God’s Holy Hatred
Before we examine several of those biblical terms, let’s look at a truth that has escaped many believers, the concept that God hates. In a culture whose mantra is “God is love (if there is a God),”God condemns the Canaanites by saying to His people in Deuteronomy 12:31, “You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.” The God of the Bible is not into respecting religious pluralism, is He?
The Psalmist says in Psalm 5:5, “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.” This seems a bit difficult to reconcile with Christians often saying that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. Similarly we read in Psalm 11:5, “The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.” In fact, one passage even tells us that the Lord turns from loving to hating those who commit sin: “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there. Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious.” (Hosea 9:15).
We learn from Scripture that God despises empty religion, rituals that have lost their meaning. The Lord says to Isaiah, “Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.”(Isaiah 1:14). The Lord’s burdened, exhausted soul is fed up with their empty festivities. The prophet Amos
records the Lord’s words: “”I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.” (Amos 5:21). When we just go through the religious motions, leaving our hearts at home, I wonder what the Lord feels about our meetings?
Several specific sins are listed by God as those He abhors. Isaiah 61:8 tells us, “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity.” The Lord speaks of certain practices as “detestable things” that He “hates,”such as not turning from wickedness or not ceasing to worship other gods (Jeremiah 44:4). Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us that “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him . . .” The six things listed are “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and . . .”[I’m going to leave the seventh for you to look up. The Hebraic wording indicates that the seventh is something that God absolutely despises]. Zechariah records the Lord saying, “‘.. . do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,’declares the LORD.” (Zechariah 8:17). In our divorce-addicted and violence-obsessed culture, God declares, “‘Ihate divorce . . . and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’says the LORD Almighty.So guard yourself in your spirit,and do not break faith.”(Malachi 2:16). God has a hate list and it includes such sins as robbery, iniquity, plotting evil against one’s neighbor, loving to swear falsely, divorce, addiction to violence, breaking faith, etc.A Mormon used car salesman was asked, “How do you justify being a used car salesman with your Mormonism where you’re not supposed to lie?” “I don’t lie,”he answered, “I’m just vague. When people ask me, ‘What’s the gas mileage on this car?’, I answer, ‘Hmmm. Gas mileage. That’s pretty important.’”
Not only does God hate wickedness (Psalm 45:7), but the Psalmist says that God’s followers are to do the same: “Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”(Psalm 97:10). The Psalmist follows his own advice, for he says in Psalm 119:163, “I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law.” In fact, the very definition of fearing the Lord, says Proverbs 8:13, is “to hate evil.” There is “a time to love and a time to hate,”Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:8. Amos 5:15 tells the believer to “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.”
And it is not just the Old Testament that contains such hate speech. Paul tells us that “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9). John compliments the church in Ephesus by saying, “But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”(Revelation 2:6). Believers are to hate their own actions which are inconsistent with God’s Word. Paul confesses in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
The mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg once said, “I never liked anyone who didn’t have a temper. If you don’t have any temper,you don’t have any passion.” While there are differences between anger and hatred, we must realize that there is a holy hatred that we must have. Hating what God hates shows a passion for Him and His truth. I realize this could sound crazy, especially in a culture that expects Christians to show only love, but could it be that we have not learned how to hate?!
Some have suggested that the God of the Old Testament was a God of anger, fury, and wrath,but that the God of the New Testament is a God of mercy, love, and forgiveness. This old liberal saw does not survive serious examination, especially in light of Jesus’ declarations about hell in the Gospels and the book of Revelation’s descriptions of the Lake of Fire. We learn in Daniel 12:2 that “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” Those who die outside of the saving work of Christ will be in the end not eternal objects of God’s love, but of His wrath and of His holy hatred.
What response to sin would we want God to have? Some think He is actively torturing His creation, that He is a cosmic sadist who entertains Himself with human misery. Others believe that He combines both the good and bad in Himself, the Yin and the Yang, that there is a dark side to God. Still others suggest that God is impassive, that He doesn’t care one way or the other what happens in His universe, that He is really “beyond all that.” But as Sam Mikolaski says, “Unless God is angry with sin, let us put a bullet in our collective brain, for the universe is mad.”