There are parts of the Bible’s Old Testament that are just plain sad. Perhaps the most pitiful commentary of all is that God’s people acted like a spouse who was so distant and dissatisfied that they did not know how good they had it. So, they looked for relationships with other gods, other lovers. Despite God’s furious and longing love for his people, they spurned his advances and his appeals. Judah’s King Zedekiah “did what was evil… He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD… He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD.” What is more, Judah’s leadership was “exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations.”
God was patient, he was persistent, and he was long on love for his people. “The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place.” Finally, after centuries of chronic neglect of God and active pursuit of idolatry, Judah reached the point of no return, and they lost it all. Yet, even in this abject stubbornness and lack of love from Judah, God had compassion and did not forget. The Chronicles end with a note of grace, letting the reader know that God’s mercy always has the last word.
God’s wrath is the servant of God’s love. His punishes so that he can pursue; levels natural consequences so that he can meet needs; and, rebukes so that he might bring rest. The end game for God is always restoration, renewal, and revitalization – a reviving of relationship between himself and his people. This ought always to be our purpose, as well, to persistently, patiently, and lovingly pursue lost people because God rescued us from the dominion of darkness and has brought us into the life of his Son, the Lord Jesus.
Merciful God, your anger flares but lasts only a moment. Yet, your love is eternal and everlasting. Thank you for sniffing me out and saving me by your amazing grace. May I demonstrate the love you have shown to me toward others, so that your purposes are accomplished in my life today and always through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.