God chose Jacob over Esau for several reasons. First, as twins they shared similar genetic characteristics. Thus their differences would likely be minimal.
Genesis and Hebrews both tell of how Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of stew – an act which exploited hunger as an excuse to exploit faithlessness for temporary material gain.
God shows throughout the Old Testament his favor for younger brothers over older ones, selecting Isaac over Ishmael; Jacob over Esau (even before they were born, He told their mother how the younger would serve the older), Judah over three older brothers as an ancestor for royal lineage, and David over seven brothers for leadership positions – He sought those who best fulfilled His purpose rather than who best deserved it.
Esau, as the oldest twin of twins, received the birthright. This blessing consisted of double portions of wealth, leadership responsibilities and spiritual leadership of their family – but Esau had little interest in these things – instead, he offered all this in exchange for one bowl of stew!
Esau was hungry after returning from his hunting expedition and noticed Jacob cooking, so he offered a bowl of stew in exchange for Esau’s birthright. This deal wasn’t meant to trick Jacob but rather serve both parties equally; Esau needed food while Jacob needed his inheritance in the future.
Even though Jacob stole Esau’s blessing, God continued to bless him, creating modern-day Israel as the nation descended from Jacob. Esau’s descendants became Edom which later formed Rome which joined Nebuchadnezzar against Jacob’s descendants who founded Israel.
God didn’t punish Esau because He knew what Jacob would do and wanted His plans to succeed, something known as prescience which implies that His decisions don’t depend on people but on Himself alone.
God knew exactly what Jacob would do, so He made an eternal covenant with him that would make an impactful statement about who He is and His nature. Rather than punish Jacob for his sins, He provided blessings instead which will continue through Abraham’s descendants – making the story come alive in its context rather than misinterpreting God’s actions as somehow contrary to who He really is.
God makes His choice based on sovereign choice alone – not on any merits of either man – which is known as unconditional election. Paul elaborated this point further in Romans 9 by writing that God chose Jacob over Esau even before they were born or had done any good or evil deeds of their own; this reinforces God’s sovereignty over human goodness or evilness in making this choice.
Esau and Jacob were twin brothers who shared environmental influences as well as mothers and fathers, yet before being born God told Rebekah that Rebekah should ensure Jacob received Isaac’s blessing via deceiving her own son Esau in order to fulfill God’s plan for her children. Rebekah did so successfully by deceiving Jacob in order to fulfill her plan.
This story is deeply disturbing. We see that God does not approve of a brother deceiving his other, which highlights mankind’s sinfulness. Even so, the Bible doesn’t indicate that He held Esau responsible; rather He allowed the blessing to fall on Jacob because it fit His purposes.
God’s plan included not only the establishment of Israel but also its salvation through Christ. Therefore it was crucial that Abraham and Isaac’s descendants continue with Jacob instead of Esau who disobeyed God’s law, married women outside his nation and disdained his birthright.
Esau’s behavior was certainly problematic, yet not to the same degree as idolatry is seen today. He hadn’t engaged in acts of gross rebellion against God; rather he simply failed to cultivate self control over his physical desires – this explains why Hebrews refers to Esau as a “pornos.”
God was determined that His covenant with Abraham and Isaac be carried forward through Jacob instead of Esau; thus the biblical writers emphasize Esau’s descendants are still capable of salvation through Jacob alone.
Jacob and Esau are an example of God’s grace. Although full brothers with identical mother and father, Scripture tells us that Jacob was chosen prior to birth based on what is known as prescience or divine prescience: God knows all events both good and bad before they happen.
Rebekah recognized God’s will when she found out she was expecting twins and knew He wanted Jacob to receive both birthright and blessing. She told Isaac of this plan but he did not acknowledge her action. Later she snuck away to meet her brother instead, expecting food, but instead brought a blessing instead – deceiving both her father as well as God despite doing this deed.
Esau, however, did not forgive Jacob easily; upon learning of Rebecca’s deception and threatened to kill her (Genesis 27:39-40), Esau became even angrier but eventually was appeased when Jacob agreed to give back some material possessions that had been taken. This gesture helped restore some of Esau’s blessings he felt were stolen from him by returning some material assets from a large number of animals (Genesis 27:40-41).
God ultimately forgave Jacob. In a dream he appeared and assured him of His protection no matter his behavior. Furthermore, He promised Jacob that He would take him home to live with his father’s family; eventually Jacob settled in what is now Israel where his descendants eventually defeated Edom – their longstanding foe.
Though Jacob and Esau’s story teaches us not to deceive others, it also illustrates God’s ability to use our sins for His glory (2 Corinthians 12:9). Jacob’s success ultimately came from trusting in Him instead of his own wisdom or strength – his willingness to go such great lengths for God was proof enough of that trustworthiness.
Many people struggle to comprehend why God favored Jacob over Esau. They attempt to apply earthly or carnal logic to this extremely spiritual matter, which proves futile as they fail to realize God is holy and righteous and cannot be judged based on human merit alone; His choice was determined solely by his plan and purpose rather than their good or bad actions as brothers.
From the moment they were conceived, God showed His favor toward one brother over the other. He chose Jacob because He desired for him to continue the seed that would ultimately bring forth Jesus Christ; nothing they could do could alter this fact.
As young adults, their personalities and attitudes were vastly dissimilar: Genesis records Esau as being more outdoors-y while Jacob was an introverted tent dweller. Rashi and Ibn Ezra discuss these disparate traits as being part of God’s plan: He knew Jacob needed both spiritual strength and physical prowess in order to become the father of Israel, so He sent him on an apprenticeship under Laban – an expert trickster – so he could combine both aspects and become its ‘father’.
Esau was no doubt living a life marred by sin, spiritually insensitive and disdain for his birthright and blessing from God. Knowing this, God had already set things into motion so that Jacob could inherit Esau’s inheritance.
Some commentators have misunderstood these verses to mean that God’s love for some individuals may or may not be unconditional; this interpretation has caused considerable discord among believers. Furthermore, Paul in Romans 9 through 11 refers only to Israel itself rather than to individual Jews like Jacob or Esau as such.