I was recently asked the following…”I would like to know your thoughts on something. Jesus and God are of the same nature, but Jesus said love everyone, but the Bible says God hates. Jesus says love your enemy. God says Jacob I loved but Esau I hated. Is this a contradiction? This is not a trick question. I have always thought because of Jesus quote I was not to hate.”
A few things….I will try to present these thoughts in such a way that will make a coherent, cohesive explanation. First I think we need to be mindful of how we interpret the word hate. It is always wise to find the word in question as it is used in other places in scripture to study the context and get a clearer definition. Jesus actually uses the word hate here…
Luke 14:26 (NIV) 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
I think we can pretty clearly deduce here that if we are to love our neighbors, that we are also to love our blood relatives. But we must “deny” (hate) them, and ourselves, the type of love we share with Christ. Hence, the juxtaposition…Jacob I loved and Esau I hated (this hate “denied” Esau the love that God shares with His saved children).
This love God and believers share is “covenant love,” and this is the love that saves.
And of course, whether we believe in free will or in faith by grace, we can all agree that God will “deny” those lacking faith in Christ, His covenant love.
So we see there are different types of love and hate…clearly in our following Christ he doesn’t want us to hate our parents, wife, or children in a damning way (as God hated Esau)…or to begrudge them, as we might define hate. We also can not save our neighbors by offering them “covenant love.” That kind of love is something only God can offer, and hopefully we all agree it is not the preacher who saves the man, but God. A good preacher knows he is merely the tool that God uses to gather souls to Him, and no man can save themselves or another man by their own works (Ephesians 2:8). Further, when we see “God hates the wicked.” It may not necessarily mean hate in the sense that you and I imagine it in common vernacular (angry, raging, begrudging, or murderous), but rather hate is the antonym to covenant love. It is the absence of covenant love, the hate we see here damns the lost.
Of course, I could have just said, to love or to hate…to save, or to condemn is all God’s sovereign choice, and the created is not to question the decisions of the creator (Romans 9:21), but we also need to understand that Jesus never said not to hate. As we see above…he did tell us to hate…we just have to understand His meaning.
I hope that’s helpful.