God’s character consists of three fundamental qualities—mercy, justice, and truth. While great emphasis is placed upon His mercy (1 John 4:7-12), God is equally just (Isaiah 30:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Colossians 3:25; Romans 12:19). The scriptures speak of God’s justice and anger in:
2 Chronicles 29:10: “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.”
Nehemiah 9:17: “They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks, and in their rebellion, they appointed a leader to return to their bondage. But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them.”
Hebrews 10:26-27: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”
The Lord is gracious to repentant sinners, but He cannot afford to weaken His government by not uplifting its righteousness and justice (Psalms 85:10; 89:14). God’s justice is an important part of His nature no less than His mercy; without it He could not be God. When the Lord must punish His children for their iniquities, He does it in love—not in anger. Like the surgeon, He may use the cutting knife pain to effect the healing of the soul’s disease (Hebrews 12:5–11; Revelation 3:19).
God’s loving-kindness is abundant (Isaiah 55:7; Romans 5:20). Although He rejoices in mercy (Micah 7:18), He doesn’t rejoice in bringing His anger upon people. On the contrary, His judgments are said to be a “strange work” (Isaiah 28:21). It is His mercy that governs His judgments and makes Him “longsuffering” (Lamentations 3:22; Romans 2:4).
The ultimate exhibition of God’s justice and anger on sin was shown at the cross. There, God placed the punishment of our sin on His Son. Jesus paid the penalty for our guilt. God’s justice was satisfied, and His love was also fulfilled. “…He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
The Heavenly Father placed His wrath and anger on sin upon His Son in order to satisfy His justice. So, if God did that to the innocent One, what would He do to the guilty who refuse to repent. “For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:31).
As for those that seek to do God’s will, there is the hope of obtaining eternal life. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Although God is just, He grants the sinner ample chance to repent and come back to His fold. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” (Psalm 103:8).
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In His service,