JACOB HAVE I LOVED, BUT ESAU HAVE I LOVED LESS?!
Letter to a Sister who was told by a Pastor that God loves everyone, only He loves His Elect with a special love and everyone else with a lesser love.
Thank you for writing dear Sister. This proposition that God loves some less and others more is fairly new, and we must always be wary of these new thoughts and suggestions that arise from even those who may be faithful to other tenets of the Reformed Faith.
For instance there have been some who are otherwise doctrinally sound who have been lately contending that our God is the ‘Author of sin’. And they use a lot of logical and philosophical arguments to try and prove the same. And yet for all that they prove NOTHING!
There ARE mysteries in the Bible. How God can become a man and be God at the same time is a mystery. It is called the ‘great mystery of Godliness’ [1Tim 3:16]. In like manner the origin of sin is a mystery! Scripture in one place calls it ‘the mystery of iniquity’ [2Thes 2:7]. God has deemed it best not to reveal its origin, nor has He claimed to be the Author of it! The best minds in divinity have searched this out for centuries and come to the conclusion, that GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF SIN, though He has decreed it, permitted it in His universe and channels it to His glory!
Those who charge God with this folly only REPROACH AND BLASHEME GOD, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God! And the Day is coming when He shall ask of them – “WHO hath required this at your hand”?! And He will charge them with the same charge as he did Job’s ‘friends’ – ‘Ye have not spoken of Me THE THING THAT IS RIGHT”! [Job 42:7]
Similarly, the Bible does not teach that God loves the Reprobate wicked ‘LESS’ as opposed to loving His Elect a little “MORE”!
Even the beloved Spurgeon was very clear on THIS point. Commenting on that verse – “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated!” Spurgeon said –
“It is a terrible text, and I will be honest with it if I can. One man says the word “hate” does not mean hate; it means “love less:”—”Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I loved less.” It may be so: but I don’t believe it is. At any rate, it says “hate” here; and until you give me another version of the Bible, I shall keep to this one.
I believe that the term is correctly and properly translated; that the word “hate” is not stronger than the original; but even if it be a little stronger, it is nearer the mark than the other translation which is offered to us in those meaningless words, “love less.” I like to take it and let it stand just as it is. The fact is, God loved Jacob, and He did not love Esau; He did choose Jacob, but He did not choose Esau; He did bless Jacob, but He never blessed Esau; His mercy followed Jacob all the way of His life, even to the last, but His mercy never followed Esau; He permitted him still to go on in His sins, and to prove that dreadful truth, “Esau have I hated.”
Now THAT is the truth!
Now let me quote a man who in our judgment was faithful to the scripture as a man can be. His writings and life and the rejection of him by the Christendom of his day prove that he like our Lord cared for no man! [Mark 12;14] If you haven’t already guessed it I am speaking of Brother A.W. Pink.
And THIS is what HE had to say about God loving everybody. Believe me, it a theological cop-out to say that “He loves everyone, but some He loves less” etc. It is a mere striving of words! It is akin to saying Christ’s Atonement is sufficient for the whole world but efficient for the elect! Hogwash! Christ’s Atonement is sufficient and efficient for the ELECT ONLY! And usually men make such man pleasing statements in order to evade the offence of the Cross! Sad!
Here is a portion from A.W. Pink about God’s love – “One of the most popular beliefs of the day is that GOD LOVES EVERYBODY, and the very fact that it is so POPULAR with all classes ought to be enough to arouse the suspicions of those who are subject to the Word of Truth. God’s Love toward ALL His creatures is the fundamental and favorite tenet of Universalists, Unitarians, Theosophists, Christian Scientists, Spiritualists, Russellites, etc.
No matter how a man may live—in open defiance of Heaven, with no concern whatever for his soul’s eternal interests, still less for God’s glory, dying, perhaps with an oath on his lips,—notwithstanding, God loves him, we are told. So widely has this dogma been proclaimed, and so comforting is it to the heart which is at enmity with God, we have little hope of convincing many of their error.
That God loves everybody, is, we may say, quite a MODERN belief. The writings of the church-fathers, the Reformers or the Puritans will (we believe) be searched in vain for any such concept. Perhaps the late D. L. Moody—captivated by Drummond’s “The Greatest Thing in the World”—did more than anyone else last century to popularize this concept.
It has been customary to say God loves the sinner, though He hates his sin. But that is a meaningless distinction. What is there in a sinner but sin? Is it not true that his “whole head is sick”, and his “WHOLE heart faint”, and that “from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness” in him? (Isaiah 1:5,6). Is it true that God LOVES the one who is despising and rejecting His blessed Son? God is Light as well as Love, and therefore His love must be a HOLY love. To tell the Christ rejector that God loves him is to cauterize his conscience, as well as to afford him a sense of security in his sins.
With the exception of John 3:16, not once in the four Gospels do we read of the Lord Jesus—the perfect Teacher— telling sinners that God loved them! In the book of Acts, which records the evangelistic labors and messages of the apostles, God’s love is never referred to at all! But, when we come to the Epistles, which are addressed to THE SAINTS, we have a full presentation of this precious truth—God’s love FOR HIS OWN. Let us seek to RIGHTLY divide the Word of God and then we shall not be found taking truths which are addressed to believers and misapplying them to unbelievers.”
– A.W. Pink
Now the Bible does not teach that God loves the reprobate wicked ‘LESS’ than He loves His elect, but on the contrary says “Thou HATEST all workers of iniquity!” (Psalm 5:5) “God is ANGRY with the wicked every day.” “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but THE WRATH of God”—not “shall abide,” but even NOW—”abideth on him” (Psalm 5:5; 7:11, John 3:36). Can God “love” (albeit LOVE LESS) the one on whom His “wrath” abides? Again; is it not evident that the words “The love of God WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS” (Romans 8:39) mark a LIMITATION, both in the sphere and objects of His love?
Get this my dear Sister, “The wicked God “PITIES” (see Matt. 18:33). Unto the unthankful and evil God is “KIND” (see Luke 6:35). The vessels of wrath He ENDURES “with much long-suffering” (see Rom. 9:22). BUT IT IS ONLY “HIS OWN” WHOM GOD “LOVES”! – A.W. Pink
Finally, ask yourself, Is it conceivable that God will continue to LOVE LESS the damned in the Lake of Fire? Yet, if He loves them NOW He will do so THEN, seeing that His love (whether less or more) knows no change— for He is “WITHOUT VARIABLENESS or shadow of turning”! [James 1:17]
But what about Mathew 5:43-46? Does it even suggest that God loves everyone but only that He loves the reprobate a little less? God forbid!
The scripture portion in Matthew 5:43-46 does not suggest even faintly that God ‘LOVES’ the non-elect! This same portion is quoted in Luke and there it reads – “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” [Luke 6:35,36]
It would have been easier to say, “Love your enemies as your Father also loves them” But He does not say that!
Yes, God is KIND to the wicked and He is MERCIFUL to the evil and as the Psalmist says, “The LORD is GOOD to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works.” [Psalm 145:9] But it ends there . . . IT NEVER EVEN SUGGESTS THAT GOD “LOVES’’ the rebrobate wicked!
Remember God in dealing with His fallen creatures may require of them things which He is not bound by! God may require me to forgive and love my enemies because in a real sense I am no better than them. But GOD is not so bound! His love is always ‘FREE’ and SOVEREIGN! As He says – “I will love them FREELY!” [Hosea 14:4]
So when God requires you to love your enemies it is not because He loves them as well. Yes He is good, kind, and merciful at least on this side of Heaven towards the reprobate. . . . but He NEVER loves them either less or more! As A.W. Pink said long ago – “The love of God, is a truth for the saints only, and to present it to the enemies of God is to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs!”