“Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What does this mean? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s MERCY. For Scripture says of Pharoah: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has MERCY on whom he wants to have mercy, and he HARDENS whom he wants to harden. Romans 9:13-18
The chapter goes on to describe Esau and Pharoah are “objects of WRATH” in verse 22.
It is time for us to define this wrath and hatred of God.
Ezekiel 16 describes wrath this way:
Verse 27 So I stretched out my hand against you and reduced your territory; I GAVE YOU OVER to the greed of your enemies.
Verse 39 Then I will DELIVER YOU into the hands of your lovers, and THEY will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. THEY will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewellery and leave you stark naked.
Verse 42 Then my WRATH against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.
Verse 53 However, I will RESTORE the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them.
Verse 60 I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.
God’s only action was to stop protecting the Israelites from the consequences of their sins. He let them go and allowed their enemies to capture and abuse them. But the story ends in restoration not only for Israel but for other nations as well! God’s wrath results in restoration!
Paul takes up this theme of wrath in his letter to the Romans. He says that simultaneously to the Gospel being revealed, God’s wrath is revealed, Romans 1:17-18.
Verse 24-25 Therefore God GAVE THEM OVER in the sinful desires of their hearts … They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator.
Here we have the same phrase that was used in Ezekiel 16, to describe wrath in Romans 1. God’s wrath is to hand his creation over to the consequences of sin.
Wrath is a metaphor for consequences.
In chapter 12 we have this mysterious description of wrath:
Verse 19 Do not take revenge but leave room for God’s WRATH …
Verse 20 If your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head!
In the OT burning coals represent repentance and forgiveness. Isaiah 6 shows an angel applying “live coal” to Isaiah’s lips.
Verse 7 See this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.
God’s wrath leads to repentance.
Returning now to Romans 9 where God “hated” Esau and “hardened” Pharoah and called them “objects of wrath.” God used them to “demonstrate his power” (9:17), to “make known the riches of his glory” (9:23) and to have “mercy on whom he wants to have mercy” (9:18).
God handed Esau and Pharoah over to the consequences of their actions. Esau lost his birth-right to Isreal in the book of Genesis. Pharoah drowned in the Red Sea chasing Israel in the book of Exodus. They were objects of wrath (consequences) to demonstrate God’s favour toward Israel.
But his ultimate purpose was not purely to destroy Esau and Pharoah. They seemed hated. They seemed unfavourable. They seemed like they were no-hopers. But the climax comes in Romans 11.
Verse 25 Israel has experienced a hardening [wrath/hatred] in part until the FULLNESS of the GENTILES has come in. [All Gentiles saved]
Verse 26 And in this way ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED.
Verse 32 For God has bound EVERYONE [not just Esau and Pharoah] over to disobedience that he may have MERCY on them ALL!!!!!
God’s wrath/hatred leads to MERCY.
God will show mercy to whom God will show mercy (9:15)
God shows mercy to EVERYONE! (11:32)