Friday, 14 June 2013

Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated

Romans 9:13
Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
This post follows on from the last one, but I think this verse is a hard one to understand and to swallow, so I thought I'd separate it out and try to offer a few thoughts on it. I may be entirely wrong about it, and it's fine if you think I am (I'd love your feedback). But if I'm wrong then show me from the bible.

God Hates sin but Loves the sinner?

This is one of those catch phrases that seems to get thrown around a lot in Christian circles. To be honest, I don't know how much I agree and disagree with it. Let me explain.

  • On the one hand, God does love everyone. He "so loved the world that he sent his one and only son..." (John 3:16). God loves everyone, he blesses everyone. He wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). We all are alive, we all have air to breathe, we all can enjoy the sun and the rain and the wind. God has blessed us all abundantly. God is love (1 John 4:8)
  • On the other hand, God Hates sin. Sin is the opposite of God's character and it has no place in his kingdom.
  • There are also plenty of verses which describe how God hates the wicked. Check out this website for a few (Scroll down a little till you hit the verses)
Why does God hate the wicked? Because they sin and sin is against his character. It is rebellion against him. He is good, perfect, holy, righteous, merciful, loving, kind, faithful. Sin is the opposite. Therefore his wrath is not only against sin, but against the wicked as well.

Who are the wicked? Well that's us isn't it? We've all stuffed up and done bad stuff. We all rebel against God and therefore deserve his wrath.

So, aside from Jesus God hates us. That makes us a bit uncomfortable doesn't it?
But then on the other hand, God does love us - he loves all his creation generally.

So it seems that in one way, God loves all his creation. But he is also just and hates sin and the sinner. Yet he's merciful and gracious and offers to love any sinner who turns to him. But then it is God who chooses who will turn to him and who he will love. So God chooses who he will love. But we are also responsible for our actions. So God chooses who he will leave and who he will actively save. Those he leaves continue in sin and will face justice - God allows that but they cause it. But those who God saves, he saves and loves us by choice. 1 John 4:10. He loves us because Jesus stands in our place and he loves Jesus.

I think there's also another element in this verse: God doesn't have human emotions like we do. His love is pure and not based on anything in us, and his hate isn't corrupt like ours. According to this webpage, this verse can be taken to mean that God chose Jacob but rejected Esau. He chose the Israelites, but rejected the Edomites. God is entirely within his rights to do so - he created us and he sustains us and he has the right to do his will with us. I think that we don't like that because we like to be in control. But in reality it is God who is in control and it entirely up to him who he will choose to save and who he will choose not to save (and therefore who he will judge).

God's love for us is shown more bright and more powerful when we see how much he has every right to hate us for our rebellion to him. His wrath on sin shows forth his grace in forgiving more than if we only knew forgiveness.

That probably just helped confuse the topic. But there are some thoughts on it and things to deal with. Maybe I'm entirely wrong, that's fine - but if you think I am then please go away and find bible verses and biblical reasons for it. Don't just decide I'm wrong because you don't like it. Decide I'm wrong because there are other options which are biblical and can be based on God's word!

Soli Deo Gloria

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