What if all of this is simply not true?
Most of us have faced questions from sincere skeptics along this line: “How can I believe Jesus is love if he is also the God of such horrid terror and revenge?” This is often asked by someone who has just endured the tragic loss of a loved one, and we are left with empty platitudes or embarrassed silence.
How is that possible?
In Chapters 27 and 28, Moses presents a series of blessings and curses on Israel just before they cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. In Cycle terminology, the blessings cement Israel’s unity with God; the curses are warnings regarding what can fracture that unity with God.
Then in Chapter 29, God doubles down on what will happen to anyone whose heart turns away from God’s law. To be honest, the last ten verses of this chapter appalled, chilled, and terrified me in their intensity, and I faced personally for the first time the question of how a supposedly loving God could be so merciless.
The one who turns away from God’s heart can count on: no chance of forgiveness; every curse written in the book falling on his head; his name blotted out forever; singled out by the Lord personally for adversity; affliction by plagues and diseases; all his land burned and destroyed; uprooted from his home in anger and fury and wrath; and cast into another land in slavery.
What kind of father would do that to his own children? And Jesus is this God, too?
Well, any father who is deeply concerned for his child’s welfare, that’s who. These biblical warnings bear an astonishing similarity to those I received from my earthly father on the Friday night at age 16 when I was handed the keys to the car for the first time!
These are warnings of the natural consequences of disobedience, not some kind of abuse. We have choices to make, each of which has a consequence.
Please take just a few minutes right now to read Chapter 30. You will see that if we choose of our own free will to obey, God will pour out his never-ending love on us in ways we can hardly imagine.
God concludes by vowing that he sets before us life or death, blessing or curse – it is our choice through his loving gift of free will. But he will not change his standards of excellence as a loving father.
But then the most beautiful words imaginable:
Therefore choose life that you may live, by loving the Lord, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him, for this is your life and length of days.
This is a passionate lover, not a revenge-seeking tyrant.