Jacob Have I Loved
January 11th, 1989 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-11-89 7:30 p.m.
Once again, we welcome the multitudes of you who share this hour on KCBI. You’re a part now of our wonderful First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Jacob Have I Loved. As I said a moment ago, there hasn’t been any study that has meant more to me than the preparation of this sermon tonight.
In our preaching through the Book of Genesis, we are in chapter 25, and there’s a background text. I read verses 19 to 28:
These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.
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 heart; 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 came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau – hairy.
And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called – supplanter, cheater – 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.
The introduction: as we follow through this story of this family, it is the same as has been repeated since the creation of the world. It’s one of love, of partiality, of intrigue, of every facet that we experience in our human life. Human life is much the same always and wherever. Whether it is lived 19 and 89 years after the Lord, or whether it is lived 1989 years on the other side of the Lord, it’s just the same. Whether it is hidden beneath our broadcloth or hidden beneath the flowing robes of an Arab chief, it’s just the same. Whether it is spent in a modern city, or whether it is lived in the open pasture land of southern Palestine, it doesn’t vary; and the Bible is as modern as today’s newspapers as we read of these people who walk across its stage.
All right. Number one: Jacob, that is, Israel, is the father of the Jew [Genesis 32:28, 48:1-:33; Acts 3:13, 7:8; Romans 11:25-26]. His life reflects that of the Jew. Follow his life, and you’ll follow the life of the Jew. Abraham is the father of Ishmael, of the Arabs [Genesis 16:1-16; 17:18-22; 25:12-18]. Abraham is the father of the sons of Keturah, the Midianites and so on [Genesis 25:1-11; 1 Chronicles 1:32-33]. Abraham is the father of Isaac, and Abraham is the father of all who believe according to Romans 4:11. If we believe, if we’ve accepted our Lord, we also are the children of Abraham [Romans 4:11-12, 16-18; Galatians 3:7, 29].
But Isaac is Israel, and Isaac, I mean–but Jacob is Israel and his son is Judah from whom we get the name Jew; and his life, the life of Israel, the life of Jacob, is the life of his people. It’s a pattern for the whole nation. For example, his extremes startle us. He’s a traitor. He’s a cheater. He’s a supplanter [Genesis 25:24-34, 27:1-40]. That’s Jacob. Shakespeare chose the name Shylock. That’s a pattern of Israel. But also, he has far-seeing faith [Genesis 28:10-22; 35:1-15; 47:28-:33]. The two contrasts in the same people startle us and amaze us.
Again, he spends the greatest part of his life in exile, in toil, in sorrow like the Jewish people [Genesis 27:41-35:29, 37:1-36, 41:50-:33]. I can hardly believe that for thousands of years, they continue to exist and to be without a homeland, without a government. They are inalienably attached to their country no matter where they are.
I was in Panama one time, standing in a store before a merchant, buying some silk to take back to Mrs. C.; and I looked at him as we made the trade, and I said to him, "You’re a Jew, aren’t you?"
And he said, "Yes, I’m a Jew."
"Well," I said, "I have just recently been to Israel. I’ve been to Palestine."
"Oh," he said, "how is it there?"
And I began to describe to that stranger how it was in Israel; and as I talked about the homeland, tears, unashamed, rolled off his cheeks and fell on the floor. An amazing thing: wherever he is, his heart is there in the homeland, in Palestine. And thus it was that Jacob – Israel – was buried there because of God’s promises to his father [Genesis 26:1-6, 18-25; 47:27-31]. It is their land forever. He was embalmed. Jacob was – Israel was – he was embalmed in Egypt; and he was taken to Canaan by his son Joseph and a troop of Egyptian soldiers, and he was buried in the cave of Machpelah with his fathers [Genesis 50:1-14].
His character – speaking of Jacob, Israel – his character was perfected by tremendous disciplines. He was in the furnace seven times heated hotter. He was a God-called member of the kingdom of sorrows. For example, in Genesis 42:36, the famine in the land [Genesis 42:1, 43:1], Joseph and Simeon and now Benjamin taken away [Genesis 37:28-36, 42:1-36], he cries, saying, "All these things are against me."
It’s a pattern, I say, and a model of His people who have passed through the fire and the disciplines through the centuries. But, according to the Word of God as in Romans 11:26, "So all Israel will be saved," God having prepared some wonderful thing for them [Zephaniah 3:12-20; Zechariah 6:10-12; Romans 9-11; Revelation 7:4, 21:12].
Now, in the second section, we’re going to look at the course of his life and the journey of his pilgrimage which speaks to all of us. First, his faults and failings: he had a bitter confrontation with Esau [Genesis 25:27-35, 27:1-45]; then he had a bitter confrontation with Laban, his uncle, for whom he worked [Genesis 29:1-31:55]; then, back home, he had a bitter experience before Shechem [Genesis 33:18-34:31]; and he showed a tremendous fatherly weakness in his overt partiality to his son Joseph [Genesis 37:3-4]: the weaknesses that all of us see and experience in our own homes, and hearts, and lives.
But he had marvelous aspirations – an angel-haunted dream in his youth [Genesis 28:10-21] – like us with his vows, and hopes, and ambitions when he left home. His toils and labors were but a trifle when he was inspired by an all-mastering love as for Rachel [Genesis 29:13-20]. And we also go back to our Bethels and confess our sins [Genesis 28:19], and we also pronounce ourselves to be "strangers and pilgrims in the earth" [Hebrews 11:13] as described in Hebrews chapter 11: "waiting for the city of God" [Hebrews 11:10, 14-15].
And his sorrows speak to us. In every life, there is a leaving of home and a struggle for existence. In every life, there is a limp that reminds us of some tragic crisis. Don’t you think that you are alone in looking back over a great weakness that overwhelmed you and overcame you. We also limp as he did [Genesis 32:24-32].
In Genesis 35:8 is described the death of Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, and she was buried beneath a great oak named Allon Bachuth, the Oak of Weeping; and again, in Genesis 35:19, Rachel dies, and she is buried in a lonely grave on "the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem." And we also lay our beloved away. There is no home without its separating sorrow.
He wept over the lost Joseph – the gray hairs of sorrow [Genesis 37:32-35]. And we also mourn over our hopes not attained. In Genesis 47:9, before Pharaoh, he says, "The days of my pilgrimage have been 130 years, yet have I not attained." These Bible saints are like us, and the jewels in the city of God were once men and women just like us [Acts 10:26, 14:15; James 5:17].
And that leads me, third place, to speak of the elective purposes of God. In Malachi 1, verses 2 and 3, quoted by Paul in Romans 9:, the passage that you just read: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." He’s speaking in the ninth chapter of Romans, and tenth and eleventh chapters of Romans, of election: the coordination, the sovereign purposes of God. And when it says, "Jacob I have loved, Esau have I hated," He means by that that He loved Jacob so much that, in comparison, His love for Esau was like hate.
Jesus said the same thing in His Book about us in Luke 14:26: that we ought to so love God and follow Him that we hate our father and mother. The comparison of the love of our hearts for God is so beyond anything we could ever love in this earth that it’d be like hate here compared to the love there; and that’s the meaning of that passage, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."
Now to what was Jacob elected? In the sovereign purpose of God, to what was he chosen? He was elected and he was chosen to disciplinary love. The rod is in God’s hand. Hebrews 12:6: "Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth;" and if you’re not chastened, you’re not a child of God [Hebrews 12:8]. And he was elected, and he was chosen to sorrows and to triumphs.
Now I want you to look at this for just a moment. Had we been a newspaper reporter at that time, to pick out heaven’s favorite, we would have chosen Esau. Now, you look at it a moment. Esau was broad-shouldered, not feminine like Jacob who lived at the house and stayed around the skirts of his mother Rebekah [Genesis 25:27, 27:1-14]. He was broad-shouldered. He was a red-headed huntsman [Genesis 25:27]. He was a man of the field [Genesis 25:27]. He was a man of action. He was affectionate to his aged father Isaac. He was forgiving to his brother Jacob [Genesis 33:1-17]. He was a chieftain of great renown. Genesis 36 lists he was the founder of a princely line of twelve dukes [Genesis 36:43]. He was so rich that he could make light of Jacob’s presence [Genesis 32:1-7]. He was so powerful that Jacob was helpless in his hands. His territory was rich. He and his people were settled in it [Genesis 33:1-16]. While the children of Israel were groaning in Egyptian bondage, the Edomites – the Esauites – were prospering in peace and comfort. We are like Samuel. When we looked at Esau, we would have said, "Surely, the Lord’s anointed is standing before me."
On the other hand, Jacob – Israel – as a young man, he was forced to flee into exile and he never saw his mother again [Genesis 27:41-28:5]. As a mature man, he was a hireling in the employment of his uncle Laban [Genesis 29:1-31:55]. As an old man, in his declining years, he spent them in sorrow and trouble. He was a stranger in a strange land [Genesis 46:1-7, 26-34; 47:1-12, 27-31]. In Genesis 47 and 9, he says to Pharaoh, "Few and evil have been the days of my life." Yet, yet, he was beloved of God [Malachi 1:2-3; Romans 9:13].
Earthly sorrow is no sign of God’s displeasure, nor is prosperity a sign of God’s favor. To what are we elected? Are we elected, called, and chosen for comfort and for ease and for success and for affluence? These were certainly the lot of Esau and not of Jacob. The elect of God, the chosen of God, are selected to face the brunt of the storm of sorrow and pain and disappointment [2 Corinthians11:23-27; Hebrews 11:35-39; 1 Peter 1:6-7, 4:12-14]. I read in our presence 1 Corinthians 4:9-13:
For I think that God hath set forth us, who are the apostles, last, as it were appointed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels and to men.
We are fools for Christ’s sake . . .
We are weak . . .
We are despised.
Even unto this present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, buffeted, and have no dwelling place.
We labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled . . . persecuted . . . suffering . . . defamed.
We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring . . .
You are elected [Matthew 24:22; Ephesians 1:3-12; 2 Timothy 2:10]. You are chosen [1 Corinthians 1:26-29; Colossians 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1, 2:9]. You are beloved [Romans 1:7; 12:19; 1 Corinthians 4:14, 10:14, 15:58; 2 Corinthians 7:1, 12:19; Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 2:12, 4:1; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Timothy 6:2; Hebrews 6:9; James 1:16, 19, 2:5; 1 Peter 2:11, 4:12; 2 Peter 3:1, 8, 14, 17; 1 John 2:7, 3:2, 21, 1 John 4:1, 7, 11; Jude 1:1, 3, 17, 20], and this is God’s way of preparing us for that more wonderful life and more glorious home He has waiting for us in heaven [Matthew 5:10-12; Romans 8:16-18; 1 Peter 4:12-19; Hebrews 5:8-10. 11:35-40].
As I said, there hasn’t been any study that I have ever made that meant more of comfort and strength to me than this one presented in this message tonight. God bless us, dear people, as we share with our Lord and one another the tears and the travail of this pureness, elected of God.
Now, Fred, let’s sing us a song; and while we sing the song, I’ll be standing right here. If there’s a family here tonight whose heart God has touched thus to come into the family of the great King, come and welcome. If there’s one somebody to give himself to Jesus tonight, come and welcome. Whatever the Spirit may press upon your heart, if God bid you here, make it now. Bless you in the way 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