Saturday, February 13, 2016

Does God Love Everyone? If You are a Covenant-Breaker, You Need to Know!

"Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal; there I began to hate them. Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house. I will love them no more; all their princes are rebels."
- Hosea 9:15

If you haven't read the Book of Hosea, what you need to know is that he prophesied in the Northern Kingdom, shortly before the conquest by Assyria, and the final exile of her people. This was their final judgment for apostasy, an apostasy which included both the perversion of biblical worship and the erection of pagan idols. Gilgal, mentioned in the verse here, was one of the centers for pagan worship. 

These ancient Israelites reflected a common pagan worldview, according to which deities come by the dozens, and there is no particular exclusivity in their worship. Missionaries have long run into this problem in India, where Hindus were happy to add Jesus to their god-shelves, but could not accept a devotion to Christ alone. However, Jehovah, the first God on the Israelite god-shelf, doesn't share that worldview, which is why He made the First Commandment (Ex. 20:3): "You shall have no other gods before me." He tells His covenant people, members of the visible church, that they had better not let Him see them serving other gods, whether literally or figuratively. And He sees everything! See Job 34:21.

What the Israelites refused to acknowledge, though it was told to them in their scriptures, is that God exercises exclusive claims (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11). When they, nevertheless, chose to spread their loyalties, not to Jehovah alone, but also to every carved deity that their pagan neighbors could name, He took action, exactly because He is a jealous, though spiritual, spouse.

Early in their history, God had led Moses to write (Ex.34:14), "You shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Jealousy is so much one of God's attributes that He even uses it as an epithet, a nickname! A little later, Moses wrote (Deut. 4:2, and quoted in Hebrews 12:29), "The LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God." And again (Deut. 6:15), "The LORD your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God. His anger will flare up against you, and He will wipe you from the face of the earth." And in the prophets (Nahum 1:2), "The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries and keeps wrath for His enemies."

Yet, the Israelites ignored His warnings and followed both a false version of biblical religion and the false pagan religions of their neighbors. And what does God say is His reaction, in the verse quoted at the top? Negatively, He says, "I will love them no more." And positively, He asserts, "I began to hate them." 

So, the answers to my questions in the title should be clear. Does God love everyone? No, He doesn't. Does God hate anyone? Yes, He does. And the last question to consider is one that I cannot answer: in which group are you?

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