God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8
Pastor Vicky MootsKingman, Kansas
Ecc. 3:8b: “…and a time to hate...” We certainly seem to be living in a time of hatred, in a world filled with hate and violence. But hate isn’t new. It has been a problem ever since the first murder was recorded in the Bible, in Gen. 4:8, when Cain killed his brother Abel. He became angry when his offering was not accepted by God, but his brother’s was. Cain’s anger and jealousy turned to hatred toward his brother who had done nothing wrong, and the result was murder. The daily newscasts are filled with similar stories of anger, hatred and murder.
The word “hate” means “a strong dislike of something or someone; to loathe or despise.” Hate is the opposite of love, so how can there ever be a time for us to hate? There is never a time for us to hate people, but there are certain things that we should hate, particularly evil actions or practices that go against God’s Word. In fact, we should actually hate hatred itself since it is evil.
We are commanded to hate evil in Ps. 97:10: “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil.” We find a similar command in Amos 5:14-15: “Seek good, and not evil…and love the good…”
But what is “evil”? The dictionary meaning of “evil” is “anything morally bad or wrong; sin; wickedness; depravity.” In order to determine if something is evil, you must first have a fixed moral standard with which to compare it, one that does not change. That standard can only be found in the pure, holy, unadulterated Word of God.
In Isa. 5:20 God pronounces judgment upon those who try to set their own standard for good and evil: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness…” Unfortunately, we find that this is exactly what is happening in the world today. We must be aware of this and be sure to use God’s Word as the gold standard to determine the things which we are to hate. Be careful to only hate the action, not the person, for God hates sin but loves the sinner and sent His Son to die for us and set us free from our sins.
To simplify things, we are to hate the things that God hates and to love what God loves. Solomon gives us some examples in Prov. 6:16-20: “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
The number “seven” is God’s number for completeness, so it does not mean that there are only seven evils that God hates. There are many other things that are against God’s principles which are not listed here. Verse 20 then tells us how to determine what they are and how to avoid them: “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” Our Father’s commandment is to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourself. Grace is our mother and is the basis for God’s love toward us and those who have wronged us. God’s love is the antidote for hate.
Now I would like to discuss some confusing verses in Scripture which make it appear as though God hated certain people or that Jesus even commanded us to hate our father and mother. Let us first examine the verse in Rom. 9:13, which Paul quotes from Mal. 1:2-3: “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” The word “hate” is “miseo” in the Greek. When used in contrast to love, it does not remain its literal meaning of hatred but means a lesser degree of love. The verse could be restated as, “Esau have I loved, but Jacob have I loved much more.”
God loved Jacob to a greater degree because He had chosen him for a special purpose, even in the womb, before either of the twins had done good or evil. The twelve sons of Jacob were to become the heads of the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, for God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel.”
We find the same comparative degree of love in a more familiar, but equally confusing, Scripture in Luke 14:26, where Jesus states, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” This is stated a little differently in Matt. 10:37 which helps to clarify its intended meaning: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
The word “hate” in these references is used as a “hyperbole,” which is “an exaggeration used for effect, not meant to be taken literally.” The extreme contrast between love and hate is used to illustrate the superlative degree of love which we are to have for Christ compared to our natural love for our family, or even our own lives. Abraham demonstrated that kind of love for God when he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar.
Paul also demonstrated his supreme love for Christ when he declared in Phil. 3:8, “…I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” He even stated in Acts 20:24, “…neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy…”
The day of Christ’s appearing is quickly drawing nigh, so now is our “time to hate:” to hate the evil in this world and to give Jesus first place in our lives, so that we, too, may win Christ as our prize.