Even believers may suffer a distorted view of God’s character. And it’s not that God hides who He is or masks His true nature: the Word of God is accurate, open, and explicit in the revelation of its divine Author. Rather, we have a tendency to ignore or even dismiss the portraits God paints of Himself that do not comport with the picture of Him that we find comfortable. A good illustration of God’s self-revelation that we might be inclined to overlook may be seen in the exhortation Moses gave to Israel: “It shall come about that as the Lord delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the Lord will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it” (Deut. 28:63).
Delight to prosper and to multiply. Delight is a strong word, meaning to exult, or to be exceedingly joyful. It is difficult, if not impossible, given the selfishness inherent in us, fully to come to grips with the reality expressed in this first part of our text. God is loving and magnanimous by nature. It pleases Him beyond expression to bless His children. He delights to be merciful. He delights to be gracious. He delights to be patient and longsuffering. “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psa. 84:11). God seeks for the opportunity to bless His children. And He is pleased to do so whenever His bountiful goodness will not be construed as condoning sin. We are never to think that we must plead for God’s goodness, beg for His blessing, or cajole from Him something He is reluctant to give. Under the Law of Moses, God implored His people to offer the required tithe, not because He needed their wealth, not to deprive them of their possessions, but in order that He might be free to bless them: “test Me now in this,” the Lord challenged them, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (Mal. 3:10). We cannot fully appreciate either how generous God is or how much He delights to bless us. We should be lost in awe at the contemplation of the answer to this question: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). The question is rhetorical because the answer is obvious. God delights to bless His children.
Delight to cause to perish and destroy. Now, this is a horse of a different color, to use a well-worn expression. What can be the meaning of the word delight here? Same word, same meaning: to exult, to be exceedingly joyful. But how can that be? How can God rejoice when authoring such circumstances? The answer is that God delights to do what is right. And it is right to judge unrepentant sinners. God delights in justice. And justice necessitates an equitable penalty for sin. God delights in righteousness. And righteousness demands the eradication of sin. It is certainly not true that God delights in making men miserable. In fact, He affirms as much: “’For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord God. ‘Therefore, repent and live’” (Ezek. 18:32). Yes, God is “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” (Ex. 34:6, 7). So God can take no pleasure in the just suffering that men bring upon themselves while at the same time delighting in doing what is right. Because God delights in doing what is right.
We must see God as He truly is, as He freely reveals Himself. But failing—and, particularly, refusing—to recognize God as He presents Himself is doubly egregious. First, it encourages a believer to be careless about sin. Second, and more importantly, it dishonors God, who merits our worship of Him in spirit and in truth (see John 4:24). The one who fails to recognize, honor, and adore God as He reveals Himself in the Word, has only a caricature, if not a monster, for a god. Embrace the God of the Bible, and live accordingly. “For such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23).
Previous Page | Next Page