Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Genesis, chapter 25. We have suggested to you that one of the ways in which we would study the book of Genesis would be by emphasizing the lives of outstanding characters in the book. The book of Genesis is unique in that it is built around the lives of four men. Other lives are mentioned and other names are given, but only when those lives and names come in contact with the four.

We have already noticed Abraham. We noticed Isaac. It yet remains for us to notice Jacob and Joseph. We told you that Isaac is the least talked about of the four. He is mentioned in connection with Abraham, and he is mentioned in connection with Jacob. There are references, of course, in the life of Joseph to our father, Isaac . But as far as his life itself is concerned, as we pointed out to you, it is contained in just one chapter. We have twelve chapters for Abraham. We have twelve chapters for Jacob. We have twelve chapters for Joseph. We have just one chapter for Isaac.

Outline of Genesis

We suggested to you again that when we study the Word of God it is always best to find the outline of the Holy Spirit in a given book and to follow its divisions. As we come to chapter 25 of the book of Genesis, we will find the division presented to us in verse 19:

Genesis 25:

19And these are the generations of Isaac…

These are the descendants of Isaac. We pointed out to you when we began our study of the book of Genesis that this phrase, these are the generations , placed there by the Holy Spirit, would be the phrase that would mark the beginning of each division.

Isaac's Sons

We are going to look at two descendants of Isaac…Jacob and Esau. We will look at them together, because their lives were intertwined for a while. Then Jacob becomes the predominant character, and the middle section of the book is devoted to a discussion of Jacob's life.

We are going to look at the two instances that actually set the trend for the life of Jacob. If these two things were not true, we would not be able to know exactly the kind of man that Jacob was and why the things which happened in his life did happen.

One of the instances is referred to as a prenatal experience because, strange and astounding as it may seem, it happened before Jacob was born.

The other experience is an experience of his young adulthood. Both of these experiences set the blueprint for the life of Jacob. We read from verse 19:

Genesis 25:

19And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:
20And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.
21And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
22And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD.
23And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
24And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.
25And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
26And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.
27And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.
28And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

And many years later:

Genesis 25:

29And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
30And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
31And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
32And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
33And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

Here are two different experiences separated by a number of years. The chief characteristic of one points to the hand of God, and the chief characteristic of the other points to the hand of man. In one, we have the election of God. In the other we have the effort of the flesh. These two things are going to be the keynote to the life of Jacob in the succeeding chapters, because Esau will be mentioned only as he falls into the plan and the program ordained for Jacob.

Praying Together

Looking at the first experience for a moment, let us learn a little spiritual lesson before we learn a deeper spiritual truth. Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, and for twenty years they lived together without any children. Their hearts were concerned and their arms hungry for children. They decided to do something about it, and the thing that they did was to pray…which is a good thing to do in any circumstance. But I call to your attention this particular instance because of a very interesting sidelight we find in verse 21.

Verse 21 would suggest that Isaac was the one who prayed. But if you read it carefully in the original text, you will find that it was not Isaac alone who prayed, but it was both Isaac and Rebekah who prayed. This presents to me a very beautiful picture.

If you look at verse 21, you will notice the word for . If you should examine this word in the original text you would find that a better word for for would be with , so you could read the verse this way:

Genesis 25:

21And Isaac intreated the LORD with his wife, because she was barren…

They prayed together because their hearts were hungry for a little child. Then we read:

Genesis 25:

21…and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Every Believer A Priest

You say, “Well, isn't there some mistake there? Why doesn't it say the Lord was entreated of them?” The reason is that the Bible recognizes the headship of the man in the spiritual worship of every family. Every believer, as you are aware if you are very familiar with your Bibles, is a priest before God. You do not need a priest to guide your spiritual life. If you are a born-again believer, then you are a priest before God. The doctrine of the believer's priesthood is a precious doctrine in the Word.

But one of the tenets of that doctrine is that the head of every family is the priest of that family. It is the husband's responsibility to lead and direct the spiritual worship and the spiritual welfare of his family. I believe that many of us as husbands and fathers, standing someday at the judgment seat of Christ, will have to give an account for our laxity in this regard. I think we all recognize that many times we are lax about this, and many times the responsibility rests on the wife and mother to carry on this ministry for God.

A Husband As A Priest

Usually when I make a statement like this…that it is the husband's responsibility to carry on this ministry…some good women whose husbands may not be particularly spiritual, and in some cases not even born again, become concerned that I am suggesting that if the husbands will not do it, they themselves ought not to do it. I do not want to leave that impression with you at all. If your husband is unable or unwilling to accept the position as priest of his own family, then you have every right in the world to fill in for him until such a time as he will. If you want scriptural background for that, you will remember that in the Word of God there are numerous instances when God could not find a man to do the thing that a man ought to do, and He empowered women in a special way to accomplish His purpose.

One of the outstanding examples of this in the Old Testament is Deborah, who lived in the days of the judges. A judge, of course, is supposed to be a man. But there was not one who would take his responsibility. There was not one man to do what needed to be done, so God empowered Deborah in a special way.

Do not be discouraged and quit if your husband is not taking his position. You take it until he does. But let me offer this word of caution, and this is not going to cost anything extra, it is just thrown in. This word of caution…do not fall so in love with that position that you are not ready to relinquish it to your husband when he is ready to accept it. Through the years, time and time again, I see women a little bit hesitant to let their husbands take that position, because their husbands are young in the faith, and they are not as deep in the truth as perhaps the wife is. They think they can do a little bit better than the husband can because they have known the Lord a little bit longer. But I hope you wives…if you do not need this, then tell someone who does need it…will not become so wedded to that place of leadership that you are not willing to relinquish it even to what you might consider weak leadership when the time comes. It is amazing what the Holy Spirit can do with a weak man. You may look on him as rather weak and say, “Why, I can do it so much better than he can.” But if you would stay out of the way and let the Holy Spirit empower that weak man, you would be amazed at what would actually happen.

Isaac and Rebekah prayed together for their son, but it was of Isaac as the priest of the family of whom God said he was entreated, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

This was not a normal pregnancy, and Rebekah was very much disturbed about it. She was disturbed because things were not going the way she thought they ought to go, and she was very much concerned about it. That is what she meant in verse 22, when she said, “If it be so, why am I thus?”

You know, there were not many obstetricians in those days. Maybe there were not any doctors who were able to give advice in the way that was needed, and even if there were, she thought it would be good to talk it over with the Lord.

Asking God for Help

So she went off by herself and she said, “Lord, I do not understand this. I do not know why all this is as it is, and I need some help.” Have you ever done that? Perhaps not in the same sense that Rebekah is doing it, because you may not have had the battle going on in some pregnancy, but in relation to any number of problems, have you ever done that? Have you ever gotten alone with the Lord and said, “Lord, I just do not understand this, and I am scared to death about it. I wish you would tell me what this is all about.”

Well, the next time you are disturbed and distressed over some of the problems that come your way, before you do that, get alone with the Lord and say, “Lord, I just do not understand this. I am confused by it, and I need some help.”

Here is a wonderful illustration, indeed, of the Lord in His condescension. I never cease to marvel at the condescension of God. Here He is, the God of the universe, yet He condescends, as the Scripture says, to men of low estate. He comes right down to where we are and talks our language and solves our problems. You will notice in verse 23, “The Lord said unto her…of course you do not understand it because I have arranged it that way. There are two nations in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” In verse 24:

Genesis 25:

24And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.

Do you see what the Spirit if God is saying there in verse 24? “It is just as God said.” Before those two boys were born God said, “Rebekah, the reason you are disturbed is that there is not one child in your womb. There are two. They are as different as night is from day. They represent two peoples that will be in constant struggle, one against the other. The struggle has already begun between those two boys, and that is why there is all the discomfort connected with this particular pregnancy. These two boys will be the forefathers of two nations, and contrary to all practice, the older boy is going to be the servant. The younger boy is going to be the master.”

That is contrary to all the rules of the game. That is contrary to everything known to men. But God said, “That is exactly the way it is going to be.”

Birth of Esau and Jacob

So, as we read in verse 25, when they were born, they were as different as they could be. The first boy born, Esau, was ruddy in complexion, and was hairy all over almost like an adult. That is the reason they called him name Esau , because Esau means hairy .

His brother, in verse 26, was born immediately after, and you will notice that the Scripture said he was born with his hand on his brother's heel. He had his hand on Esau's heel, and they called him Jacob , which means supplanter . Why did he have his hand on Esau's heel? You could not tell from this verse, but we are going to anticipate ourselves a bit, because it will be brought out further along in the Scripture. The reason he had his hand on Esau's heel was that even before they were born, in the very process of birth, Jacob was trying to take Esau's place. That is what he did all his life long. He was trying to take Esau's place. When they recognized that, they gave him the nameJacob which means supplanter …a man who wants to take another man's place.

Born in this fashion, they continued in growth as different as when they were born. You will notice in verse 27:

Genesis 25:

27And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.

It would be better to substitute the word quiet for the word plain , because it did not mean that Jacob was not a handsome man. It meant that he was a quiet man.

Esau was an athletic, outdoor type of individual, but Jacob was a quiet, indoor type of individual. In this family something occurred that was going to create a lot of trouble. We as parents must guard against it all the time. There was a division in the family:

Partiality of Parents

Genesis 25:

28And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

There is a law well recognized by all of us, I am sure, that opposites attract. Isaac saw in Esau the dominating personality of his wife. As we pointed out to you, for a good part of Isaac's life (forty years, as a matter of fact) he was dominated by his father. For the next forty years he was donminated by his wife. He saw in Esau all of those dominating qualities, and he fell in love with them, which should remind us that most men who are dominated by their wives want to be. Sometimes we get a little bit concerned about that. We say, “That poor, hen-pecked man! How miserable he must be.” Well, nine times out of ten, if he is dominated by his wife, that is what he likes. That is the kind of life he likes, and that is the reason he chose it. If we would recognize that, some of the books that are written along this line might not be sold so quickly. Some folk might have to do something else for a living besides emphasizing some of the problems that arise in families today.

Of course Rebekah, because opposites attract, saw in Jacob the quiet nature of her husband. That is what she wanted. That is what she loved. That is why she fell in love with her husband. So she found it awfully hard not to be partial to Jacob.

This family, as we shall see as we go along, was driven and torn asunder by partiality on the part of the parents. That is a sad, sad thing…something we need to guard against. These are the practical lessons that I want to leave with you from this particular passage of Scripture.

Rightly Dividing Scripture

I would like for us to take a little time and look at something that is deeper still than what I have already suggested to you. I have told you from time to time, as we have studied the Word of God, that the best commentary on the Scriptures is the commentary that the Holy Spirit makes. Whenever you are studying any given passage of Scripture, it is wise to find out if the Holy Spirit has said anything about that passage of Scripture somewhere else in the Word of God. If He did, then you do not need to read what the Reverend Dr. So-and-so said about it. The Holy Spirit has already beat him to it. All you need to do is to read what the Holy Spirit says about it, and you will have the correct interpretation.

This passage of Scripture, with emphasis on verse 23, is quoted by the Holy Spirit in three different places. Each one of those three places sheds a little light on this passage. So, let us look at verse 23 again, refreshing our minds on what we read:

Genesis 25:

23And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Will you turn with me, please, to the book of Malachi, and notice chapter 1, verse 1:

Malachi 1:

1The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
2I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,
3And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
4Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, the border of wickedness, and, the people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.
5And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.

The book of Malachi represents God's last plea to the nation of Israel to return to Him. One of the bases on which He makes His plea is, “I love you. I love you very much. Why don't you respond to My love?” These Israelites were in such a spiritual state that they said, “Love us? When have you ever loved us? Why do you say you love us? You don't love us, God!” God said, “Oh yes, I do. Let me give you an illustration.” And God gave the illustration that we have read in chapter 25 of the book of Genesis when he asked the question, “Was not Esau Jacob's brother? Yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau.”

Those sound like strange words, don't they? They may seem difficult for us to understand. I never read this particular portion of the Word without remembering what Dr. Spurgeon said one time when a woman came to him greatly perturbed about this verse. She said, “Dr. Spurgeon, I just cannot understand it. It bothers me so that God would say He hated Esau.” He said, “Well, dear sister, that is not my problem. My problem is to understand how in the world he loved Jacob.” If you stop and think about it, that is so true! There is plenty in all of us for God to hate, and so very little in any of us for God to love.

I say these words are relative in the same sense that the words were relative when the Lord Jesus Christ said to His Disciples, “If a man does not hate his father and his mother, he cannot be My disciple. If a man loves his father or his mother more that he loves Me, he cannot be My disciple.”

Certainly the Lord Jesus Christ did not intend that the moment you become a Christian you burn with bitter, vindictive hatred of your parents. It does not work out that way. I have known individuals who have had all manner of trouble with their parents, even being bitter toward them, and then they were saved, or the Holy Spirit got complete control of their hearts, and they showered their parents with love. So it is not that the Lord Jesus Christ expects you to hate your parents. It is simply relative language meaning that He expects to be first.

Proof of Love for Jacob

God is saying in this passage of Scripture, “I love Jacob (that is another name for Israel), and the reason you ought to know I love you, Jacob, is that I chose you. I could have chosen Esau, but I chose you instead.

Sometimes I tease my wife when she says, “Honey, do you really love me?” I say, “Honey, I am too busy to be going over that all the time. I married you, didn't I?” Of course, I am just teasing. I want you to know that because if you try to say that without teasing, you get in trouble. But sometimes just to tease I say, “Well, I married you, didn't I? I chose you. I could have chosen any number of others, but I chose you, and that ought to prove that I love you.”

That is exactly what God is saying to Jacob here. “I chose you, Jacob, and that ought to prove to you that I love you.” So here is the first meaning, or the first interpretation, that is placed upon Genesis, chapter 25. It is an illustration of God's sovereign grace in choosing someone upon whom He could shower His love.

May I remind you that every one of us is a trophy of God's grace. There is not anything lovely about any one of us. There is not a reason in the world why any one of us should go to Heaven. There is not a reason God should love any one of us. I have never been able to understand how anyone who has a real vision of the holiness of God could do other than believe in the grace of God. I have to believe in the grace of God. I know myself too well. I know God's holiness too well. I have to believe in God's grace, for I would not have a chance in the world were it not for God's grace.

Just as He chose Jacob to shower His love upon, He has chosen you even before the foundation of the world to shower His love upon. Much more could be said about that, but that is enough, I trust, to whet your appetite and start you to thinking.

Will you turn, please, to chapter 12 of the book of Hosea:

Hosea 12:

1Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.
2The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.

Jacob…Man and Nation

Let us pause for a moment. You will keep in mind that the name of the man, Jacob, was passed on to his descendants. The nation of Israel became known as Jacob.

Up to this point we have been talking about the nation. But now we are going to talk about the forebear of that nation. We are going to talk about the man himself. So we read in verse 3:

Hosea 12:

3He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:
4Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;
5Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial.
6Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment and wait on thy God continually.

If we were to take the time to read the remaining portion of this chapter, we would find that there is presented here a contrast between the man, Jacob, and the nation, Jacob. The contrast lies in the fact that Jacob always had a great desire for spiritual things, and the nation at this particular time was turning its back on spiritual things.

Why God Loved Jacob

I would like to suggest to you that that is the reason God loved Jacob instead of Esau. Esau had no interest at all, as we are going to see eventually, in spiritual things.

Let us anticipate ourselves a bit and remind you that he sold his birthright for a mess of beans. That is all it meant to him. His spiritual birthright was his spiritual opportunity, and he sold it for a mess of beans. It did not mean anything at all to him.

But Jacob was so desirous of spiritual opportunities that he was going to get them even if he had to strive after them in the flesh. God did not condone his fleshly efforts, but God loved that desire for spiritual things on the part of Jacob.

Did you notice the comment here on Genesis, chapter 25? Did you wonder why Jacob reached out and touched Esau's heel even as they were being born? I hinted at it. I said that it was because Jacob, even before he was born, was true to his name, and that is why they called him Jacob . He was supplanting Esau. But this passage of Scripture tells us that Jacob was so eager for whatever spiritual blessings God had for him that even as he was being born, he reached out and tried to get the place of Esau where he would enjoy the blessings of Esau's spiritual birthright.

I wonder whether we have that intensive desire for spiritual things. I wonder whether we sit back and wish for things that we can enjoy from a spiritual standpoint, when maybe we ought to be reaching out and catching by the heels the source of that spiritual power.

I would like for you, if you will, to turn with me to the book of Romans, chapter 9. We find here the last commentary on Genesis, chapter 25. I have not presented these in any special order. I have reserved this one for last because it is, to my mind, the most difficult for our finite minds to comprehend. If anyone tells me that he understands completely the subject that is discussed in this chapter, I wonder if he does. I am not at all sure that our finite minds will ever be able to comprehend such infinite truth. This does not mean, in any sense of the word, that we do not believe it. It does not mean that we reject it. It does not mean that we think there is some error related to it. This simply means that we are going to understand all that we possibly can now about it, and look forward to the day when we will stand in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and say to them, “What did you mean by that, anyway?” I think that is going to be one of the glories of Heaven…to be able to ask some of the questions that our finite minds cannot comprehend now. Why will we be able to comprehend them then? Because our minds will be like the mind of God then. They will be infinite.

I like to think about John in the book of Revelation, about how often the angel would say to John, “John, do you know what that means?” I have always been a little bit amused at John's answer. If he were like a lot of us, you know, he would not want to portray his ignorance, so he would say, “Oh, yes, sir! Let me tell you what that means.” But he said, “You know. You tell me,” and he always got the right answer. I think that is what we are going to do, partly, in Heaven…get the answer to some of these things.

Turn to Romans, chapter 9, verse 1:

Romans 9:

1I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
2That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Hurriedly let us recognize that this is the Apostle Paul speaking of the burden that he had on his heart for the Israelites. Then, in verse 4, he tells us who these Israelites are, or he tells their advantages:

Romans 9:

4Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

These are a privileged people, indeed. Then Paul, running true to form, raises up a straw man, and then gets ready to knock him down. He anticipates questions that would be asked, and he answers them. That is a wonderful thing about Paul under the grace of the Holy Spirit.

You see, all I could do would be to have a little question and answer period at the end of a class and let you ask questions that you might have in your mind. But Paul knew what they were going to ask before they asked, so he asked the question and then gave the answer. He did not need a question and answer period after the times that he taught. So he said in verse 6:

Romans 9:

6Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect…

The question was simply that: “Now wait a minute, Paul. If what you said in all these verses is true, it looks to me as if the Word of God is not effective. It looks to me as if the Word of God has failed, because look at these Israelites. None of them is interested, and they have even cricified the Lord of glory.” So Paul said, “Well, do not be too sure about that.” In the end part of verse 6, he says:

Romans 9:

6…For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

“Not everyone that has the name Jew is a true Jew,” is what he is saying.

Romans 9:

7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

There were two boys in Abraham's house. One was Ishmael, and one was Isaac. Only the descendants of Isaac are recognized as the children of Abraham. The reason is in verse 8:

Romans 9:

8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

Ishmael, you know, was born because of the efforts of the flesh. Isaac was born because of a miracle of God. The descendants of Isaac were recognized as the children of God. In verse 9:

Romans 9:

9For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.

Let us stop right there for a moment. God is saying here that He began the purpose He had in mind by means of a miracle. He had something He wanted done, and He interrupted the course of nature in order for it to be. As sovereign God, He did it.

Showing Doctrine of Election

He is going to give us another illustration. In verse 10, He said:

Romans 9:

10And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Did you notice in verse 12 the quotation from Genesis, chapter 25: “It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger,” and to bolster that up, the quotation from Malachi, chapter 1, verses 2 and 3, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

We say, “Holy Spirit, why did You record this incident about Isaac and Rebekah and their two children in the Word of God?” The Holy Spirit answers, “That you might have an illustration of what I am talking about when I talk about the sovereign right of God to choose to do as He wishes to do, regardless of any individual's goodness or badness, regardless of any individual's work or lack of work.” Look at verse 11 again:

Romans 9:

11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

What does that say? Simply this: God had a purpose, and He elected (The word elected means chose . That is all it means.) certain people to carry out that purpose. On what basis did He choose them? Purely on the basis of His sovereign will. “Well,” you say, “didn't they have something to do with the choice? Didn't they do something to merit the choice? Didn't they do something to lose the choice?” The answer is, “No!” God made this choice even before they were born. God made this choice even before they had a chance to do anything good or a chance to do anything bad. God chose Jacob to carry out His ultimate purpose to bless the world through the Lord Jesus Christ. He refused to choose Esau for that same purpose. He did not say, “May I do it that way?” He did not say, “I hope it does not make you angry.” He simply said, “I am God, and I can do as I please in any given instance. It is My sovereign right.” That is the doctrine of election.

The doctrine of election perturbs a great many people. So often they jump to conclusions and assume that if God elects, as we have just illustrated, He elects some people to be lost and He elects some people to be saved, so you might just as well go ahead and live. And if you are going to be saved, you are going to be saved, and if you are going to be lost, you are going to be lost. There is nothing you can do about it. Then someone else comes along and says, “Well, I don't like a God like that! Any God that would deliberately send someone to Hell…what kind of God would do a thing like that?”

There are two suggestions that I would like to make to you. The only election that is related to salvation…notice what I am saying…is always presented from the positive standpoint.

God may elect you to salvation, but He never elects anyone to be lost. There is not any Scripture that says He elects anyone to be lost. He elects many people to salvation, and always that election is based upon something that we are going to see in just a moment.

The major portion of Scripture related to election is related to service. It is related to opportunity. God chooses certain individuals for certain tasks, and He says, “I am God, and I have a right to choose whom I will!”

What is the basis upon which all of this election is made? This is important for us to keep in mind. Will you turn, please, to the first epistle of Peter, and notice in the first chapter a word about the doctrine of election as it is taught in this Scripture:

I Peter 1:

1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

Did you notice in this verse of Scripture the foundation of God's election? The foundation of God's election is His foreknowledge, His ability to know beforehand what is going to happen before it happens. He makes His choice on that basis.

It is possible for us to imagine how Isaac and Rebekah must have talked about the child whom they were expecting. When God revealed to Rebekah that that child was actually going to be two children, they sat about and talked about them, because human nature has not changed any. We can well imagine their saying, “I wonder, are they boys or girls? Maybe a boy and a girl. I wonder what they are going to be like.” Rebekah would say, “If there is a boy, I hope it looks like you.” Isaac would say, “If there is a girl, I hope it looks like you!” Back and forth they would talk, up and down, all around, saying, “What are they going to be like?”

But they did not know. They had no way of knowing what they were going to be like. But God did. And God said, “According to the law of men, Esau should be the spiritual leader of the family, but Esau has no capacity for leadership, spiritually. He is a profane man. (That did not mean that he cussed, but that he liked things related to the earth and the flesh more than he liked spiritual things.) He is not material for spiritual leadership. Jacob has a deep desire for spiritual things. But Jacob, being born second, can never be the spiritual leader unless I interrupt the customs of men as one day I interrupted the course of nature in the birth of Isaac.”

So God said , “Jacob will be the spiritual leader, and the elder, Esau, will serve the younger, Jacob. I have decreed this. I have ordained it.” And it became so. God elected on the basis of His foreknowledge. There should be no problem for us to understand.

God's Plans for Every Person

If we want to broaden the application of this truth, we might say that God elects in the same way today. If you read Psalm 139 carefully, I believe you will have ample truth to believe that God has a plan for the lives of your children even before they are born. The important thing is not for you to decide what you want them to do, but the important thing for you to say is, “Oh God, I know that You have a plan for my child. Help me to see what that plan is. Help me to understand what it is so I can train my child according to the plan that You have for him.”

There are a lot of misfits today. They are not misfits because of problems that have arisen at home, at work, at school, or somewhere else. In many instances they are misfits because parents have never made the effort to find out God's plan for that child and to train him accordingly. God chooses because of His foreknowledge the plan that He would have them follow.

I believe with all my heart that God planned, even before I was born, that I was going to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that He planned that I should teach the Word. In His mercy and in His grace He reached down and lifted my life to where I am able to do that very thing today. Contrary to all the customs of my family, contrary to all the society in which I was reared, God had a plan, and God fulfilled it according to the election of grace.

I believe that the same thing can be true in relation to salvation, so that election need not be a problem. We read in chapter 8 of the book of Romans that men are elected, chosen, predistinated to be conformed to the image of Christ. All of this is because of God's foreknowledge. You will notice what Paul said:

Romans 8:

29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…

We are going to stop here, recognizing that we have not exhausted the doctrine of election, and realizing that we do not have all the answers to everything about it. But we recognize that it is not a doctrine to be feared, but a doctrine to be accepted.

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