A Scriptural Presentation
of God’s Hatred
Prof. Homer C. Hoeksema
published in the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal)
in the main, two terms that are translated by the word "hate" in
Scripture. The Old Testament word is sana. The Greek term
is miseo. The lexicons do not shed much additional light on
the meaning of this word either in the Hebrew or in the Greek.
Hebrew-English Lexicon to the Old Testament we find the
… TO HATE, whether persons, Ps.5:6; 31:7; Deut. 22:13; II Sam. 13:15,
22; or things, Isa. 1:14; Ps. 11:5; Prov. 1:22. Part. sonay
subst. a hater, an enemy, Ps. 35:19; 38:20; with suff. sono one
who hates him, Deut. 7:10; also sonay lo Deut. 4:42; 19:4, 6, 11;
Josh. 20:5. Fem. plur. sonot female enemies, Eze. 16:27.
NIPHAL, pass. Prov. 14:17.
PIEL, part. mesanay hater, enemy, Psalm 18:41; 55:13; 68:2;
Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament
adds little to the above, except that it notes:
1) That the term in some instances
stands opposite ahab.
2) That ayab and tsar
are somewhat synonymous.
It is also
interesting to note that this lexicon, in discussing the use of this
verb in connection with Jehovah as subject, makes Ps. 5:6 and Ps. 11:5
refer not to persons, but to wickedness. Gesenius, cited above,
gives Ps. 5:6 as a reference for divine hatred of persons, but refers
Ps. 11:5 to divine hatred of things.
miseo, Thayer’s Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament
1) That this is the term used by the
LXX for the Hebrew sanay.
2) That the translation is "to hate,
to pursue with hatred, detest; pass. to be hated, detested." That it is
used with tina or with ti in various passages.
3) "not a few interpreters have
attributed to misein in Gen. 39:31 (cf. 30); Deut. 21:15ff.;
Matt. 6:24; Lk. 14:26; 16:13; (John 12:25); Rom. 9:13; the signification
to love less, to postpone in love or esteem, to slight, through
oversight of the circumstance that ‘the Orientals, in accordance with
their greater excitability, are wont both to feel and to profess love
and hate where we Occidentals, with our cooler temperament, feel and
express nothing more than interest in, or disregard and indifference to
a thing’" (Fritzsche, Comm. On Rom. 2, p. 304; cf. Ruckert,
Magazin f. Exegese u. Theologie des N.T., p. 27ff.).
above sources, therefore, we learn little that will help us in our
discussion of this subject. It becomes plain, of course, even from
remarks made in the lexicons that the attempt is made to soften the
meaning of the word "hate" in those instances where Scripture presents
God as the subject of the verb "to hate" and persons as the object.
Without at this point entering into any argument and exegetical study of
this issue, it may nevertheless be pointed out:
1) That the lexicons do indeed
give both the Hebrew and the Greek verbs the denotation of active
2) That the lexicons do not
attempt to soften the meaning of the word when applied to men as
the subject or to things as the object.
3) That no linguistic reasons
in favour of softening the term and interpreting it as meaning "to love
less, to postpone in love or esteem, to slight" are presented. If
there are reasons, therefore, they must be exegetically discovered.
We shall have to turn, therefore, to the various passages of Scripture
where these terms are used in order to arrive at a clear understanding
of their meaning. And we are especially interested in those
passages of Scripture in which God Himself is presented as the subject
of the verb "to hate."
Instructive, in the first place, are two passages which do not speak of
God actually hating but which potentially attribute to Him a hatred of
His people. This ascription of a hatred of His people is pictured
as potentially arising from the mouth of the enemy. Significantly,
too, this hatred is presented as the direct opposite of God’s love of
Deuteronomy 1:27 Moses is reminding the children of Israel of their
unbelieving murmuring and rebellion at Kadesh and of their blasphemy at
the time when Israel had listened to the majority report of the ten
spies. He reminds them that they had said, "Because the Lord hated
us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us
into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us." Two observations may be
1) It is obvious, even though the
term love does not occur here, that the term "hatred" is used as the
direct opposite of "loved." The truth was, of course, that the
Lord had brought His people out of the land of Egypt because He loved
them. A little later in the same book of Deuteronomy this is
literally stated: "But because the Lord loved you, and because he would
keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord
brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of
bondmen, from the hand of Pharoah King of Egypt." But at Kadesh
the wicked blasphemy of rebellious Israel consisted exactly in that they
attributed their being brought out of the land of Egypt to the opposite
motive: hatred instead of love. It is to be noted, too, that this
statement is concerned with motives. Love and hate are attitudes
of the heart and constitute the motives behind certain activities.
2) Secondly, it is evident that even
in this blasphemy the true operation of hatred is depicted, namely,
destruction. Arising out of this hatred, according to the
blasphemy of that unbelieving generation at Kadesh, was the divine
purpose and intention to deliver them "into the hand of the Amorites, to
destroy us." Hence, the operation and manifestation of hatred is
destruction. He who hates someone wills that person’s destruction.
Deuteronomy 9:28 the same ideas occur in a different connection.
Here Moses refers to his intercession in behalf of Israel at Kadesh.
The entire content of this intercession is worthy of note in connection
with our subject: "I prayed therefore unto the Lord, and said, O Lord
God, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou has
redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of
Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their
wickedness, nor to their sin: Lest the land whence thou broughtest us
out say, Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which
he promised them, and because he hated them, he hath brought them out to
slay them in the wilderness. Yet they are thy people and thine
inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy
stretched out arm" (vv. 26-29).
We may note
the following here:
1) At the very heart of Moses’
intercession is his appeal to the honour of God’s own name. He prays for
God’s own name’s sake. His intercession is concerned not, first of
all, with the woe or weal of the people of Israel, but with the glory of
God’s name, and with the salvation of His people only for God’s name’s
sake. Hence, he appeals to the fact that God’s greatness, God’s
mighty hand, God’s ability to bring them into the promised land are at
stake. His appeal is that it would bring dishonour upon God’s
name, and that too, at the mouth of the Egyptians, should God destroy
2) In connection with the
preceding element, stands the fact that Moses bases his intercession on
the fact that Israel is God’s inheritance. In verse 26 he speaks
of "thy people" and "thine inheritance." And again, in verse 29 he
concludes with this plea: "Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance
…" The implication is obvious: it is divinely impossible that God should
hate and destroy His elect and redeemed people. They are precious unto
Him, and He loves them.
3) It is evident that God’s
hatred appears here as the very opposite of His love. Moses
suggests that if God should destroy Israel, the Egyptians would say that
God hated them. And this, such is his plea, would bring reproach
upon God’s name: for the fact is that Israel is God’s people, His
inheritance, the object of His love, and that God had already revealed
this by devoting His greatness and power and mighty hand and stretched
out arm to redeeming and delivering them out of the land of Egypt.
4) It is also evident that the
result, the end, of divine hatred is destruction. In fact, this
forms an integral part of Moses’ reasoning in this intercession.
For God’s name’s sake, Moses fears that if God destroys His people on
account of their stubbornness and wickedness and sin, the Egyptians will
say that God hated them. They will conclude that God brought them
into the wilderness to slay them because He hated them. The
reasoning here is from effect to motive. And in his intercession
Moses takes for granted that such reasoning would be correct, and that
therefore God cannot destroy His people.
5) Finally, we should note
that the divine hatred is ethical in its character. It is
inseparably related to God’s holiness and righteousness. For Moses
pleads that God will "look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor
to their wickedness, nor to their sin." The implication is,
clearly, that if God would indeed do this, He would certainly destroy
them in divine wrath and hatred. His hatred and His wrath have as
their objects all that which and all those whom He beholds as being
contrary to His own holiness, His own infinite perfections. For
this same reason, Moses in beautiful and concrete language pleads that
God will behold His people in the light of His covenant and His promise:
"Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
Deuteronomy 12:31 the people of Israel are warned not to inquire after
the manner in which the heathen nations of Canaan served their gods, nor
to imitate those heathen nations, as follows: "Thou shalt not do so unto
the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth,
have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters
they have burnt in the fire to their gods." And in Deuteronomy 16:22 is
found a prohibition against the setting up of an image, "which the Lord
thy God hateth." Examples like these can, of course, be multiplied.
They are cited here not as examples of a divine hatred of persons; fact
is that they do not speak of persons, but of actions. But these
passages are cited because they point to the intimate relation between
God’s holiness and God’s hatred. As the Holy One, God hates that
which is contrary to His own holiness. And it is as the Holy One
that He is to be worshipped by His people. For this reason, his
people may not worship Him after the manner of the heathen; nor may they
set up a graven image. For these are an abomination unto Him: that
is, He hates these things.
turn to two of the Psalms which instruct us concerning the divine
hatred. The first is Psalm 5, and the passage which is pertinent is
verses 4-6: "For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness:
neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in
thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy
them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful
man." In this passage it is evident:
1) That the objects of God’s
hate are not merely things or actions—sin, wickedness, evil. The
objects of the divine hatred are the workers of iniquity, foolish men,
bloody and deceitful men, and that too, according to the context, as
enemies of God’s people. It is important to note this. Some
attempt to separate between the sinner and his sin, and they claim that
God hates sin, but not the sinner. This is clearly contrary to the
language of this passage, according to which God hates "all workers of
2) In this passage the
operation of God’s hatred is depicted as being unto destruction.
"Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing."
3) That to abhor a man (v. 6)
is essentially the same as to hate him. The bloody and deceitful
man is repulsive to Jehovah: in His infinite and perfect holiness He
repels such a man.
4) That God’s hatred, in the
psalmist’s consciousness and experience, is contrasted with his love,
here specified as His mercy. We must not overlook the fact that
this is the case, according to the context. The psalmist, as one
of the righteous, is confident that Jehovah will hear his voice; and
therefore in the morning he will direct his prayer unto the Lord (vs.
3). The reason for this confidence, negatively speaking, is
expressed in the passage under our consideration. God is not a God
that has pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with Him.
Hence, the foolish shall not stand in His sight; that is, there shall be
no fellowship between God and the foolish. On the contrary, He
hates all workers of iniquity, will destroy them that speak leasing, and
will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. And then, by way of
contrast, the psalmist says: "But as for me, I will come into thy house
in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy
5) That throughout this psalm
there is an underlying distinction, of which the psalmist also is aware,
between himself and his enemies, between the righteous and the wicked.
There are here distinguished from a spiritual, ethical viewpoint two
classes of men: the righteous and the wicked. The former are the
object of His love, His mercy, His blessing; the latter are the object
of His hatred, His wrath, His destruction.
Psalm which speaks the same language is Psalm 11. This psalm also
speaks of the wicked as over against the righteous. It is the language
of the righteous man, the child of God, in the midst of enemies, wicked
men, who "bend their bow, … make ready their arrow upon the string, that
they may privily shoot at the upright in heart" (v. 2). In the midst of
his enemies the psalmist has his confidence in Jehovah, Who is "in the
temple of his holiness" and Whose "throne is in heaven." His eyes
behold, His eyelids try, the children of men. It is this sovereign and
holy Lord of Whom the psalmist says in verse 5: "The Lord trieth the
righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth."
And then, in verse 6, the effect of this hate of God’s soul is depicted
in terms which remind one of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah:
"Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an
horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup." It is evident
in this passage, therefore:
1) That again, as in the other
passages considered, the divine hatred is an attitude of God that is
inseparably connected with His holiness. God’s hatred, therefore,
is not simply arbitrary, but is always ethically consistent with His own
2) That by no stretch of
exegesis can it be maintained that the Lord hates sin, but not the
sinner. The text explicitly states that "the wicked and the lover
of violence his soul hateth." In fact, it is difficult to understand
how anyone can make the claim that this passage speaks only of a divine
hatred of sin or of a sinful action, but not of sinful persons.
Moreover, not merely the violence and the wickedness experience the
operation of God’s hatred, as if that were possible; but the snares and
fire and brimstone and burning tempest (the holocaust of the divine
wrath which is the expression of His hatred) come upon the wicked and
constitute the portion of their cup.
3) That this hatred is an
attitude of God’s soul. This expression is significant not only
because in a general way it is emphatic. We may take the
expression in its literal meaning: God with heart and mind and will,
intelligently and volitionally, hates the wicked and them that love
4) That here again the
underlying supposition is that from an ethical viewpoint there are two
classes of men: the righteous and the wicked, the former the object of
God’s love, the latter the object of His hatred. For we must
remember that though the passage does not literally and directly mention
God’s love of righteous men, this is nevertheless the implication.
In the first place, this is the implication of verse 7: "For the
righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the
upright." And, in the second place, we must remember that the Lord’s
trying of the righteous (v. 5) is essentially always an act of love.
6:16-19 we also read of Jehovah’s hatred: "These six things doth the
Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a
lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth
wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false
witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
Concerning this passage in relation to our subject, we may observe the
1) Again it is plain that God
hates certain men, sinners, not merely their sin. We recognize the
fact that literally only the last two of this series of seven mention
men: a false witness and he that soweth discord among brethren.
This alone would be sufficient proof in support of this observation. We
ought also to recognize that the text does not intend to teach merely
that the Lord hates a look, a tongue, hands, a heart, and feet. Also
these expressions refer to men, not merely to actions or to parts of a
human being. They are very graphic figures of speech referring to the
whole man from the point of view of certain concrete manifestations of
his wicked nature. What we have in the first five of this series is the
figure of the part for the whole.
2) It is plain also here that
God’s hatred is not arbitrary, but is in perfect harmony with His
holiness and His holy Self-love. Pride and the proud man, the lie and
the liar, murder and the murderer, etc., are contrary to God’s holiness;
and therefore they are the object of His hatred.
3) When we note that in verse
16 there is synonymous parallelism, we may observe the close association
between the idea of God’s hatred and the idea of being an abomination to
Him. To be the object of God’s hatred is essentially the same as
being an abomination unto Him, and vice versa. This is
significant: for it means that Scripture speaks more often of God’s
hatred, even when it does not literally employ the word "hate."
The same is true of passages which speak of the destruction and
punishments which God sends upon the wicked. We have already noted
in several passages the cause-effect relationship which there is between
God’s hatred and His destruction of the objects of His hatred.
Because of this relationship it is always true that when Scripture
speaks of the destruction and punishment of a man, we must view that
destruction as the revelation of God’s hatred.
example, when we read in Proverbs 3:32 that "the froward is abomination
to the Lord; but his secret is with the righteous," this passage also
refers, in the light of Scripture, to God’s hatred in contrast with His
love, His wrath in contrast with His favour, His curse in contrast with
His blessing. The same is true of a passage like Proverbs 6:12-15:
"A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He
winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his
fingers; Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually;
he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly;
suddenly shall he be broken without remedy." That sudden calamity
and being broken without remedy are the manifestation of the divine
hatred. In fact, it is significant that in the very next verse,
already cited, literal mention is made of that which Jehovah hates.
Or when we read in Psalm 92:7: "When the wicked spring as the grass, and
when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be
destroyed for ever," then the reference to God’s hatred may not be
this kind can be multiplied, both from the Psalms and from Proverbs, as
well as from other parts of Scripture. We call attention to some
of these passages: Psalm 1; Ps. 7:11-17; Ps. 18:26ff.; Ps. 21:9-13; Ps.
31:17-24; Ps. 32:10; Ps. 34:16-17; Ps. 36:8ff.; Ps. 37; Ps. 40; Ps.
52:3-10; Ps. 57:4; Ps. 58:7-12: Ps. 59:6, 12-18; Ps. 69:17ff.; Ps.
104:35; Ps. 109; Ps. 125:4-5; Ps. 143:12; Ps. 138:6; Ps. 146:7-9; Ps.
147:6; Proverbs 3:32-35; Prov. 10:2-3, 6-8, 16, 24, 29; Prov. 11:20;
Prov. 12:7, 21, 22; Prov. 13:9, 22; Prov. 14:11, 32; Prov. 15:6, 8-9,
25-26, 29; Prov. 21:12; Prov. 24:15-20.
are more passages which speak directly and literally of God’s hatred. In
Isaiah 1:14 the Lord declares to Jerusalem and Judah which are become
spiritually Sodom and Gomorrah: "Your new moons and your appointed
feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear
them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes
from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands
are full of blood." Apparently here God’s hatred is directed against
things rather than persons. Yet the context shows very plainly that also
here God’s hatred is directed against men. For the Lord declares, "How
is the faithful city become an harlot! It was full of judgment;
righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is
become dross, thy wine mixed with water: Thy princes are rebellious and
companions of thieves," etc. (vv. 21-23). And we read of the operation
of that hatred and its effect upon personal objects, adversaries:
"Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:
And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and
take away all thy tin … And the destruction of the transgressors and of
the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be
consumed" (vv. 24-25, 28). We may remark in passing that passages like
this cannot possibly be understood except on the basis of the truth that
the church is here addressed organically, as a whole in which there is
present a two-fold seed, the carnal and the spiritual, the reprobate and
the remnant according to the election of grace. There is one
factor which prevents Israel from being completely like Sodom and
Gomorrah and which prevents its complete destruction; and this factor is
mentioned in verse 9: "Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very
small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been
like unto Gomorrah."
61:8 we read of both God’s love and God’s hate in such a way that it is
again very clear that they are always in harmony with His perfect
holiness and also that they are direct opposites: "For I the Lord love
judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their
work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them."
9:15, in connection with its context, the hatred of God and its
manifestation toward ungodly Ephraim are depicted very sharply: "Give
them O Lord: what wilt thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry
breasts. All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated
them: for the wickedness of their doing I will drive them out of mine
house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.
Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit:
yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of
their womb. My God will cast them away, because they did not
hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations" (vv.
14-17). In Amos 5:21 the hatred of God toward apostate Israel is
mentioned in a context which speaks of the day of the Lord: "Woe unto
you that desire the day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The day
of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness,
and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met
him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a
serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and
not light! Even very dark, and no brightness in it?" (vv. 18-20). And
then: "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your
solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your
meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace
offerings of your fat beasts" (vv. 21-22). And then, verse 24: "But let
judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." And
in verse 27: "Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond
Damascus, saith the Lord, whose name is The God of hosts."
character of God’s hatred is set forth plainly in Zechariah 8:16- 17:
"These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to
his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:
And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour;
and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the
Lord." Similar, from this point of view, is the passage in Malachi 2:16,
if we adopt the King James translation: "For the Lord, the God of Israel
saith that he hateth putting away; for one covereth violence with his
garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit,
that ye deal not treacherously."
passage of Malachi 1:2-5, quoted in Romans 9, speaks very plain
language: "I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein
hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I
loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage
waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are
impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus
saith the Lord of hosts, they shall build, but I will throw down; and
they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against
whom the Lord hath indignation for ever. And your eyes shall see,
and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel."
Here the contrast between the love and the hatred of God, between Jacob
and Esau, between Israel and Edom, between the salvation and bliss of
Israel and the everlasting desolation of the objects of God’s hatred, is
brought into very sharp focus.
In the New
Testament, with reference to the attitude and activity of God the only
passage which speaks directly and literally of His hatred is the
so-called locus classicus for sovereign predestination, Romans 9.
There we find the well-known words, in verses 10-13: "And not only this;
but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or
evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of
works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall
serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau
have I hated." To this passage, in its context of the example of
Pharaoh and the figure of the potter and the clay and the vessels unto
honour and unto dishonour, vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath fitted
unto destruction, we shall return presently. But even now let it
1) That this passage speaks of
a hatred of which God is the subject.
2) That this hatred is very
evidently personal, both as far as its subject and its object are
concerned: God hated Esau.
3) That God’s hatred stands
here in sharp contrast with His love.
4) That, while it must and can
very well be maintained that this word as it occurs in Malachi 1 is also
both personal and individual, nevertheless, regardless of what the
meaning may be in Malachi, here in Romans 9 and in the peculiar
connection in which the apostle Paul adduces it, it is undeniably
personal and individual. The reference to the objects of God’s
love and God’s hatred respectively is very definitely to the two
children, Jacob and Esau, that were in Rebecca’s womb.
We are now
ready to attempt a formulation of the concept of God’s hatred. We
shall limit ourselves in this connection to the idea of God’s hatred as
such, in order to treat separately the question of the objects of that
hatred and the origin of God’s hatred of those objects.
In the light of the Scripture,
especially the passages cited, we posit the following:
1) In the first place, we may
state the God’s hatred as such is not, in the positive sense of the
term, one of His attributes, or virtues, as are, for example, God’s
love, God’s righteousness, God’s holiness. God is in himself, apart from
any relation and attitude toward the creature, love. He is
righteousness. He is holiness. But in this sense we never read in
Scripture that God is hatred; and this cannot properly be posited of
God. With the divine Being and life as such there is no positive
attribute of hatred. Hatred is negative.
2) In the second place, and in
close connection with the preceding, we would maintain that God’s hatred
is implied in and is an aspect of His holy Self-love as that Self-love
is revealed toward the creature. It is the contrast, the
counterpart, the antithesis of love. In the revelation of His love of
Himself to the creature outside of Himself, God’s hatred is the "no" of
the "yes" of God’s love. From this already it would follow that
the revelation of that hatred stands essentially in the service of the
revelation of His love.
3) Hence, in the third place,
God’s hatred must be defined and circumscribed in terms of His love.
We may therefore state the following:
a) If God’s love is a bond of
fellowship, a virtue and power that unites, draws, fastens to Himself,
His hatred implies a gulf of separation. It is the negative aspect
of that virtue of and power of love which separates, repulses, drives
b) God’s love is ethical in
character. It requires an ethical subject and an ethical object.
Thus it is with God’s hatred. Just as animals and inanimate
objects cannot properly be said to be the object of love, so also
animals and inanimate objects cannot properly be said to be the object
c) God’s love can exist only in the
sphere of ethical perfection. It requires an ethically perfect
subject, but also an ethically perfect object. The corollary of
this is that God’s hatred is the attitude of aversion, of repulsion, on
the part of the ethically perfect subject toward the ethically corrupt
object. Just as love implies the longing for and the delight in
the ethically perfect object on the part of the ethically perfect
subject, so God’s hatred is the aversion for and the repulsion of the
displeasure in the ethically corrupt object on the part of God, Who is
the implication of all infinite perfections. It is the thought and
the will to repulse and to destroy, to cast out of His presence and to
make miserable all that which and those who stand contrary to the
ethical perfection and holiness of the divine nature.
4) Finally, we may state that
there is most perfect harmony and unity between this hatred of God, as
an aspect of the revelation of His holy Self-love, and all the other
attributes and virtues of God. This follows both from the fact
that God’s hatred is the antithesis of His love, and from the truth of
God’s simplicity. Here, of course, we come face to face with the
truth that a priori God’s hatred is absolutely independent and
sovereign. This stands in connection with the next question to
which we will address ourselves. But first let it be emphasized
that God’s infinite and perfect hatred is rooted in his absolute
holiness and goodness. He is the Light, in whom is no darkness at
all. As the Holy One, He loves and seeks and delights in Himself.
And for His own holy names’ sake, as the God Who always maintains
Himself in His infinite holiness, He reveals Himself as the God Who
hates with perfect and infinite hatred all that stands contrary to His
holy Being. And this hatred is operative in wrath, in the curse, in the
destruction of the objects of that hatred, whatever and whoever they may
We are not
ready for our second question, namely: who are the objects of the divine
hatred? We may ask this question from a two-fold point of view.
In the first place, who are they historically? Who are they as far as
their ethical character is concerned: What is their historical and
ethical identity? And, in the second place, when we discover that
historical and ethical identity of the object of God’s hatred, in
contradistinction from the objects of God’s love, what is the origin of
that distinction, and, therefore, of that hatred?
to the first question, we must note that everywhere Scripture pictures
the objects of God’s hatred from the point of view of their spiritual,
ethical character. This is true in the various passages cited
which speak literally of God’s hatred. This is also true of all
the passages mentioned which speak by implication of God’s attitude of
hatred as it is revealed in the operation of that hatred in wrath, the
curse, and destruction. It is the ungodly, the foolish, the
workers of iniquity, the transgressors, etc., that are the object of
God’s hatred and of the revelation of that hatred in wrath and the curse
both in time and eternity.
we must understand, in this connection, that the Word of God throughout
draws a very sharp line of demarcation between the godly and the
ungodly, the righteous and the wicked, the church and the world, the
children of light and the children of darkness. We must not fall
into the error that is so common today, and that sounds so piously
evangelistic, of speaking simply of the "unconverted," conceiving then
of the unconverted from our own point of view, not as God sees and knows
and views them. When Scripture makes the distinction between the
godly and the ungodly, it always refers principally to the ungodly that
will never be converted, the ungodly that can never be converted, the
ungodly that will persist in his ungodliness until he is cast into
everlasting destruction. Nor must we say that we cannot very well
make these the object of our contemplation for the simple reason that we
do not know who they are. For, in the first place, while it may be
true that the individual identity of the ungodly to a certain extent may
belong to the realm of the secret things, nevertheless the fact that
there are such men belongs to the revealed things of God. This
must be reckoned with, both as far as the preaching of the gospel is
concerned, lest the preacher delude himself that all men are potential
converts, and as far as the life and calling of God’s people in the
midst of the world are concerned, lest they make common cause with the
wicked. In the second place, we must not forget the principal
truth: by their fruits ye shall know them. And, in the third place, the
question is not whether we in every case can individually distinguish
the ungodly, but whether God knows them, and what is His attitude toward
them. And then the fact is that God does not have before His divine eyes
a mass of unconverted men who are possible candidates for conversion;
but there are before Him the righteous and the unrighteous, the godly
and the ungodly—two distinct classes of men.
language of Scripture in describing these ungodly is clear, and the
delineation between them and the godly is sharp in Holy Writ.
According to Psalm 1, they are the ungodly, those who stand in the way
of sinners, who sit in the seat of the scornful, and the wicked
counsellors. Psalm 5 pictures them as the foolish, the workers of
iniquity, in whose mouth is no faithfulness, whose inward part is very
wickedness, whose throat is an open sepulchre, who flatter with their
tongue. Psalm 7 pictures them as raging enemies, as the
non-turning wicked. Psalm 11 calls them the wicked, who make ready
their arrow upon the string, who privily shoot at the upright, who love
violence. And thus examples may be multiplied. Cf. Psalm
14:1-4; Psalm 17:9-12; Psalm 18:26-27; Psalm 28:3, 5; Psalm 31:6, 18;
Psalm 36:1-4; Psalm 37:12, 14, 21; Psalm 49:11; Psalm 52:3; Psalm 53:1;
Psalm 58:3; Psalm 109:5; Prov. 1:10, 16; Prov. 4:16-17; Prov. 10:8-10,
13, 17-18, 23; Prov. 11:12-13, 17; Isa. 5:8, 20-21, 23; Matt. 23:14,
23-24, 27, 29-33; John 3:36; Rom. 1:21-23, 29-32. This is
Scriptures’ picture of the natural man throughout; and it is the picture
not only of the natural man in general, but of the ungodly. True, all
men are by nature and considered in themselves ungodly. But in the
process of history from Adam onward there is a distinction made.
There is the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. This
distinction Scripture recognizes throughout. There are men who are
by nature ungodly, but who by sovereign grace are distinguished,
separated from, called out of the mass of ungodly men; and there are men
who are not so separated and who never will be separated, men who before
God from eternity to eternity appear no different than in their horrible
iniquity. The latter are the object of God’s hatred.
same connection, we must take note of the fact that Scripture throughout
speaks of two classes of men, righteous and wicked, from the point of
view of their final destiny and their being on the way to that
destination. Here again, it should be noted that Scripture does not
merely speak of ungodly men who are potential candidates for destruction
but who are also potential candidates for everlasting bliss. On
the contrary, it recognizes the fact of the existence of certain men who
are on the way to destruction and who shall certainly be destroyed.
And distinct from these are the righteous. There are ungodly men,
who are as the chaff which the wind driveth away, who shall not stand in
the judgment nor in the congregation of the righteous, whose very way
shall perish (Psalm 1). There are those, the foolish workers of
iniquity, who shall not stand in God’s sight, who speak leasing and
shall be destroyed, who are bloody and deceitful and shall be abhorred
(Psalm 5). There are the wicked upon whom God will rain snares,
fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest (Psalm 11). There are
the ungodly, of whom Asaph was at first envious, but concerning whom he
learned in the sanctuary of God that God did set them in slippery places
and cast them down into destruction (Psalm 73). Examples of this kind
could be multiplied. Indeed, they are always pictured in Scripture
in their spiritual, ethical character: they are the wicked. And
their destruction always stands in unbreakable connection with their
being wicked. God is the righteous Judge! And shall not the Judge
of all the earth do right? It is emphatically as wicked, as ungodly,
that they are destroyed forever. All this does not change the
fact, however, that there are such men, that God knows that there are
such men, that God’s people know and must know and do experience that
there are such men.
speak, therefore, of God’s hatred, we must always remember its ethical
character. It is not correct to say that God reveals His hatred
utterly without regard to sin. Nor is it correct to speak of elect
men and reprobate men without regard to and with no connection to
righteousness and sin. In His counsel God beholds His people
eternally as righteous in Christ, and as such they are the objects of
His love. And in that same counsel He beholds the reprobate eternally as
wicked, and as such they are the objects of His hatred. There is
no arbitrariness in God’s love or in His hatred.
This is by
no means the same as saying, however, that God’s election and
reprobation or His love and His hatred are conditional and based upon
foreseen godliness or ungodliness in the Arminian sense of a divine
prescience. When we inquire after the origin of God’s love and
God’s hatred, then Scripture leaves no question but that this same
ethically perfect love and ethically perfect hatred are absolutely
sovereign. This is the clear teaching of the passage in Romans 9,
to which we referred earlier. In connection with this passage we
1) That we have here a very
emphatic example because:
a) Esau and Jacob were
children of the same parents, and that too, "covenant" parents.
b) They were twins: as far as
their natural differences were concerned, there was as little difference
c) Esau from a natural point
of view should have the preference because he was firstborn. Yet
the blessing of the covenant would be bestowed upon Jacob rather than
Esau: the elder shall serve the younger.
2) This was said unto Rebecca
"in order that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not
of works, but of him that calleth." Hence, when the children grow up and
the elder reveals himself as a fornicator and the younger as a child of
promise, this must be attributed not to any natural difference, but to
the determination and realization of God’s sovereign purpose of
election. God’s predestinating purpose distinguishes and makes
separation even between the natural descendants of the father of
3) What this purpose of God
was is further expressed by the quotation from Malachi 1. And in
the light of the context in Malachi, it cannot be maintained that the
hatred of God is anything else than exactly such a hatred—the very
opposite of God’s love. It is not another kind of love or another
degree of love. The text is by no stretch of the imagination to be
read as though it said, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I loved too."
For the hatred of God against Esau reveals itself in a manifestation of
wrath against him and his descendants. They are called the people
against whom the Lord hath indignation forever!
4) The view that objects that
this election and reprobation were not personal, but national, cannot be
maintained in the light of:
a) The fact that the text
mentions, in the first place, Jacob and Esau personally, and refers to
their personal, prenatal position.
b) The fact that even the
nation of Edom is composed of individual Edomites.
c) The fact that their
personal history is quite in accord with the idea of their personal
election and reprobation.
5) It was an election unto
salvation and a reprobation unto damnation that was at stake here.
6) It was an election and
reprobation which had their ultimate ground in the sovereign pleasure of
the Most High, and which were in no wise conditioned by either Jacob’s
or Esau’s character and works:
a) Because the text
emphatically mentions this.
b) Because it is only in this
light that the objections raised in the context in Romans 9 have any
sense: "Is there then unrighteousness with God?" And: "Why doth he yet
find fault, for who hath resisted his will?" These are objections which
in their very nature will be raised only against a predestination that
is sovereign. Against the Arminian presentation of a conditional
election and reprobation such objections would make no sense.
7) This is in full harmony with the
figure of the potter who makes out of the same lump one vessel unto
honour and another unto dishonour. All history, in which vessels
unto honour or unto dishonour are formed, is the revelation and
realization of the counsel of God according to which He loved Jacob and
all His elect people, but hated Esau and all the reprobate.
8) And, finally, this is in
full harmony with the reference in Romans 9:22-23 to the vessels of
wrath fitted unto destruction. These are the men who are sovereignly
ordained to be the manifestations and the objects of God’s righteous
wrath, vessels ordained in wrath and unto wrath, so constituted and
instituted that their end must and shall be destruction.
conclude by maintaining the absolute sovereignty of God’s hatred, with
electing love, sovereign, eternally independent, with a love not caused
by its object, with a love grounded solely in his good pleasure, God has
chosen His people in Christ unto eternal salvation, the most blessed
fellowship and bliss of His eternal covenant. That is the love of
His good pleasure. And with equally sovereign hatred, with a hate
that is not caused by its objects, but is grounded in His divine good
pleasure, God has predestinated the objects of reprobation unto
everlasting desolation in the way of their own sin and unbelief.
passages could be discussed in this connection. For example,
Isaiah 6:9-11; Mark 4:11-12; Matthew 11:25-26; John 12:39-40; Romans
11:7-10; II Corinthians 2:14-16. Passages like these are
especially important because they have to do with the revelation of
God’s sovereign hatred in connection with the preaching of the gospel.