“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob. And I hated Esau,…(Mal.1:2-3)
Here we have a commentary by divine revelation on Jacob and his elder brother. St Paul borrows the topic of predestination presented in the book of Malachi. A close reading of Ro.9:10-13 shall be helpful.
The account of the Patriarchs does not gloss over their personal faults and failures. God does not look at appearances. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,..(Is.55:8).” From the instance of Jacob and Esau we need to understand what we mean by good. It is not with reference to ethical standards one cultivates over another or civility that makes human transactions in every day circumstances run smoother. The parable of the Rich Ruler makes this clear.(Lk.18:18-27) In the version found in the gospel of Mark we have this: “Then Jesus beholding him loved him (Mk.10:21), ” and pointed out what was yet lacking in him. Because he was very rich he fell back. Jesus pointed the way to perfection but he failed.
So predestination indicates God’s promise (as in the case of Abraham) that man must meet on his part by personal commitment. It is faith.When we consider Jacob and Esau we see Jacob was cunning and deceitful as Esau more forgiving and open. Be that as it may such faith that made Jacob struggle over his elder brother while in the womb gives Predestination another facet: without faith it is impossible to please God.When we are reading the election of Jacob it shall be clear that it was not his deceit but faith that passed the muster. As in the case of Abraham who was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac on the mount, he proved when he prevailed over God at Peniel. Faith is a personal commitment Jacob possessed. All other traits a man shall ever hold, both noble and ignoble are, in course of time, straightened out about faith, which is the quintessence of God.
In the Creation Day when the glory of God gave a form to the earth the Spirit instructs us that what was visible did attest to it.(Ro.1:20). In the case of Jacob in the pre-natal state imbibed as though it were, naturally pursued birth right even after delivered from their mother’s womb. Whereas Esau dismissed his birthright as a trifle. “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them (Mt.13:12-NIV)”.