, God suffers it not, but multiplies the different cattle           that Laban gives him. Afterwards, you remember, when he fled unawares from Laban, and was pursued, that God           appears to Laban in a dream, and charges him not to speak to Jacob either good or bad. And more memorable           still, when his sons Levi and Simeon have committed murder in Shethem, and Jacob is afraid that he will be           overtaken and destroyed by the inhabitants who were rising against him, God puts a fear upon the the people, and           says to them, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophet no harm." And when a famine comes over the land,           God has sent Joseph into Egypt, to provide corn in Goshen for his brethren, that they should live and not die. And           see the happy end of Jacob" I shall see my son Joseph before I die." Behold the tears streaming down his aged           cheeks, as he clasps his own Joseph to his bosom! See how magnificently he goes into the presence of Pharaoh,           and blesses him. It is said, "Jacob blessed Pharoah." He had God's love so much in him, that he was free to bless           the mightiest monarch of his times. At last he gave up the ghost, and it was said at once, "This was a man that           God loved." There is the fact that God did love Jacob.               On the other hand, there is the fact that God did not love Esau. He permitted Esau to become the father of           princes, but he has not blessed his generation. Where is the house of Esau now? Edom has perished. She built her           chambers in the rock, and cut out her cities in the flinty rock; but God has abandoned the inhabitants thereof, and           Edom is not to be found. They became the bond-slaves of Israel; and the kings of Edom had to furnish a yearly           tribute of wool to Solomon and his successors; and now the name of Esau is erased from the book of history.           Now, then, I must say, again, this ought to take off at least some of the bitterness of controversy, when we           recollect that it is the fact, let men say what they will, that God did love Jacob, and he did not love Esau.               II. But now the second point of my subject is, WHY IS THIS? Why did God love Jacob? why did he hate           Esau? Now, I am not going to undertake too much at once. You say to me, "Why did God love Jacob? and why           did he hate Esau?" We will take one question at a time; for the reason why some people get into a muddle in           theology is, because they try to give an answer to two questions. Now, I shall not do that; I will tell you one thing           at a time. I will tell you why God loved Jacob; and, then, I will tell you why he hated Esau. But I cannot give you           the same reason for two contradictory things. That is wherein a great many have failed. They have sat down and           seen these facts, that God loved Jacob and hated Esau, that God has an elect people, and that there are others who           are not elect. If, then, they try to give the same reason for election and non-election, they make sad work of it. If           they will pause and take one thing at a time, and look to God's Word, they will not go wrong.               The first question is, why did God love Jacob? I am not at all puzzled to answer this, because when I turn to           the Word of God, I read this text;"Not for your sakes, do I this saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be           ashamed and confounded for your own ways O house of Israel." I am not at a loss to tell you that it could not be           for any good thing in Jacob, that God loved him, because I am told that "the children being not yet born, neither           having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election might stand, not of works but of him           that calleth." I can tell you the reason why God loved Jacob; It is sovereign grace. There was nothing in Jacob           that could make God love him; there was everything about him, that might have made God hate him, as much as           he did Esau, and a great deal more. But it was because God was infinitely gracious, that he loved Jacob, and           because he was sovereign in his dispensation of this grace, that he chose Jacob as the object of that love. Now, I           am not going to deal with Esau, until I have answered the question on the side of Jacob. I want just to notice this,           that Jacob was loved of God, simply on the footing of free grace. For, come now, let us look at Jacob's character;           I have already said in the exposition, what I think of him. I do think the very smallest things of Jacob's character.           As a natural man, he was always a bargain-maker.               I was struck the other day with that vision that Jacob had at Bethel: it seemed to me a most extraordinary           development of Jacob's bargain-making spirit. You know he lay down, and God was pleased to open the doors of           heaven to him, so that he saw God sitting at the top of the ladder, and the angels ascending and descending upon           it. What do you suppose he said as soon as he awoke? Well, he said, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew           it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is           the gate of heaven." Why, if Jacob had had faith, he would not have been afraid of God: on the contrary, he           would have rejoiced that God had thus permitted him to hold fellowship with him. Now, hear Jacob's bargain. God           had simply said to him, "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou           liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed." He did not say anything about what Jacob was to do: God only said, I           will do it,"Behold I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again           into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." Now, can you           believe, that after God had spoken face to face with Jacob, that he would have had the impudence to try and make           a bargain with God? But he did. He begins and says, "If" There now, the man has had a vision, and an absolute           promise from God, and yet he begins with an "If." That is bargain-making with a vengeance! "If God will be with           me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come           again to my Father's house in peace, then"not withoutmark, he is going to hold God to his bargain"then           shall, the Lord be my God: and this stone which I have set up for a pillar, shall be Gods house: and of all that           thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee." I marvel at this! If I did not know something about my           own nature, I should be utterly unable to understand it. What! a man that has talked with God, then begin to make           a bargain with him! that has seen the only way of access between heaven and earth, the ladder Christ Jesus, and           has had a covenant made between himself and God, a covenant that is all on God's partall a promiseand yet           wants after that to hold God to the bargain: as if he were afraid God would break his promise! Oh! this was vile           indeed!               Then notice his whole life. While he lived with Laban, what miserable work it was. He had got into the hands           of a man of the world; and whenever a covetous Christian gets into such company, a terrible scene ensues! There           are the two together, greedy and grasping. If an angel could look down upon them, how would he weep to see the           man of God fallen from his high place, and become as bad as the other. Then, the device that Jacob used, when           he endeavoured to get his wages was most extraordinary. Why did he not leave it to God, instead of adopting such           systems as that? The whole way through we are ashamed of Jacob; we cannot help it. And then, there is that           grand period in his life, the turning point, when we are told, that "Jacob wrestled with God, and prevailed." We           will look at thatI have carefully studied the subject, and I do not think so much of him as I did. I thought Jacob           wrestled with God, but I find it is the contrary; he did not wrestle with God; God wrestled with him. I had always           set Jacob up, in my mind, as the very model of a man wrestling in prayer; I do not think so now. He divided his           family, and put a person in front to appease Esau. He did not go in front himself, with the holy trust that a           patriarch should have felt; guarded with all the omnipotence of heaven, he might boldly have gone to meet his           brother, but no! he did not feel certain that the latter would bow at his feet, although the promise said, "The elder           shall serve the younger." He did not rest on that promise; it was not big enough for him. Then he went at night to           the brook Jabbok. I do not know what for, unless he went to pray; but I am afraid it was not so. The text says,           "And Jacob was left alone: and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day." There is a great deal           of difference between a man wrestling with me, and my wrestling with him. When I strive with anyone, I want to           gain something from him, and when a man wrestles with me, he wants to get something out of me. Therefore, I           take it, when the man wrestled with Jacob, he wanted to get his cunning and deceit out of him, and prove what a           poor sinful creature he was, but he could not do it. Jacob's craft was so strong, that he could not be overcome; at           last, the angel touched his thigh, and showed him his own hollowness. And Jacob turned round and said, "Thou           hast taken away my strength, now I will wrestle with thee;" and when his thigh was out of joint, when he fully felt           his own weakness, then, and not till then, is he brought to say, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." He           had had fall confidence in his own strength, but God at last humbled him, and when all his boasted power was           gone, then it was that Jacob became a prevailing prince. But, even after that, his life is not clear. Then you find   &nbs

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