What does the statement “God hated Esau” really mean? (Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:11-13) Is it the same kind of hate that a person has for cheesecake or lemon meringue pie? The purpose of this article is to list twelve things that God really does hate. In doing so, we will discover that God loves all people, but it is not the same kind of love that a person has for dessert.
Does God Love and Hate At the Same Time?
It is so very important for us to understand the difference between loving a person and hating the sin. Generally speaking, “God hated Esau” means that God hated sinful behavior, not the actual person of Esau. Since God is love (1 John 4:16) and He hates sin (Proverbs 6:16-19), it follows that God must love all people in the world (John 3:16) unconditionally while also hating the person’s sin at the same time.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only unique Son, and whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).
Five More Things God Hates
In addition to dealing perfectly with each person, God also deals perfectly with nations and groups of people. In Malachi 1:1-3, we find out that Edom refers to Esau’s descendants who are called the Edomites (Genesis 25:30, 36:1, 9). The Lord calls Edom a Wicked Land (Mal. 1:4), meaning a wicked people always under the wrath of the Lord. Why were they under wrath? They were under wrath for the following reasons:
1.) Siding with Israelite enemies (Psalm 83:1-8)
2.) Inflicting revenge on Judah (Ezek. 25:12-14)
In the context of Malachi chapter 1, Edom suffers as a group of people not because God inflicts punishment in a cruel random way, but rather, God is perfectly just when He gives both warnings and consequences. Malachi uses the illustration of “Edom under divine wrath” in order to warn the Israelites that the Israelite priests need to repent from showing contempt for the name of the Lord Almighty. Otherwise, Israel will also suffer divine wrath. Israel was warned about their following sins:
1.) Priests who despise the name of the Lord Almighty (Mal. 1:6)
2.) A people who do not offer the best to the Lord Almighty (Mal. 1:11)
3.) A people who do not fear the name of the Lord Almighty (Mal. 1:14)
Another Thing God Hates
In the book of Revelation, we find out that God commended a certain group of people for hating sin. What sin was that? The people in the church of Ephesus were approved by God for hating the sinful work of the Nicolatians. (Early church Fathers explained that the sin of the Nicolatians refers to allowing heretical doctrine.)
Revelation 2:6 – (The Lord Almighty said,) Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolatians, which I also hate.
The key word in Revelation 2:6 is the word works. It was not the person, per se, that was hated. It was the work of those people. Everyone is called to honor the Lord, no matter who you are or where you live, by following sound doctrine. In addition to being saved by grace through faith in order to do good works, we are also commanded to live by sound doctrine. In order to reject heresies and unorthodox doctrine, one must know the truth of sound doctrine. This is why it is so important to be a student of the Word of God, learn from educated theologians, let the Holy Spirit reveal truth to you, and daily put on the new life in Christ, walking in step with divine guidance.
Does God Only Love Some People?
Maybe you’ve heard a Christian such as a Calvinist say that God only loves some people. Oddly enough, atheists often say the same thing. It is not a good interpretation of Scripture to conclude that God only loves some people. It is false to say that God only loves some people. John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved only part of the world…” Telling people “God only loves some people” can actually end up triggering hopelessness, anger, and depression.
God’s character is so loving that it is impossible for Him to not love. God is love (1 John 4:16), and that means God naturally loves you. He is always loving in all that He does and in all that He says. The word that we use for God’s all-loving moral attribute is called omnibenevolent. It means He is always good, always loving, and perfectly limitless in being good and loving toward everyone. Nothing is forcing Him to love you. He just does love you with an infinite amount and a divine eternal love. He is so good, that He extends grace and carries out perfect justice to individuals as well as nations.
Just as a parent disciplines his child in order to keep him from repeating dangerous actions, our Heavenly Father pours out divine wrath in wicked places – out of His desire for people to repent from sin. Even though He actively hates sin, His loving character does not change. His loving character is constantly loving and constantly unchanging. The way God loves is not the exact same way a person loves dessert. The way God hates is not the exact same way a person hates cheesecake. Psalm 5:5 says, “You hate all workers of iniquity.” Psalm 11:5 says, “The Lord’s soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” Divine hate and divine wrath are a means of divine discipline in order to get a human being to repent from sinful behavior.
How Do I Know If God Really Loves Me?
I met a lady one day who told me she thought God did not love her. When I asked why she thought that, she said it was because someone told her that God only chooses to love some people, and He decided to love other people but not love her. What?! That is a terrible misunderstanding of God’s unchanging nature. I assured her that God does love her with an everlasting love that endures forever, and He is just waiting for her to love Him back. Rest assured, you can be confident that God first loved you. Most certainly! “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The love that God has for all people is impartial, universal, and unconditional. He loves you so much that Jesus willingly died for you in order to pay the penalty for all your sin. The natural response is for you to thank God for the good work He did for you. We love, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).
I might never know if God hates cheesecake, but I do know He hates pride, lying, murdering innocent blood, devising wicked plans, rushing into evil, false witnesses, and stirring up conflict. Never give up what you know for what you don’t know.
It is very clear in the Bible that God does not love sin. In the Scriptures, we find out that He loves all people. Likewise, we are commanded to love one another just as Jesus loved one another. We are never commanded to love the sin in a person’s life. Rather, we can dislike the sin in a person’s life while continuing to love the person. A parent is always expected to love his or her child unconditionally, impartially, and at all times.
If you have not done so already, get in a good Bible study with a teacher who follows sound doctrine and prays for you. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” (John 14:15). Never give up being a student of the Bible. The best way to genuinely love God is getting to know His divine attributes, the good work He has done, and all the good promises He has for you. And praise Him for it all!
Ultimate happiness is found in a right relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.