The balance between the Judgment of God versus the Love of God is hard for many to reconcile. Many have a hard time seeing both as possible with God. There are those who only see God as the great judge and a cosmic kill-joy ready to wipe out mankind for the least little word or deed. Some see God as the great white-bearded loving grandpa ready to throw His arms around us, bounce us on His knee, and give us all a candy bar no matter how we have behaved.
Let's look at the word Bethesda in light of the loving and judging God. The word "Bethesda" is Hebrew and we read about it in the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. In the Hebrew it comes from the word "khesed" which means the mercy or "loving-kindness" of God. The word "Beth" would be "the house of." Therefore, "Bethesda" means the house of God's mercy or the place of His loving-kindness.
It is God's nature or His character to be loving, merciful and kind. So He can BE loving, merciful, and kind because He IS loving, merciful and kind as His nature. It is not just what God does, it is WHO He is.
Yet, line upon line, precept upon precept, all Scriptures together declares that God hates sin and must judge sin and rebellion. If this were not true He would never have allowed His precious Son leave the glory of heaven and die on a cruel cross for our sins and our redemption.
Therefore, even though His nature, essence and heart is love, mercy and kindness, His judgment is necessary. Out of His love for mankind, He is the one calling people to repent and be saved and yet out of His judgment, He is the one who created hell and declared that all mankind is guilty. The God who cannot NOT love us the same God who cannot NOT judge sin and the sinner.
It is a double-sided sword. One edge of the sword is God's love and the other side is God's judgment. After all, we are quick to quote the verse that says "God is love", but He is also a consuming fire. God's justice and judgment is just as just as His love is loving. They can never be out of balance.
1 John 4:7-8 ESV Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (8) Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, (29) for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 4:12 ESV For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Charles Morris. Founder and Senior Pastor of RSI Ministry, RSI School of Ministry, and RSI Publishing L.L.C..