Those who say God was unmerciful in the Old Testament have not truly read “The Old Testament”.
“Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways AND LIVE; turn back, TURN BACK from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?”-Ezekiel 33:11. (Old Testament)
In 2 Peter 3:9 (of the New Testament), we see an agreement with Ezekiel 33:11 wherein it is written, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that ALL should come to repentance.”
Revisiting the Old Testament, we find my favorite summary of God’s temperament in Exodus 34:6-7:
“…The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”
Through this passage, I learned that the God I serve is patient, always was, and will forever be. He demonstrated mercy even in the Old Testament. Even when He sent a worldwide flood, destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and other hopelessly dark cities, nations, etc., not only did He save those who followed His life-promoting ways, but He only destroyed the wicked who refused to repent despite His grace and patience. God has to admonish us for our wrongs. Like any good parent or disciplinarian, He generally administers punishment in a progressive manner and He absolutely has to.
God has defined His nature, and in so doing, He created His own boundaries. Though He is still omnipotent, and can theoretically do anything He pleases, He cannot do certain things for the sake of consistency, Holiness, righteousness, or in more concise biblical prose, for His name sake. For instance, He cannot lie, and He cannot sin in any other way. To be Holy means to be set apart. Therefore, He does not dabble in a little sin here and a little sin there. In fact, His will to one day oversee a perfectly harmonious kingdom on earth will be executed by punishing iniquity and removing sin and even the death it brings from His presence.
Those who love darkness hate God, and those who love Him see His love and guidance even when He reprimands. Those who love darkness aren’t trying to hate God, but it is impossible to love their sins and also love God. In this life, human beings are prone to err, sin, and fall short of God’s marvelous standards, but those who love God hate sin and seek to avoid it. In His love and desire to help us, God punishes and disciplines. His chastisement is essentially a form of Divine accounting, from which I (personally) have learned to understand the idea of accountability.
In accounting, there is a term called a “write off.” It’s amazing to see God’s wisdom infused in math, science, business, law, and virtually subject we study. It is awesome that Christ was born to take our sins upon Himself. It is wonderful to know that He wrote off my debt to the grave. He purchased my life from the enemy of our souls, and He did the same for everyone else, only some haven’t realized how true this is and how illusory our world systems are today.
We’ve always wrestled against powers, principalities, and rulers of spiritual darkness in high places. Our 9-5 jobs, schooling, and social statuses aren’t what life is about. Life is school. God is our unseen teacher. Some students are clowns, rebels, and goons who refuse to LISTEN and LEARN.
Christ stands at the door of their hearts and knocks. He wants their souls in a better world (the Kingdom He has prepared for us). Unfortunately, however, most people choose to live in greed, lust, hate, bitterness, unforgiveness, fear, etc. These are mindsets that oppose the Kingdom of God. How can hateful people contribute to a peaceful world? By “hateful”, I’m not referring to people who call out what is improper. Instead, I refer to those who in their hearts would kill if they could get away with it or those who would feel relieved if certain people were eliminated. His precious blood was shed more than 2000 years ago, and with each passing year, some remember what A.D. stands for and what started the countup. Anyway, I can’t stop talking about His goodness. Those who believe and live according to their “rebirth” in Christ, are welcome into His Kingdom. All are invited. Few accept.