For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment (Deut. 10:17-18). The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth (Ps. 11:5). Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (Rom. 9:13).
The question is, "Does God have a compassionate love, if not a redemptive love, towards all his creatures? Or does he have only hatred towards the reprobate?"
In the last issue we considered some of the issues involved in this interesting question. This time, we will look at the texts referred to (Deut. 10:17-18; Matt. 5:44-45; Acts 14:17).
In Deuteronomy 10:18, we read that God "loveth the stranger." Israel had thousands and thousands of foreigners in the nation. This began with the Egyptians who came out of Egypt with Israel. There were also Rahab, the Gibeonites, Ruth and many from various countries and nations who made Canaan their home. Some were taken there as slaves; some were attracted to the nation for various reasons. Uriah, whose wife David stole, was a Hittite. Araunah, on whose threshing floor David sacrificed to stop the angel of death, was a Jebusite. Foreigners were plentiful in Israel.
What is unique to all these foreigners who took up permanent abode in the nation was that they were so incorporated and absorbed into the nation that they and their descendants became, in fact, Jews. They were, therefore, members of the church of the old dispensation. In this way they too were saved. This was all prophetic of the coming age when God would save a church from all nations and tribes and tongues.
Is it any wonder then that Israel was commanded to be kind to these strangers? And is it any wonder then that God loved them? They were part of the church and nation that God loved. This does not mean that God loved every one of them, for He did not even love every single Israelite. God has mercy on whom He will have mercy and compassion on whom He will have compassion (Rom. 9:15). But the nation, with its many strangers, organically considered, was loved by God.
Matthew 5:44-45 and Acts 14:17— both frequently quoted as proof of God’s love towards all men—do not, in fact, mention the love of God at all. You may consult your Bible to see that this is true. To say that these texts speak of a love of God for all is to introduce something into the text that simply is not there. We must not do that.
But the argument is that we must love our enemies if we are to be children of our Father in heaven, for our Father in heaven sends rain and sunshine on His enemies.
Herman Hoeksema explains this passage well: "... it stands to reason that, in the case of loving our enemies that despitefully use us, curse us, and persecute us, love must needs be one-sided. There cannot be a bond of fellowship between the wicked and the perfect in Christ. To love our enemy, therefore, is not to flatter him, to have fellowship with him, to play games with him, and to speak sweetly to him; but rather to rebuke him, to demand that he leave his wicked way, and thus to bless him and to pray for him. It is to bestow good things upon him with the demand of true love that he leave his wicked way, walk in the light, and thus have fellowship with us. If he heed our love, which will be the case if he be of God’s elect and receive grace, he will turn from darkness into light, and our love will assume the nature of a bond of perfectness. If he despises our love, our very act of love will be to his greater damnation. But the cursing and persecution of the wicked may never tempt the child of God to live and act from the principle of hatred, to reward evil for evil, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
"As a single illustration from actual life and experience, the Lord points to the fact that ... God [sends rain] and causes His sun to shine upon the just and the unjust, thus bestowing good things upon them all, demanding that they shall employ them as means to walk in righteousness and light. For with God love is delight in perfection in the highest sense of the word. If now the wicked receive grace with rain and sunshine, they will walk in the light and have fellowship with God. If they do not receive grace, they will employ the rain and the sunshine in the service of sin and receive the greater damnation. But rain and sunshine are never grace [or love] and Matthew 5:44, 45 does not prove the contention ..." (Ready To Give An Answer*, pp. 72-73).One more quote: "God does, indeed, love His enemies, not as such, but as His children in Christ ... if rain and sunshine are a manifestation of God’s love to all men, the just and the unjust, what are floods and droughts, pestilences and earthquakes, and all the destructive forces and evils sent to all through nature, but manifestations of His hatred for all, the just and the unjust? But it is absurd to say that God hates the just, for He loves them. It is also absurd to say that God changes, now loving the just and the unjust and manifesting this love in rain and sunshine, now hating them and revealing His hatred in upheavals and destruction. Hence, the interpretation that leads to this evident absurdity is itself absurd" (Ibid., pp. 71-72).
It is all so clear; it is all so God-glorifying; it is all so conducive to seeing God’s magnificent grace shown sovereignly to us poor sinners!
- Volume: 9
- Issue: 5
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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