Rejection

God demonstrated his love for his chosen people by selecting them to receive his mercy and forgiveness even though they didn’t deserve it. God’s explanation for doing this can be found in Malachi 1:2-3, where it says, “I have loved you, saith the LORD, Yet you say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.” The Hebrew word translated hated, sane´ (saw – nay´) “represents an emotion ranging from intense hatred to the much weaker set against” (8130). Regardless of the intensity of his negative emotions, what the LORD was making clear was that he had made an intentional effort to destroy Esau’s inheritance, while preserving that of his beloved people, the descendants of Jacob.

If there was any doubt about where God’s wrath was directed, the Jews were assured that it was not directed at them. Even though he had sent his people into captivity to punish their unfaithfulness, God did not abandon them or allow his people to be destroyed by their enemies. In fact, after they had been given permission to return to the Promised Land (Ezra 1:3), many of the Jews decided to stay in Babylon and were almost exterminated there (Esther 3:13). Even then, God delivered the Jews from their enemies and eventually commissioned Nehemiah to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem for their protection. Comparing the Jews to the Edomites, God said, “Whereas 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” (Malachi 1:4).

God’s disappointment with his people was primarily directed at their political and religious leaders. In particular, the priests had failed to teach his people how to live according to his laws. God warned the priesthood, stating, If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse on you, and will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already because ye do not lay it to heart” (Malachi 2:2). Another way of interpreting the phrase lay it to heart would be for God to say, You need to take me seriously or, You need to do what I tell you to. The thing the Jews seemed to always keep forgetting was their obligation to do God’s will. The priesthood was set aside for a particular purpose, to give God glory through their worship and their sacrifices in his temple. In his final reprimand of the priests, the LORD stated, “For the priests lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 2:8-9).

Revenge

Esther’s marriage to the king of Persia placed her in a position of influence during a time when God’s plan of salvation for his people was at a critical juncture. Several thousand Jews had already returned to the Promised Land after their seventy years of captivity was completed, but there was little accomplished in the way of rebuilding and strengthening the infrastructure of God’s kingdom. Many Jews were still scattered throughout the Persian Empire and had been integrated into the culture of the Gentiles. The fact that a Jew ended up married to the king of Persia was actually not that surprising considering the degree to which the two cultures were blended. The Jews no longer spoke their native language and were forced to respect the authority of kings that had no allegiance to God. When Esther was taken along with all the other beautiful, young virgins into Ahasuerus’ palace, there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.

Four years after Esther became queen, a plot of revenge began to unfold, beginning with the promotion of a man referred to as Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite. It says in Esther 3:1, “After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.” In other words, Haman was given a position similar to a Vice President. Whereas, previously Haman had been a member of the kings cabinet or counsel, he took on a new role in which he would oversee the activities of all the princes of the Persian Empire. As a result of his promotion, Haman was treated with dignity and perceived to be of equal status with the king. It says in Esther 3:2, “And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.”

Esther’s uncle Mordecai came from the family of Saul, the first king of Israel. During Saul’s reign, God commanded him to destroy the Amalekites. It says in 1 Samuel 15:7-8, “And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou cometh to Shur, that is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.” Agag the king of the Amalekites was later killed by the prophet Samuel, but most likely, the rest of his household was spared from death. It appears that Haman was a descendant of this king, due to his identification as an Agagite. Because Mordecai refused to bow before him, Haman planned to have him, and all the other Jews in the Persian Empire, killed (Esther 3:6). Haman used his promotion as a means of access to Ahasuerus and his influence to convince the king that the Jews should be eliminated (Esther 3:8-9). The king’s response is recorded in Esther 3:10-11:

And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it to Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy. And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.

Mount Seir

Mount Seir represented a significant obstacle that the Israelites had to overcome in order to enter the Promised Land. Mount Seir was the home of the Edomites, descendants of Jacob’s twin brother Esau. The name Seir means rough (8165), but it is formed the same as the word sair which means “devils” (8163). Sair was used to describe Esau’s hairy skin in the book of Genesis where it talks about Jacob deceiving his father in order to obtain his brother’s blessing. It says, “And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man” (Genesis 27:11). Rebekah disguised Jacob by putting the skins of the kids of goats upon his hands and neck. When Isaac felt Jacob, it says in Genesis 27:23, “he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him.”

The word sair is used in Leviticus 17:7 in connection with demon worship. It says, “And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.” The interchangeability of the words Seir and sair may have been an intentional effort to connect Jacob’s brother Esau with pagan worship or to remind Jacob and his descendants of the deception he used too obtain God’s blessing. Either way, mount Seir was like the apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan that was used to buffet God’s people, lest they should be exalted above measure (2 Corinthians 12:7). Most of the time the Israelites spent in the wilderness was spent circling mount Seir. Moses recorded in Deuteronomy 2:1-3, “Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days. And the LORD spake unto me, saying, Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.”

Ezekiel’s prophecy against mount Seir revealed the continued animosity between the descendants of Jacob and Esau. It says in Ezekiel 35:5-6, “Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end: therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee.” God’s use of the words perpetual hatred to describe the Edomites’ attitude toward the Israelites indicates that Esau never forgave his brother Jacob for stealing his birthright. Instead of accepting the outcome of the situation, Esau sought revenge and tried to recover what he felt was rightfully his. In response, God said:

Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there: therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known amongst them, when I have judged thee. (Ezekiel 35:10-12)

Not chosen

The prophecy about Edom recorded in the book of Obadiah was a result of the nation’s rebellion against Judah (2 Kings 8:20). Edom, also known as Esau, was the older twin brother of Jacob who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:32-33). Esau was predestined to serve his younger brother, and yet, he refused to accept his position. The struggle between the two brothers was manifested in hostility between their two nations, and after Israel went into captivity, Edom sought to take advantage of Judah’s misfortune.

Edom made the mistake of aligning itself with the world powers hostile to God and his kingdom. Therefore, the nation was doomed to destruction. Instead of defending their brother nation, Edom joined a confederacy that stood against Israel and made a pact to support their enemies. It says in Obadiah verse 10, “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever.”

Like a gambler that makes a wager against his own team, Edom showed no loyalty to God’s chosen people, but rather reveled in the thought that they would be beaten by their enemies. Since a time had already been set for his people to be justified, God made it clear to the nation of Edom that they had chosen the wrong side. “For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee; thy reward shall return upon thine own head” (Obadiah 15).

While the foreign nations may have been able to claim ignorance about God’s plan for the nation of Israel, Edom could not. As descendants of Abraham, the people of Edom were aware of the promise God made to bless his chosen people. Jealousy and envy caused Edom to resent the choice God made. The nation, like their forefather Esau, could not get over the fact that God was in control and he would decide their fate. “And there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it” (Obadiah 18).

Edom could have been saved if they would have continued to serve Judah. It was because they broke away and became hostile to Israel that they were condemned. The problem was that Edom wasn’t interested in God’s mercy. God’s plan for Israel included salvation for the gentiles. The only requirement was that they had to submit to God and do things his way, but Edom would not. “And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s” (Obadiah 21).

Forgiveness

A significant flaw in my development as a Christian was a lack of forgiveness. Not only did I have a difficult time letting go of the past, but my physical and emotional wounds as a child and young teenager made me want to isolate myself rather than engage in healthy relationships. My marriage was a constant struggle because I had a tendency to keep track of my husband’s mistakes and would not give up trying to get my own way when we got into a conflict. Many times my husband got the cold shoulder when we went to bed because I was still angry from a fight we had.

Proverbs 10:12 contrasts two ways of dealing with conflict. It says, “hatred stirs up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” This verse refers particularly to the love between man and wife. Solomon indicates the choice to stir up strife or cover one’s sin is based on your feeling toward that person. The word translated hatred, sânê’ (saw – nay´) means to be unloved. “The word covers emotion ranging from bitter disdain to outright hatred (8130). Whereas love causes us to cover up or overlook an offence, hatred rouses us to action, it makes us want to fight.

If someone would have asked me, do you love your husband? I’m sure I would have said yes, but my behavior was consistent with hatred more than it was love. The problem with emotions is that they can be suppressed and hidden within the unconscious mind for many years. I didn’t actually feel a lot of what was going on inside of me while I was married. It wasn’t until I exploded that I realized I was angry and even then I sometimes blamed my anger on things that had nothing to do with the real issue.