It is interesting the expectations that individuals might place on God. One of our great human failings is to think that we know how the Creator ought to behave. By this I do not mean that we misinterpret the word of God to know what he will do—though we do that too. What I mean instead is that we decide, apart from the revelation of God, what we think we would do were we in the position of the Lord of all the universe. Even when we know that God’s word tells us that God is infinitely more perfect than us, infinitely wiser than us, and his ways are not ours, we still think we can say how God should treat people.
The even more interesting thing to me is that we are completely inconsistent with our own view of what God ought to do. We actually expect that God should do things in a way that we would never expect another in a position of authority to do.
Deuteronomy 7:9-10- 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face.
In this passage in Deuteronomy, we see something interesting about the Lord. This is a constant refrain in the word of God. Yet it still seems to catch us off guard. We still have the tendency to say that this is not how God should be.
The first half of the antithetical parallel is no problem for us. We are just fine with God loving those who love him. We want God to be faithful to those under his love and care. We want God to reward those who have become his children.
It is the second side where we get inconsistent. We expect God to do something other than what we would really do. What do you think God should do with those who hate him? What do you believe God should do with those who oppose him, attack him, despise him, and want absolutely nothing to do with him or his ways? What should God do with those who would, if given the chance, destroy the Lord and his standards? What would any good king do if a person attempted to throw off his rule or attack his children?
Regardless of what we think we would do, the Lord tells us that he will judge those who hate him. It is that simple. God’s just wrath is stored up for those who are against him. What else would he do? God will do justice. God will not have, in his kingdom, those who have no desire to be under his rule. God will not have in his kingdom those who want nothing of him or his ways. For such people, even heaven would be a misery, because heaven, by definition, is the ultimate experience of the presence, character, and glory of God. Those who hate God would hate heaven.
But many think that God should not judge those who hate him. They think either that he should be required to do something else with them or that he should change them so that they no longer hate him. Yet, it does not make sense to think that God should be required to forcibly change a person, any person, from hating him to loving him. While I believe God does sovereignly change some from a disposition of hating God to one of desiring God, there is no reason at all that requires that the Lord do this for all people.
Nor is there any reason we should expect that God should change himself to be more appealing to those who despise him. Remember, of course, that it is impossible for God to change who he is to appeal to these folks. For God to change would be for him to move from lesser to greater or from greater to lesser. One who is infinitely perfect can do neither.
Should God ignore the idea of judging those who hate him? In truth, we do not desire this. What would ignoring evil say about God? What would that say about his justice? Should God take violent men, evil men, murderous dictators, rapists, child-abusers, demon-worshippers and say to them that he has no problem with what they have been or what they have done? What would you say about a God who would look at a person who destroyed multiple lives and then shrug it off as no big deal? Truthfully, none of us would want that.
Even greater, however, what would you say about God if he allowed people to ignore the sacrificial work of the Son of god as if it did not matter? If God were to refuse to judge those who oppose him, that would be for God to devalue the death of Jesus. That would be God saying that his Son’s blood is really not that important.
Hebrews 10:29-31 – 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
God tells us that those who refuse him have spurned the blood of the Son of God. If God the Father loves his Son, it is proper that he would rightly judge those who oppose him and his Son. It is proper that the Father, who allowed sinful men to crucify the Lord Jesus in order that Jesus might pay the penalty for the sins of others, would hold to account those who say by their actions and often by their words that they want nothing to do with the Son of God, that they want nothing to do with the ways of God, that they want nothing to do with the word of God, that they want nothing to do with God.
And, when all this type of argument is said and done, there is another truth that is equally important. It should make sense to us that God would judge those who hate him. It should make sense to us that he would do justice in order to show that evil is not OK, that the glory and righteousness of God is good, and that the blood of Jesus matters. It makes sense that God would not bring into his presence those who despise him and all that he stands for. But, even if it does not make sense to you, understand this: This is God’s way as he has revealed himself in Scripture. God is holy. God is judge. God will judge those who hate him. God will not tolerate our continuing, unrepentant rebellion against him and his commands.
We must not assume, from our finite position, our flawed vantage point, that there is no possible good in the choices that the Lord has made. We would be foolish to assume that there is not some reason, even one inscrutable to mankind, that, in eternity, will show us that God’s choice to rule the universe as he does is perfect, right, and the best possible thing he could have ever done. Why would we assume that anything less than a perfect plan from God is what is taking place? And how dare we assume that we know a better way than the way he has revealed?
Honestly, it is not my place to approve of or disapprove of God’s ways. God is God and I am not. God is holy and I am not. God is perfect and I am not. God knows all and I do not. God’s purposes are perfect and mine are not. It is understandable that God would judge those who hate him. But even if I do not like it, even if I refuse to be honest about the fact that I understand that some should be judged, wisdom demands that I admit that God is a better determiner of his righteousness than am I. And God demands that I yield to him as the Lord of all.
None of this is to say that we rejoice at the fact that some are judged by God. Instead, the point I want to make is that God, and no one else, is the one to determine what is right. He does right. He judges those who oppose him. We are dishonest and inconsistent if we say that he should judge no one. We are inconsistent if we say that we would do it differently. In such thoughts, we attempt to bring God down to our level and then to behave by a standard that we would not truly approve were we the ones wronged. So the point is that we ought to bow to the Lord as he has revealed himself. We should get under his offer of free grace for all who will repent an believe. We should then accept that his ways are perfect, even when his ways are beyond us.