Monday, September 13, 2010
God's Character Does Not Change
We are wrong to contrast the wrath of God in the Old Testament with his mercy in the New. He is the same yesterday, today and forever—terrible and righteous in his wrath, and swift and sweet in his mercy—whether before, on, or after the cross.He makes this conclusion while noting the mercy of God called upon by the people of Israel upon the return under Nehemiah. Oh how we love to find the merciful God in the Old Testament. But note that reference to God's "terrible and righteous" wrath throw into the conclusion. How often do we look for or even acknowledge the exhibition of that part of God's character in the New Testament?
I worry about this in very practical terms. As we discuss more and more God's "infinite" mercy, I see people around extend mercy far beyond reason. No, I'm not talking about the death penalty, although there might be some good examples there. I am talking about parents that save the adult children from the consequences of decisions made. I'm not even talking about punishment here, just the parent that pays a kids rent and avoids eviction when "the kid," at 25 years of age, blows the rent money on video games. Or the parents that replace the 18 year old's wrecked car with a BMW.
Most of the time, God's "wrath" is not very wrathful. I don;t picture God sitting around dreaming up ways to mete out punishment. Sometimes His wrath is simply patient - Patient enough to allow us to bear the consequences of our own actions. The child that burns its fingers on the stove will ever make that mistake again.
So here's a question - maybe that wrath is mercy "in disguise." IT is after all merciful to mature.