Jacob Have I Loved
June 1st, 1958 @ 8:15 AM
JACOB HAVE I LOVED
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-1-58 8:15 a.m.
You are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled Jacob Have I Loved. And I pray God will help me this morning as I attempt to share with you a study that has meant as much to me as any I have ever seen in God’s Word. There is something that I have mentioned in the sermon about two weeks ago at the eleven o’clock hour that has been fully developed in my mind and heart as I prepared this message this morning. And you will see it as we develop the sermon.
In the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Genesis, we have come to the life of Jacob. And it begins like this, Genesis 25:21:
And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord.
And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.
And the first was born red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
And after that was born his brother, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.
And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.
And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Then you have the beginning of the story, which is long and full in the Book of Genesis clear to the end, of our father and patriarch Jacob.
Now when you read these chapters and follow through these stories, you will find that the Bible is as up to date and as modern and as pertinent to our life as this morning’s newspaper. These people in their lives, their troubles, their rebellions, their contact with God, they are just as we are: people just like us. Whether they live nineteen hundred years on the other side of the cross, as Jacob did, or nineteen hundred years this side of the cross, as we do; whether the life is covered under the broadcloth and the weave of our modern garments, or whether it is covered with the flowing robes of an Arab sheik; whether that life is lived in a modern town in America, or whether it was lived on the broad open pasture lands of south Palestine; it is all and still the same. When we read the life of Jacob, we shall see ourselves again and again and again. Jacob is more like us, and his life touches us in more places than most any other character you will find in the Holy Book.
Now Jacob is the real and actual founder, and beginning, and father, and patriarch of the Jewish nation and the elect race; Jacob is. They are called by his name, Israel; Jacob, Israel. Abraham is the father of Ishmael, and the father of all of the Ishmaelites, the Arab people [Genesis 25:12-18]. Abraham is the father of the sons of Keturah, the Midianites for example [Genesis 25:1-4]. In the fourth chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul declares, "Abraham is the father of all who by faith come to God, who trust in Jesus" [Romans 4:16]. Abraham is the father of all the faithful, but Jacob is the Jew. His son, Judah, gave the name – shortened – to the people, "Jew." Jacob is Israel, the nation is his. Abraham, through Ishmael, through Isaac, through Esau, was the father of a vast number of nations [Genesis 17:4-6]; but Jacob, Israel, is the father of the Jewish nation, the Jewish people, this group [Genesis 35:10-11]. And the life of Jacob is the life of his people, the Jew. In his life, as in their history, are startling contrasts; some of the most amazing you could ever imagine or think of. On one hand, his genius at bargaining, his success at trading: on the other hand his tremendous, far reaching faith in Almighty God. Jacob spent most of his life an exile, away from home, a stranger in a strange land, yet he was possessed with an inalienable affection for the land of his fathers. And when he died, he asked to be taken back to be buried in the land promised to Abraham and to Isaac [Genesis :29-33, 50:12-13] – never get away, never fall away from an affection and a devotion for the homeland, never dies – and he is blessed of God in all of those disciplinary visitations from heaven. He has been thrown into the furnace, heated seven times, and his character is purified and refined by the tremendous sufferings God visited upon him.
So it is the whole story of his people: "All of these things are against me!" cried Jacob in the depths of his sorrow [Genesis 42:36]; so the nation that he founded – sorrow unending, the purifying fires of heaven, the visitation of the rod of God – yet out of it that people are and shall be finally and ultimately blessed, and shall be a blessing to the world, even as the life of Jacob [Genesis 48:4].
Now Jacob’s life speaks to us. Jacob’s life contacts our life in more places than, I say, any other character that I think we could find in the Holy Scriptures. Jacob speaks to us in the failures and the foibles of his life. He is so all together mundane and human, just as we are, with flaws in his character, with weaknesses in his soul, with all kinds of derelictions and faults and failures in his life; his dealings with Esau his brother [Genesis 25:29-34, 27:6-41], his dealings with Laban his uncle [Genesis 30:25-31:55], his intermingling with the Shechemites and the terrible things that came of it [Genesis 34:1-31, :6-7]. Just like our entrance into the world: whenever God’s people began to play with the sins of the world, oh, tragedy always comes of it! We don’t belong with these Shechemites. When God said, "Go back to Bethel" [Genesis 35:1], and he encamps with the Shechemites – how often do we do that? And all of those things that followed in his partiality to Joseph [Genesis 37:3-4]; how human, how weak, how like all of us is Israel, Jacob.
And he speaks to us, not only in the weaknesses of his life, his failures and his faults, but he speaks to us in the aspirations of his life. He’s just like us. We have our angel dreams, looking up to heaven, reaching clear to God’s throne [Genesis 27:12-13]. We make our vows when we leave home. We have known what it is to toil and to labor as though it were nothing, a trifle, governed by some over-mastering love and dedication [Genesis 29:15-28]. Our aspirations, we’ve known what it is to go back to our Bethels in repentance and confession of our sins [Genesis 35:1]. And we have known what it is finally to confess ourselves strangers and pilgrims in the land, "looking for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" [Hebrews 11:9-10].
He speaks to us not only in the aspirations of his life, but he touches us, contacts us, in so many places in the sorrows of our life. Have we not known what it is to leave home, the sorrow of being away and away and away? [Genesis 27:41-28:5] Hardly anyone but can remember the breaking of the tie that tore us loose from the nest in which we grew up; leaving home. So many of us limp, a recalling of a terrible hurt and crisis in our lives; and thereafter walking and living with a limp [Genesis 32:25-32]. Some of us have known what it is to say, "This is truly the blood of my son, Joseph; he has been destroyed, and God has taken him away" [Genesis 37:31-34]. We have known what it is to come to Allon-Bacuth, the oak of weeping [Genesis 35:8]. Many of us have known what it is to pause by Ephrath, where he buried Rachel his beloved wife [Genesis 48:7]. All of us ultimately shall know what Jacob meant when he said, "Finally, I have not attained" [Genesis 47:9]. Visions and hopes and dreams in life we have never realized or grasped. How many places will you find as we go through this Book of Genesis, how many places will you find that the life of Jacob touches us; living, suffering, dying, like we live and suffer and die.
But the great and the unusual thing about the life of Jacob, that as I am preparing these messages, studying his life, the remarkable thing that has come to me has been a revelation of the elective purposes of God. You know all my life the great doctrine of election, the choice of God, the outworking purpose of God, everybody that I ever listened to would brush it aside, "This is a mystery into which nobody can enter, nobody could find any meaning or understanding in that. That is a doctrine that no need to mention; it’s beyond us." Yet I would read it, and have all my life, on practically every page of God’s Book. And yet all of the theologians and the teachers and the professors and the preachers just pass it by. "This is something that is not pertinent to us, it’s beyond us; no need to mention it, just confuse the people by speaking of it." Why, bless your heart, I never knew what the doctrine of election really was, and the great purposes of God in our lives and in our world, I never saw it, nor did I know it had such deep pertinency and meaning for us until these last few weeks. And now, here I have met it again; and may God help me in these remaining minutes to see if I cannot break open for you this bread of life; one of the tremendously great facets of the character of Almighty God, and how it reaches down to us. Over here in the first verse and second verse of the prophet Malachi:
The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast Thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob,
And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
When Edom saith, when Esau saith, We are impoverished, we will return and build up; God says, They shall build, but I will throw down;
and on and on. "I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau" [Malachi 1:2-3]; that is, that is, compared to God’s love for Jacob, His attitude toward Esau was one of hate – the same kind of a thing as when Jesus says, in the Book of Luke, "Whosoever will come after Me must hate his father and his mother, and his brothers and his sisters, and his house, and family, and his own life also" [Luke 14:26]. That is, compared to the great devotion that we have for Christ, our attitude toward life and home and everything else is hate, compared to the strength and the glory of that light we have in our hearts toward God.
Now, the apostle Paul uses that, these passages, the one that I read and this passage in Malachi, he uses that as an illustration of the elective purposes of God concerning Esau and Jacob. "Not only this," he says in the ninth chapter of the Book of Romans, and the tenth and following verses:
But when Rebecca also had conceived by our father Isaac;
(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, Esau, shall serve the younger, Jacob.
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Now, what does that mean, when God elects Jacob and God does not elect and choose Esau? Just what does that mean? To what was Jacob elected, and what is this great purpose of God in election? Well, it is very evident and very plain, and it is writ large on the page of the Holy Scriptures, if you will just read and look and see. To what was Jacob elected? He was elected to disciplinary love; he was elected to the rod and the chastening of Almighty God.
Now I want to illustrate that plainly here in the lives of these two men, Esau and Jacob. So let’s do it like this: let’s suppose that you are a reporter from Life magazine, and Time magazine, and Holiday magazine, and you have been sent out to write up a story on heaven’s favorite, the choice of God, the elect, the endowed of heaven. Which one would you have selected? "Sir, I can answer that question in the snap of my finger: you would have selected the wrong one. You would have chosen Esau: broad shouldered, red-headed huntsman, man of the field, man of action, man of acquisition and of power [Genesis 25:27]. He and his people were never embittered by the lot that fell upon Jacob and Israel. Look at this man, Esau. He grew up a strong, straight, powerful, and lovable man. He was affectionate in his nature, impulsive but quick to forgive. He was devoted to his aged father. He stayed there in the homeland, and he built there a great and rich nation [Genesis 36:7-9]. He was so wealthy that the gifts offered to him by Jacob he spurned in contempt [Genesis 32:13-23, 33:8-11]. He was so powerful that Jacob was helpless in his hands. He was the father of twelve princely dukes [Genesis 36:10-43]. And he settled his family, and he made a nation that was rich, dwelling in their own affluent and fertile territory.
When his brother Jacob, family and nation, were groaning in slavery in Egypt, Esau’s family, the Edomites, were in the glory of their wealth and their power [Genesis 36:31]. Esau is the very sign of power, of success, of affluence. All the days of his life he spent in wealth and in power and in prestige. He was one of the great chieftains, one of the great sheiks of all time. Had you been looking at heaven’s favorite, you would have selected Esau, a man who walked in the glory of this world, and in the power of this life.
His brother Jacob spent his young days in exile [Genesis 27:42-43]. He spent his maturity as the hireling of a kinsman [Genesis 29:15-31:17]. He spent his old days a stranger in a strange land [Genesis 46:1-:33]. And he came down to the grave in sorrow and in tears. Yet, God loved Jacob and God loved Israel, and God elected Jacob and God blessed Israel [Deuteronomy 7:7-9]. Well then, just what is this election of God? Why, bless your heart. And I came to see it: the election of God is never to worldly fame, and success, and ease, and a life of indulgence and license; that’s the world’s election, that’s the world’s idea of the blessings of heaven. That is the election of an Esau; these are the favors of an Edomite. But the elections of God are – now, I come to the passage that I had you read, and I said you wouldn’t know why I choose it now, but in the message you would see:
For I think that God hath chosen us, set forth us,
who are apostles last, as it were, God hath elected us to death:
for we are made a spectacle, that is, we are made an open shame to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake –
then he describes –
In hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, buffeted, in labor, reviled, persecuted,
[1 Corinthians 4: 9-12]
He says, "I would suppose that we are the offscouring of the world" [1 Corinthians 4:13], the election of God.
When Ananias said, "No, Lord, not to that man" [Acts 9:13-14], God said to Ananias, "You go see him, and you lay your hands upon his head, for he is a chosen and elect vessel unto Me [Acts 9:15, 17]. For I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake" [Acts 9:16]. The elect of God are to bear the brunt of the faith of Jesus Christ: persecuted, martyred, living in goatskins and sheepskins, wandering as strangers in the earth, living in dens and caves, of whom the world is not worthy [Hebrews 11:37-38]; the election of God, knowing what it is to toil and to labor, dedicated to a great cause. Lying at ease in a soft bed this morning; but the elect of God, here with an open Bible, listening to the pastor teach the Word from the Book. Taking it easy before God on God’s Day, hunting, swimming, fishing, playing golf; but God’s elect praying, studying, meditating, visiting, winning. God’s elect are elected to a great ministry and a great task: to the disciplines of God’s love. "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son" [Hebrews 12:6]. And if you’re not chastened, and if you’re not scourged, you’re not His child.
That – these are the elect of God; bearing the burden of the world in their souls, carrying the responsibility of the kingdom of heaven in their lives. And the non-elect – the Esaus, the Edomites – in affluence, in pleasure, in the world and in death; oh, these things, these things! And as I pored through these Scriptures and tried to see through, I tell you, I had a little regeneration in my soul, because I am frank to confess to you that a lot of times in my soul I have murmured and complained, "Lord, why is it because I’m a Christian I have to bear these extra burdens, and the world gladly passes by?" Why, I give enough money to this church in a year to buy an automobile. And there are thousands of people who take every penny that they have and spend it on themselves. And there are a thousand places and a million things that the world does, I will not share in it at all. And the responsibility, and the burden, and the care that goes trying to win souls for Jesus, and the world passes that by as though it were non-existent. And I think, "Lord, looks like God’s people have a hard time; looks like the world isn’t fair to the Lord’s people. They’re the ones that bear the brunt, they’re the ones that suffer, they’re the ones that pay the price." Why, bless your heart, that’s what it is to be the elect of God.
God hath chosen us to bear His spiritual responsibilities. He hath chosen us to support the church. He hath chosen us to pray for the lost. He hath chosen us to be dedicated in our lives. He has chosen us to be His representatives in the earth, and all of these things that come with it are because God loves us. And the disciplines and the fires through which Jacob passed are the disciplinary fires that burn the dross out of our lives, and make us strong and great as we walk before the Lord. Edom dies with the dying world, but Jacob, Israel, is in God’s house forever, is blessed and made a blessing; the election of God, He hath called us.
O help me, Lord, to be strong in the purpose and to achieve that for which God hath laid hold upon me. "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended": I have not got it yet, "but we press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" [Philippians 3:13-14]. We have been elected to run in the race.
Now while we sing the song, somebody this morning to give his heart to the Lord, somebody to put his life in the church; a family or one somebody you, while we sing the stanza, would you come? On the first note of the first stanza, would you come? Would you make it now? While we stand and while we sing.
JACOB HAVE I LOVED
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1. Old story of
family life: love, partiality, intrigue
2. Human life is
much the same
3. The Bible is as
modern as today’s newspapers
Jacob is the father of the Jews
1. His life
reflects that of a Jew
2. Abraham is the
father of Ishmael, Midianites, Isaac, and all who believe
3. Jacob alone is
Israel, father of Judah, father of the Jews
Jacob’s life is the life of his people
1. His extremes
startle us: from cheater, supplanter to far-seeing faith
2. Most of his life
spent in exile
3. His character
perfected by tremendous discipline
Course of Jacob’s life
1. Faults and
3. His sorrow
speaks to us
Elective purpose of God
1. Choice; God
loved Jacob, hated Esau by comparison
2. Elected to
discipline, rod in God’s hands, sorrow, trials
3. The world
4. Believers are
elected for the pattern of Jacob, unbelievers the pattern of Esau