God's Purpose in Election—Romans 9:10-13
"Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls-she was told, "The older will serve the younger." Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Romans 9:10-13)
It would be easy to read a passage of scripture such as this and misinterpret the intent of the author and the context of the passage. Election is a doctrine that many people argue fiercely, stating that God chooses some people for salvation and others for damnation. However the scriptures teach that election is based upon God's foreknowledge of the person and their free will to choose him. Peter said, "...who [elect] have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood..." ( I Peter 1:2 ). We have a choice whether or not we choose God. God's desire is that we choose him and he has made it possible to be reconciled unto himself, but God does not go against or override our freewill in choosing him. Rather in His foreknowledge, he knows who will choose him in this life and so based on that, he also elects and predestines them according to his purpose.
Peter tells us that God is "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" ( II Peter 3:9 ). But it was Jesus who said, "For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" ( Matthew 7:13-14 ). He began this statement by saying "Enter through the narrow gate" ( Matthew 7:13a ), and yet He knew not everyone would. This is because we have a free will in choosing the path for our live. He choose us, but in his grace he lets us choose him, our choice wasn't predetermined for us.
In today's passage, Paul tells us some important truths, he starts out by letting us know that God's election is not based upon performance but by choice. "before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls" ( Romans 9:11-12 ). God foreknew both Jacob and Esau before they were born. He knew the choices they would make and he chose Jacob based on that knowledge. Jacob was called to be the inheritor of the blessing of the firstborn son although it would have been Esau's birthright. Esau had every opportunity to have walked with the Lord, he chose not to. Jacob was called to succeed the promise spoken to Abraham because God foreknew this was the right choice. Esau wasn't destined for destruction by God's choice, his own free will and path in life determined that.
Even in the account in Genesis, it was apparent that both Jacob's and Esau's choices in life would determine their paths. While Rebekah was pregnant with the twins they wrestled inside of her. She inquired of the Lord and he said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger" ( Genesis 25:23 ). He knew that from these two men, two nations would emerge. One would serve the Lord and one would not. Both children came as a result of the promise spoken to Abraham, but only one remain in the promise because they choose God and as a result He chose them.
The two nations that emerged was Israel and Edom. Israel was God's chosen people because they chose to follow God. Edom was a godless race and caused Israel problems through out their entire history together. Paul records in today's passage that it was written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." ( Romans 9:13 ). This reference refers to Malachi 1 and not the account in Genesis. Meaning that God did not hate Esau the man and predetermine him for destruction, it is referring to the descents of Esau and the nation of Edom. It is showing that God's foreknowledge of Jacob was right when he chose him to be the inheritor of the promise. He was a man of God and taught his descents to be the same, while Esau despised the things of God and taught his descents to do likewise. Both were born out of the promise, but only one remained in it.
So God's purpose in election is to confirm our free will and chose us as we have chosen him. Romans 8 says, "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" ( Romans 8:29 ). We can rest assured that if we have chosen God, he had foreknowledge of this and he also chose and predestined us to be conformed into his likeness. Today I am bless that God chose me. I am so thankful that he gave me the option to choose him as well. As I enter into this relationship by my own free will I am blessed to know I too belong to the promise spoken to Abraham and continued by Isaac and Jacob. Today, may you also choose God through the precious blood of Jesus and walk in his walks, amen!
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Original article published January 9, 2010.