I have loved you, said the LORD. Yet you say, Wherein have you loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? said the LORD…
The first fault reproved in this people is their ingratitude, and not observing or esteeming of God's love toward them, which therefore He demonstrates, from His choosing of Jacob their father, and preferring him to Esau the elder brother; not only in the matter of election to eternal life, but in that God had chosen Jacob to be the root out of whom the blessed seed should come, and the Church propagated in his posterity; and accordingly (as an eternal evidence of this rejection of Esau and his posterity) the Lord had given to him but a hilly, barren country, and had now cast them out of it, and laid it desolate, as a habitation for wild beasts; whereas the seed of Jacob had gotten a fruitful land, and were now restored to it again after their captivity. Doctrine —
1. The chief and principal study of the visible Church, and the godly in it, ought to be the love of God manifested toward them, as being that which God will not allow to be suspected, and which ought to oblige them to Him; that which will be the sad ground of a process when it is forgotten and undervalued; and that which, being looked on when God reproves, will encourage and strengthen to take with it, and make use of it. Therefore doth He begin this doctrine, and the sad challenges with this, "I have loved you, saith the Lord," that is, all of you in general have tasted of respects suitable, and beseeming My Bride and the visible Church; and particularly the elect among you have tasted of My special love.
2. God's love to His Church is often met with great ingratitude, in not being seen and acknowledged as becomes, especially under cross dispensations, in undervaluing the effects of it, when they fit not our mould, and in deeds denying it, while thoughts of it do not beget love to Him again; for "yet ye say, wherein hast Thou loved us?"
3. Election unto eternal life is a sufficient testimony of God's love, to be acknowledged and commended, although all things else went cross, and seemed to speak disrespect: for in this — "The Lord loved Jacob, and hated Esau," as is exponed (Romans 9:13); and this is sufficient to answer their quarrelling.
4. To be chosen and selected to be the Lord's Church and people, speaks so much respect from God unto a nation, as may counterbalance many other hard lots.
5. The Lord's love will not be so clearly seen and acknowledged, when we compare some dispensations with the privileges bestowed upon us, but when we consider our own original, and wherein we are dealt favourably with beyond others, as good as ourselves, if not better: for however Israel, looking on their many privileges, could not see God's love in their low condition, yet it would better appear when they looked back that "Esau was Jacob's brother" (and the elder too), yet "I loved Jacob and hated Esau."
6. The grace of God is not dispensed differently in the world, upon any difference in the point of worth among men: but grace itself makes the difference in choosing out one, and leaving another, as good in himself, to his own ways, according to His pleasure, who hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, for Jacob and Esau are equal, till love makes the difference.
7. However, no man can know love or hatred by outward dispensations, simply considered in themselves, yet afflictions are to wicked men real testimonies of God's displeasure, and God's people, being at peace with Him, may look on external mercies as speaking special love; for Esau's hilly land, and the desolation thereof, speaks "hating of Esau," not only as rejection from Canaan was a type of the rejection from the Church and heaven, but as it was a judgment inflicted on a nation unreconciled, whereas (at least) the godly in Israel might look otherwise on their land and restitution.
Parallel VersesKJV: I 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,