HOLY HATE: AN ATTRIBUTE OF GOD
By Wayne Camp
". . . thou HATEST all workers of iniquity" (Psa. 5:5).
"These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and HE that soweth discord among brethren" (Prov. 6:16-19).
". . . I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness" (Mal. 1:2-3).
"As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:13).
I have before me an awesome assignment. I have been asked to write a message on God's attribute of hate. We hear much about the love, the grace, and the mercy of God. Many who love to proclaim the love of God, as any true preacher of the word would want to do, are afraid of such Divine attributes as jealousy, hate, wrath. Some tell us that these are dark attributes that should be kept secret. They are like Divine skeletons in God's closet. Some deny such attributes, especially hate, altogether.
In the texts that I have given above, the hatred of God is set forth. I have especially chosen those that deal with his hatred of persons. Many who will affirm that God hates sin cannot even remotely conceive of God hating anyone. Yet, our first text tells us that he hates all WORKERS of iniquity. It is true that he hates the iniquity, but this verse says that he hates the workers of iniquity.
In our second text we are told that God hates "A false witness that speaketh lies, and HE that soweth discord among brethren." Again, we agree that God hates lying; but the verse says he hates the FALSE witness that does the lying. And, he hates the person who sows discord among brethren. He hates the discord that is sown; that we readily acknowledge. But, our verse affirms that God hates the sower of that discord.
Our next two texts declare that God hated Esau and loved Jacob. He loved Jacob before Jacob had ever done any good and he hated Esau before he had done any evil. This is a love and a hatred of persons, not their deeds.
In this message I will proceed as follows. First, I will further establish from Scripture the fact of God's hatred, both of things and persons. Second, I will show some of the objects of God's hatred. Third, we will consider the nature of the Divine hatred. Fourth, we will look at, answer, and try to remove some of the objections to the Divine hatred. This is no small task before us and I approach it with a certain amount of fear and trembling. I reverence our great God too much to not approach such a subject with great awe. I tremble to think that I might unintentionally misconstrue something about the nature of our great, holy, and infinitely wise Creator and Benefactor. May God give me the grace to fulfill this assignment in a manner that magnifies our Majestic Maker.
THE FACT OF DIVINE HATRED
I have already presented Scripture that sets forth the fact of God's hatred. We will now look at these and other verses that will establish to all believers of the Word of God that there is an attribute of hate in the nature of God. Now, in your heart you may have trouble conceiving of God as one who hates persons. Whether you can conceive of it in your heart or not, it is set forth in the word of God. Your heart must be regulated by Scripture truth and not truth by what you think in your heart. The Bible minces no words. God hates certain persons as well as certain actions and things.
The Psalmist declares that God hates all workers of iniquity. Look again at the words of Psa. 5:5, ". . . Thou hatest ALL WORKERS of iniquity." Again, let it be noted that God does not merely hate the iniquity; he hates all workers of iniquity. At an appropriate point in this message I will point out that there is a positive hatred of God and there is a negative hatred. In this verse the hatred is positive. Positive hatred is because of sin. He hates those in this verse because of their sinfulness.
Matthew Henry said, "Wicked people hate God; justly therefore are they hated of him, and it will be their endless misery and ruin . . . whosoever loves and makes a lie; nothing is more contrary than this, and therefore nothing more hateful to the God of truth . . . those that are cruel: Thou wilt abhor the bloody man; for inhumanity is no less contrary, no less hateful, to the God of mercy, whom mercy pleases. Liars and murderers are in a particular manner said to resemble the devil and to be his children, and therefore it may well be expected that God should abhor them."
On the declaration that God hates all workers of iniquity, Spurgeon wrote, "It is not a little dislike, but a thorough hatred which God bears to workers of iniquity. To be hated of God is an awful thing . . . " 'The lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.' How forcible is the word abhor! Does it not show us how powerful and deep-seated is the hatred of the Lord against the workers of iniquity?"
John Gill wrote, "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity; not all that have sin in them or do sin, for there are none without it; but such who give themselves up to work wickedness, who make it the business of their lives, and are slaves unto it, living in a continued series and course of impiety; and this character does not only belong to openly profane sinners, but to some professors of religion . . . these are the objects of God's hatred. "Again Gill wrote, He hates all workers of iniquity and brings down his indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man that does evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile (Rom. 2:8-9).
God hates things as well as persons. Of Christ it is written, "Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness" (Psa. 45:7). It is hard for some to conceive of Jesus Christ hating anything. There is something in our training as children that has welded into our mind a gentle, loving Jesus (and he is gentle and loving) who could not hate anything or anybody. That is just not the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. He does hate certain things. He positively abhors certain things.
This reminds me that there is another word used in the Bible which means basically the same thing as hate. It is the word abhor. It means to "regard with extreme repugnance, loathe, hate," according to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. The word is especially used of God's attitude toward those who worship idols and who are involved in wicked, abnormal behavior, such as homosexuals.
God, in referring to his dealings with the Gentile nations before he visited them to take out of them a people for his name, and when he was casting them out of the land so that Israel could inhabit it, said of those nations, "I abhorred them" (Lev. 20:23). As previously pointed out, David said of God, "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity" (Psa. 5:5). In the next verse he said, "The Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man" (Psa. 5:6).
It is therefore established that God not only hates and abhors evil, he hates and abhors those who habitually practice evil.
In discussing the love that God's children should have for sinners now, Jonathan Edwards wrote, "But this is not the case in another world. The saints in glory will know concerning the damned in hell, that God never loved them, but that he hates them, and that they will be for ever hated of God. This hatred of God will be full declared to them; they will see it, and will see it in the fruits of their misery . . . God has declared his hatred of the damned . . . " (On Knowing Christ, Jonathan Edwards, P. 250).
Robert Haldane, in his discussion of Rom. 9:13—"Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated"—wrote, "Jacob was loved before he was born, consequently before he was capable of doing good; and Esau was hated before he was born, consequently before he was incapable of doing evil. It may be asked why God hated him before he sinned personally; and human wisdom Has proved its folly, by endeavoring to soften the word hated into something less than hatred: but the man who submits like a little child to the word of God, will find no difficulty in seeing in what sense Esau was worthy of the hatred of God before he was born. He sinned in Adam, and was therefore properly an object of God's hatred as well as fallen Adam . . . Nothing can more clearly manifest the strong opposition of the human mind to the doctrine of the Divine sovereignty, than the violence which human ingenuity has employed to wrest the expression, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. By many this has been explained, 'Esau have I loved less.' But Esau was not the object of any degree of the Divine love, and the word hate never signifies to love less. The occurrence of the word in the expression 'hate father and mother,' Luke 14:26, has been alleged in vindication of this explanation; but the word in this last phrase is used figuratively, and in a manner that cannot be mistaken. Although hatred is not meant to be asserted, yet hatred is the thing that is practically expressed. By a strong figure of speech, that is called hatred that resembles it in its effects. We will not obey those whom we hate, if we can avoid it. Just so, if our parents command us to disobey Jesus Christ, we must not obey them; and this is called hatred, figuratively, from the resemblance of its effects. But in this passage, in which the expression 'Esau have I hated,' occurs, everything is literal. the Apostle is reasoning from premises to a conclusion. Besides, the contrast of loving Jacob with hating Esau, shows that the last phrase is literal and proper hatred. If God's love to Jacob was real literal love, God's hatred to Esau must be real literal hatred. It might as well be said that the phrase, 'Jacob have I loved; does not signify that God really loved Jacob, but that the expression, is that God hated Jacob less than he hated Esau. If every man's own mind is a sufficient security against concluding the meaning to be, 'Jacob have I hated less,' his judgment ought to be a security against the equally unwarrantable meaning, 'Esau have I loved less'. " (AN EXPOSITION OF ROMANS, Pp. 455, 456).
The thing that makes the evasive interpretation exposed by Haldane even more foolish is the inconsistency of those who take that position, i. e., "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I loved less," is that it still has God making a difference in his affection for the two. Since this is said to precede their birth when Esau had done no evil and Jacob had done no good, what are the grounds for loving Esau less than he loved Jacob? If God has the sovereign prerogative to love Esau less, he has the sovereign prerogative to not love him at all, to hate him, in fact. If you, Dear Reader, are one of those who say the word hate in this verse means "to love less," I ask you, "On what grounds does God have the right to love Jacob more and love Esau less? If God literally loved Jacob, is it not evident that he literally hated Esau?" If one argues that "Esau have I hated" does not really mean that God hated Esau; then he must also accept that "Jacob have I loved" does not really mean that God loved Jacob. With such reasoning the end result is to say that the verse should actually read, "Jacob have I not really loved and Esau have I not really hated." Or, "I really didn't love Jacob and I really didn't hate Esau." What did God really mean, if he didn't really mean that he loved Jacob and hated Esau?
Haldane later writes, "In its obvious and literal meaning, what is said of Jacob and Esau must be true of all the individuals of the human race before they are born. Each one of them must either be loved or hated of God." (Ibid., P. 457). Since men are all "by nature the children of wrath," why would anyone argue that God is obligated to love Esau, or any other depraved being, at all? Or, maybe there are those who believe it is unjust for God to impute the sin of Adam to his posterity and have every descendant of his born a child of wrath, and every unbeliever living under the abiding wrath of God (Eph. 2:1-3; Jn. 3:36).
Love is not God's only attribute. Hatred is as much a Divine attribute as is love. The Bible speaks often of those things which God hates. It also speaks a number of times about those individuals that he hates and abhors. The very Godhood of God is called into question by those who deny his right to hate and affirm that his love for all men without exception is mandatory. Both indicate a rebellious spirit toward the sovereign right of God to do what he will with his own. "Is it not lawful" for God to do what he will with his own creation? (Mat. 20:15).
And, incidentally, rather than siding with Esau against God because of his hatred of Esau, why don't those who rebel against this doctrine of Divine hatred of Esau file a case against God because he loved the conniver, Jacob? You could come up with a much better case for God hating Jacob than you can for him loving both Jacob and Esau.
THE OBJECTS OF DIVINE HATRED
We have already seen some of the objects of God's hatred. We have seen that God hates "ALL WORKERS OF INIQUITY." He does not merely love them less; he positively hates them. He abhors and loathes bloody and deceitful men (Psa. 5:5-6). Those who pursue a life of evil are repugnant to him.
Having laid the ground work in the early part of the chapter Paul proceeds to show that some are the objects of the divine hatred while others are objects of sovereign grace, compassion, and mercy. God "hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth" (Rom. 9:18). He then insists that a potter has a right to make of his clay one vessel unto honor and another to dishonor. The obvious implication is that God is the great Potter of the universe and, being the Sovereign Potter and Creator, he has the prerogative to make of Jacob (or any one he chooses) a vessel of honor, and of Esau (or any other person) a vessel of dishonor. Knowing that carnal minded men will rebel against the Divine prerogative in this matter Paul hastens to say, "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" It is obvious that the one questioning God's discriminate dealings with men is in rebellion against the sovereign Potter of the universe.
Then Paul moves on to show that God willing, determining to show his wrath and make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Now, we see that there are others than Esau who are the objects of the Divine hatred. They are vessels (note the plural) of wrath, fitted to destruction on whom God has determined to show his wrath and to make his power known. Just as God hated Esau; did not graciously love him and call him by his grace, God hates all those vessels of wrath that are fitted to destruction. The reason God endures with great patience the wickedness of these vessels of wrath is his purpose to manifest his wrath and power in their punishment. They will be the grand demonstration of the punishing power and holy wrath of an offended God.
God has permitted sin to enter the human race to manifest the entire panorama of his glorious attributes. His grace, mercy, and electing love are most majestically displayed when set against the background of his just punishment of the wicked, the vessels of wrath which he has fitted for destruction.
Look at three crosses on yonder hill called Calvary. On the middle cross hangs the Lord Jesus Christ being crucified in weakness. On either side are thieves who are both railing on him in the beginning. But, in spite of all the obstacles, and without any personal plea from anyone, one of those thieves is regenerated and converted and that day ushered into the kingdom. The other remains an obstinate, railing sinner. The Bible is clear. There is no difference in the nature of one man than another. Why did one remain in his sin while the other repented and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ? The only answer is to be found in the discriminating grace of God. He set his love on one before the foundation of the world, and at the appointed time he called him by his grace, justified him, and took him to heaven the same day.
God, who is so precise in his arrangements, so particular in his purposes, and so jealous for his own majestic glory, would not permit just anybody to be crucified with his Son. On those two crosses on either side of the Lord of Glory were just precisely the two people whom he foreordained to be there. There was a reprobate who was the just object of his hatred. There was one of his elect who was the object of his electing love. There was one whom God had sovereignly hardened; there was one whom he had sovereignly regenerated, called and given the graces of repentance and faith. There was one whom he had made a vessel of honor, and another whom he had made a vessel unto dishonor. There was one who was a vessel of wrath on whom he would shew his wrath and make his power known. There was one who was a vessel of mercy which he had before prepared for glory. There was one to whom Christ crucified was a stumbling block and foolishness. There was one who saw Christ crucified as the power and wisdom of God when God called him by his grace. Yes, one is a vessel of wrath, and object of the Divine hatred, while the other is a vessel of mercy whom God has prepared for glory.
John describes others who are apparently objects of the Divine wrath. He declares, "Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He (God) hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them" (Jn. 12:39-40). Again we are confronted with a matter that is unpalatable to some folks. God is said to have actually blinded the eyes and hardened the heart of some people. This he did lest they should see with their eyes and understand with their heart and be converted. Surely, for him to do such is adequate evidence for us to say these people were the objects of the Divine hatred. Or, I suppose, we could say, "God loved them less, therefore he blinded their eyes and hardened their heart lest they see and understand and be converted."
What of those persons whom Peter says are "as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed" who "shall suddenly perish in their own corruption?" (II Pet. 2:12)? Are not these surely objects of the Divine wrath? They, like brute beasts, were made to be taken and destroyed. Could they have been objects of the electing love of God, or even the "less love" which he allegedly had for Esau? Since they were made to be taken and destroyed, why would they be considered objects of the love of God?
And, what of those people who were before ordained to condemnation? "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 4). Were they loved with the same degree of love as was Jacob? Or were they loved less as some say Esau was? Or were they the objects of Divine hatred? A reasonable, biblical consideration of this matter will doubtless bring one to the conclusion they were the objects of Divine hatred. One wonders why God would ordain someone to condemnation while loving them, even if it was the less love claimed by some. The Word of God is explicit on the matter. False prophets are an abomination in the eyes of God. He abhors them and hates their false ways. They are deceitful workers of iniquity. "Beware of false prophets . . . Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in they name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Mat. 7:15-23). Here Jesus declares that false prophets are men that "work iniquity." I would remind the reader again that God hates "all workers of iniquity." Since false prophets are the men under discussion in Jude 4, and such false prophets are ordained to condemnation, and such false prophets are workers of iniquity, we are on perfectly safe Biblical ground when we declare that God HATES FALSE PROPHETS.
Again, remember that God hates bloody and deceitful men." Paul writes, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (II Cor. 11:13-15). Several things are obvious from these verses. False prophets are deceitful workers. They are deceitful men. God hates deceitful men. The end of these false prophets will be according to their deceitful works. They deceive others and yet think they are saved. In the judgment they will speak of all their wonderful works and preachments in the name of Christ. Their end will be according to their works for they will hear those awful words from the lips of our Lord. First he will reveal that he never knew them. He never set his elective love on them. They were never objects of the elective love he had for Jacob. Rather, they were objects of reprobating hate, such as the Lord has for all workers of iniquity and all bloody and deceitful men. They will hear him say, "I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Consider the men of Sodom. They were homosexuals to the core; working things that are unnatural and abominable among themselves. Even when stricken with blindness they pursued their homosexual lusts with a fury. God rained fire and brimstone upon them and destroyed them. Jesus indicated that if the mighty works which he did in Chorazin, Bedside, and Capernaum had been done in Sodom, Tire, and Sidon, they would have repented and Sodom would have been delivered and not destroyed. God knows all things. He knows that the men of Sodom would have been converted if he had done the mighty works there that were done in some places. If he loved them as he did Jacob, why did he not do the works in Sodom he did in other cities, knowing they would repent if the works were done? If God even had that less love of which some speak, surely he would have done the works that would have brought them to repentance. But, the works were not done, and Sodom perished. Why? Because they were not the objects of his love nor his alleged less love. They were the objects of Divine hatred because of their abominable conduct and abhorred works. Therefore, even knowing they would repent if sufficient works were done there, God withheld the works and destroyed the city and its people who were apparently vessels of wrath fitted to destruction and ordained to condemnation.
There are others that we could cite who obviously were the objects of God's hatred. What of Pharaoh whose heart God hardened rather than have compassion on him? What of all those who could not hear the word of Christ even though they had good, sensitive ears and were in his presence many times and heard him preach? Yet they could not really and savingly hear him (Jn. 8:43). The hearing ear comes from the Lord according to the wise man, Solomon. These men did not receive from God a hearing ear. Why does he give some a hearing ear while the hearing ear is withheld from others? Those who receive the hearing ear are objects of his elective love; those who receive no hearing ear are the objects of his hate.
THE NATURE OF THE DIVINE HATRED
Perhaps this discussion should have come earlier in our study, because it might have helped some in understanding and accepting the hatred of God in some situations. Of course, those who, because of erroneous ideas about the attributes of God and their exercise, simply find it impossible to accept the idea that a God who is love could hate anything or anybody will not be convinced regardless of the order in which we approach the subject.
There are those who simply deny that hatred belongs to God because of a limited knowledge of the attributes of God. As God made his creatures they were all good and he took pleasure in all of them, including man. I should also point out that hate is not a passionate thing in him as it is in man. With God, as is true with man, when he loves something or someone, he hates whatever is opposed to it or them. He loves the righteous and therefore, hates all workers of iniquity. He loved Jacob and therefore hated Esau who was always opposed to him. This is also true of man, as I said. David loved God's law, therefore, he declared he hated every false way. God loves his preachers of truth; therefore he hates false prophets who speak contrary to his word and in opposition to those who preach his truth.
It is perfectly obvious when you think about it. Can one love truth and falsehood at the same time? Can one love one who declares the truth, and equally love one who makes converts to his error that makes them children of hell? Jesus commended the congregation at Ephesus for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans and added, "Which thing I also hate" (Rev. 2:6). A real love of truth generates a real hatred of false doctrine.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE HATRED
The hatred of God of God may be considered as positive and negative hatred. The positive hatred of God is that hatred that has sin, evil, wickedness in view, as well as those who commit the evil. "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." That is positive hatred. "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." That is negative hatred and has no evil acts in view. In fact, God said it before they had either done any evil or any good.
God hates sin because it is so contrary to his nature. He hates all sin and is the author of none. But, there are certain sins which are especially the objects of his positive hate. Idolatry, the worship of images, is especially hated of God. Moses said, "Neither shalt thou set thee up any image; which the Lord they God hated" (Deut. 16:22). In the time of Jeremiah God brought great desolation upon the land of Judah, especially his chosen city Jerusalem because of idolatry. They had gone after other gods, burned incense at their pagan altars, and had served those gods. Through his prophets he appealed to them, "Oh, do not do this abominable thing which I hate" (Jer. 44:4).
God hates insincere worship of himself. The fact that one worships is not acceptable unless that worship is in sincerity and truth. He rebuked Israel for their insincere worship. "When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I can not away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth" (Isa. 1:13-14).
In Proverbs God tells us through the inspired pen of Solomon that there are six things he hates, even seven that are an abomination to him. He hates a proud, haughty look. He hates a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood. Note that he does not simply hate the lying; he hates the tongue that does the lying. He hates a heart that devises wicked imaginations such as those folks who were destroyed in the flood whose imaginations were only evil continually. Now, he does not simply hate the imaginations of the heart; he hates the heart that devises the wicked imaginations. God hates feet that are swift in running to mischief. Note that he did not simply say that he hated the mischief to which they run; he hates the feet that do the running. And, he hates a false witness that speaketh lies. Again, notice that he does not simply hate the lies that are spoken; he hates the one speaking them. Finally he hates the person who sows discord among brethren. Notice that he does not simply hate the discord that is sown; he hates the person sowing the discord. (See. Prov. 6:16-19). This is not figurative language. This is literal hatred on the part of God. He literally and positively hates the sower of discord. Or, and I say this with tongue in cheek, perhaps it means that he "loves less" the sower of discord. Surely, in the light of these verses one can see that persons are truly sometimes the objects of God's hatred.
There are other things and persons that are the objects of the positive hatred of God. He hates fornication, adultery, homosexuality and many others sins. His hatred of these things has been manifest in his severe judgment upon those guilty. His positive hatred of homosexuals and homosexuality was manifest in his destruction of Sodom, a wicked and perverse city. His hatred of these perverts is especially seen in the first chapter of Romans where it is revealed that God gave them over to reprobate minds.
Let it be remembered that even the positive hatred of God is not a passionate hate such as men have when they may go into a rage over something. This positive hatred is always in relation to sin, the willful, determined continuous sinning of a person bent to that life style by his love of wickedness.
There is also what can be called negative hatred in God. Of the hatred of God, John Gill said, "The Scriptures speak of an hatred of some persons antecedent to sin, and without the consideration of it; which, though it may be attended with some difficulty to account for; yet may be understood in a good sense, and consistent with the perfections of God, and with what has been said of his hatred of sin and sinners; for thus it is said of Jacob and Esau, personally considered; 'Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Mal. 1:2), and which was before the one had done any good, or the other had done any evil" (BODY OF DIVINITY, P. 101). God said to Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau, "The elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Now this was said to Rebekah before the boys were born or had done any good or evil "that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of him that calleth." Gill comments, "And what is said of these, is true of all the objects of election and non-election. And now let it be observed, that this hatred is to be understood, not of any positive hatred in the heart of God towards them, but of a negative and comparative hatred of them; that whereas while some are chosen of God, and preferred by him, and are appointed to obtain grace and glory, and to be brought to great dignity and honour; others are passed by, neglected, postponed, and set less by; which is called an hatred of them; that is, a comparative one, in comparison of the love shewn, and the preference given to others; in this sense the word is used in Luke 14:26, 'If any man hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.' The meaning of which cannot be, that a man must have positive hatred of such near relations, and of his own life, but that he should be negligent of these in comparison to Christ."
In this negative hatred, there is the Divine will to withhold his grace and favor. He does not choose them to salvation. He does not call them effectually by his grace. He does not regenerate so that they might believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He does not set them apart, mark them out as objects of his love.
When Lucifer and his angels fell by transgression, God made no provision for the salvation of them. Christ did not take on him the nature of angels, therefore, he did not mediate for and on behalf of fallen angels. It was the sovereign prerogative of God to pass by them and not offer one of them salvation, not provide for even one of them a means by which they could be recovered from their fall.
With mankind it is different. God determined to save and recover a portion of fallen mankind. He did not purpose to save all for some or ordained to condemnation and are as brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed. They are vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. He, of his own sovereign prerogative and will, passed them by and did not include them in his eternal covenant of redemption. They were not given to Christ to save. If they had been they would surely be saved for Jesus said, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (Jn. 6:37). The reader is asked to look carefully at this verse. Jesus unequivocally declared that everyone given to him by the Father would definitely come to him. Further, he infallibly promised that none of those coming to him would be cast out. Now, there are many who do not come. Since all who were given to Christ do come to Christ, and since many do not come, the only explanation for some not coming is that they were not given to Christ. They were left in their just condemnation without God bestowing his grace and salvation upon them. They were the objects of his negative hate. He did not love them. He never KNEW them in elective love. He never gave them to Christ. They are called by the preaching of the gospel but are not called by the inward working, saving power of God. Those whom he calls effectually he justifies. "Whom he called, them he also justified." To the called Christ crucified is the power and wisdom of God. To some he is a stumbling block or foolishness but to the called he is the power and wisdom of God. Apparently those who never see him as the power and wisdom of God have never been called in the sense Paul is using in I Cor. 1:21 and Rom. 8:29-30.
The uncalled, unchosen, ungiven, etc. are objects of the negative hatred of God. In their case hatred is without consideration of any good or evil on their part. God has simply determined to leave them in their fallen condition, and with perfect justice for he has the sovereign right to do what he wills with his own. All creation is his and if he wills to show his wrath and to make his power known upon those vessels of wrath whom he has fitted for destruction, who art thou, O man, that you would reply against God?
OBJECTIONS AND QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Of course, it would be impossible in a message of this scope to answer all the objections and questions that might be raised concerning the attribute of Divine hatred, but I will endeavor to deal briefly with a few. If readers have other questions with which they would like me to deal, please send them and I will do the best I can.
OBJECTION: It is not right for God to hate a person. The very God-hood of God is on the line with the person who questions his right to do what he wills with his own. "Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?" "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor? Who art thou that repliest against God?" (See Rom. 9:11-24).
OBJECTION: God owes every man the same opportunity. This objection is often raised and reflects a total lack of understanding of grace and also, of history and present circumstances.
First, if God owes man anything, I fail to find that set forth in the Scriptures. Grace is not compatible with the alleged indebtedness of God to man. Grace is unmerited, undeserved favor. I recall an ABA literature writer who wrote something to this effect, "God owes every man one opportunity to be saved. If he has more than one opportunity, that is grace." (I would give an exact quote but the adult quarterly in which Dr. Chester Guinn wrote that burned when our building burned. I had preserved it for such occasions as this but I have it no more.). God owes no man any opportunity to be saved. If what Dr. Guinn said were true and a person were saved on the first opportunity, he would not be saved by grace but out of God's indebtedness to him.
Second, God has never given all men the same opportunity. Does a person born in the spiritually dark regions of China have the same opportunity as one born in the Bible Belt of our own nation? Absolutely not! And what of all those centuries when God was dealing only with the nation of Israel. The Gentiles, almost entirely, had been given over to reprobate minds. "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:11-13). In this passage Paul reminds the Ephesian Gentile Christians that there was a time in their history that they were without Christ, without hope, and without God. It was not until after the death of Christ that God began to "visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name" (Acts 15:14). Even Jesus, during his ministry said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mat. 15:24). When a Gentile woman approached him and begged for him to help her he said, "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs" (Mat. 15:26). Does that sound as if Christ owed every person precisely the same opportunity?
The fact is that God had left Gentiles in their sins without, except on rare occasions, sending them prophets. If God owes every man the same opportunity, how do you explain his not dealing with the Gentiles all those years? How do you explain his letting generation after generation of Gentiles live and die without Christ, without hope, and without God, without sending them preachers and prophets to proclaim the gospel of grace to them?
Just this morning I heard on the news about a tribe of people that have been discovered in a remote forest (I did not catch the name of the country) that were so unacquainted with civilization they were afraid of a steel ax. They worshipped a stone as their god and carried it with them as they moved from place to place. Tell me, please, have those people in that tribe who have lived and died (only the Lord knows how many years) without hearing of Christ had the same opportunity I had? I was born in a Baptist home and heard the gospel many times before I was saved at the age of 13 years. Yet, here are people, just discovered, to whom the gospel may never have been preached. Have they had the opportunity I had?
It is evident that God has chosen the gospel as the instrumental means by which the elect are brought to Christ. This is accomplished when the gospel is blessed with the power and demonstration of the Spirit. But, Dear Reader, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard; and how shall they hear without a preacher?" It has pleased God to use the "foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (I Cor. 1:21). Those whom God "hath from the beginning chosen to salvation" are called unto that salvation by God's instrumental use of the gospel 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul declared the gospel to be "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). And with that in mind, Paul was willing to "endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus" (II Tim. 2:10).
I have said all this pertaining to God's instrumental use of the gospel in the salvation of sinners to show the absurdity of the claim that God must give every person the same opportunity to be saved. Let me use another example to show this absurd claim is without foundation in scripture or in history or in fact. A preacher brother and very good friend of mine while I pastored in Stuttgart, AR, about 30 years ago, discussed this very matter with me one day. He said, "This idea that God owes every man the same opportunity in just not true. If it is true, God did not pay his debt to me. I was raised in an ungodly environment; you (referring to this writer, Wayne Camp) were raised in a Baptist home and taken to church. I never heard the gospel in my home; I was never taken to church; I was raised in a Godless environment. The only time I ever heard the term God it was attached to some profane word. I heard my first gospel message when I was about 31 years of age. Had I died before that time, I would have gone to hell and have never heard the gospel. On the other hand, you were too young to even remember the first sermon you ever heard. All your life you were exposed to preaching on a reasonably regular basis. Did I have exactly the same opportunity as you? Not by any stretch of the imagination!"
Case after case such as this could be cited. God does not owe every one exactly the same opportunity. In fact, he owes man nothing. If he chooses to get the gospel to him, to bless it with the regenerating power of his Spirit, and call a person to salvation, that is pure, unadulterated grace.
OBJECTION: Is not God a respector of persons if he loved Jacob but hated Esau? This objection is usually raised because the objector does not understand the doctrine that God is not a respector of persons. This does not mean that God does not discriminate between persons, setting his electing love on one while determining to show his wrath on another. The fact that God is no respector of persons means that he does not choose men to salvation, or bless men in their lives with regard to any thing about their persons. He does not save the wealthy, the highly intellectual person, or the very popular person because of what and who they are, and then not save and bless the person who is ugly, poor, down and out. God saves men out of his own sovereign purpose and will. "Ye see your calling brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence" (I Cor. 26-29).
I am reminded of a statement of the late Dr. John R. Graves in which he was dealing with such objections as this. He wrote, "All men are by nature Arminians; and the absolute sovereignty of God is a doctrine hateful to the natural and depraved heart. False teachers have taken advantage of this natural feeling, and have for ages inflamed the prejudices of Christian men and women against any exercise of sovereignty on the part of God in this Covenant, either as to his 'determinate counsels,' his electing love, or his distinguishing grace (Emp. mine, RWC). They presumptuously and impiously assert, that, unless God extended the same grace to all the lost that he did to those who are saved, he is justly chargeable with partiality and injustice, and, if he saw fit, in the dispensation of his grace, when none would, if left to themselves, accept or desire it, and, indeed, all have rejected it, to so influence the wills of some that they would seek his grace, he is guilty of forcing some men to be saved, and others to be lost" (THE WORK OF CHRIST CONSUMMATED IN SEVEN DISPENSATIONS, J. R. Graves, Pp. 95-96, Published by The Baptist Sunday School Committee of the American Baptist Association).
As previously stated, there are many objections that men raise about this, or, for that matter, any exercise of sovereignty on the part of God in the bestowal of his favor. Men will argue that it is not right for God to hate Esau and love Jacob. Then, in an effort to explain the plain Biblical statement, they will argue that hate does not mean hate when it refers to God. It really means "love less." Is it not true that if God had simply loved Esau less than he loved Jacob that he is still discriminating? Is he not showing favor to Jacob that he is not showing to Esau. Any way you slice it, if he loved Jacob more than the loved Esau, or, if the Bible is still true, and he loved Jacob and hated Esau, there is still a distinguishable difference in his favor toward the one over the other. Therefore, why tamper with the Word of God? It says, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." I am reminded of something Spurgeon relates somewhere in his writings. He preached on our text one morning and a lady came out a bit exercised and said something to this effect, "Mr. Spurgeon, I just don't understand how God could hate Esau!" Spurgeon answered, "I don't have any trouble understanding how he could hate Esau; I have my trouble understanding how he could love Jacob."
And so, for the time, I leave you with that thought. Wayne Camp has no problem understanding how God could hate Esau, or you, or me. I have a real problem with understanding how he could love Jacob, or you, or me. He could have justly left us all in our sins and consigned us to the blackness of darkness forever as he did all the fallen angels. But in sovereign, distinguishing grace he set his electing love on some, choosing them in Christ before the foundation of the world and that without any regard to good seen or foreseen in them. The rest, he sovereignly determined to leave in their sins that he might show his power and wrath in dealing with them.
Ah, but I remember when God began to reveal these Biblical truths to my heart. The old flesh, and the prejudices against the display of his glorious sovereignty would rise up inside me like bile from an upset stomach. I would pound my desk and say, "It just can't be that way! That just is not right." But, I would go back and read my Bible, and there it would be in black and ink. "I tell you a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Serepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian" (Lu. 4:25-27). Oh, it would grate on my natural prejudices. The idea that God would leave all those Israelite widows to starve to death in a famine but would send his blessings upon a Gentile woman and give her an unending supply of oil and meal was absolutely too much for my prejudiced thinking. There were many lepers in Israel in the days of Naaman but none of them were healed. They were left to languish and eventually perish in their leprosy, but God healed a Syrian named Naaman.
Could God have given all the widows food during the famine? Certainly! As easily as he fed the 5,000 men, and the women and children who were with them. But, he chose to show his favor to one widow, and one widow only. Did he have the right to do that? Certainly!
Could God leave all the other lepers languishing, decaying, and dying in their leprosy, but heal one leper by the name of Naaman without so much as extending his healing hand to the others? Certainly! Was he unrighteous to discriminate? Absolutely not!
Now, God chose to love Jacob. In fact, he chose Jacob and loved him. He hated Esau and did not choose him. Again he distinguished in the bestowal of his favor. Only a rebel against God would question his sovereign right to choose one and bypass the other.
I know there are those who would stone me for writing such doctrine. Some would like to find a high cliff and throw me over. But, that only encourages me. I know that is what they sought to do to my Lord when he preached sovereign, discriminating grace in his home town of Nazareth.
By God's grace I will not cry or complain, I will only pray, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering." Amen!
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