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.
God's Justice is as holy as His love and His righteousness.
The world and the church have corrupted a lot of truths when it comes to the Scriptures and the character of God, but none greater than His love and His justice. Because of His character God must love us. He is compelled to do so because God is love and he cannot operate outside of His character.
The same is true about His justice. As much as God loves us, He hates sin equally and must judge it. Just because He must judge sin and the sinners does not mean that His love stops. Remember that He tells us to love our enemies. This has two truths tied to it.
#1 is that we will have enemies. Our enemies are not those whom we have a falling out with or someone who did us wrongly. The Biblical enemies God is speaking about is anyone who is lost. Lost people are attackers of the cross and the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore enemies to the cross and enemies to God. Therefore, they are our enemies. But we are to love them.
Genesis 18:25-26 ESV Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" (26) And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
Closely related to the Holiness of God are His RIGHTEOUSNESS and JUSTICE. To simplify, it might be said that:
God's Righteousness is His Holiness in action.
God’s Justice is His Righteousness in rule and government.
God is a Righteous God, because He acts at all times in complete conformity with His Holy Nature and Will.
God's Righteousness is Immutable, He is a Rock. God is referred to as a Rock five times in Deut.32. His Righteousness never changes, His Justice is unfailing; He is faithful in dealing with His people according to His Nature and His revealed Law and Covenants.
He will punish in awful judgment as well as reward bountifully, but always according to His promises and covenants. He is completely above any unjust or deceitful treatment, all His ways are "upright."
Our Righteous and Holy God is also a God of Mercy and Forbearance, but He will not act inconsistent with His Holiness.
In His Righteousness He made a way to justify the sinner, by sending His Infinite Son to be, once for all, the Perfect Sacrifice for sin.
Since the last Adam, (Jesus Christ), lived in perfect obedience to the Holy will of the Father, God could bestow upon the believer Christ's Righteousness without Him ceasing to be Righteous in judgment. The believing sinner becomes righteous in Christ, at the same time God's Righteousness has not been compromised.
Have you every used the phrase, "He took my breath away," or "She took my breath away" when speaking about someone you love?
What does it mean and where did it come from?
First though: How did we find ourselves in a "love relationship" with God? It is done through the perfect attribute of the character of God. That attribute is God's love. "Love" in the Greek is agape. It is derived from the Hebrew root a-gaab, which means "TO SHARE A BREATH."
Think about that word as you remember God breathing life into Adam, and Ezekiel and the dry bones. Think about it as our Lord Jesus Christ saying to the disciples after His resurrection, "receive the Holy Spirit," and He breathed on them.
The basic word for "breath" and "spirit" are the same in both Hebrew and Greek. AGAPE, the word we use for God's unconditional love, literally means "oneness of spirit or shared breath".
This love is the element of character which is able to identify with others. God alone holds this attribute in perfection. God is love.
And it is by His love that He redeemed us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
So yes, when God chose to love us and we received that love by accepting our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior we literally shared God's breath. We took His breath away.
Charles Morris. Founder and Senior Pastor of RSIM USA.