Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 25:19-28:9
Haftarah: Malachi 1:1-2:7
For the week of November 21, 1998 / 2 Kislev 5759

Do We Take God for Granted?

"Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?" the LORD says.
"Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated..." (Malachi 1:2,3).

This week’s Haftarah was obviously chosen because of its reference to Jacob and Esau whose story is told in the corresponding Torah passage (Bereshit / Genesis 25:19-34). God chose Jacob over Esau. This is emphasized in our passage.

We may get offended at the preferential language here. After all God himself is against showing preference for one person over another. He is the judge and God of all. And yet his love is directed in a very specific and seemingly exclusive way.

This subject is worthy of a far greater treatment than what is appropriate here, but I think we can focus on what might be the main point.

God’s words through Malachi were for Israel’s ears, not Esau’s. The God of the universe certainly has more to say to these, the other descendants of Isaac, than what we have here. The purpose of these words was to teach Israel something. They needed to hear this.

Israel was being confronted with the fact that God had singled them out for special attention. No other nation had experienced the goodness and power of God like they had. Their history was not an easy one, nor was it filled with joy and victory alone. But through it all, God was with them, guiding them, providing for them, correcting them, pulling them out of horrible situations, and so on. And yet they took him for granted, Malachi says.

How could they expect God’s blessing when they were taking him for granted like this.

How many of us having known the goodness of God, fall into apathy or discouragement. Then instead of looking to God all the more, we begin to relate to him half-heartedly. Then when it looks like God is not in our lives as he once was, we think that it is his fault.

The reality is we so easily loose touch with who God is and all he has done for us. Our shortsightedness and unfaithfulness feeds on itself, becoming its own justification for our continued apathy.

We need to remind ourselves continually that God loves us and that we disparately need him. As we keep these two things: his love and our need, in the forefront of our hearts and minds, we will be far less likely to take him for granted.

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