. . . The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished . . . (Exodus 34:6-7 NIV).
How do you reconcile these two statements?
He forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin.
He does not leave the guilty unpunished.
These verses about God’s character intrigue me. The Old Testament leaves me feeling like God is an angry, judgmental God, quick to wipe out the earth with a flood or a plague or an infestation of snakes to decimate certain ones who’ve rebelled. Of course the book of Revelation in the New Testament has its share of judgments as well.
But then I think of the years and years that God waited—patiently, mercifully, kindly, slow to anger, waiting for His creation to repent and turn around and look at Him. It was an act of MERCY to destroy the earth with a flood. He saved many generations from destruction by preventing their birth. He knew what direction His creation was heading.
Do not accuse my God of being harsh. He waits and gives second chances and loves and weeps and calls and nudges. But there is a limit even to God’s patience. It is actually more merciful for Him to stop man in his tracks than to allow him to infect future generations.
My God is merciful, gracious, forgiving, full of lovingkindness and truth, but when I know God has directly commanded something, I dare not disobey, glibly expecting Him to withhold judgment.
But what if you are a victim of someone else’s sin, and you cry out to God, “How long must evil continue?” And He replies, “I’m giving the perpetrator another chance to turn to Me,” how would you respond?