We are all comfortable with statements regarding the love of God. Statements such as, “God loves you” and “Jesus loves me this I know” resonate with us on many different levels. The moment that we hear about God hating someone, we become a bit defensive or uncomfortable. If Romans 9:13 said, “Jacob I loved” and a period was placed at the end of that statement it would not be a hard truth to accept. However, when the verse ends by stating, “but Esau I hated” we immediately feel tension.
Is God’s Hatred Fair?
When we read the text in Romans 9 regarding Jacob and Esau, it places us in a very tedious theological crossroads. It forces us to deal with the big issues and to think honestly and accurately about salvation. Before we answer the question regarding Esau, we must take a good look at Jacob. Since he comes first in the text, let’s ask this question – is God’s love for Jacob fair?
Did Jacob deserve the love of God? The point seems obvious, Jacob didn’t deserve to be loved by God. Jacob was a liar, a cheat, and as the second born son, he didn’t have the privileges of the firstborn. Everything he got was backwards. Jacob didn’t deserve earthly privileges, but when it comes to eternal life, he certainly didn’t deserve it. If you look at Esau and Jacob in comparison, both were guilty sinners. In comparison, Esau was the better brother. However, Jacob was chosen by God and Esau was judged by God. God gave to Jacob what he did not deserve.
Regarding Esau, he was a sinner. Although much more honest and upright than his brother Jacob, he was still guilty before God. So when God chose Jacob to receive the gift of grace while at the same time choosing to judge Esau, it’s not a question of fairness. The fact is, Esau deserved the judgment of God. No sinner who dies and goes to hell will ever protest the eternal ruling of God and call Him unjust. Every sinner who receives judgment will understand that he or she deserved it. God is not fair, He is merciful and gracious to save guilty sinners like Jacob, but He is likewise just and righteous in not choosing people like Esau.
Consider these words from Paul in Romans 9:14-24:
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.  You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”  But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?  What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,  in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
Paul anticipated that his audience would wrestle with this idea of God’s choice to love Jacob and to hate Esau. That’s why he said, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this'” (Rom. 9:20)?
Does God Hate Esau or Esau’s Sin?
Did God hate Esau or is the text simply mistranslated? The word translated as hate in Malachi 1:3, is “שָׂנֵא” and is almost always rendered hate or hatred. For instance, in 146 occurrences, it’s translated 136 times as hate. In the New Testament, Paul describes the historic scene of God’s choice to love Jacob and to hate Esau, and he uses a word in the Greek “μισέω” translated as “hated” and it literally means to have a strong aversion to, hate, detest. In both the Old and New Testament, the word choice employed to describe God’s relationship with Esau seems to be clear. God hated Esau.
The statement, “God hates the sin but loves the sinner” is a very popular phrase that has infiltrated the teaching of the evangelical church. That statement, however, is not true. Is it possible for God to hate the action and not the person who commits the sin? When God judges sinners, does He send their sin to hell or does He send people to hell?
Any honest study of reprobation will demonstrate that sinners are considered the enemies of God (Psalm 68:21; Romans 5:10). As God judges sinners, they receive what they deserve and it’s the individual who is punished – not their sin. Take the scene before the judgment throne of God in Revelation 20:11-15. The people are pictured as standing before the throne. The text doesn’t say that God assembled everyone’s sin before His throne. The sinner who violates God’s law will give an account of his deeds and then he will be judged according to his works.
How is God Glorified in Reprobation?
It’s clear that God gains much glory in the fact that He chose to save Jacob before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1; Romans 9). However, before the foundation of the world, God likewise chose to judge Esau. According to Wayne Grudem, reprobation is defined as follows:
Reprobation is the sovereign decision of God before creation to pass over some persons, in sorrow deciding not to save them, and to punish them for their sins, and thereby to manifest his justice. 
How does God gain glory in choosing to judge sinners? When you read Malachi 1 regarding Esau, it seems perfectly clear that God’s hatred is accurate and not merely an exaggerated word choice. Malachi writes the following:
“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob  but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.”  If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.’”  Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel” (Malachi 1:2-5)!
If God finds no pleasure in the perishing of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), how does He receive glory from sinners who perish under His judgment? God receives glory when wicked sinners perish in two specific ways? First of all, God receives glory in the fact that He is a just and righteous Judge. His holy justice being executed against law breakers is a good thing. Paul Washer is right as he states that the most terrifying truth in all of Scripture is that God is good. Why is this terrifying? Because this good Judge will actually execute holy justice upon guilty sinners and they will find no backdoor escape or under the table deal to evade the wrath of God.
Be sure of this fact, on the great day of judgment, there will be no picket signs with slogans that slander the justice of God. There will be no accusations that God is not fair. There will be no statements suggesting that God is not just. There will be no person accuse God of injustice. God is the perfect and holy Judge of all eternity, and we can rest assured that sinners will be judged righteously.
We have all questioned the justice system of our nation at times, but we must have confidence that our God will execute His justice with complete precision and without any error. God is not slack concerning His promises to His people and likewise concerning His plan to execute judgment upon the wicked.
Did God hate Esau? Yes, according to the Scriptures, God hated Esau and He loved Jacob. Both statements are true, but only one of these men got what they deserved. As we study this truth in Scripture, it should not cause our hearts to swell with delight as we consider the reality of God’s eternal judgment upon guilty sinners. It should propel us to go and tell the good news that God saves sinners. Whosoever shall come to God in faith and repentance will receive the mercy of God.
- Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 685.
Westboro Baptist Church is a well known hate group that travels around the country making appearances at the funerals of soldiers who have died in combat, conventions such as the Southern Baptist Convention, and other well attended venues. They show up with signs that read, “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God For Dead Soldiers” to name just two of their hate messages. In 2008, I ran into Westboro on the streets of Indianapolis Indiana while attending the Southern Baptist Convention. They were standing on the corner of a major intersection outside of the convention center with hate signs. As people were stopped at the red light, they were making statements like, “God hates you” and “America is under the judgment of God.” Following that encounter, I conducted an interview with Shirley Phelps-Roper, and her responses to the questions I asked are frightening.
I recently read that the Westboro group is planning to picket the vigil of the Connecticut school shooting victims. As I read that report, I immediately thought about the message of hate that the group will spread during a time of great sorrow and grief. The WBC message is full of hate and void of grace. As I considered their commitment to spread a message of hate, it occurred to me that they should personally apply their own message before taking it to the streets. Is it possible that God hates Westboro Baptist Church?
The Bible refers to God’s hatred toward sin. God’s hatred is controlled, calculated, and righteous. You never see God in a fit of uncontrolled rage. However, God’s fury and wrath is something to greatly fear for all unbelievers. That message is abundantly clear in Scripture. Consider the following statements about God’s hatred.
In Proverbs 6:16-19 the Bible says:
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.
Out of this list of things that are an abomination to the LORD, WBC is certainly guilty of several of these points on an ongoing basis.
1. WBC appears to be guilty of having haughty eyes (a state of self exaltation). God hates haughty eyes.
2. WBC is guilty of having a lying tongue. Their message is a false gospel, a message of condemnation, a message full of judgment without mercy. As I have personally heard them preaching on the street corner, conducted an interview with Shirley Phelps-Roper and read through their website material over the years, I am certain that their message is full of lies and does not relay the good news of Jesus Christ. God hates a lying tongue – especially one that lies about the gospel.
3. WBC may not be guilty of shedding innocent blood, but they appear to be guilty of 1 John 3:15 which states, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
4. WBC is guilty of devising wicked plans. Their plans to picket funerals of soldiers and vigils for little children who died in school shootings, with messages of hate, are wicked plans. Plans to rush toward people in their most horrific moments of pain with signs that read “God hates you” are nothing less than wicked. God hates a heart that devises wicked plans.
5. WBC appears to be guilty of being swift to run to evil. It appears that WBC is quick to celebrate the death of soldiers and tragedies such as the Connecticut school shooting. They appear, by their online activity, interviews, and actions to be swift to rush toward their evil plans. God hates this type of behavior.
6. WBC is guilty of being a false witness who breathes out lies. They consistently breathe out lies about soliders and evangelical churches. For instance, they picketed the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention and looked at me on the street and accused me of being a supporter of the homosexual movement because I was a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. They have no idea of how the SBC operates apparently (the SBC does not support the homosexual agenda), and they certainly don’t know me personally. But, while holding a hate message sign – they openly accused me falsely on the street. God hates the person who behaves this way.
7. WBC is guilty of sowing discord with their hateful signs and messages. Rather than preaching the gospel (which literally means good news), they are committed to a message of condemnation, darkness, judgment, and wrath. It is necessary to proclaim the truth about sin prior to showing someone the love of God in Jesus Christ (the gospel), however, WBC never proclaims a message of love – only hate. Because of their messages, people are often confused, hurt, offended, and turned off to what they have to say. Their message is full of discord and confusion rather than love and truth! God hates this type of behavior.
Before Westboro Baptist Church shows up in Connecticut with signs that read “God hates you” – perhaps they should consider the possibility that God hates Westboro Baptist Church. Before they go and preach for people to repent, perhaps they should practice what they preach. Before they scream out to crowds of people to fear God’s coming judgment, perhaps they should fear God’s coming judgment. Self righteousness is a powerful trap – and one that entraps many people. Perhaps Westboro should consider the warning of Jesus to religious people:
Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
May God have mercy on WBC! May God open their eyes to see the truth!
Pastor Josh Buice
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OFFICIAL: Westboro Baptist Church Interview – Part I
OFFICIAL: Westboro Baptist Church Interview – Part II
RESPONSE #1: Westboro’s Gospel Error
RESPONSE #2: Westboro’s Great Commission Error
The Thursday series titled, “Butchered Bible Verses” continues today with a popular verse that is often abused and misused in the life of the church and secular community. I have tried to emphasize the importance of proper interpretation of Scripture through this series, and I pray that God will help us become Bereans as we approach the sacred text of Scripture rather than simply ripping out random Bible verses and using them for Facebook status updates and bumper sticker theology.
As we approach the Bible, we must remember that it is God’s Word in totality. Every book, paragraph, and verse belongs to God and was literally breathed out by God. Therefore, just as we have no right to abuse the intention of anyone who writes a letter to us or a story in the local newspaper, we have no right to twist the words of holy Scripture into an agenda that serves our fleshly motives. We must always seek to interpret the Bible within the immediate context while seeking to discover what the original author intended by writing the words to his original audience. This method will lead you to discover the single and authoritative meaning of the text. That too must be done as we approach Matthew 7:1.
Matthew 7:1 – Judge not, that you be not judged.
Explanation of how the text is misused
No longer are we living in a culture that knows John 3:16 as the most famous verse. We are now living in a culture that recognizes Matthew 7:1 as the most famous verse. Why? Because of religious pluralism and postmodern thinking. We are living in a postmodern world that promotes individualistic rules and subjective commands. Most people in our present culture, especially in America, desire personal space and expect people to “mind their own business.” Our present culture does not like moral and religious absolutes. They are fine with the absolutes of gravity, but they are not fine with absolutes related to sin and salvation. Our culture lives with an attitude that says: Who are you to tell me that I am wrong?
We need an answer, so where do we turn? We turn to Holy Scripture. The Word of God is our absolute standard. It is holy, inspired, inerrant, and without any mixture of error. God has revealed Himself and His standards to us in His book – the Bible. Therefore, after inspiration – God has preserved His book over the years and it stands as our absolute and final guide. We don’t need other source outside of the Word of God to provide additional revelation about our God. The Word is sufficient alone.
Explanation of the text
I still remember being at summer camp as a kid with the church and seeing this guy walk down the aisle with a long beam sticking out of his eye. He was walking up and down the aisle telling people that he could see a speck in their eye and that it was dangerous and should be removed. The beam protruding out of his eye was hitting people in the face as he was trying to point out their small speck. How silly that man looked. Everyone laughed. But it left a burning imprint into my mind about this passage of Scripture. I will never forget that.
There is a right way to judge and a wrong way to judge – but Jesus says, “Judge not…” What should we do? Can we judge? Can we hold one another accountable in the Christian life? Exactly what does Jesus mean by this verse? As we look at the Scripture, we must come face to face with the reality of many other Bible verses that teach us to point out error. The Bible commands us to confront unbelievers with their unbelief and rebellion against God while pointing them to Jesus Christ for salvation. So, judgment must be rendered in some essence through evangelism (Matthew 28:18-20). Furthermore, a certain judgment must take place in pastoral ministry. For instance, the pastor is to preach the Word in order to reprove and rebuke those in his congregation (2 Timothy 4:1-5). The Bible clearly commands church discipline in Matthew 18, and this process begins in a private confrontation before it ever makes it to a public church setting. In all stages of church discipline, it would seem that judgment is taking place on the part of the accuser who confronts his brother or sister regarding sin. So, either the Bible contradicts itself or the meaning of Matthew 7:1 is often misinterpreted. Mark Dever, in his book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, writes:
Certainly, in Matthew 7:1, Jesus did forbid judging in one sense… But for now, note that if you read through that same gospel of Matthew, you’ll find that Jesus also clearly called us to rebuke others for sin, even rebuking them publicly if need be (Matt. 18:15-17; cf. Luke 17:3). Whatever Jesus meant by not judging in Matthew 7, He didn’t mean to rule out the kind of judging He mandated in Matthew 18… If you think about it, it is not really surprising that we as a church should be instructed to judge. After all, if we cannot say how a Christian should not live, how can we say how a Christian should live?”1
The word translated “judge” in Matthew 7:1 is “κρίνω” which literally means to prove someone as guilty before God. While that is what is taking place in church discipline, it is God who has already judged through His Word. The process of church discipline requires us to confront a fellow believer of sin. That involves having discernment on whether or not something is right or wrong. We must be able to choose if something is right or wrong in order to confront someone of sin. Now, the way we do that is through the Word of God. We are not making judgments based on our own ideas, emotions, or standards. We are making judgments upon people and holding one another accountable based on the clear teachings of God’s Word.
The point is clear – false judgment is wrong! The practice of a judgmental attitude is wrong and is judged as a sin by Christ Himself. Jesus promised that those who judged (in a wrong manner) would also be judged. In other words, their judgment would be like a boomerang. Like the old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” Jesus is not forbidding any judging on behalf of the Christian, because in Matthew 18 He clearly gives keys to bind and loose in the area of judging sin within the church. We cannot forbid any attempt of biblical correction in our lives as a violation of Matthew 7:1. Hebrews 13:17 commands us to submit to our elders (pastors) in the church. The attitude that says, “mind your own business” while I live my life “my way” behind my privacy fence is the exact opposite way of life intended by Jesus for His redeemed children. Jesus never intended His children to be private people living private lives. Jesus founded the church, and the church is a visible body of believers who are to be involved in one another’s lives. This process is for the purity of His church until it is presented to Him as a bride prepared for her husband. Alexander Strauch writes, “What Jesus prohibits…is sinful, improper judging. It is the hypocrisy of condemning others but failing to see one’s own glaring sins. Jesus forbids self-righteous criticism, a hypercritical spirit, and a harsh, fault-finding mindset.“2
Judgment is a two edged sword. It can be good, but it can also be something that crosses the line of sin. It is our duty as redeemed children of the King to guard our heart against the tendency of false judgment, a judgmental attitude and speech, and practices that will cause us to receive that same type of judgment from our God. Any confrontation we make in a private setting or in a public act of church discipline must always be based on the Word of God alone rather than our ideas, thoughts, or assumptions. John MacArthur writes, “Whenever we assign people to condemnation without mercy because they do not do something the way we think it ought to be done or because we believe their motives are wrong, we pass judgment that only God is qualified to make (Jas. 4:11-12).“3
As we walk the broken road of life – let us strive to love one another and glorify our God who deserves all praise and honor!
Pastor Josh Buice
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1. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Crossway, 2000, p. 155-156.
2. Leading With Love, Lewis and Roth, 2006, p. 158.
3. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Matthew 1-7, Moody, 1985, p. 433.