This chapter covers a lot of territory: from the account of Abraham's final years and the children born to him after Sarah's death, through the birth of Isaac and Esau, and all the way to Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of stew.
Lots of questions and lots of lessons for a single chapter.
The thing that stands out to me is the fact that Jacob took advantage of his brother's hunger and weakness. The next several chapters will chronicle the steep price Jacob will pay in terms of family relationships for his action. Yes, the Bible says that God loved Jacob, but it doesn't condone his actions. God's love for us is unconditional, thankfully. Still, when we take advantage of someone in their weakness, take advantage of their sin nature, there are consequences — sometimes for generations.
Jacob's action also reveals a lack of trust in God to provide — he didn't need the birthright, he had God's love. Nothing that God desires to give us will require us to act deceitfully. And what God desires for us is better than anything we could take for ourselves through pretense.
So why does Malachi 1:2-3 tell us that the Lord loved Jacob, but hated Esau. We are so quick to equate God’s love with our worthiness, to think that those God loved and chose to use in mighty ways or to bless abundantly have somehow earned their place in God’s heart.
But Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t choose us while we were yet sinners because He knew that deep down we were really good at heart and had just made some mistakes. He chooses to save us despite the fact that deep down we are desperately sinful.
In sharing the story of Esau and Jacob, we often focus on Esau’s fleshly desire to prize his immediate gratification over the spiritual blessing of his birthright. We contrast that with Jacob, as if Jacob were righteous and Esau unrighteous. But that is faulty theology which forms a foundation for a false, prosperity or works-based gospel.
God chooses whom He chooses. He blesses who He chooses to bless for purposes which we may not ever understand this side of eternity.