God doesn’t see things our way, and there’s nothing we can do about it. In fact, it seems sometimes to us that God has a huge, mean, dark side to his nature…
Yet we read in the Book of books, the Bible, that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all”. So how do we reconcile the hard realities of life with what we read?
What we’ve discussed in this little series can be boiled down to the fact that God-and reality-is something other than what we are and what we expect him or even want him to be. God is in no way controllable, tamable, measurable or understandable.
We cannot get a grip on God. And if you think about it, that’s how a God should be. Why should we expect the creator of the universe to be understood or controlled by limited, finite, mortal man? Since this is the case, how do we deal with a God who is apparently unapproachable, who has standards far above what we are able to live out, and who transcends all of time and space? There’s only one answer: God has to provide the way himself, and that’s exactly what he’s done.
God is infinite and perfectly holy, and yet perfectly merciful. The perfect God didn’t create the world and mankind in order to provide himself people to pick on. In fact, when he created the world in its original perfect condition along with mankind, as only a perfect God can do, we’re told that:
“…God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 2:31).
What could a perfect God do when his created beings began to be imperfect and to rebel against him and to betray each other? He didn’t want to wipe out his own creation, so he provided for himself ways of reaching out to weak, fallible mankind, and forgiving that imperfection and rebellion. Such provision is seen repeatedly throughout the Bible in many characters.
An early and clear example found in the Old Testament is Moses. Moses was chosen by God to deliver his people from slavery. But it wasn’t just physical deliverance from Egypt that God had in mind for Moses, it was deliverance for the people from his own perfect standards and from his wrath against those who would break them. God’s desire and in fact his natural, perfect compulsion was to punish and destroy those who were rebellious. But there were times when Moses stepped in:
I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you
But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people…? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people… And the Lord relented from the disaster… (Exodus 32:9-14).
God provided Moses to protect the Israelites from himself.
Many examples of people who stood between God’s wrath and man can be found in the Bible, but the greatest, and the most important one, is Jesus Christ. The gospel, or the “good news” about Jesus Christ is that he, being the only son of God, was sent by the Father to pay the price of our sin, rebellion and imperfection, which is God’s wrath:
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed…and the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all…(Isaiah 53:4-6).
Remember the prayer of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, when he knew what was about to happen to him but surrendered to the will of the Father:
My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless , not as I will, but as you will… (Matthew 26:39).
Jesus Christ suffered God’s wrath in our place when he was crucified and left to die. This was the Father’s, and the Son’s, ultimate expression of love and mercy to his creation:
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only son into the world, so that we might live through him…he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins… (1 John 4:9-10).
Jesus Christ is our answer to God’s perfection and justice. Our escape from what we may perceive as “the dark side” of God is his own son Jesus Christ. But we have to accept that way of escape. There is no escape from the perfection of God without Jesus Christ:
Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him (John 5:23);
Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die… (John 11: 26).