Comment: One mistake...

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One mistake...

...I think can creep in here is to assume that because God in the short term is blessing some and punishing others that this is what He has these groups locked into: always and only vessels of mercy, or always and only vessels of wrath.

All through the Bible we see examples of what seems to be final judgment of nations (and individuals), but later on see where those nations (and individuals) are restored from exile. One of the most startling of these descriptions is in Ezekiel 16, where God describes how He will restore Sodom from exile when He restores Jerusalem, and will make them a daughter of Jerusalem, when the covenant is fulfilled. But Sodom was utterly annihilated, its inhabitants destroyed -- so where are these exiles coming from? I think this points to a restoration in the New Jerusalem, where Revelation says the tree of life is present, 'for the healing of the nations.' God does not punish just for the sake of punishing. He punishes for the sake of eventually reconciling all things in heaven or on earth to Him, through the peace made through Christ (Colossians 1).

When we read verses saying things like God loves Jacob but hates Esau, why does this have to be read as Him FOREVER hating Esau? In the same book of Ezekiel, by the way, God also mentions the restoration of Esau's descendants, the Edomites. I think 'hate' here is misunderstood as a permanent turning away or casting aside. I view it instead as a short-term episode of turning away, in order to work out things in the flow of history.

"it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment" ~ Hebrews 9:27 ~
As an Evangelical Christian Universalist, I agree completely with this verse, of course. The difference is, the universalist asks...'and then what?' Again, looking at Scripture, it's clear that the pattern is: death, judgment, then reconciliation and restoration of all things.

It's also very clear in Romans 5 where it describes the gift of life from Christ coming to the SAME 'all men' that are being described as perishing under the other man, Adam. This doesn't mean, oh, just some of every nation is perishing under Adam. It means all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, there are none righteous, etc. This same 'all men' is who the gift of Christ is given to. It's up to the them to receive it; but there's no denying that it was intended for all men to receive it, from this passage.

Finally, it's impossible to strip Love from God. There is no action that God takes which destroys His own nature, and since He is Love, he can't NOT love anybody in the final sense. This is where 'hate Esau' is misunderstood. It is not 'hate' as in non-love; it is 'hate' as in setting aside for a time.