The Power of Hatred

Very few Christians have developed a theology of hatred. The reason is obvious: we try to avoid hating others as best we can, and we feel the pain when others hate us. So we try to turn our minds to other things.

On September 11, 2001, American Christians—like the rest of the country—were forced to confront the power of hatred. We realized that hatred toward us was so strong that men gave their lives to harm us. And they did.

The relationship between hatred and insanity seems clear. In Isaiah 14:12-15, when Lucifer, the “Star of the Morning” envied God’s position, he was filled with defiance and determined that he would be God. During the future tribulation, the antichrist will be consumed by hatred as he makes war against God’s elect (Rev. 13:5-8). He will be so full of himself that he will enter the temple and declare himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:4). Whether hatred drives people insane or insanity drives people toward hatred, is hard to say. It may well be sometimes be one way, sometimes the other.

Haman offers us a case study in hatred. In Esther 3:1-4:3, we see his plan to exterminate the Jews through genocide. Haman became the Grand Vizier, and the power went to his head. He could not amass enough strokes or attention. People bowed down to him—not just to respect him—but also to worship the king through him. The king was thought to be the incarnation of the god Orormasdes, and Haman therefore was connected to the divine, in his view.

The Jewish people would bow down to kings out of respect (see 2 Sam. 14:4 for one of many examples), but not if such bowing down was a religious act. The refusal of Mordecai and the Jews to bow down to Haman was akin to the three young men who refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (Dan. 3:1-18). Mordecai refused to bow down because he was serious about obeying Torah.

In many ways, the modern born-again Christian can experience the same pressures Mordecai felt. God’s truth is often exclusive, whereas false religions can be very accommodating. To the non-devout, any religious convictions are just “pretend” anyway. “How could someone take religion so seriously that they would suffer persecution?” they marvel to themselves. Often times the modern bone of contention is the exclusiveness of salvation through faith in Christ alone. Others are not usually offended when we express our belief that we are saved by faith in Christ; what irks them is our belief that Jesus is the only way to salvation—that John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 thing.

This is partly why John warns us, “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you” (NIV, I John 3:13).

The Rage of Hatred

Haman became insane with hatred, as demonstrated in Esther 3:6.

Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.

It was not enough for Haman to determine to kill Mordecai; he wanted to eliminate all the “nonconformists,” the whole of the Jewish people. In that same chapter of Esther, Haman duped the king, who blindly trusted him. Haman persuaded the king to sign a decree that instructed the citizens of the Persian Empire (now Iran) to kill all the Jews and take their properties and possessions for their own in eleven months from the decrees issue.

If you read the Book of Esther, you know that God providentially put Esther in the position of Queen of the Empire, and she was able to change the king’s mind. In the end, Haman was executed on the gallows that he built to execute Mordecai.

A Christian View of Hatred

Do you hate someone? Does someone hate you? How do you handle hatred? This is a difficult subject to address, and few Christians will touch it. So you will probably not hear or read this anywhere else.

The name “Satan” means adversary, but in its verb form, it means, to hate, denounce, condemn, speak against or act the adversary. Thus there is a correlation between Satan and hatred.

But hatred can also be holy. For example, we often say that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. And this is true. But God loves the sinner despite the fact that he hates the sinner. Psalm 5:4-5 reads, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.”

These verses force us to develop a theology of hatred. We can begin with this reasoning: Everything God does is holy and right. God hates, therefore a holy and righteous hatred exists.

Yet John tells us as well, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him” (I John 3:15). So we must conclude that for us, hatred is typically a sin, particularly between two people who are both serving Jesus Christ with sincerity. But that is not to say that hatred is always a sin in every circumstance. The context of “brother” means a fellow believer.

But like God, we can love those we hate, including our enemies. This sort of love is not an emotional love, but the chosen love of duty. God hates the sin and the sinner, according to Psalm 5. Yet, according to John 3:16, God’s love overrode his hatred and He gave His Son to save those He hated because He chose to love them.

The holy, sinless martyred souls under the altar are a case in point. They cry out for their blood to be avenged, and they are not put down for such a request. The request is good and holy—it is simply a matter of when vengeance would come. Note the Revelation 6:9-11 text:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

In addition, we are told to love (feed and clothe) our enemies, and in so doing we will heap coals of fire upon their heads (Rom. 12: 14-21). These verses have all but dropped out of modern mainstream Christianity. They may as well not be there.

Practical Points

So how can we put all this together without a treatise? Let me summarize what I believe to be true.

  1. Giving up hating someone can be a struggle. It must begin with us honestly admitting to ourselves that we do hate someone. We cannot usually just “turn off” those feelings.
  2. The traditional way for addressing hatred—denying our feelings—merely teaches us to be good liars. Denial is lying to yourself. Lying to yourself is not a virtue; it is a vice.
  3. Sometimes hatred is justified. Perhaps someone molested you or your child. If you did not hate that person, this would be a bad thing. You certainly should never trust such a person again; if they were truly repentant, they would not expect to be trusted. Perhaps a drunk ran into a vehicle and now a dear relative is bound to a wheelchair. Perhaps you had a relative in the Twin Towers on September 11th.
  4. Loving our enemies sometimes simply means treating them civilly with the same respect you give to any human being. If your enemy is in a car accident, for example, you need to call 911.
  5. Many times feelings of hatred dissipate over time. This is especially true when our hatred is NOT justified. Perhaps we did not get our way. Someone else got the job you applied for; the person you were dating decided to marry someone else, etc. There is a big difference between hatred developing from gross injustice and hatred rising because we did not get our way.
  6. We should view our hatred as a temporary condition, and God needs to be our counselor to help us deal with it.
  7. We should be ready to forgive the repentant. Credibility, on the other hand, needs to be re-established over time. Sometimes, it never can be.
  8. Forgiveness (when the evil-doer repents) and somewhat releasing our bitterness (when he doesn’t) is a struggle we have to experience with God. Our decision to enter the struggle is perhaps what counts most. Our desire not to hate, our desire not to stew with bitterness and to ask God to help us is where we need to go.


Among Jesus’ twelve disciples were two men who should have been each other’s enemies. Matthew had been a traitor to the Jewish people by collecting taxes for Rome. Simon the Zealot had been part of a terrorist group that was trying to get Rome out of Israel—by hook or by crook. But once they found Jesus, their differences dissipated, and they became brothers, fellow disciples, and friends.

Not every situation works out that way, but some do. And it is amazing when Jesus Christ gets the glory for bringing the most unlikely people together. If only we would all present ourselves to Jesus in humility and submission!

Ed Vasicek was raised as a Roman Catholic in Cicero, Illinois. During his senior year in high school (in 1974), Cicero Bible Church reached out to him, and he received Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. Ed later felt a call to ministry and enrolled at Moody Bible Institute (B.A., Pastoral Studies/Greek). After graduating, he served as pastor of Victory Bible Church of Chicago (a branch work of Cicero Bible Church) and married Marylu Troppito. In 1983, the couple moved to Kokomo where Ed began pastoring Highland Park Church, where he still serves. Ed and Marylu have two adult children, Hannah and Luke. Ed loves to write. He has written over 500 weekly columns for the opinion page of the Kokomo Tribune, published articles in Pulpit Helps magazine, and populated his church’s website with an endless barrage of papers. You can access them at

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JobK's picture

1. The idea that this nation was forced to confront hatred on September 11th in some unique or extraordinary sense requires viewing American history through a distorted (or selective) lens.

2. The New Testament case that there is such thing as justifiable hatred for Christians is an exceedingly difficult one to make, and that is likely the real reason why no "theology of hatred" has been done: the conspicuous lack of New Testament scriptural support for it. Had the canon ended with the Old Testament, it is possible that hatred theology would be a rather vigorous field because of the very strong statements against evil people and the enemies of God and His people that appear in it (i.e. happy will we be when your children are bashed against rocks). It would be interesting to see how other religions view this topic. Judaism and Islam, for instance, certainly hold that hatred is acceptable, but rarely speak of such things in the west precisely because of the influence of Christianity. (I have read in the Jerusalem Post some rather vitriolic columns by Jewish rabbi Shmuley Boteach and orthodox Jewish activist Michael Freund, for instance, against Christians who refuse to hate. Not only did Boteach reference Muslim terrorists as an example, but Boteach stated that this Christian doctrine made Christians passive in the face of evil. Boteach blames such teachings for the failure of Christians to adequately attempt to resist the Nazis before and during the Holocaust and is not alone in his thinking. Incidentally, some more conservative Jewish thinkers feel that this is behind the west's inability to effectively subdue the Islamic threat, including the Israel's own Palestinian problem. Incidentally, the idea that our disdain for hatred "makes us soft" is a common belief in the Muslim world as well.)

Because of the lack of New Testament texts and principles, "hatred theology" seems to only be prominent in aberrant forms of Christianity that either distort or ignore scripture, such as white supremacist "Christianity" that teaches that it is acceptable to hate those that are "threats to the white race", and extreme liberation theology which teaches that it is acceptable to hate the "privileged, powerful oppressors." Of course, such strands of alleged "Christianity" inevitably lead to violence against those hated. The reason is that hating someone and heeding the scriptural imperative of "not letting the sun go down on your anger" are two principles that cannot occupy the same heart at the same time, and the same goes with the "forgiving 70 times 7" commandment.

The idea that these teachings should be limited to Christians ("brothers") is problematic for two reasons. One is that historically, such sentiments have been used to justify vicious atrocities by Christians against "the heathen" (see my first point). The second is that the person who was your enemy yesterday may well be your brother tomorrow. The Christians who were persecuted by Paul had to immediately welcome with brotherly love this same person, and that would have been much more practical to accomplish had they never allowed their emotions against this man to rise to hate in the first place. Child molesters and drunk drivers also become born again. This is not to say that a former child molester should be allowed to work in the church daycare or the drunk driver should be given the privilege of driving the church van, but such prudence falls very short of hatred, and so does desiring that the child molester or drunk driver be punished for their crimes and prevented from committing them again whether they become Christians or not. Wanting someone to receive the death penalty or lifetime incarceration for their crimes is not akin to hating them, for instance, and it is also very possible for a person to oppose the death penalty for whatever reason and still hold hate in his heart. The same goes for the martyrs in Revelation. Wanting vengeance (what we in our era call justice) is different from hating, if for no other reason that it is very possible to desire mercy instead of justice, and it is equally possible to hate someone after justice is given.

3. Loving our enemies goes beyond simple civility. Recall the Good Samaritan parable, and please recall that the Jews and Samaritans were very much enemies, as those groups disdained each other as much as they did the Romans, if not more so.

4. Satan's original issue was pride. Hatred and the other traits proceeded forth as a result when his prideful desires were thwarted. Note that Haman was a very vain, prideful fellow also. Now Haman certainly hated the Jews that exterminated his people, but the fact that Haman's attempt to kill all the Jews came as a result of Mordecai's refusal to bow to (worship) him shows that like Satan, Haman's hatred was a function/dependency with relationship to his pride, to some sense of his entitlement or desire for exaltation or power that he possessed that was not being fulfilled. Far be it from Christians to follow from that example, and the truth is that if Christians develop feelings of hatred as a result of some personal sense of victimization (go back to my reference to liberation theology) then they are. Going to the child molester and drunk driver, it is a difference between wanting the criminal to face justice for his wrongs (appropriate), wanting to prevent the criminal from committing another crime (appropriate) and hating the criminal for what he has done to you and your family. That is impossible to reconcile with the New Testament, if for no reason than it being based on the false belief that nothing bad should ever happen to you or to anyone that you care about (and going back to September 11th, the idea that nothing bad should ever happen to this country, or that this nation has never itself acted unjustly with regards to other nations or its own citizens).

Consider the book of Job with the great calamity that he experienced, yet God would not suffer to allow Job to so much as become bitter - let alone filled with hatred - as a result. Now the easy rejoinder is to assert that it was God that Job was not allowed to resent, but again the New Testament text that allows us to hate men but not God does not exist. However, an opposite verse, which says that the man who says that he hates his brother yet loves God is a liar, does exist. And again, we cannot parse on the "brother versus unbeliever" issue, because were that the case, then what - in theory anyway - would have been the problem with Uriah hating King David for impregnating his wife and murdering him? (Believers are capable of doing the same sorts of horrible things as unbelievers.)

5. As far as Psalm 5:4-5, well hating evildoers would mean hating Christians, as Christians most certainly sin. It could be said that God loves and hates the elect at the same time? Well, then what of "Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated"? Jacob most certainly sinned! One would have to arrive at what verses like Psalm 5:4-5 mean in context with God's attributes and His dealings with mankind, particularly if one is to develop a theology of hatred. It is also true that just because God hates doesn't give man the right to. God's sovereignty, omniscience, and ownership rights over creation gives Him privileges and prerogatives that man cannot participate in.

All in all, the reasons why a distinct theology of hatred does not exist are very good ones. It is not simply because of emotion-driven aversions, because similar emotions are present when dealing with such oft-painful issues as theodicy, soteriology and and last things (especially eternal punishment in the lake of fire).

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura

Ed Vasicek's picture

JobK said a LOT of things, some of which were:

Satan's original issue was pride. Hatred and the other traits proceeded forth as a result when his prideful desires were thwarted. Note that Haman was a very vain, prideful fellow also.

I don't disagree with this. But you are adopting a theological position that sounds a bit like Marcionism, yet I know you really don't believe that. The God of the OT and the God of the NT are the same, but it sounds like you are saying that God became "nicer" in the New Testament.

From my book, The Midrash Key

Biblical interpretation is itself a matter of judgment and must be approached fairly: one
must either reject all Scripture or somehow integrate all Scripture if one desires to be fair
and consistent. We must assert that nothing commanded by God can be intrinsically
wrong, even if it is a concession. Certain texts may not be applicable to all situations or
all people or all times, but what God commands cannot be wrong – at least under
certain conditions. In some instances, those conditions may be entirely past.

Do you agree with this quotation above?

As far as Psalm 5:4-5, well hating evildoers would mean hating Christians, as Christians most certainly sin.

Yes. I am saying that God loves us despite the fact that he hates us, and his love for us overcomes his just hatred for us. When we talk about God's feelings, the bring up the impassibility issue, which is complex. But Psalm 5:4-5 mean something. I have shared my view about what it means. You have shared what you don't think it means. So what is your view about what if does mean?

Do you believe that all Scripture is not only inspired, but that all (in some way) is profitable for doctrine? It sounds a bit like you might have a different view than I do about the relevance of the First Testament.

The idea of Jacob I have loved and Esau hated or Jesus' teaching that we must hate our families is considered a Hebrew figure of speech to "love less" or "prioritize under." The idea of "hating" your family does not mean you have bitter feelings toward them, but rather prioritizing them under the Lord, so that you choose pleasing the Lord first. Thus, you comparatively hate them (displease them) to obey (love) the Lord.

"The Midrash Detective"

DAWilliams's picture

This was a thought provoking article, and one I could readily identify with. I had my first real encounter with hatred when I was a Bible college student doing jail ministry. A lady in our church had a neighbor whose son was a rapist, and she wanted me to visit him in jail. I did, and I shared the gospel with him, but I remember over the weeks being overcome with the thought of "What if it had been my sister or my fiancee that he had raped, and I grew to hate him. Later he was released on bail, and then raped a 17 year old girl from our Christian school. I hated him all over again. I made no headway in my struggle until I got down on my knees and said, "God, I don't want to talk to Him about Jesus. I don't you to save him. I want you to send him to hell and fry him good!" Then it was as if the Lord said, "OK, now that we have that out in the open, let's see what we can do."

The second time came when my co-workers were murdered on the mission field by an insurgent group. After kidnapping and holding them captive for months, the bodies of my two friends were discovered after a confrontation with the insurgent group and the military. The murder was bad enough, but to read the press statements by the insurgent group with their clucks of "regret for this awful tragedy" while accepting no blame for it made me furious. Added to that was the almost constant nagging fear that the same thing could happen to me, or to my wife at any time.
I hated them.
I had to deal with it yet again when one of my coworker's sisters was callously murdered by members of the same group about three years ago. (It turned out her "execution" was a mistake, they had meant to kill somebody else.) My first thought was of the martyrs in Revelation 6 and like them I cried out, "How long, Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" I began to pray this very Scriptural prayer along with them. Yet as I gave vent to my hatred by asking the Lord to punish these people, over time the Holy Spirit somehow began to "take the sword out of my hand." In time, my prayers changed to "Lord, grant them repentance unto life." To tell the truth, I am not sure exactly how it happened. Perhaps it was the passage of time. Perhaps it was thinking about the undending torment those men will experience in the lake of fire. Perhaps it was the Holy Spirit over time allowing me to see things more from His perspective. All I know is that as I gave vent to my hatred before the Lord, I found out that He could handle it. And He then was able to change my heart.
Mark Twain once said, "You can't pray a lie." If you hate, I believe it is best to openly tell the Lord all about it, and what you want Him to do about it. That puts you in contact with Him. Then when He has your attention, perhaps it is then that He is able to help you little by little to begin to think with the mind of Christ and not hate anymore.

Ed Vasicek's picture

DAWilliams, you have been amazing! You understand in a very deep way the realities of hatred, human nature, and evil. Your real-life experiences outweigh all my arm-chair paragraphs!

You found God's help for a variety of reasons, no doubt, but one of them was that you were HONEST about your feelings. You were also honest about the way we people work. We are not machines. You saw how the Holy Spirit helped you PROCESS your righteous hatred, but you wanted to get rid of it. In time, He helped that hatred lessen and changed your heart.

I could not write what you wrote, nor could I make the point as you made it. We need to share such things, because we have gone underground too long about the need of Christians to address hatred.

You know, this irks me: evangelical pastors (hopefully not fundamental ones) use Mother Theresa as an illustration time and time again. Personally, I do not think that lady was even saved. But here we have Bible-believing missionaries who suffer these sorts of things, and we never hear of them.

It's a shame that your post is not a Front Page article. You might consider turning it into one and submitting it. We NEED to hear there things.

God bless you, my brother.

"The Midrash Detective"

DAWilliams's picture

Thanks for the encouragement Ed, maybe I will do that.

Dave G's picture

I mean no personal disrespect, but I feel the need to step up on the soapbox for a few minutes. Apologies in advance for coming on too strong.

[quote] Yes. I am saying that God loves us despite the fact that he hates us, and his love for us overcomes his just hatred for us. When we talk about God's feelings, the bring up the impassibility issue, which is complex. But Psalm 5:4-5 mean something. I have shared my view about what it means. You have shared what you don't think it means. So what is your view about what if does mean?

Do you believe that all Scripture is not only inspired, but that all (in some way) is profitable for doctrine? It sounds a bit like you might have a different view than I do about the relevance of the First Testament.

The idea of Jacob I have loved and Esau hated or Jesus' teaching that we must hate our families is considered a Hebrew figure of speech to "love less" or "prioritize under." The idea of "hating" your family does not mean you have bitter feelings toward them, but rather prioritizing them under the Lord, so that you choose pleasing the Lord first. Thus, you comparatively hate them (displease them) to obey (love) the Lord. [quote]

My "theological position" is this:

All my adult life I've been taught that God loves each and every individual man, woman and child equally...all my life I heard from pulpits that "God so loved the world..." and that "...God is love...". Well, I don't buy it. Yes I believe it when the Bible says, "God is love", but He's more than that. I've read the Bible extensively and made quite a shocking discovery: God loves His children and hates the rest. He must, otherwise how could a God whose highest attribute is love consign anyone to Hell? That's right, that god can't. But the God of the Bible's highest attribute isn't love, it's HOLINESS and righteousness.

Bear with me a moment...let's see who the God of the Bible is based upon His very actions, shall we? Kind of an "objective viewpoint" if you will.

In Genesis we find a Creator who begins to hide His face from sinning mankind, letting all varieties of sin and wickedness fill the world to the point where He regrets making much so that He floods the world with water, killing EVERY LIVING CREATURE except the ones on the ark, including what can be estimated at somewhere in the hundreds of millions of people all over the globe by drowning, with nary a word of warning that we're aware of. Oh, yes, Noah was declared to be a preacher of righteousness, but do you really think Noah could have covered the entire world with any message of forgiveness before the Flood? He had an ark to build, after all. This is love for all men?

The Bible doesn't say how far Noah went to preach, or how far any of that preaching spread. But we do know that NOBODY except Noah himself was actually said to have found grace in the eyes of God right before the Flood. In addition to Noah we know of Enoch, Seth, Abel and *maybe* Adam who had any kind of "saving faith" that we're aware of (the Bible is not clear on Adam). Once again, is this love for all men?

After the Flood we see man once again repopulate the earth and within...what, a YEAR? God is already cursing people who haven't even been born yet (the descendants of Ham). Is this love for all men? Then we find God confusing the language by introducing many, and several generations go by before God decides to visit the Gentiles to bring out of them a people for His name in the person of Abraham. All this time, where is forgiveness for the people living and dying daily, people other than Abraham and Lot? We don't know...but I think I can safely say most people in those days went to Hell without ever knowing about "God's love". Is this love for all men?

Then God decides to build a nation from the descendants of Abraham and manifest Himself SOLELY to them (with FEW exceptions, I might add, Ninevah being one) but not before killing most of them (over a 40 year period) after having brought them out of Egypt years later....FOR UNBELIEF. Meanwhile, those outside the lineage are still dying and going guessed it, Hell. Is this love for all men?

I won't even go into the THOUSANDS of years that went by before Christ the lost sheep of Israel first...and ask about the many millions who perished without ever having heard of faith and the Gospel, because God was only manifesting Himself to Israel this whole time. Is this love for all men?

Finally, after Christ concludes His mission on earth and is taken up into Heaven we see repentance GRANTED to the "Granted"? You mean it has to be GRANTED? Apparently so, if you believe the Bible to be inspired of the Holy Ghost. Then in later letters to the churches in various cities we find out about this mysterious "remnant" which includes both Jews and Gentiles...not a majority of mankind, but a chosen "remnant"....strange, is this love for all men?


With all due respect, John 3:16 is not the whole of the Bible and we find that we very much have a God to be afraid who can not only kill the body, but also cast both it and the soul into HELL....this is a God who is TERRIFYING in His righteousness and Holiness. One who DEMONS tremble at....not only a God of love, but a God of WRATH, JUDGEMENT and FINALITY. Once He decides to do something, it's as good as done. We have no say in it.

When you say that His love overcomes His hatred for us, I disagree. His love FOR HIS SON overcomes His hatred for us. And whether or not the idea of "hatred" in certain parts of Scripture is is a Hebrew figure of speech, I've discovered enough about the Creator of the universe to know that when He says he hates something, He HATES it...otherwise it would have been translated differently. If the Bible says, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated.." I'll believe it literally. When it comes to the issue of hating my family, well, my first love is for Christ. If God in His plan decides not to save some of them, then who am I to question Him?

Perhaps the focus of John 3:16 shouldn't be "God so loved the world...", but rather the fact that those that believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

I'll step down off my soapbox now and endure the coming backlash from those who disagree....:) But one thing that can't be argued is this: God says He does not change...if He only showed His face to those He felt like manifesting Himself to in the OLD TESTAMENT, then you can be sure He didn't change His behavior towards mankind in the NEW....He just opened the window a bit.

I also think God teaches His children not to hate because He has plenty of hating left to do (vengeance is mine, saith the Lord), it's HIS prerogative, not ours, and it ain't going to be very pretty.

BUT: Take heart, He took out all His hatred for us and our sin on His Son at the cross, so we won't have to face it.


Sola Scriptura, both mentally and physically.
That means no other books about Bible interpretation on my shelf, sorry...;)

1 John 2:27-29

Ed Vasicek's picture

Dear David G.,

In Psalm 5, God hates the sinners not because he loves them less (they are unchosen), but because they work iniquity.

I am arguing that "hate" only means "love less" when used together with love. The "love and hate" pair is a recognized Hebrew idiom, recognized by Jewish roots authorities and Jews, not just by me. Here is just one source,

But what we have here is another Hebrew problem. Biblical Hebrew lacks the necessary language to exactly define the comparative sense, i.e., 'more than' or 'less than'. Instead it tends to express two things which may be comparatively of different degree like 'first' and 'second' as extremes such as 'first' and 'last'. In this way love and hate whilst appearing as opposites may in fact be related but lesser terms such as 'love more' and 'love less'.
"If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his." (Deuteronomy 21:15-17)
A Jewish man was not allowed to abandon a 'hated' wife's son's rights of inheritance. But more than this, the Deuteronomy passage describes favouritism between two wives, not absolute love and hatred, for the man bears children by both. Hence, different Bible versions struggle with the phrase "hated" and some adopt "unloved" or "disliked", as softer phrases. However, the Hebrew word used in the second phrase is sânê' (Strong’s #8130) which in its more than 140 uses is always translated by 'hate' or by words indicating 'foe' or 'enemy'. Literal versions cannot soften the apparent invective, only an idiomatic understanding or paraphrase can explain the metaphor.

The Hebrew sânê' is the opposite of love which could mean 'non-election'. This contrast is the same in Genesis 29:31 between Leah ('hated' senû’âh from sânê’) and Rachel, who in the previous verse is described as "loved more than Leah", a contrast of degree not of absolute love and hate. Compare also the passages in Deuteronomy 21:15-17 above; 1 Samuel 1:5; Proverbs 30:23; 2 Samuel 19:6; and even Exodus 20:3 which speaks of preferring others gods as equivalent to hating God (cf. Matthew 6:24 on serving God and mammon, loving one and hating the other).

The Jewish midrash on Exodus describes God as hating the angels, and not just the fallen ones. It does not mean he dislikes Michael and Gabriel! It means that he chooses to give man the Torah, rather than the angels:
"By three names is this mount known: The mountain of God, Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai. . . . Why The mountain of God? (Exodus 18:5). Because it was there that God manifested His Godhead. And Sinai? Because [it was on that mount ] that God showed that He hates the angels and loves mankind." (Exodus Rabbah 51.8, Soncino edition)

From the Midrash key (my book):

From the creation account onward, God evidences a blanket love for all mankind. In the beginning, man was created in the image of God. In Genesis 9:1-17, God made a covenant with Noah and all his descendents, thus encompassing all mankind. The covenant itself places special value on human life. Though the race is fallen, men are still declared to be in the divine image. It is not that God has no love for mankind and only loves the descendents of Israel; it is, rather, that he has a special, unique love for Israel over and above his love for mankind. We might describe this as an “elective love.”

and more...

The Father's love for the believer in Yeshua is likewise the result of a transfer, but this special love is transferred to us from the Father’s love for his only Son. An additional text seems to make this clear, John 5:20-24 (ESV):
“For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”.....

The Scriptures describing the believer as "in Christ" or "in the beloved" suggest such a transfer. The Father's love for the Son is transferred to us because we are "in Christ." If we honor Jesus, we automatically honor the Father. The Father does not condemn us if we have faith in the Son. In a similar sense, we are considered righteous because the Father considers the Son righteous, and we are in the Son.
John 3:16 speaks of God's general love for the world, a love so profound that it resulted in the greatest grace gift of all time: the Father gave mankind his Son. In contrast, I John 3:1 announces a special love God has reserved for his own New Covenant people. This love extends above and beyond Yahweh's general love for mankind. This love is "lavished" upon us; the Father views regenerate believers as his tender children.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

It is tough, taking western, modern thinking and making a transfer to Jewish idioms. Since English has so many words and other languages so few, other languages get more "duty" from their words.

God does not change. He has always loved all the people in the world, in a sense, but he has always hated sinners, in a sense. Yet his special elective love overcomes the just hatred he has for sinners. This satisfies me completely and integrates all the relevant Scriptures.

"The Midrash Detective"

Dave G's picture

That's where I disagree with you. To me, when God says he "hates" something, it doesn't mean "love less" means "hate", "loath", "elicit disgust", "to respond in anger with respect to a person's actions, thoughts etc." Hey...I may be wrong about this, and I'm completely willing to let God shape the way I see things by His Word and the Spirit...But for now:

I fully believe God is capable of actual hatred and for good reason...all mankind ever does is shake his collective fist in God's face. The Bible says God is continually angry every day with the wicked. Psalm 7:11 To me, a natural relationship between hate and anger exist in people, why not God (who made mankind in His image)?

I'm not talking about Hebrew idioms, or any of that. Perhaps I'm off subject, but the very IDEA of Scripture saying "hate" and people thinking it means to "love less" seems to me to be a compromise of some sort. To me, if it says "hate", it means "hate". There are no two ways about it.

I've seen John 3:16 spread like warm sugary syrup all over the Word of God in sermons, bumper stickers and all kinds of things for all of my life now, and I've often wondered if people have actually read the Old Testament, and how God took out his anger not only on the wicked nations around Israel, but on backsliding and idolatrous Israel itself. Has anyone read this? It's God's Word, too.

I do not dispute God's love for His children...what I dispute is this idea that God loves all men. John 3:16 does NOT say that He loved all men, it says that He "so loved the world...". Most people immediately jump to the conclusion that this means He loved all men. Don't you think if it meant that, it would say that? It could just as easily mean: "all creatures", or "all that He has created"...or just "mankind in general" (that is, He loved mankind that He had created, and doesn't want to wipe it out of existence).

I've gotten the idea that to some people, John 3:16 is the only thing God ever said. It's become the proof-text of proof-texts...To me, it seems as if this oft-used verse is being used as a "filter", with a great many people running their entire understanding of God through it before seriously considering the rest of what God says in His Word.

What I wish is that people who profess Christ and claim to be His would set John 3:16 aside, just for a moment, and consider the rest of what God has to say about mankind.

I think it's guaranteed we will get a bit different picture of our Father in heaven and the Son who gave Himself for us.



Sola Scriptura, both mentally and physically.
That means no other books about Bible interpretation on my shelf, sorry...;)

1 John 2:27-29

Ed Vasicek's picture

Dave, I agree that God hates in the way you stated. I am saying that, in addition to that, when we are told to "hate" our parents, that THESE instances are comparative and mean "prioritize under." In Psalm 5, there is no idiom there.

So we agree on half.


"The Midrash Detective"

Dave G's picture

I guess we'll have to wait for Christ to make it plain to us when we see Him.

I've always had a bit of a misunderstanding about the hating my parents part. Let's just say that at present, I love my parents a lot LESS than I do the Lord.


Sola Scriptura, both mentally and physically.
That means no other books about Bible interpretation on my shelf, sorry...;)

1 John 2:27-29

Greg Long's picture

Dave, it's not wrong for Calvinists to believe that God loves the unregenerate, at least in some sense. Here is D.A. Carson's book which may be helpful for you.

He lists five aspects of God's love, including:

(2) God’s providential love over all that he has made. By and large
the Bible veers away from using the word love in this connection,
but the theme is not hard to find. God creates everything, and
before there is a whiff of sin, he pronounces all that he has made
to be “good” (Gen. 1). This is the product of a loving Creator. The Lord Jesus depicts a world in which God clothes the grass of the
fields with the glory of wildflowers seen by no human being,
perhaps, but seen by God. The lion roars and hauls down its
prey, but it is God who feeds the animal. The birds of the air find
food, but that is the result of God’s loving providence, and not a
sparrow falls from the sky apart from the sanction of the
Almighty (Matt. 6). If this were not a benevolent providence, a
loving providence, then the moral lesson that Jesus drives home,
viz. that this God can be trusted to provide for his own people,
would be incoherent.

(3) God’s salvific stance toward his fallen world. God so loved the
world that he gave his Son (John 3:16). I know that some try to
take k´osmoy (“world”) here to refer to the elect. But that really
will not do. All the evidence of the usage of the word in John’s
Gospel is against the suggestion. True, world in John does not so
much refer to bigness as to badness. In John’s vocabulary, world
is primarily the moral order in willful and culpable rebellion
against God. In John 3:16 God’s love in sending the Lord Jesus
is to be admired not because it is extended to so big a thing as
the world, but to so bad a thing; not to so many people, as to such
wicked people. Nevertheless elsewhere John can speak of “the
whole world” (1 John 2:2), thus bringing bigness and badness
together. More importantly, in Johannine theology the disciples
themselves once belonged to the world but were drawn out of it
(e.g., John 15:19). On this axis, God’s love for the world cannot
be collapsed into his love for the elect.
The same lesson is learned from many passages and themes
in Scripture. However much God stands in judgment over the
world, he also presents himself as the God who invites and commands all human beings to repent. He orders his people to carry the Gospel to the farthest corner of the world, proclaiming it to
men and women everywhere. To rebels the sovereign Lord calls
out, “As surely as I live . . . I take no pleasure in the death of the
wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn!
Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?”
(Ezek. 33:11).9

Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Alex Guggenheim's picture

The same Greek word for "hate" in Romans referring to hating Esau is used in Luke 14 where we are told to in order to be a disciple of Christ we must hate our father, mother, brother and sister.

Now if God meant hatred in the sense of abhorring, why then would he instruct Israel in Deuteronomy 23:7 "You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother"?

For one, Ed is right, it is an idiom and because someone does not recognize this idiom or form of speech, it does not give them license to ignore it and claim that "it hasn't been revealed to them by the Spirit of God or in Scripture".

God has given you teachers from which to learn.

But more importantly is that if this was genuinely true, that we were required to hate our family then there is a great deal of explanation that is demanded from such assertions in light of the many, many, many passages affirming family affection and fidelity as we follow our Lord in discipleship. And no such explanation or reconciliation could be made because the fact is to "hate you father" or to "hate your mother" does not mean to abhor them but to prefer our Lord over them just as the idiom teaches.

And this same idiom is being used with reference to Esau. And explains exactly why Israel was told NOT to hate Edom (Esau's descendants) because Edomites were there brother!

Dave G's picture

But I'm not.

I also prefer to let God's Word do the speaking about God's Word. Does that make me "unteachable"? I sincerely hope not. One thing I'm learning about teaching though, is not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

For all the years I've spent in fundamental baptist churches, I'm realizing they actually have some things right. This teaching on hate I've been introduced to many times (the one that basically says to prefer one over the other) and I've become a bit gun shy about this and other teachings I was subjected to. Perhaps I'm wrong about it.

Let me speak plainly:

When I "discovered" God's teaching on election, it was right under my nose...quite literally. My church had never taught it, had never GONE there...AT ALL. I then found other things they hadn't taught. You might say that, up until about 2002, I was using God's Word as some kind of glorified textbook...I think far too many people do just that...but no more. God hit me upside the head I suppose. I started going one way, my church (and the one I joined after that) continued on the way they were going. So I left that one, too.

In the process, I very quickly came to the conclusion that like many other "denominations", fundamental baptists have their own "pet doctrines" that they hold to, and others they disagree with. I ended up withdrawing from my former brethren because of a (get this) FUNDAMENTAL difference of looking at Scripture...literally...AND bringing everything out from under the rug to be examined in the light of that same Scripture.

I concluded that instead of raising a fuss about what I saw as not being taught, I would quietly make a few observations and see how they reacted. Boy was I in for a shock. It was if I touched a sensitive spot with a hot iron or something. So I left. In fact, I've left the visible church altogether because I simply don't trust it anymore to be accurate or faithful. I started over. I tossed out everything I'd been taught and asked God to teach me from His Word everything I needed to know about my place in this world, what was reserved for me in eternity, and about His Son.

So there you have it gang. I see through a glass darkly. I distrust most of man's teachings about God, thinking that most of them are a combination of wishful thinking with God's plain speech; a smorgasbord of truth and error in this apostate age.

Please forgive my reluctance to accept things that sound or "feel" like what I was once subjected to, it's like a dog that's gotten scared of its old master's poor treatment of it, and it's taking time to get acclimated to its new Master.

One further thing I should share: I don't use a multitude of English bible translations. I prefer to stick with the one that I feel was done quite thoroughly almost 400 years ago and trust in its accuracy. I don't delve into the "Greek" and don't care to. I trust that it's God's Word and for Him to make it clear to me when He wants to.

So for now, "hate" means "hate" and "love" means "love" until God changes my understanding through the transforming of the mind that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish.

All I can ask is for your patience and understanding.

In Christ,

Dave Gilbert.

Sola Scriptura, both mentally and physically.
That means no other books about Bible interpretation on my shelf, sorry...;)

1 John 2:27-29

Greg Long's picture

Dave, I'm sorry for your bad experiences in church. I can see how they would leave a person scarred and scared. But I think you sense what it is you're doing, as you aluded to it yourself--throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

If your only allegiance is to the Word of God, why don't you obey the Word's command to gather together with other believers?

The Bible is our sole authority for faith and practice and is the final authority, but sola scriptura has never meant that the Bible is the only book we can read, consult, or benefit from. Even the apostle Paul, who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, asked Timothy to bring him his books and parchments (2 Tim. 4:13).

I don't understand why you would refuse to read other materials and weigh them according to God's Word. The article to which I referred you simply points out that we see various aspects of God's love used in Scripture. It is making an argument based on Scripture.

The point is that Jesus says we should love our enemies just as God the Father does by causing the sun to rise and the rain to fall upon both the just and the unjust (Mt. 5:43-48). And there is a sense in which God loves the fallen world (Jn. 3:16), which does not mean only the elect, and doesn't want any of them to perish (Eze. 33:11; 1 Tim. 2:3-4).

These truths do NOT negate other verses which indicate, as you pointed out, God's wrath, anger, and even hatred against sinful mankind. God has a special love for His elect people that He does not have for the non-elect. That's why the author indicates there are various ways to speak of God's "love."

Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Dave G's picture

Alex and Greg,

Perhaps you're mistaking my intentions or direction here. I'm not saying it's ok for me or another Christian to "do some hating"....quite the contrary. God is very clear when it comes to men dealing with others, that it is His desire for us to "love our enemies". It is also His commandment for us to obey our parents.

Where I'm disagreeing is essentially this: I feel that God has for (I don't know how long) been misrepresented by people who get this idea that "God is love" and He's not capable or willing to show wrath or hatred towards anything....but the Bible clearly teaches otherwise. So I hear and read things that this false gospel of "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" says all the time, to people who haven't even demonstrated evidence of repentance or conversion. It has literally permeated every mainline / visible church that I know of to the point where it's not even questioned. Most people, especially unbelievers, get the idea (straight from churches I might add) that they have until their death bed to "get right" with God...that He is this cosmic bellhop sitting up there on His throne just wringing His hands waiting for people to "make a decision" for Him. He's NOT, and it will be a very rude awakening for them.

On a side note, I personally would not go up to someone I don't know in the Lord and say," Hey, Jesus loves you", because I don't know for sure if He does or doesn't. I don't know whether or not the love of God, or the benefits of a relationship with Him, have ever been manifested in that person's life without getting to know them over a period of time.
I also would not extol the virtues of a right relationship with Him until I had made sure they knew that they were sinners and going to Hell after this life, and that the only way to avoid it is to believe on Christ. To do otherwise is to inject man-made aspects of marketing that frankly disgust me, because a true relationship with God is an intimate thing...sharing details with unbelievers seems very much like telling your buddies all about your honeymoon....the intimate parts. No thanks.

One would think that to believe in sovereign election, there would be an automatic "connecting of the dots" when it comes to the issue of other words, if God chose one person, then it follows that He loved them in eternity past. 1 Thess. 5:9. If he didn't choose another, it follows that He reserves them for judgement. 1 Peter 2:7-10. But in reality, there are passages that show this difference more clearly. Romans 9:20-24.

Secondly, it's true that God has given me teachers from which to learn. Who they are can be confusing to someone without discernment, because followers of one kind of teaching are convinced that it is true, while followers of another kind are equally convinced that THEIRS is true. I now rest on the verse contained in my signature. If God in His patience and wisdom shows me something, I will accept it wholeheartedly. But the fact of the matter is, if the Bible doesn't point blank declare something to be an idiom, then there is a modicum of doubt about it, isn't there? In the end, I will always strive to separate my understanding of God with my "suspicions" and "conclusions about" Him. I trust His Word first, and anything man says about it a distant second.

This is not to say I disrespect my elder brothers in the Lord, not by a long shot. But I will carefully weigh things by the Word.

Greg, I appreciate your sympathy about my past church experiences, but being "scarred" or scared isn't my motivation for separating from the visible church...I am no longer scared, and scars will heal...the issue of truth is, and their lack of it (or at least their unwillingness to abandon popular understanding, traditions and teachings in favor of the truth).

As for reading other materials, admittedly the experiences of other believers are profitable, but if I don't personally know the person writing the book, how could I in good faith take him at his word? I would then weigh it carefully against the Word to see if the doctrine it contains is true. But one thing I've learned about books: Ecclesiastes 12:12. My faith is not an amalgam of the Bible plus anything...I'm not saying that any of yours IS...but why read what others write ABOUT God when I can just go to the source, and then relate what I've found with other believers face to face? Wouldn't that be a good foundation for fellowship? I think so. Ahh, but I think I'm getting into circular reasoning here, aren't I?...LOL.

In the end, genuine Christians reflect the regenerate do the will of the Father. It's His will that we walk as we are to walk, whether in love for the brethren and truth of His Word, or hatred for the sin that so easily besets us and that fills the world.

Perhaps I've shot from the hip in much of what I've said, for after re-reading what Ed initially wrote about I can honestly say I agree with it if not in whole, at least in vast majority. I hope you'll forgive my impetuousness Ed.

I've still a great bit of growing to do.


Sola Scriptura, both mentally and physically.
That means no other books about Bible interpretation on my shelf, sorry...;)

1 John 2:27-29

Alex Guggenheim's picture


Your lengthy explanations that avoid answering direct questions and your reconstruction of the arguments of others so that you may respond to questions not asked or issues not raised is more than noticeable.

You don't "delve into the Greek" and you "don't care to" you say? Interestingly, every single translator of any English Bible not only delved into the Greek, they studied it to gain enough mastery that would qualify them to translate it into English (or other languages for some). But of course that was for them and no doubt this "spirit" you say is leading you is leading you away from all that. Foolish men who went to the Greek for their translations. If only they were led of the Spirit they could have gotten God's Word in the English without all that Greek (and Hebrew!).

In the end you are still left with the inability and unwillingness to address all of the issues raised concerning your eccentric and erring view of hate and love as used in the Bible. Your elementary enlightenment regarding hate and love cannot be denied but as Paul warned us, the milk of the word is not sufficient and you must move on to meat. Refusing to recognize idioms, refusing to address contradictions to your incomplete thinking of hate and love where God tells us to hate our father and mother yet love our father and mother in serving him only leaves you in the a dimly lit room.

If you are comforted by your suspicious nature or objections that you don't accept what others teach because "how could I in good faith take him at his word" when a teacher is not offering his word as evidence for his arguments, rather exposition, exegesis and historical context, so be it. But do know, Ed or others aren't offering "their word" as the basis for their arguments, rather they are offering developed arguments so no one is asking you to "take them at their word".

Dave G's picture

For the benefit of those who don't like "walls of text" and can't be asked to muddle through development of background, I'll simplify my statements from this point forward. What I was attempting to do is to address prevalent thinking and what I believe influences it. If that's a bit much, I can understand that...:)

I'll answer your "charges" first.

1)I'm not a teacher or translator of God's Word. Therefore, I trust God to provide me with His Word unvarnished, with it translated accurately and faithfully so that I don't HAVE to delve into the Greek or Hebrew...and He has. But if there's something I don't understand now, I trust He'll make it understood to me LATER in life.

2)If you've read a thing I've had to write, you'd realize that "avoiding answering direct questions" is not something I try to do. Ask me anything you want, I'll answer it.

3) You've accused me of characterizing men who went to the Greek and Hebrew as foolish. This isn't what I was attempting to say, but if you take it that way, fine. To put it plainly, I think that people who continue to go to a "consensus of translations" and that think it necessary to go BACK to the Greek when so many others who've gone before us have already DONE that...IMO they're wasting their precious time. The work is done, God said what He said. Over-complicating it is what I see as happening.

4) My "eccentric and and erring view"? I see a system of visible institutions that err from God's Word on a DAILY basis and I refuse to accept their "pat" and sometimes convoluted cookie-cutter answers to hard questions. I see most of the people I deal with who profess Christ, as part of this apostate system. If that's a bit harsh, so be it. Until they demonstrate that their understanding is coming from the Holy Spirit, and not some construct of tradition and religion, then I will continue to be suspicious.

5) Contrary to what you might think, I wasn't directing my posts to Ed personally, but I was trying (and failing) to address what I saw as a pattern of thinking and attempting to re-direct it to what I felt was more biblical. If you can't follow my reasoning, I'm at a loss.

6) I already told you I see through a glass darkly...yep, that dimly lit room. I'm also not the kind of person who is comforted by a suspicious nature, but if having a nature that compares what someone says to Scripture is suspicious, then so be it.

At the end of it all, I'm a person who has left the "system" completely. I seek to fellowship with those who have also left that system (at least in their way of thinking) and I can see I've made a huge mistake by getting involved with this site.

Nothing I said was meant personally, only objectively.

Sola Scriptura, both mentally and physically.
That means no other books about Bible interpretation on my shelf, sorry...;)

1 John 2:27-29

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Feel free to correct your "huge mistake", in the mean time and back on topic. Ed stated:

Ed Vasicek wrote:
We should be ready to forgive the repentant. Credibility, on the other hand, needs to be re-established over time. Sometimes, it never can be.

Ed, I am interested in some examples of this if you get time to consider and post some. Thanks.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Alex, I assume you are talking about the credibility issue and not the being ready to forgive the repentant.

Matthew 3:7ff makes a point about credibility, I think:

7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement about whether Mark had yet re-established credibility in Acts 15:36ff:

36Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Late, Mark's credibility was re-established in 2 Timothy 4:11

Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.

We can also see a bit of this in the restitution of Peter in John 21.

"The Midrash Detective"

timffoster's picture

> How do you handle hatred?
> We can begin with this reasoning: Everything God does is holy and right. God hates, therefore a holy and righteous hatred exists.

I generally agree with your statements, but I do believe that in order to be thoroughly Biblical, we need to elevate the intensity and specificity of the hatred. More on this later.

I thoroughly disagree with your statement about the honeymoon.
But I agree with everything else you've said. Wink

Modern Western Christianity spends so much time getting drunk on the "love of God" theme, that we have no idea what to do with the hatred of God. So we ignore it. How shameful! The Bible repeatedly sees God's hatred as glorious ...and so should we!

Dave, your points about the 'love of God for all men' when compared against the backdrop of Biblical history should make any student sit up and take notes. That's a heck of a body-count! (And please don't choke on the word 'heck'. These bodies are burning in hell today, so it's not a trivial matter).
When God makes a declaration about Himself, we have an obligation to look at history so that we can better understand what He means when He speaks - use His history to help define His terms, if you will.

Dave is spot-on about the love of God being subject to the holiness of God and how we've distorted that today. He didn't provide verses, but I will. Two passages should be enough.
1. Isaiah 6 / Rev 4. Note that angels don't flit around saying "God is love, love, love". They shout "Holy! Holy! Holy is the Lord God Almighty!"
2. Exodus 34. Moses wants to know more about God and begs to see Him plainly (as opposed to darkly). God replies "You can't because I'd have to kill you. But we'll do this instead - hide behind this rock and I'll run by.." etc, etc, "..and tomorrow I will stand before you and declare My Name to you".

I don't think I have to tell this crowd what a person's 'Name' comports. Suffice it to say that God is not going to show Moses His "Hello, my name is..." badge. Furthermore, it is critical to note that this description of God's Name/Character is given without context: God is declaring Who/How/What He is w/o comparison to some action or event that just occurred. This God, undiluted, unvarnished. This verse *MUST* be the most important verse for believers because the entire universe, even heaven and hell, revolve around Him, His character, His glory, and His will. Even His love for the 'world' is an outpouring of *one* aspect of His Name/Character. To have John 3:16 be our most important verse in the Bible is, quite frankly, myopically selfish to the extreme: we're celebrating one aspect of God that has particular benefit for us - and ignoring other aspects of His character that He desires to be glorified (more on this later).

Here's Exod 34
The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.
(Exod 34:5-8, ESV)

I have it on good authority that God doesn't change. So can someone please tell me why we only preach the 1st half of who God Himself declares Himself to be??? If you handed your resume to a friend to pass on to a company that was hiring, would you appreciate it if your 'friend' cut your resume in 1/2 and only forwarded the first half? Sorry, but I think God would be a little miffed if we do not "speak of Him what is right" (Job 42:7) and declare the whole counsel and character of God.

Dave - You've given several examples of how our modern understanding of 'love' is a horrible way to describe God's actions to those He didn't elect. In fact, you're not the first one to run a list like this. Another guy name Dave did this as well - lots of times, actually. One of his more particularly relevant musings in his book called Psalms 136. In this retelling of Israel's history, each sentence ends with "for His steadfast love endures forever" (ESV; "His love is eternal" in the HCSB). Here are a couple of examples:

To him who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love endures forever;
and killed mighty kings, for his steadfast love endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his steadfast love endures forever;
and Og, king of Bashan, for his steadfast love endures forever;
and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever;
(Ps 136:17-21, ESV)

Most of us couldn't care less who Og and Sihon (or any of the rest of the Canaanites) were, but no matter how you slice it,
1) those are a ton of dead people (if the ~2million Israelites were "small in number", how many Canaanites were there??)
2) David sees these killings as an act of praise-worthy **love**.
Love? Love for whom? The 'world'? Was this God's love and special plan for them? (actually, yes, especially if you read Exodus 9:15-16 and assume God really truly meant what He said)

But here's where the rubber meets the road: Do *YOU AND I* see these as acts of love? If not, why are we not of the same mind as the Holy Spirit - or do we think David and Moses were deluded and full of other spirits when they wrote this?

The Psalms are full of all kinds of statements that make it very clear that God's character (and people!) acts in ways of judgment (aka, "hatred") that our 21st century Christianized thinking finds unacceptable. Shame on us! Yet look at how schizophrenic we are with these teachings. Every one of us can quote Ps 139:23-24 ("Search me o God, and know my heart. Try me...") but how many of us know (let alone sing!) the few verses *immediately* preceding them?

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
(Ps 139:19-22, ESV)

(Nevermind that verses like these are frequent.)
How many of us would say this to our enemies? Why do we sing this Psalm selectively? Is the rest of it not good enough for us? Who decided this?
If we quote some NT teaching that seems to counters this, then we've painted ourselves into a logical pickle (never mind the fact that Jesus started His sermon on the mount by telling us that He didn't come to do away with the Law):

1. David springs off these thoughts to beg God to search his own heart so that he will be found pure. We're just dandy with picking his concluding plea ("search me"), but not his primary plea ("kill them")!!?? Why? God has promised from Gen to Rev that He will kill them.

2. If we want to hide behind dispensational thinking, God echoes this same kind of thinking in the days of Adam (Gen 3:15 includes a curse and the punishment of death); in the days of Noah (Gen 6); in the days of Abraham (Gen 12:1-3 - blessings *and* cursings come from God); Moses (Deut 30: I have set before you life *and* death); in heaven where there is no sin( Rev 6); and (drumroll, please) in the church age (Acts 13:9-12; 2 Cor 5:11; Heb 10:30-31 ..which is a quote of Deut 32, letting us know that the author of Hebrews believes that these cursings are still in effect!) The point is, a) there is no Biblical way to hide this righteous anger/hatred of God toward sinners under some flimsy dispensational whitewash; b) men and women of God in all dispensations echo His holy hatred, frequently in violent methods. And if Psalms 136 is to be our guide, this too is "His steadfast love".

3. Please re-read Deut 28. This passage is not an aberration as it is recorded (albeit in less grisly detail) in Lev 26. Note what God says *He* will do. Once you've finished Deut 28, re-read v 63 and ask yourself a) is this the God you serve; b) has God changed from then till now. For me, personally, this compels me to re-interpret John 3:16 (namely, by including *all* the verses up through 21. I've no clue why so many pastors keep ignoring the phrase "condemned *already*", but I digress)

4. Jesus said that Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented had they seen what Bethsaida, Chorzain and Capernaum had seen (Matt 11). Question: when "The Lord was standing outside S&G, raining fire and brimstone down from the Lord in heaven" (meaning there were 2 Lords working in concert) ... why didn't the Lord on the ground ask the Lord in heaven to hit the Pause button instead of the Fire&Brimstone button, simply walk into S&G, perform a few miracles, teach a couple sermons on the mounts and - bingo - have tens of thousands of Sodomites and Gomorites repent?
You can't say "they were bad" because we all are depraved and Paul says that gays can change (1 Cor 6). You can't say "well, He knew their hearts" because He knows all our hearts and knows we're all desperately wicked. Jesus says He knew what it would have taken for them to repent, yet He didn't give it to them, and gave them destruction instead. Why!? I have yet to find someone who spouts "God loves everyone the same and wants everyone to be saved" be able to give a semi-plausible reason why God deliberately did not give S&G enough grace for them to repent when He knew what it would have taken for them to do so.

From where I sit, there can be only one conclusion: God does not want some people to be saved.

David words it slightly differently:

He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules.
Praise the Lord!
(Ps 147:19-20, ESV)

Jesus worded it slightly differently too:
At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (Matt 11:25-26, ESV - note, He just blasted Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorzain and told them they were going to hell for not repenting, and that hell would be worse for them than S&G [a people He could have saved but didn't ].)

This is the sobering truth that we fail to preach: If you look at the handiworks of God's destruction and can't bring yourself to say "Praise the Lord", then know that you do not think like the Bible does. There are no two ways about this.


On "love and hatred" .. Dave, this is actually one place where I *slightly* disagree with you. Read Gen 29 & 30 and look at the child-bearing competition between Leah and Rachel. Leah actually uses 'hated' and 'less loved' interchangeably, so there is some direct Biblical support to the idea that "hated" **can** mean "less loved". However, this is clearly not always the case. .. and this is one (of many things) that bugs me: I cannot count the number of times I've been in a Romans Bible study or sermon where Paul's "Jacob have I loved, but Easau have I hated" was brought up and the speaker/book pointed out how Jesus used "hated" to mean "less loved". Quite frankly, SO WHAT!!?? Paul wasn't quoting Jesus!!! He was quoting Malachi! So let's read Malachi and see what God was saying there:

"I have loved you," says the Lord. But you say, "How have you loved us?" "Is not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the Lord. "Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert." If Edom says, "We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins," the Lord of hosts says, "They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’" Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, "Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!" (Mal 1:2-5, ESV)

If all you Bible teachers want 'hated' to mean 'less loved', then please be intellectually consistent and remind us, your audience, that the 'less loved' sentiment God had for Esau means that God has laid waste Esau's country and left his heritage for wild animals. And if Esau tried to build it up again, God, acting out in His 'less-loved' fashion, would strike it down again. And again. And again. (read up on the history of Edom/Nabateans/Idumeans/etc). And that Esau's land would be derided by nations all over the world, and that people would look at it and say "DADGUM! God is Angry with them forever" (note - He didn't say 'less loved forever'). This is what Paul is quoting!! Personally, I vote we quit the 'less-loved' business when we read Rom 9,

Question: When we see this destruction that God does to these people that are, *ahem*, "less loved" forever, what is our response? The next verse tells us: Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, "Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!"

Geeeee .. that sounds a lot like same as David's response in Ps 147. And Miriam's song in Exodus 15. And Mary's song in Luke 3. And the saints' song in Rev 6. And Paul's curse in 1 Cor 16:22 (note that this was the all-important-thought that compelled him to get up, push his secretary aside, and write out with his own hand).

Long story short,
If our understanding of God has no room for His hatred, then we're not reading our Bible with our intellect intact. (or, I guess, to use Moses' words "But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. Deut 29:4, ESV)
If our understanding of God's people prohibits outward signs of hatred, then we're not understanding our Bible (Jesus, Peter, Paul, Jude, James, saints in Heaven - all of these guys used (what we would call) coarse language and/or acted out angrily against certain sins, and praised God to see Him deal swiftly against it).
If our understanding of God's wrath manifesting itself in destruction doesn't prompt us to praise Him gloriously, then we're out of step with the characters in the Bible.

I submit that the challenge for us is to divine *why* they did so, and how do we BIBLICALLY show the same anger and hatred for both the sin and the sinner that God does. So that we, too, can be people after God's own heart. (Unless we don't mind confusing the definition of love, I can't find anything in the Bible that says "Love the sinner, hate the sin". The wicked are hated, even in the afterlife. Is 66:23-24)

Yes, we are absolutely to love all people, and passionately desire that they come to a saving knowledge of the Holy One.

And yes.. imho, 21st century Western Christians have a woefully un-Biblical view of Biblical hatred.

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