God Is Good

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s 2nd look.

 

“Pastor Ryan, you said God isn’t an angry God; but isn’t he? Let’s be honest, the God we see in the Old Testament seems plenty angry a lot. Didn’t He say in Exodus 20:4:

for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me…’? And what about in Psalm 95:11 when God said: ‘In my wrath I declared they shall never enter my rest…’?

 

“This seems to me to be a picture of a God who gets plenty angry and then gets plenty even. It’s nice to say God isn’t an angry God- kind of a wishy-washy nice sentiment. But the reality is God is often offended and gets angry, we see it in the scriptures!”

 

It’s actually quite easy to walk away from a reading of the Old Testament and see a God who can throw cosmic temper tantrums- and get revenge and all these things. But we also need to remember that God’s wrath is never impulsive. What I mean is I see God bringing justice and judgment upon nations in the Old Testament but this is after repeated rebellion and rejection of God reaching out to them, or in the face of God’s repeated goodness and provision for them. Perhaps the best thing God could do in that moment was to bring justice- to at least try to save them.

 

Think about this: when we let a kid get away with doing whatever they want to do are we actually helping them? I would submit that we aren’t. We may think we are but in all actuality we are hurting them by not providing them with healthy boundaries and a place to form a moral compass.

 

Is God impulsively angry? Consider this- God let the Canaanites spit in his face, worship other gods in detestable and horrific ways (involving ritual rape; torture and murder of people of all ages including children) for hundreds of years before he said, “Ok enough is enough. There is no redemption left for you; your souls are so hardened; for the protection of everyone else you must be shut down.” God did the same thing to the Israelites when they went sideways. He sent prophet after prophet to them, begging them to change, but they wouldn’t. In fact, they began to kill those prophets.

 

In the Exodus passage, God is punishing the sins of the father “up to four generations” but this is 4 generations of people who are completely rebellious like their fathers were. When God declares his people will “never enter [His] rest” it seems to be a statement made in anger. But Eugene Peterson’s biblical translation “The Message” has a beautiful perspective on this.

“Drop everything and listen, listen as he speaks:
    “Don’t turn a deaf ear as in the Bitter Uprising,
As on the day of the Wilderness Test,
    when your ancestors turned and put me to the test.
For forty years they watched me at work among them,
    as over and over they tried my patience.
And I was provoked—oh, was I provoked!
    ‘Can’t they keep their minds on God for five minutes?
    Do they simply refuse to walk down my road?’
Exasperated, I exploded,
    ‘They’ll never get where they’re headed,

    never be able to sit down and rest.’”

 

Kind of a different perspective, huh? The reality is that God is patient and kind, even with those who are spitting in His face. At some point though, justice must be served. At some point God has to say: Enough is enough. I think we sometimes take a handful of verses and create a picture of God that isn’t entirely accurate. When we see the entirety of the Old Testament we see a different God than an angry, petulant, childish supreme being who is looking for a reason to zap us with a lighting bolt. God is better than that. He is good!

 

Have a great week folks!