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The Paradox of God’s Love and Anger

posted May 9, 2010, 2:37 PM by Website Administrator   [ updated Jan 9, 2014, 5:29 PM ]

May 9, 2010

Key Passage: Exodus 32:1-35 

“The Paradox of God’s Love and Anger” 

God’s attributes often seem to be a paradox.  Take his righteous anger and unconditional love.  It’s always puzzled me how God can love us so much that our sin makes him angry.  That seems like a paradox.  Here’s another common one: God is angry in the OT; Jesus is love in the NT; however, let’s don’t ever forget the common denominator here: sin.  Our sin angers God – not because he’s prideful or even vengeful.  Our sin angers God because he’s keenly aware of what it will do to us, and he loves us too much to allow that to happen without consequences (kind of sounds like parents, huh?).  Our sin angered God so much that it stirred in him the desire to love us unconditionally and send Jesus to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.  As we study Exodus 32, and as we comprehend the depth of both the Lord’s love for people and anger toward sin, it should create in us the same type of passion for people…for helping people; for loving people unconditionally; and for sharing with passion the one hope that will change lives for eternity – the person of Jesus Christ! 

1.  The people’s sin (32:1-6)
    • Keep in mind, how we handle God’s delays (according to our time-tables) is a good measure of our spiritual maturity.  We’ll either wade into sin because of our impatience, or deepen our perseverance and commitment to following God.
    • It’s interesting to note they tried to “keep God” but wanted to add their own thing to worship.  How often do we do this in our own lives – it’s known as “Jesus plus.”  Jesus plus good works; Jesus plus “many roads to heaven;” Jesus plus a little sin here and there = (viola!) forgiveness.

 2. Changing God’s Mind (7-14)
    • The NIV says God “relented;” the KJV says “repented;” the NASB says God “changed his mind.”  Question – can God’s will be changed?  It’s important to remember that Moses wrote with what we call “anthropomorphic,” or “man-centered” language.  God didn’t destroy Israel, and he knew that wasn’t going to destroy Israel; however, he deliberately put Moses into this crucial place of intercession (standing in the gap), so that Moses would display and develop God’s heart for people – a heart of love and compassion.  Moses was writing from his viewpoint – it’s like us referring to the sun setting.  The truth is, the sun didn’t move, the earth revolved around it.
    • In prayer, we intercede on behalf of others and “change” the heart of God when we pray for God to be exalted; when we appeal to his love, reputation, and faithfulness.
3.  God’s righteous anger (15-35)
    • There was war in the camp alright…spiritual warfare.  It says the people were “unrestrained.”  This simply means they were doing “what was right in their own eyes.”  Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but it ends in death.”  Listen, we’d call this today doing whatever the heck we want and hoping God’s cool with it.  He’s not…

Q:  Agree / disagree: the church today is too heavily focused on people’s needs instead of God’s glory.

Q:  Is God’s presence a fact to take by faith or something to sense experientially?  How do you get it if you don’t have it? 

Bottom Line: God loves us too much to let our destructive sin go unchecked.  Listen, a parent who lets their kid run wild with no guidelines, expectations, and consequences may appear “cool,” but they’re really saying I’m too lazy and/or stupid to love you.  It’s the same with our Heavenly Father.  God’s passion for us burns because sin burns in us.  That same love for people, disdain for sin should cause us to love others with the same type of passion and commitment!