Chosen and Rejected

“The LORD says, ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated…'”(Malachi 1:3)

“Rav Kook believed that just as in the Torah, Jacob and Esau, Isaac and Ishmael, were eventually reconciled, so will Judaism, Christianity and Islam be in the future. They will not cease to be different, but they will learn to respect one another.  We believe as a matter of principle that “the righteous of the nations have a share in the world to come”(Talmud). When Jacob was chosen, Esau was not rejected. God does not reject. “Though my mother and father might abandon me, the LORD will take me in”(Psalms 27:10). To be chosen means two things: intimacy and responsibility. God holds us close and makes special demands on us. Beyond that, God is the God of all mankind – the Author of all, who cares for all.” – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “Covenant & Conversation, Genesis: The Book of Beginnings”, pg.174.

We may be right, but sometimes we can be dead right, which makes us all wrong if we think that there is no life for a man who is wrong.

Often, and not just in Christianity, but in other faiths as well, there is a narrative built upon gnostic philosophy which declares that only those who know or believe the right things will have a share in the World to Come. But God, the creator of all, does not view things as we do, and does not live only in the realm of secret knowledge.

“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:10).

We may have right knowledge, but our deeds will betray us. Esau loved his father, Isaac, and wept when he did not receive the blessing. Yet, when years later he was faced with the return of his brother Jacob, the man who “stole the birthright and blessing”, Esau responded with forgiveness and love, while Jacob wrestled with God for fear of Esau on the eve before their fateful encounter.

Who goes away justified? Jacob, who wrestled with God over his guilt and fear?  Or Esau, who lets go of hate and thoughts of revenge and embraces his long-estranged brother and welcomes him back to the land of promise?

The answer is that both do. Both have an inheritance in the LORD.

It is best, in our attempts to reconcile our lives with our ideals, that we refrain from justifying ourselves according to knowledge. God is over all, and searches the heart of man.

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