God of vengeance?

It is fascinating to hear otherwise well-informed Christians tell me that our (Christian) God is, somehow, different from that nasty old judging and smiting deity of the Hebrew Scriptures. You’ve likely heard it, also, how Jesus brought God around to becoming a God of mercy and love, as against the Hebrew God’s “vengeance” theme. Just one example of this (allegedly) unloving God may be found in Isaiah 34:

8For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.

9And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.

10It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

Pretty harsh, eh? Not like our kindly, shepherd Lord Jesus. Well, that is certainly one point of view. But I’d also suggest that God has not really changed. Rather, our perspectives on Him, as He revealed more about Himself to us.

God has always been, and will always be, first and foremost about love. That love includes judgment against those who deny Him. But it also includes divine compassion, love without equal, for the least of us. Case in point from the Hebrew Scriptures: Psalm 113 (listen to it here):

1Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.

2Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

3From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’s name is to be praised.

4The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.

5Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high,

6Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!

7He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;

8That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.

9He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD

Sounds pretty much like our Lord Jesus Christ, if you ask me. Which is exactly my point: God IS. Period. He has, in fact, humbled Himself in the most basic way possible in order “to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth.”

He has joined us, tasted our joys, our sorrows, our limits, and our death. He will still judge us, but, just as the Hebrew God judged ancient Israel, the judgment will be by His eternal rules, and carried out with infinite love.

And, lest we forget, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 16:22, reminds us, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” Anathema Marantha meaning, cursed, the Lord is coming. As it says in the Nicene Creed, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”

With love, but by a firm set of rules. His rules. Not ours.

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One comment

  1. Milton Stanley · · Reply

    Good word. I quoted your post on my blog this morning. Peace.

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