We might resonate with her words when we read a book like Nahum, perhaps recoiling at a statement such as, “The Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath” (Nahum 1:2). And yet the next verse fills us with hope: “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power” (v. 3).
When we dig more deeply into the subject of God’s anger, we understand that when He exercises it, He’s most often defending His people or His name. Because of His overflowing love, He seeks justice for wrongs committed and the redemption of those who have turned from Him. We see this not only in the Old Testament, as He calls His people back to Himself, but also in the New, when He sends His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.
We may not understand the mysteries of the character of God, but we can trust that He not only exercises justice but is also the source of all love. We need not fear Him, for He is “good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (v. 7).
Father God, You are good. You are loving and You are merciful. Help me to understand more fully some of the mysteries of Your redeeming love today.
God’s justice and mercy intersect at the cross.
Along with Nahum 1:3, we find eight other instances in the Old Testament where we read that the Lord is “slow to anger” (for example, Psalm 86:15; 103:8). But these passages also describe other attributes of God: He is “abounding [or rich] in love” (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 145:8); He is “gracious and compassionate” (Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2); and He is a “forgiving God” (Nehemiah 9:17). If God were not both just and merciful, we would be without hope. Why? Because “everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt” (Psalm 53:3). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). None of us deserve His love, compassion, or forgiveness. Apart from God’s love, through the incredible sacrifice of His Son who paid the price for our sins, we would have no opportunity to receive eternal life. But God loved us so very much He gave His only Son (John 3:16).
How can you express your gratitude to God?