“Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom,
And I will destroy it from the face of the earth;
Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,”
Declares the Lord.
Yes, the justice of God is swift and often severe compared to the presentation of Christ in the New Testament—so severe that some of the first canons of scripture completely left out sections that could not be reconciled. How can these two apparent “versions” of the deity understood?
R.C. Sproul on the subject looks back to the Garden. What was the one and only commandment given? Don’t eat of the fruit. The consequence? Death. Sproul, in one of his lectures on the topic, suggests that death is neither figurative nor spiritual in nature. When God said if you break my one rule, death is imminent. From the get go, man is shown mercy when justice is required.
It may be easy to zero in on all the occasions in scripture where God smites the wicked but one must also study every instance in which punishment is withheld.
Thus the Lord [a]God showed me, and behold, He was forming a locust-swarm [b]when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king’s [c]mowing. 2 And it came about, [d]when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said,
4 Thus the Lord God showed me, and behold, the Lord God was calling to contend with them by fire, and it consumed the great deep and began to consume the [g]farm land. 5 Then I said,
“Lord God, please stop!
How can Jacob stand, for he is small?”
6 The Lord [h]changed His mind about this.
“This too shall not be,” said the Lord God. (ch. 7)
Amos changes God’s mind about the severity of his punishment twice. For every time God wipes out his people, he restores them. And this is the end that He is always working towards.
“Also I will restore the [f]captivity of My people Israel,
And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them;
They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine,
And make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 “I will also plant them on their land,
And they will not again be rooted out from their land
Which I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God. (ch. 9)
Despite the repeated offenses of his people, God has resolved to reach out and extend grace and mercy when swift justice is demanded. The full expression of justice is exhibited when He chose to crush His Son to show us mercy and grace. God is always true to who He is, even at the greatest cost.
How can I give up on my students at school when I serve a God who will not give up on me? God, in His goodness, wants to fill me with more of His nature through the challenge of loving the rebel. I am inspired to continue to love in justice and grace.