from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD
Psalm 99:8; Exodus 33:18-20; 34:5-7
When Psalm 99 says that God was “a forgiving God to them, and yet an avenger of their evil deeds” (v.8, NASB), it is affirming what God repeatedly emphasizes about Himself. He gladly, eagerly, lovingly forgives the sins of those who confess and turn away from their sin. But in His holiness, He will not simply overlook sin. God punishes those who do wrong.
Joshua warned the children of Israel about this when they chose to renew their covenant with God. Read Joshua 24:15-21.
When Moses asked God that he might know Him better, God revealed Himself both visually and verbally. As He passed by Moses, this is how He summarized Himself:
“The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” (Exodus 34:6-7, NASB)
Many in the world today think that because God is loving, He won’t punish us. Sometimes they even suggest that if God is so forgiving, why doesn’t He just forgive what we do, without all the demanding and threatening? They want a God who will let them continue to live as they please.
But remember what sin is:
- Sin is a deadly disease. Our loving God cannot simply ignore it. It separates His loved ones from their only source of life and peace. God will completely cure all those who allow Him.
- Sin is relational. It is a broken relationship with the Living God, and He longs to restore that relationship. But like any relationship, our relationship with God has two sides. God cannot repair our relationship with Him unless we are willing and participate. Unless the relationship is repaired, forgiving past sins does no good. It’s like taking an antidote for a deadly poison, then continuing to drink a big cup of that poison for every meal. The antidote is useless. The deadly danger is still flowing through our system until we turn away from its cause.