Last week we looked at how God’s justice and love exist in perfect harmony within him. We then looked at some of the examples of God’s just judgements in both the Old and New Testaments. Here we turn to the question of what gives God the right to judge.
If you want to know God as he has revealed himself to us in Scripture, you need to hold together his justice and his love. These are not two different sides of God, as if God is a split personality like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Nor are these two different ways that God has dealt with his people throughout history, so that in the Old Testament he was all fire and judgement but in the New he is all love.
God has always been and always will be both just and loving toward us. At best, we can say love and justice are two different aspects of the same God, but one aspect never exists apart from the other. God does not have good days and bad days like we do. He does not wake up on the wrong side of the bed some mornings. He does not get hangry.
Deuteronomy 30:11-14; Romans 10:5-13
A well-known Youth Minister once told the story of the year his youth group decided to forgo their usual annual carwash fundraiser and instead offer car washes for free to anyone who wanted one. It was intended to demonstrate God’s grace, which comes to us through no effort of our own.
During the event, a man drove up, rolled down his window, and asked the Youth Minister, “how much?” Pointing to the sign, the Youth Minister said, “It’s absolutely free.” “Oh, I know how this works, buddy,” the guy quipped, “you say it’s free but you really want a donation; how much do you want?” The Youth Minister repeated, “It’s free, because God’s grace is free.” The man rolled up his window and drove away.
Let me test your Bible knowledge. This question ranks like a high cash-value question on Jeopardy. Did the law of Moses require the nation of Israel to be perfectly obedient to God? If you answered in the negative, you correctly answered this question.
Why did God choose to make circumcision the covenant sign of Israel?
When people made covenants in ancient times, they often would perform a covenant sign to remind each other what would happen if either party broke the covenant. In the case of Israel – do not think too hard about this – God required every male Israelite to have a small, sensitive part of their body cut off. They were declaring that if the nation broke covenant with God through habitual disobedience, God, in his perfect justice, ought to cut them off from him, each other, and even life itself.
Just as Israel habitually broke the covenant that God made with them through Moses, we all have disobeyed God’s holy law. God’s justice requires we be cut off. Yet, Jesus allowed himself to be cut off for our behalf, so that we would not need to.