God as judge is not a popular motif. “A God of judgment can’t be a God of love.” “A loving God would never even allow hell.”
In Psalm 89:14, Ethan the Ezrahite wrote of God:
____________ Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
_______________ steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
As human beings, we expect right conduct … in others. We yearn for justice … to others. We long for steadfast love … from others. We desire faithfulness … in others. We want the fruit of these characteristics … for our benefit. We are intrigued by the thought of a God who hears, approves of, and delivers us … on our terms.
But the “living and true God” (1 Thes 1:9) cannot possibly be confined in the finite box of my wishy-washy terms.
____________ For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
_______________ neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
____________ For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
_______________ so are my ways higher than your ways
_______________ and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa 55:8-9)
He has graciously revealed himself as the Definer of right and wrong, law and love, faithfulness and accountability. He has clearly diagnosed mankind’s greatest problem as the sin which separates us from him as the Source of all joy, love, wisdom, and good. He has persistently warned us about eternal separation from him. The lake of fire. The second death. The realized trajectory of souls living in such self-absorption that there is no room for him.
“But I believe in a God of love.”
God is love. But God is also righteous, and to expect him to love me apart from the foundation of his righteousness is roughly equivalent to expecting water to spring forth from hydrogen apart from oxygen.
God is faithful. But God is also just, and to expect him to be faithful to me apart from the foundation of his justice is to fashion a god in my own image. Who do I think I am to spraypaint the graffiti of my limited conceptions on the holy throne of his righteousness and justice?
Thanks be to the living and true God who sent his Son as the gloriously perfect blend of righteousness, justice, steadfast love, and faithfulness. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). God’s Son died for the unrighteous. The unjust. The unloving. The unfaithful. His love for us has been shown in the most profound of terms. He has made abundantly available all that is necessary to keep us from eternity apart from him. If we are faithless, he remains faithful.
But he will not, he cannot deny himself (2 Tim 2:13).
Now, it is simply a matter of how I will handle what he has graciously revealed.