the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“He giveth not account of any of his matters.”
We omit some of the minor details of the history as contained in Genesis, and pass on to the birth of Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Let us see how the New Testament explains the Old. We shall read
In this chapter the apostle illustrates the doctrine of election by the history of the households of Abraham and Isaac, in which the will of the Lord made differences irrespective of merit. Here he brings us into a great deep; but if we only wish to know what God reveals and no more, we may safely follow where Scripture leads. Election is not a fit subject for idle curiosity, neither is it to be passed over in neglect, for whatever is taught us in the Word is profitable for some gracious purpose.
Paul did not write as he did because he hated the nation to which he belonged. Far from it. He would have sacrificed everything for their good; and he felt almost ready to be cast away himself, if by such a fate he could have rescued the Jewish people. Passionate love speaks a language which must not be weighed in the balances of cold reasoning. View the words as the outburst of a loving heart, and they are clear enough. O that all Christians had a like love for perishing sinners.
Romans 9:4 , Romans 9:5
Paul pauses to adore the Lord whom he loved. Let us bow our heads and worship also.
Romans 9:6 , Romans 9:7
Here was a difference made according to the divine will. God has a right to dispense his favours as he pleases, and it is not for us either to censure his actions or ask an account of them.
God passed by Esau, and gave Jacob the covenant blessing. This is a fact to be believed, and not to be made a matter for human judgment. Who are we that we should summon Jehovah to our bar? God is righteous in all his ways. We find that Esau despised his birthright, and sold it for a mess of pottage, and so by his actions abundantly justified, as well as fulfilled, the purpose of God.
How it ought to humble us when we remember that we have no claims upon God. If he should leave us to go on in sin and perish, we have no right to complain, for we deserve it. How earnestly and humbly should we implore him to look upon us in mercy, and save us with his great salvation. “Whosoever cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out,” is the voice of Jesus, and whether we see it or not, it is quite consistent with the predestination taught in this chapter. The Lord has a chosen people, and yet his gospel is to be preached to every creature. Believe, but do not cavil. When we believe on the Lord Jesus, we are in the way to make our calling and election sure. Only by faith can we be assured that the Lord has called and chosen us.
‘Tis not that I did choose thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse thee,
But thou hast chosen me:
Thou from the sin that stain’d me
Wash’d me and set me free,
And to this end ordain’d me,
That I should live to thee.
“Hold thou me up.”
Having read of the purpose of God concerning Esau and Jacob, we will now follow their history.
Children of the same parents may differ greatly in disposition, in conduct, and in character. The sovereign grace of God creates grave distinctions when it begins to operate, and every year makes the differences more apparent. Esau was wild and Jacob gentle. The one was roving, unsteady, and proud, and the other domesticated, thoughtful, and sedate.
This was bad on the part of both parents. Favouritism ought to be avoided, for nothing but discontent and ill feeling can come of it. Yet if Rebekah loved Jacob because of his quiet, pious disposition, she had good reason for it, which is more than can be said of Isaacs love of the rough huntsman Esau, only because “he did eat of his venison.”
This was uubrotherly and ungenerous of Jacob; the only good point about it is that he set a high value upon the birthright, and so showed his spiritual understanding. It is plain from this that Jacob’s salvation was due to the mercy of God, for his natural character was by no means commendable. The good points in him were of the Lord, the bargaining propensity was inherited from his mother’s family.
He valued it so little that a sorry mess of lentiles could buy it of him. Surely it was the dearest dish of meat man ever bought, though we remember a little fruit which cost us more. Many a worldling barters his soul for the pleasures of an hour, crying, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” In order to be rich, to indulge in pleasure, or to have their own way, men have thrown aside all hope of heaven. This is to exchange pearls for pebbles, realities for shams, lasting bliss for fleeting mirth. May those who are just growing up into life take warning from this sad act of Esau, and choose earnestly the good part which shall not be taken from them. The apostle turns Esau’s story to good account in
We are to watch lest any of us who profess to be children of God should fall short of grace, like an arrow which does not quite reach the target. To fail to possess grace in the heart is a fatal thing.
Sin is a bitter root, and brings forth sorrow and shame.
It is a profane thing to compare the priceless blessing of God to a merely sensual enjoyment. It is an acted blasphemy.
The deed was done, the blessing had been given to Jacob, and Isaac could not withdraw it from him. If men sell their hope of heaven for the joys of earth they will in the world to come repent of their bargain, but there will be no repentance with God. He that is filthy must be filthy still.
Should I to gain the world’s applause,
Or to escape its harmless frown,
Refuse to countenance thy cause,
And make thy people’s lot my own;
I sell my birthright in that day,
And throw my precious soul away.
No! let the world cast out my name,
And vile account me if they will;
If to confess the Lord be shame,
I purpose to be viler still.
For thee, my God, I all resign,
Content if I can call thee mine.