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Deuteronomy 7:9-10 NASB

Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face.

These verses seem to say that God will love those who love him and repay with evil/destroy those who hate him. Is that generally true of God in the Bible? It seems to be a theme throughout the Old Testament; does it change in the New?

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  • God cannot change. The Marcionianism theology states that NT God has forsaken justice so he is better and different from the Old God, since he allows sinfulness. The same is adopted by the Roman Church and believed by the mainstream sects of Christians today. God cannot change.
    – Michael16
    Apr 25, 2022 at 4:23
  • The questions in the Title and in the Body are different. The group of people that neither love nor hate him (perhaps the vast majority of mankind) is treated differently in the two versions of the question. One of them should be rephrased to be consistent with the other. Apr 25, 2022 at 13:29
  • Thanks for the comment @ray! You made a really good point about there being a separate vast majority. (Although I know some people who would say to not love God is to by default hate Him). Rephrased the title question: is that better? Apr 25, 2022 at 16:25
  • @Gremosa, thanks. I'd say that the "hate" group is the same people that commit the "unpardonable sin", believing in God, but rejecting his salvation. Apr 25, 2022 at 18:39

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A problem with answering is that biblical Greek had four words for the single word 'love' that we have in English. Many people today have no idea that the highest form of love is agape love - which God has. It is principled love, causing action for the good of the other, whether the other 'deserves' that or not. There is also love for family, and love for friends, with sexual love being the lowest form, really.

Now, you use a Hebrew text for your question, thinking there are similar and frequent O.T. references to God repaying evil / destruction to those who hate him. You seemed to gloss over the startling comparison between God showing love to the thousandth generation, but judgement 'merely' to the third or fourth generation of those who hate him (Exodus 20:5-6 & Deut.8:7-8). So, I mention it here, thinking it strange that verse 8 was not the start of your quote, as that details the Lord's initiative-taking love and faithfulness to those who were the undeserved recipients of his liberation.

This is just the same, consistent way God deals with largely ungrateful sinners in the N.T. He pours his electing, undeserved love upon unworthy people, transforming them by grace into a holy people who love and serve him willingly. His forebearance of sinners is immense, for he knows those who are deceived or ignorant, compared with those who are the deceivers who know they are following in the great Deceiver's tracks. Yet the warning holds good, that those who hate God and who do not repent, will be adversely judged by him, and suffer the outpouring of his just wrath.

Perhaps those who go on about the N.T. God and Jesus being all-loving and all-forgiving have never read (in particular) its last book. The warnings there are not couched in fluffy words nor do they taste like sugary candy-floss : "For the great day of his wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand?" "...the winepress of the wrath of God" Rev.6:17 & 14:18-20 "...for which the wrath of God comes" Col. 3:5-6 "...reserved for fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." 2 Pet.3:7

There is no inconsistency between the O.T. and the N.T. when they speak of the love, and the vengeance, of God; between people who hate deceit, selfishness and unholiness (which is ungodliness), and those who prefer to walk in the darkness of sin. God is not mocked (as those who hate him try to do).

Answer: Many people do not love God because they have a false perception of God and may be deceived; yet God is patient in leading sincere ones to a knowledge of his love, supremely shown in how he gave the best gift possible to save such ones from deserved judgment - his only-begotten Son. Those who turn to Christ, the Son, can learn from him what agape love really means by experiencing for themselves principled love, active good for the other, despite not deserving that. But those who actively hate God, who will not repent of their sin and seek God's mercy, will eventually discover it is too late for them. And they will have nobody to blame but themselves - "God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal.6:7). A study of the whole of the Bible shows this consistent theme.

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  • @C. Stroud Sorry, I should have said there are 4 koine Greek words for love, but the Bible only uses three of them.
    – Anne
    Dec 4, 2022 at 16:28
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God never changes! God is love! God's wrath and hatred toward him has severe consequences that worldly people either ignore or just don't care! However, God has destroyed with water, and now getting ready to use fire and swift judgement on those who hate him (love less)! All scriptures are given by the inspiration of God that includes both the Old and New Testaments.

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  • This needs some supporting references - some quoted verse etc.
    – Dottard
    Dec 15, 2022 at 21:24
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It seems to be a theme throughout the Old Testament; does it change in the New?

I would challenge that this a theme throughout the OT. Some OT teachings emphasize that God loves even evildoers and forgives them. By the some token, although the NT teaches that we should love our enemies and forgive those who harm us, it also teaches that God punishes evildoers and sometimes does not forgive them.

OT Examples of God's forgiveness of evildoers

  • The Book of Jonah. When God forgives the pagan city of Nineveh, Jonah grows angry and complains: "I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, repenting of punishment.(4:2) God who loved those who hated him, and in this case the prophet did not share God's merciful attitude.

  • The Book of Hosea. God tells Amos (3:2) "Go, love a woman who is loved by her spouse but commits adultery; Just as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods." Israel betrayed God, but God still loved them and eventually forgave them. This theme is repeated in many prophetic pronouncements.

NT examples of God's non-forgiveness

  • Ananias and Sapphira. When this Christian couple did not give to the church the entire proceeds from the sale of their house, and also lied about it, God showed them no mercy. Each of them was immediately struck dead after they lied. (Acts 5)

  • Eternal damnation. The teaching of eternal damnation is another example that shows the limit of God's mercy to those who refuse to repent. (Matthew 25:31-46, Mark 9:42-48, etc.)

Conclusion: although there is a greater emphasis on the importance of forgiveness in the Christian scriptures, both testaments teach that God forgives those who rebel against him; and both teach that he harshly punishes those who sin.

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Psalm 5:4-6: “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.” ESV

Yes, this truth has been taught consistently that God loves those who loves him. This is nothing but justice. However, God also loves the world, even the sinners, in that he provides a way for their atonement and forgiveness that they would love in a close fellowship and find salvation. This relationship is described by some as a love-hate relationship with the world. His act of grace (sending his only Son as sacrifice) to the world is a proof of his love to sinners.

God cannot overlook justice and acquit the guilty unless they repent and turn to righteousness. If he does so, he will not be God. God cannot turn into evil and injustice like men. Exodus 23:7, Prov 17:15, Numbers 23:19, Ezekiel 33.

ESV Proverbs 8:17: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.”

James 4:8: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

2 Chronicles 15:2: “and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The LORD is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”

1 Chronicles 28:9: ““And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.”

2 Chronicles 30:9: “For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.””

Matthew 16:27: “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to everyone according to his deeds.”

Matthew 5:46-48: “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Romans 2:5-7: “But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who “will pay back to everyone according to their works:” to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality -- everlasting life.”

1 Peter 1:16-17: “because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” If you call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judges according to each man’s work, pass the time of your living as foreigners here in reverent fear:”

Revelation 20:12-13: “I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and hell gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works

Deuteronomy 11:22,26-28: “For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the LORD your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, … “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.”

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There are three questions:
Question 1 the title says

Does God love those who love him and hate those who hate him?

The passage does not say that God hates. The passage says that God destroys those who hate him. God loves everyone and even though no one deserves it God has provided a path to forgiveness.

Romans 5

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Question 2

These verses seem to say that God will love those who love him and repay with evil/destroy those who hate him. Is that generally true of God in the Bible?

If by "generally true" you mean a truth that is sometimes asserted or roughly asserted or sort of an on average statement then no, it is not generally true that God will love those who love him and destroy those who hate him.
In the Bible it is an absolute truth and a key truth in Scripture.

Question 3

It seems to be a theme throughout the Old Testament; does it change in the New?

No, it does not change in the New Testament. Michael16 has done a nice job of sampling passages in the Old and New Testaments that demonstrate consistency between the Testaments.
From another perspective, thinking of the message of the New Testament, one of the key points of Jesus life, death, and resurrection is that God is providing salvation for those who are in rebellion against God.

Let's look at the larger passage.

Deuteronomy 7

1 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. 5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. 6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

7 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 10 But

those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.

11 Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.

What is going on here?
God has established a special relationship with the Israelites and is giving instructions for how they should behave in the land God will give to them.

Two paths are laid out:

  1. Enter the land and do not integrate in any way with the existing inhabitants of the land. Instead, be faithful in their covenant relationship with God. Verses 1 - 9
  2. Demonstrate open rebellion, hatred toward God, scorn God's grace and refuse to acknowledge God's sovereignty over them by adopting false gods. Verses 10 - 11

The Israelites could choose faithfulness or they could choose their own destruction.

We have a similar choice today.

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God loves those he destroys. In the Sermon on the Mount accounts, Jesus says we should emulate the Most High, our Father, in loving our enemies. So it seems like Jesus is clearly saying God loves his enemies. Jesus certainly seemed to have compassion for sinful people.

In Romans 5, Paul discourses about Christ dying for enemy sinners. Other verses like this are not difficult to find in the New Testament. Verses about God destroying people are also not difficult to find: a flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, fire coming out from the presence of the Lord and destroying Israelites in Numbers, God killing Israelites by means of raising up Assyria and Babylon. Jesus follows in the tradition of the Prophets and warns his listeners about the consequences of the Day of the Lord.

Both of these concepts seem supported in the Scriptures: God loving sinner enemies, desiring for them to repent, yet destroying or promising future destruction to those who refuse repentance and Jesus. The whole arc of the biblical story seems to be about human rebellion and God's response to that rebellion: God compassionately encourages sinful rebels to repent, sending prophets preaching repentance, sending his Son preaching repentance, and God ultimately destroying and removing all sinfulness from creation. I think it is strange because we don't normally destroy something we love. Perhaps the "punishment of eternal destruction" (2 Thessalonians 1:8) is some sort of mercy killing.

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