Malachi ─ “Jacob, have I loved but Esau have I hated”: Does God hate Esau?


When the Prophet Malachi speaks, his words are strong and to the point. But some of the language he uses needs clarification. For instance, in his opening statement, Malachi uses the word ‘hate’ towards Esau (Edom). Some versions say ‘rejected,’ but either way, it echoes discrimination.

To Jacob, Malachi writes, “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’  Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the LORD. “Yet Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness.” (NKJV)

But does God really ‘hate’ Esau? Or, does God really hate anyone? I meditated on this passage, and this is how I understand the terminology used in this instance. Jacob and Esau referred to here are Jacob and Esau collectively, not individually. Israel, for example, is threefold: a person; a people group and a land mass. Even so, Jacob here refers to the Children of Israel and Esau relates to the Edomites.

The Jacob and Esau that struggled in their mother’s womb were not collective, but individuals and yet their struggle represented the futuristic battle between two nations. Their mother Rebekah sought the Lord about her two children fighting in her womb and the Lord replied, “Two Nations are in your womb, two manners of people, one stronger the other weaker, the elder shall serve the younger.”

And, thus their fate was sealed ─ or was it? Esau still had to give his inheritance away (by choice), and Jacob still had to wrestle for his inheritance (by choice). At any point in time, either one of them could’ve chosen a different path thus negating God’s Will and Purpose.

Even when the Lord speaks and pre-ordains, it’s still up to the individual to take up the calling. God never reneges on His promises, but human free-will supersedes ordination. Let’s not forget that even though Malachi stipulates pre-ordination in both Jacob and Esau’s case, Jacob is not let off lightly. The rebuke to Jacob (Collectively) is abrupt and harsh. Jacob has given YHWH no honour; defiled His altars; sacrificed the sick and the lame animals and sneered at His goodness.

Malachi contends, however, there is another group of people; a third group, not Jacob or Esau but rather from among the Gentiles (Ch.1:11). They will make God’s name great on the earth; they will give Him a pure offering and His name will be great amongst them. My favourite verse and one I regularly use in my prayer times is a declaration from the mouth of YHWH Himself. “For I AM a Great King.” (NKJV). Nothing more needs to be said!

Those that wrestle for their inheritance are called ‘Overcomers’ in the Bible. When we are not prepared to fight for what is rightly ours, technically, we sell off our birthright, for whatever appeals to us at a specific moment. In Esau’s case, it was food. It is that aspect of ‘giving-up’ that God is saying He hates. It is an action rather than a person. We have been put on this earth to be Overcomers.

I’m not saying it is easy, but in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. If we trust in Him, He will give us the strength to overcome.

Jacob’s story being exactly that, even when dealing with physical pain and suffering, he battled on…telling God, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” He showed determination, courage, and when the struggle was over, Jacob received his new name ─ Israel and the Title of Overcomer. Saying, your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have overcome.

God is not a respecter of persons, and we also will receive a new name written on a white stone (Rev. 2:17) if we are prepared to wrestle with God and overcome life’s challenges. The following blessings in Revelation are only for Overcomers:

  • To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
  • He that overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.
  • To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it.
  • And he that overcomes and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron.
  • He that overcomes the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.
  • Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name.
  • To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.

There are dozens of other Bible verses about overcomers, none better than in the Book of James Ch.1. We must be tried, tested and proven to receive rewards both in this life and in the next. But more importantly we must be prepared to wrestle spiritually with man and with God.

© Cheryl Mason 2017.

Scripture quotations marked “NKJV” are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Image Jacob wrestling with God: