Does God “hate”?

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Well, friends, we have a question today we’re wrestling with that comes out of the book of Malachi. If you missed my sermon this last Sunday, we looked at the book of Malachi, one of the minor prophets, and there’s in chapter one a statement. As God is speaking to Israel, his chose and people. And he talks about how he has loved them. And the people respond back, well, how have you loved us and God?

In that moment, through the prophet, Malachi talks about his choosing Israel and that he loved Jacob, but he hated Esau. That idea of love and hate is something that we don’t normally think of with God. And so does God actually hate? How could a God of love hate? And so we need to kind of take a look at all of scripture to see what this is really talking about in Malachi.

One, God is affirming his love by having chosen Israel, and he’s reminding them of his faithfulness in the past. But what we know is that that name Esau, specifically referring not specifically to the individual Esau as much as the people who came from Esau, the people of Edom. If you remember, in the book of Genesis, you have Isaac and Rebecca, and they have two sons. The oldest is Esau, and then the second is Jacob. And Jacob’s name eventually was changed by God to Israel.

And Jacob was the one, even though he was the second born. This was not customary. Normally you’d give the rights to the older. But God chose Jacob surprisingly, even though he wasn’t the oldest, to be the father of God’s chosen people. But he did not choose Esau and his future descendants, the Edomites, to be his chosen people.

What we’re talking about here, friends, is this doctrine that you may hear about from time to time. And it’s the doctrine of election. And there are various ways that the doctrine of election gets played out in people’s minds. Some people apply it in very strict ways. Some people fall on different ends of the spectrum.

And there really is a broad spectrum of how the doctrine of election gets applied. But what we do know from scripture is that God chooses some and he doesn’t choose others. And that’s the idea there of not so much love and hate as if God’s expressions or emotions of love and hate are similar to our human emotions. It’s not so much love and hate for God as much as it’s chosen and not chosen. And I know that that’s hard for us to wrap our minds around.

But in the book of Ephesians, chapter one, verses four through six, it says this for God chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, God predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasures and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us and the one he loves. The doctrine of election is something that we see throughout scripture, but again, not so much love and hate as much as choosing some and not choosing others.

Now, this is a reason for many people who hear about such a doctrine and think God is being arbitrary. How could a holy, righteous God choose some and then not choose others?

And it raises lots of questions for us. The one thing that we cannot do is question God’s wisdom in all of this. If you remember God’s interactions with Job and how God reminded Job that job’s vision and understanding of the mystery and the ways that God works is not perfect. And similarly, our understanding of God’s divine nature, his sovereignty, his providence, his all knowingness, is something that is a mystery to us. So for us as humans to look at it and to question God is we need to resist that temptation, but rather look at it through the lens of this.

Anybody who wants to be part of God’s family can be part of God’s family. Well, how do you know who’s chosen? There has never been a person in the history of mankind who has cried out to God for salvation from a sincere heart, in a place of humility that God has said, no, I haven’t chosen you. God chooses those who turn to him. It’s that simple.

And that is such an honor, as we talked about on Sunday, to be adopted into his family. God’s goodwill, his desire to show grace, his desire to show his good purposes in the lives of others, that’s all part of God’s election. But scripture is clear, regardless of where you fall on either end of the spectrum of the doctrine of election, scripture is clear that God does not choose all, because if God did choose all, then all would be saved. All would receive salvation. And not all do receive salvation.

And to those who reject God, he allows them to pursue their own desires. But the ones whom God chose, and he foreknows as to who is going to turn to him. God hears their cries for salvation and he comes in and he rescues them. There’s so much more friends that we could say about the doctrine of election. But what I want to encourage us to do is anytime we wrestle with something challenging in scripture, is to not just simply reject it.

If it doesn’t make sense to our human minds, but to understand again God’s desire for relationship with us and for us to know him more and his heart in all of this. And praise God if you are a follower of Jesus, that God has chosen you and that you are part of his family. And that’s so much worth rejoicing in this Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Thanks so much for having joined us today.