Who's Who in Prophecy
Issue No. 157
The story of Jacob and Esau is a complex set of prophetic events centering on their character and their actions. It is not a subject that has been taught in the Church except in small groups. Most of what has been taught has been from the assumption that the Jews are Jacob and perhaps the Palestinians are Esau.
I recall in 1978 when Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin made peace with Egypt’s Anwar Sadat. A radio “Bible Questions and Answers” minister, Dr. Benjamin Morris, praised this peace treaty for an entire hour-long broadcast, saying that it was Esau embracing Jacob. He was implying that the Arabs were Esau, and the Jews were Jacob.
So the next day I telephoned him on his program and asked him: “Why, after telling us all these years that the Arabs are from Ishmael, are you now saying that the Arabs are from Esau?”
There was about a ten-second silence. Finally, he said in a meek voice, “Did I say they were from Esau?”
“Yes you did. You said Begin and Sadat’s peace treaty was like Jacob and Esau embracing each other.”
He spent the next hour running backward. He was clearly embarrassed by his blunder. So I asked him a second question: “If the Arabs are not Esau, then who is Esau today?” He paused for a moment and obviously did not know. But then he asked the fateful question: “Well, do you know?”
I was well prepared to defend my position, but had no idea that he would make it so easy. In fact, I had to fake a little ignorance in order not to appear too overbearing. I said, “Well, I did a little research and here is what the encyclopedia says under Edom . . .” I followed up with the quotes from Josephus and the other material that I have already presented in the past two bulletins.
He had no answer. The history is clear. As the Jewish Encyclopedia admits, “Esau is in modern Jewry.” Hence, they are the only credible candidates to fulfill all the end-time prophecies of Esau-Edom. If we do not know who’s who in prophecy, we will not know what is going on in the world today, and we will not know the fate of the Israeli state. Not knowing this, we will probably end up encouraging and supporting Jews as they walk into the disaster that awaits that entire area.
Only by knowing who’s who can we give adequate warning and hope to prevent loss of life. How much is a Jewish life worth these days? Well, in the eyes of God, the life of a Jew is worth as much as anyone else’s. In the eyes of men, it varies, depending upon the hatred factor.
This leads us to a further analysis of God’s statement in Malachi 1:2, 3, where God seems to love Jacob and hate Esau.
2 "I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How hast Thou loved us?" "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob; 3 but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation, and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness."
Does God really hate Esau? Is he the exception among the nations? In what way does God hate Esau? Does He hate in the emotional manner that man hates? The simple answer is NO. Then why does He use this terminology in Malachi? It is to invoke a relatively little-known law:
The Law of the Hated Son
The divine law specifically protects the son of a mother who is hated or disliked by her husband. This law is especially applicable to Esau. In fact, God says He hates Esau specifically in order that the law of the hated son would apply. Remember, the law is prophetic.
In Romans 9:10-13 the Apostle Paul quotes Malachi to show that God is sovereign and had the right to choose Jacob over Esau. While that is certainly true, there is a divine law regulating such things. God always follows His own law, so this is of interest to us. It is found in Deut. 21:15-17 (NASB),
15 If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved [Heb. sawnay, “hated”], and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, if the first-born son belongs to the unloved, 16 then it shall be in the day he wills what he has to his sons, he cannot make the son of the loved the first-born before the son of the unloved, who is the first-born. 17 But he shall acknowledge the first-born, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the first-born.
The Hebrew word, sawnay, used in the above law, is the same word used in Malachi 1:3 where it says that God “hated” Esau. Thus, this law is applicable. It seems to forbid God from preferring Jacob over Esau in this matter of inheritance and birthright. In fact, in the light of this law, one could argue that Isaac was right in wanting to bestow the birthright upon Esau, rather than to Jacob. Esau was the elder son.
However, the law does not stop there. The law then goes on to tell us about the rebellious son, saying,
18 If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, 19 then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his home town. 20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear of it and fear.
This is the law which allowed God to disinherit Esau without violating the lawful right of the firstborn sons. Note that Esau was not actually disinherited on the earthly plane until he had proven himself to be a rebellious son. It is true that on a heavenly plane, God did this before the children were even born. But all of history was settled in the mind of God from the beginning. The law deals with the actual outworking of God’s plan on the earth. Even Esau deserved due process of law before he could be disinherited.
Many have a serious problem understanding the morality of this law. But this law does not condone stoning a child the first time he is stubborn or refused to do as he is told. The execution of a rebellious son was to be done only as a last resort. I know of no examples in history, even in the Old Testament times, when this sentence was actually carried out. The threat itself was usually enough to force obedience.
On a prophetic level, God judges the nations according to the law. Esau-Edom had a heart of rebellion from the beginning, and this trait was passed down to many of his descendants. Prophetically speaking, this means that the LEADERS of Edom would be in rebellion against God. The bloodthirsty character of Esau himself would prevail in the nation itself, even though there were no doubt many individual Edomites who were not of that mind and character.
The only way for an individual Edomite to avoid the judgments of God would be for him to get out from under the rebellious leadership of Edom and follow God.
Esau’s character disqualified him to inherit the dominion mandate to rule the earth and the Kingdom of God. If he had been given dominion over the earth, he would have ruled only by fear and by force, because no one would have loved him for who he was. No one would have wanted to follow him and be part of his nation, for that would have meant being Esau’s slave.
God’s intent was that Jacob-Israel be given dominion over the earth, because he would rule impartially and with true justice for all men. And yet, even Jacob was not qualified to rule until he was close to 98 years old. That is when his name was finally changed to Israel. This shows us that even the physical descendants of Jacob must become “Israel” before they are qualified to rule. This is a matter of character and relationship with Jesus Christ, the God of the Bible.
Gluttons and Drunkards in Prophecy
As we will see in history, God has given Esau’s children the opportunity to be obedient to the will of the Father. He has given them thousands of years to repent of their gluttony and drunkenness in order to avoid the judgment against the “stubborn and rebellious son.” In this case, their sin is their thirst for blood, by which they are drunken with the blood of the saints, even as we read in Revelation 17:6,
6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.
In Rev. 18:24, we read again,
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.
Jesus Himself referred to this problem in Luke 11:47-51, directing His “woes” at the Pharisees and lawyers:
47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. 48 Consequently, you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 For this reason also the wisdom of God said, I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, 50 in order that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.
Jesus prophesied here that that “generation” would be charged with the persecution of the saints from Abel to the end of time. These are very strong words and not so politically correct today. But I am a follower of Jesus, and so I cannot apologize for Him, for I believe He spoke only the truth.
The word “generation” is from the Greek word, genea, which means “that which is generated.” It is where we get our English word “gene” and “genetic.” It literally means “fathered, birth, or nativity.” It refers to that which has been begotten, men of the same family or descent.
It is apparent that Jesus was not speaking of the people simply living in his time, or his “generation.” He was speaking of the whole nation that had killed the prophets and saints and were about to kill the apostles and other early Christian martyrs as well. In comparing this with the terminology used in Rev. 17:6 and 18:24, quoted earlier, we see that the “woman” in that book, who is the false Bride, is likewise charged with the same crimes, using the same terminology.
When we compare these words with the prophetic statements regarding Edom’s bloodthirsty character, it is obvious that they must all describe the same people in some way. If they are somehow different, then Jesus was wrong in charging that “generation” with ALL the blood of the saints and prophets back to Abel.
What does this all mean? Edom was absorbed into Jewry beginning in 126 B.C. after John Hyrcanus conquered Edom and forced them to become Jews. They did not convert to God in their hearts. They were merely converted forcibly to a religion now known as Judaism. It is therefore certain that their character did not change. They were still as bloodthirsty after their conversion as they were in times past. The only difference was that now they would begin to direct their violence in concert with the aims of Judaism and the priests in Jerusalem.
Conflict with the Early Christians
Paul tells us in Galatians 4:22-31 that those of the old Jerusalem persecute those of the New Jerusalem. This must have weighed heavily on Paul, not because he was the victim of this persecution, but because he had at one time led the persecution. He says in 1 Tim. 1:12, 13,
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.
If Paul had continued in this course without repenting of it, he would have been charged with all the blood of the prophets and saints from the time of Abel, for he was a “violent aggressor.” His repentance changed all that, for he was transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:13).
But not all Judeans repented as Paul did. Thus, the conflict that began with Jesus continued throughout the book of Acts and into later history. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, he says of Jesus in Acts 2:23,
23 this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
Jesus’ death on the cross was in the plan of God, but yet it was done by “godless men,” not by people who were following the true God. Peter was not referring to the Romans, for he said also, “YOU nailed to a cross,” speaking to Judeans who had come to Jerusalem to keep the feast. This is reaffirmed in verse 36, which says,
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-- this Jesus whom you crucified.
In Acts 3 Peter again lays this charge at the feet of the Judean branch of Israelites, saying in verses 13-15,
13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14 But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.
Pilate, the Roman procurator, had decided to release Jesus, finding no fault in him. Peter never charges the Roman government with Jesus’ crucifixion, nor does he ever demand them to repent for it. But he does make it clear in verse 19 that the people of Judea must repent of it in order to be saved.
It is not popular today to ask Jews to repent of this, for now it is easier to blame the Roman government, as the old empire is safely dead and buried and can no longer protest.
But this is a false accusation and should be treated as a serious violation of biblical law. In Acts 5, the priests in Jerusalem imprisoned the apostles, but the angel of the Lord set them free that same night and told them to preach the word. The next day, the apostles were called before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest asked them,
28 saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." 29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. . . .” 33 But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and were intending to slay them.
Apparently, Peter was not concerned with political correctness. He would not water down the issue in order to make it more palatable for the Jews to be converted. I am certain he did not say these things with hatred and anger, but he did draw a clear line to let them know what God expected from anyone who wanted to be saved. No one could be saved apart from accepting Jesus Christ.
Let it also be said to clarify the record that neither Jesus nor his apostles started this conflict. It is traceable to the stoning of the prophets in the Old Testament and merely continued into the days of the Church. The prophets did not persecute the priests, nor did Jesus crucify Caiaphas. Peter never executed a single Pharisee or Sadducee, nor did John put any member of the Sanhedrin in prison.
Jesus did not attempt to use violence to overthrow the temple and take His rightful place as High Priest. The differences of opinion were real, and the verbal conflict was sharp, but Jesus’ method of resolving the problem was totally different from his priestly adversaries.
Jesus’ methods of establishing the Kingdom of God were peaceful. But His opponents resorted to violence. They wanted a Messiah more like themselves, who could rally the people and overthrow the Roman yoke. Jesus showed no interest in doing that and instead befriended the Romans. Thus, they rejected Jesus as being too non-violent. After 600 years of foreign rule, the people had lost hope that God would release them from captivity. They felt they had to do it themselves, and they had plenty of messiahs willing to lead them into destruction and disaster.
Modern Zionism rejected the teachings of traditional Judaism, which had taught that their return to the land was to be done by the work of the coming Messiah. The rabbis had seen how all the false messiahs of the past had done nothing but lead people into disaster.
Modern Zionism, however, taught that the people should move to Palestine without awaiting the Messiah. It began as a move to purchase land and homes peacefully. It ended as a conquest and theft of the land and the displacement of the Palestinians. The violent ones among them began as the minority, but ended up as the leaders supported by the majority.
Vladimir Jabotinsky was the father of violent Zionism. He broke away from mainstream Zionism in 1935 and formed the Revisionist Movement, which soon spawned the two main terrorist groups: the Irgun and the Lehi (or, Stern Gang, named after Avraham Stern, an early leader).
Menahem Begin, the Israeli Prime Minister from 1977-1983, became the head of the Irgun in 1944. Yitchak Shamir, who also was to become an Israeli Prime Minister, was the commander of Lehi. These two terrorist groups, with occasional help from the Haganah—the official defense force of the Jewish Agency—succeeded in driving the British out of Palestine in 1948.
Menahem Begin’s book, The Revolt: Story of the Irgun, written in 1951, makes it very clear that there would have been no Israeli state without the violent terrorism of the Irgun. The British did not have the heart to do what it would have taken to keep Palestine. They were not sufficiently ruthless to fight terrorism.
The Israeli state was founded on violence by men who had lost hope of a Messiah doing anything for them. Their dream had remained unfulfilled for 1900 years, because in the law of tribulation in Lev. 26:40, 41 God said He would end the judgment only after they had acknowledged their sin. This they refused to do, remaining hostile to Jesus Christ. So they felt that they had to fulfill their Zionist dream by the arm of flesh and by violence in the name of God. This motive is not unusual. This is how the world thinks, and Esau was a master at it. But this is not how the Kingdom of God is to be established. Jesus was not a terrorist. He will never be a terrorist, nor will Christians who follow His example.
The purpose of modern Zionism, then, is to fill up the measure of their fathers (Matt. 23:32), so that the stage is set for the final judgment and tribulation upon old Jerusalem. Only then will Esau be lawfully disinherited as the hated son. This destruction will conclude the long saga of Jacob and Esau in their struggle to obtain the birthright and the dominion mandate.