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Did God really hate Esau?

Submitted: 2/17/2008
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Question: I read in Malachi 1:3 that God hated Esau. I know God can not lie, but I did not know the God of love could hate.

Answer: The reason God can hate is because He is a God of love. Hebrews 1:9 says of Jesus, 'You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness.' The reason God hates lawlessness is because it is so destructive to the object of His love: you and me. This is what Malachi meant. It wasn't that God hated the man Esau; it's that he hated what Esau was. The Bible describes Esau as a self-willed man who was not interested in the things of God. Hebrews 12:16 describes him as a 'profane man.' God loved Esau and would have saved him if he had been interested, but he hated want he had become. Another way of looking at this is that God loves the Jacob spirit, which aggressively pursues the things of God, but hates the Esau spirit, which is carnal and self-will and lawless.