We human being must constantly guard against the subtle temptation to trivialize and re-fashion God into some semblence of deity that fits our expectations and serves our desires. There is pressure from the world and the flesh to reduce God to a more manageable deity, or view Him in some way that makes Him more congenial and serviceable. We can drift away from the Biblical concept of God and Christ, and gradually develope a warped and humanistic view of God and His authority. One man called this “the dangerous illusion of a manageable deity.”
Some theologians and religious writers on the contemporary scene attempt in every way they can, to deny or minimize the “severity” of God. They are playing into the hands of those who wish to reject the “severity” of God because of the moral implications of that sternness. There are many who nurture an unconfessed fear, that if they accept the “severity” of God or acknowledge His wrath, this will imply certain moral demands they find distasteful.
To be more specific, if I’m involved in adultery and desire to continue in that sin, I am comforted (deceived) by the notion that God is not severe; that He can overlook my sin or look the other way while I practice it. By the same token, if I’m participating in stealing for a living (or for fun ... doesn’t matter), the concept of a severe God who punishes sin will not be agreeable. Thus, the temptation to “re-think” and revise our view of God, depending upon our involvements in daily life; that is, our involvements which run counter to divine legislation.
Isn’t it clear, that so many people begin with their own behavior and that which they desire to do — and from there they reason out their concept of God? So, their ideas of God are based on WHAT THEY DESIRE rather than WHAT IS REVEALED. What they think about God is what they want to think rather than what the Bible teaches. What we need to do is this: BEGIN WITH THE BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF GOD (THE TRUTH), AND ON THAT BASIS LET OUR THOUGHTS, WORDS AND DEEDS BE FORMED! Then re-shape and revise our behavior, not our concept of God.
One facet of God’s character many do not readily accept is: HE IS “A JEALOUS AND AVENGING GOD!” The book of Nahum decreed punishment against the people of Ninevah (about 150 years after they repented at Jonah’s preaching). The prophesy begins: “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on His foes and maintains His wrath against His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished,” (Nahum 1:2-3). Other passages likewise teach, the jealousy of God (see Ex. 20:5; Deut. 29:20; Psa. 78:58; Ezek. 36:5).
Now it must be said, this jealousy is not a jealousy that is tainted with sin. So often, the jealousy of man is tainted with or is productive of sin. But in no sense is God’s jealousy explosive or irrational. Never does this divine disposition border on caprice or evil. It simply has to do with the fact, GOD CANNOT ABIDE THE PRESENCE OF SIN; and He cannot merely ignore unfaithfulness to Himself.
To husbands I would ask: WHAT IF YOUR WIFE STARTED PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO OTHER MEN, WHILE SLIGHTING YOU? Would you merely ignore that? Would your attitude be: “Well, I am a man of love and compassion ... it’s all right!”
To wives I would direct the same inquiry: WHAT IF YOUR HUSBAND STARTED LOOKING AT, LUSTING AFTER AND SPENDING TIME WITH OTHER WOMEN, WHILE SLIGHTING YOU? Would you allow or tolerate this?
Likewise, when people ignore God and worship men ... when people who should be following God’s law, invent their own law or become a law unto themselves ... when God’s people thumb their nose at God, and fall in love with the world ... when we labor to develope loop-hole arguments and theories to justify our sin — GOD’S VERY CHARACTER CRIES OUT FOR VENGEANCE. For He is “a jealous and avening God.”
“Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God; on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off,” (Rom. 11:22).