Love, the Bible and Hate
Anyone who has heard anything of the message of the Bible knows that there is a lot of Love, but is there hate as well?
As much as I would like to be able to say that there is no hate in the Bible, I have to admit that there is or at least it would seem so.
Speaking of the two sons of Isaac, God is quoted as saying, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau have hated.”
In the Old Testament there is a lot of killing ordered by God, which would seem to suggest that God hated those who were killed. But this is the same God that in the New Testament tells us to “Love one another.”
How can we reconcile these two aspects of the Old and New Testaments?
The unbeliever will say, “You can’t.”
They can’t accept the war like God of the Old Testament as the same God of peace in the New Testament.
But they are the same.
Jesus in the New Testament is called the Prince of Peace, but even He said of Himself in Matthew 10:34.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
He knows that His coming will pit family members against each other as well as unbelievers against believers, the dark against the light.
But what has that to do with the differences between how God acts in the Old Testament vs the New Testament?
If you really think about how God acts in the Old Testament vs the New, He hasn’t changed at all.
Before I answer that question, let me give you an example to illustrate the way I am thinking about God’s actions in the Bible.
We have to think of God as He describes Himself, as our father, indeed as a loving father. And if you have ever been a father or child of a loving father, you know that there are times when you get disciplined. When you mess up or go in the wrong direction, your father if he loves you; is going to try to teach you by disciplining you. He is trying to teach you right from wrong.
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God the loving father is working on teaching His children, that’s us, right from wrong and sometimes that hurts.
In the Old Testament He gives us rules and the Law handed down through Moses and the Ten Commandments. Over and over again, if you read the Old Testament, God tells His people that if they follow His Laws and Commandments, He will bless them. But He also tells them, warns them really, what will happen to them if they don’t follow Him. And of course being the children that they are, they tell God that they will do everything that He asks them to do.
Unfortunately that doesn’t last very long. And that’s when the discipline begins again and again all through the Old Testament.
“Yes, Lord, we will follow you and you will be our God,” they say again and again, but within a few short years, they are back doing what they were before, everything that God told them not to do. This happens over and over again until they are taken into captivity in Babylon. The Jews that return to Jerusalem after that never again followed false gods; but they did find ways to twist Gods Laws.
There is a rule in the Bible found most clearly in Galatians 6:7.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Just as when you plant corn, you get corn, so when you plant wrong desires or thoughts, that is what you are going to get. When you plant evil, you get evil and when you plant sin, you reap sin in return.
We have to remember, when we think about the things God asks His people to do in the Old Testament that God did not create them as puppets. They and we have free will. The many tribes and cultures that the early children of Israel were told to wipe out had been given hundreds of years to repent from the false god’s and teachings they had been following. We don’t know how God tried to reach them before the Israelites showed up, but they didn’t repent from their sinful ways and they then reaped the whirlwind.
(The Israelites were to be examples of how the One True God would take care of those who followed Him. Sadly the peoples around them didn’t get the message.)
As an example if you as a father see a dog coming down the street, growling and foaming at the mouth, and your children and others are playing in that street, don’t you have a right to kill that dog as quickly as you can before it hurts or kills one of those kids? Of course you do. And that is the way we have to look at all the cultures that inhabited the land the Israelites were coming into, they were full of sinful and shameful acts that would have hurt or killed the children God was trying to protect. Just as an earthly father will take out a threat to his child, so God our Loving father did the same for His.
“But,” you might say, “Aren’t all people God’s children? So how could He allow them to be killed?”
Again I have to remind you, God did not create us as puppets. We have free will, to follow Him or to reject Him.
God tells us early in the book of Genesis that His spirit will not always strive with men. In other words at some point God will give up trying to reach and teach and let them follow whatever or whoever, they want to follow. And in the New Testament book of Romans in the first chapter, Paul writes that God will “give them over.”
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
God is the true Loving father who tries to teach His children to do right, but even a very Loving earthly father, will after a time give up on his child and have to let them go their own way. Oh, he still loves them, but with a sad heart, he knows he must let them go and “do their own thing.”
Like the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15, the father gives his son what he asks for, even though it must have broken his heart to do so. We know this by his reaction when the boy comes to his senses and returns home. The father must have been watching every day for his sons return and when he finally sees him, he runs to meet him and then throws a party. At some point if we keep rejecting God, He will let us go our own way, but He will be watching, hoping that we return as well. The Bible tells us that the Angels rejoice when one sinner repents and comes to Christ.
Yes, God does love us, even when we sin and turn against Him.
But there are things in the world that God hates and we can read them in Proverbs 6:16-19,
16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
These are the things that God hates, I can paraphrase them this way, He hates; pride, lying, killers of the innocent, a person who plots evil, people who can’t wait to do evil things, a person who lies about others, and someone who works to bring conflict within a community.
Many of these things were found in the people of the land the Israelites came into and God knew that if they were to intermix with His chosen people they would corrupt them. Therefore they had to be dealt with.
But what about that verse in Romans quoting Malachi that says, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,” that I used at the start of this piece, what do we do with that?
I’ll explain it this way; Esau and Jacob were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob was the brother that God had chosen and he became Israel and the father of the twelve tribes. Esau became the father of the Edomite’s who often aided the enemies of Israel and fought against them. Therefore God, knowing what was going to become of Esau’s generations is right to say that He hated Esau but loved Jacob who would father His chosen people
In the New Testament we have the teachings of Jesus where He tells us to “Love one another” and to “pray for those who despitefully use you.” Jesus tells us that we will be known as followers of His by, “our love for one another.”
How does that reconcile with the teachings and the orders to kill in the Old Testament?
As the Old Testament shows us, God gives people great lengths of time to get it right, to come to Him. Over 4 hundred years in the case of the people who were living in the land God promised to the Israelites. In the New Testament He is given us at least 2 thousand years to come to Christ. How many of us would be that patient with disobedient children?
At some point God will pull His people out of this world and give it over to the evil it just can’t seem to let go of. That is the time the Bible calls the “Great Tribulation.” That will be a seven year period where Satan and his followers, the Anti-Christ, and the false prophet will try to take control of God’s kingdom, I said, “TRY” to take control, they won’t succeed. They will be defeated.
Throughout the New Testament we read of God’s love for His children. Jesus talks of loving each other and loving God. The Apostle John is called the Apostle of Love and writes a great deal about love. So doesn’t that show a great difference between the God described in the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament?
No, not really.
In the Old Testament God was trying to teach His chosen people right from wrong, to follow Him through the Law handed down from Mount Sinai. That was the old covenant that God made with the Israelites. But with the coming of Jesus, His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection, we are now under a New covenant, that of Grace.
God is now at a time of waiting before He will do to the unbelievers in our day what He did to the unbelievers in the Old Testament days. The same God who ordered the Israelites to wipe out the different tribes in the land of Promise will Himself wipe out those who refuse to follow His Son Jesus and accept His death and resurrection as payment for their sins.
You see God is a God of love and He is very patient with His children just as earthly fathers are patient with their children. But even He will have had enough at some point. And the same God who killed the first born of Egypt and who ordered the Israelites to wipe out those who occupied the Promised Land will wipe out those will not give up their sin.
The God of the Old and New Testament Loves us and is now giving us time to wake up to His truth and His Love. But just as He did what He had to do in the Old Testament He will do what He has to do now.
The question for you and I is this, do we accept Jesus or do we reject Jesus?
How we answer that question will determine which part of God’s personality we will spend eternity living under. It’s a choice each of us has to make.
I have made mind, have you made yours?