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Who are the sons of Jacob (Malachi 3:6)?

sons of Jacob

Malachi 3:6 states, “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, the sons of Jacob, have not come to an end” (NASB). Other translations, such as the New International Version and the New Living Translations, have “descendants of Jacob” instead of “sons of Jacob”; in any case, the reference is to all Israelites. The sons of Jacob are indeed the Israelites, and this verse underscores God’s faithfulness, even amid times of judgment.

The book of Malachi starts with an expression of God’s love, and He reinforces this by contrasting the fate of the “sons of Jacob” with that of Esau and his descendants, the Edomites. Notably, the entire book of Obadiah prophesied the downfall of Edom, and during the period of Malachi’s writing, Edom was completely obliterated (Malachi 1:2–5). The Israelites should have faced a similar fate because of their heinous sin, but God preserved a remnant among them, honoring His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. An example is Genesis 28:13–15, in which God assures Jacob

I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

God’s deliberate use of the expression sons of Jacob appears to harken back to the covenant He established with the patriarchs, particularly Jacob. Therefore, His love for Israel and His mercy extend not from their goodness, but from His faithfulness. This devotion is evident in the writings of other prophets, even in the face of outright rebellion. In Jeremiah 33:25–26, God proclaims

This is what the Lord says: “If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.”

Just as the natural, unchanging laws govern the cycle of day and night, so does God’s faithfulness endure unchanging. This is encouraging news for both the sons of Jacob and believers who cling to Christ’s offer of redemption. If God remained faithful to the Israelites despite their rebellion, owing to His covenant with their forefathers, how much more steadfast will He be to us, with whom He has entered into a covenant through the sacrifice of His Son? Christ remains our only source of hope, and due to God’s unwavering faithfulness, we find assurance that our hope is not in vain.

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Who are the sons of Jacob (Malachi 3:6)?
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This page last updated: September 11, 2023