While we as saints can somewhat comprehend that God loves us without merit and that he foreknew us in Christ before the foundation of the world, it is difficult for us to understand that God hates without merit. Our word hate, because of its human application, connotes reckless malice and scornful enmity, and God does not act in this way.
For our right understanding concerning God’s hate, it might be beneficial to draw an analogy: God’s hatred is as much an absence of salvific love as darkness is the absence of light. Upon some, God shines the glory and magnificence of his light thereby loving them, and from others he actively withholds it. The result of this active withholding is the absence of the light of his love which is tantamount to the darkness of his hate. Before the foundation of the world, God has chosen to shine this light upon some, which Scripture calls foreknowledge, and he has chosen not to shine it upon others—both according to his good pleasure.
Both of these—God’s shining his love light and his withholding of his light is done before the foundation of the world—before any has done good or evil. This is done, as is demonstrated in the prenatal case of Jacob and Esau, without respect to human activity, especially the Fall. For what reason? So that, as the Apostle writes, “God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls” (Rom. 9:12).
Yet God’s love and hate are not ignorant of the Fall. God is not simply said to have loved his elect before the foundation of the world, but he has loved his elect in him, viz. in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:4-6). God’s love for his elect was founded in the Redeemer before the Fall. This means that when God loved or hated before the foundation of the world, his love or hatred were intimately intertwined with the knowledge of a person’s destiny, though it is not dependent upon it. Which is to say when God hates before the foundation of the world, he knows that his hatred of persons will ultimately result in their bearing his wrath.
Of course, there are those who seek to justify God by looking to the Fall of Adam and making God’s love and his hate prelapsarian and making his mercy and his wrath postlapsarian and look at Adam and Eve’s freedom with regards to their wills as utterly unique in history and thereby feel as though they have alleviated God of his responsibility for sin.
And though we can systematically make these clean divisions between God’s foreknowledge and mercy and between his hatred and wrath and do so with respect to the Fall of man, Scripture never looks at a world, either prelapsarian or postlapsarian, where there is not the need for a Redeemer. Since the Redeemer is always in view which by its nature demands the Fall, the supralapsarian and infralapsarian debate is an unnecessary one. If God actively loves his elect in Christ the Redeemer before the foundation of the world, he actively does not love others and thereby seals their destiny in Adam.
Therefore the Apostle writes:
But you will say to me, “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? (vv.9:20-24)
At the end of the day, there is no human wisdom that can reconcile to our feeble minds the depths of the ways and wisdom of God. We instead are called to be silent, to humble ourselves, and to meditate on the unmerited mercy of God in Christ on our behalf. We cannot come away from this passage having comprehended it rightly in the power of the Spirit and still boast in our salvation. We must give God all the glory, and he will receive all the glory. And we are to glorify him by meditating on and praising him for the riches of mercy which he has made known to us in Christ and has magnified through the reprobate.
Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study