In a recent blog, I put forward the idea that God agape-loves everyone. In my most recent blog, I put forward the idea that God agape-loves the people that He perfectly hates. But, some people will say, if God loves those who He hates, what about the vessels of wrath? What about Esau? God never seemed to want their betterment, did He? What of the infants who God commanded the Israelites to kill? How can you call that love? Does that not prove that God not only hates, but also does not love some people?
Well let's take a look at each set of verses... _____________________________________________________________
"Jacob I loved, Esau I hated."
This verse is obviously painting a contrast here, but there are several biblical interpretations which put forward the idea that God still agape-loved Esau.
1 - The word for hated, in this case, means 'loved less,' as in the case where Jesus told us that we must hate our father and mother, wife, etc. He clearly did not mean that all married christian men should stop agape-loving their wives, but rather that our love for them should pale to hate in comparison for our love for Him. That was a comparison, a contrast, similar to the one in this verse. We take things in context, and do not forget about God loving the world, not wishing for any to perish, and being the very essence of love. Esau was "hated" and yet was lovingly blessed by God in an amazing way, as we read in Genesis 36:
“Esau took his wives and sons and dautghters and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock and all he other animals and all his other animals and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. Their possessions were too great for them to remain together; the land where thy were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. So Esau (that is, Edom) settled in the hill country of Seir.”
2 - Esau was "hated" and not preferred. His line was not the chosen line to bring Christ into the world. That is clear. However, there is no Scripture that states that He was among the non-elect. Like Lot and Ishmael, he did not receive the promise and did not settle in the promised land like God’s chosen had. God hates the wicked, and yet some wicked are saved. God hated Esau, and yet who is to save that Esau was not, in the end, saved?
3 - God loved Esau, as He loves the world, and yet hated Esau for not even valuing the things of God. (EI - He did not value His birthright, etc) God blessed Esau, and offered him the birthright, out of love, yet hated him and did not pick him to father the Christ. Perfect love and hatred go hand in hand and there is no contradiction.
I will not say that one is correct and another is incorrect. I feel that based on other passages about Esau, interpretation number two is less likely than the others, but I do not know for sure. However, each of these interpretations lines up with other scriptures about God's love, and therefore I believe that they are more likely to be correct than interpretations which seem to directly contradict God being love.
Infants were killed by God in the flood. God killed the first born sons of all of Egypt. God commanded the killing of women and children by Israel.
I'd like to add three comments to these facts:
1 - Do infants who die go to heaven or hell?
Some would say that all infants are in sin, and therefore all aborted babies go to hell. Others say that if a child is too young to believe, he is too young to disbelieve or reject the work of Christ and is covered by the blood of His sacrifice. A third theory is that before or during death, God mercifully and supernaturally grants infants enough awareness and understanding for them to decide for themselves whether to trust Christ or not. (This theory also extends to children and adults who are so mentally retarded that they can never understand the gospel on their own)
I am not affirming any of these theories at the moment, although I do tent to believe that either the second or the third seems more in line with God's revealed loving character. However, this does lead me to believe that the infants lost in the flood, like the infants today, were not neccesarily doomed to hell. Considering that the pre-flood society only thought of evil continually, odds are that those children would have been abused in many ways, and it is very arguable that God taking the lives of said infants was an act of mercy on them.
2 - To destroy wicked societies was an act of deserved judgment on the last itself, and an act of mercy toward the other societies, including His own people. God waited patiently for hundreds of years, giving the wicked inhabitants of Canaan time to repent (2 Peter 3:9) before He finally decided to destroy them When their iniquity was “full,” divine judgment fell.
Genesis 15:16 "But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
God’s judgment was akin to surgery for cancer or amputation of a leg as the only way to save the rest of a sick body. Just as cancer or gangrene contaminates the physical body, those elements in a society—if their evil is left to fester—will completely contaminate the rest of society.
3 - God said He would not destroy Gomorrah if there were but ten righteous people there. He's not into hurting innocent people for fun. Another notable example of this principle is Rahab, whom God saved because she believed. God was completely patient and just in condemning those cities, He saved even gentiles out of those cities who believed, He waited until they were intensely wicked, and then destroyed them as an act of mercy to the rest of the world, not necessarily condemning the babies to hell. Based on that, I would say that those verses do not prove at all that God does not love some people. Rather, I think it proves that God is not some sort of wimpy nice guy, but a consuming fire of good. I maintain that the Bible says that God loves the world, and getting rid of perverse societies like Sodom and Gomorrah that tried to rape any visitors does not prove that God is not loving. If anything, it would not have been loving for Him to let those bad guys continue to exist and hurt other people.
Why did Jesus deliberately NOT pray for "the world" if God loves it so?
There can be many theories here. I mean, the fact is, Jesus didn't tell us specifically why He prayed only for the elect.
However, one cannot contend that this verse proves that God does not love the world. For instance, suppose I kiss my husband, and do not kiss other guys. That would not mean that I do not love other guys enough to run into a burning building to rescue them. It merely means that I love my husband more, in a different way, and that I am focusing on him. Suppose I buy gum for Lizzy, and not for Marcos. Does that mean that I do not love Marcos? No, but I enjoy Lizzy's company more, and the action of buying gun is specifically for Lizzy because Lizzy loves gum. Suppose I jump in front of a bullet to protect Linda, and as I do so, I am thinking about how much I love Linda. Does that mean that I do not love David? Of course not. It merely means that as I was risking my life to protect a person I loved, I was thinking about that person in particular.
Jesus was about to die, and He prayed especially for those who He knew would benefit from His death. This does not at all prove that He did not love them or want them to be saved, on the contrary, we know from 1 Timothy 2:4 that He desired that all men should be saved. It may suggest that He enjoys hanging out with elect more, that He loves the elect more or in a different way, or that He is focusing on the positives of the whole painful death senario.
Hebrews 12:2 "...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Jesus died for everyone (2 Pet. 2:1), but the joy set before Christ was the salvation of the elect. He set His mind on that, while sweating blood. No surprise there. If I were about to die for people, I would definitely choose to focus on the ones who would actually benefit from it, and who would hang out with me forever later. Christ died to provide salvation for all, but only to procure salvation for the elect.
And what about the "vessels of wrath made for destruction"?
Alright, first let's read the vessels of wrath verse with the comparison verse also:
Romans 9:22-24 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory."
Here you may notice that God actively prepares the vessels of mercy. The ones that "He had prepared." In contrast, in relation to the vessels of wrath, all God does is endure them for a reason. "Now in the Greek you have two serious distinctions here in the Greek tense and you must recognize them. I should say in the Greek voice which is similar to English. You realize the difference between active and passive? In active, the subject does the acting and in passive the subject receives the action. Now notice, verse 22 is a passive, vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. God is not the subject. The verb is passive. Verse 23, vessels of mercy which He had prepared to glory. God, there, is the subject and the verb is active." The vessels are wrath are prepared, but not by God. God endures these dreadful vessels. Why does He endure them rather than destroying them instantly? So that He might make known the riches of His glory!
These verses do not at all suggest that God makes people, and then prepared them for destruction, and then enacts His fearful wrath on them. Rather it suggests that God endures these dreadful vessels, which are prepared by themselves and/or the devil, because He has a greater plan in mind.
Proverbs 16:4 "The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom. "
This is quite similar to the above verses, except that the subject is God's active creation. Why did God create the wicked? He could have easily foreseen all who would pursue wickedness and reject the offer of salvation, and just not create them! The world would be a better place! Why didn't He? God, knowing the wicked, still choose to create them along with the rest of us. Why? He did not make them for us, but for Himself. He allows the actuality of wickedness so that wickedness will finally be punished. He created the wicked, but He did not cause them to be wicked. Jesus died for all, and yet knows who will reject the offer of salvation. This verse offers insight into why God, knowing what they would do and choose to be, would still create them at all.
In conclusion, I love all these verses. I think that each is true, and very important. However, I believe that the point of each of these verse is not the idea that God does not love some people. I do not see that any of these verses prove that God does not love everyone.