Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear [the guilty], visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation.
The Lord’s words to Moses are quoted over and over again by the prophets and writers of the Old Testament. But here’s the interesting part: whenever later biblical writers remember God’s description of himself on Sinai, it’s typically the words of blessing, not judgment, that they proclaim: “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faith.” Not only that, but God later revokes a major element of his judgment (Ezekiel 18).
Are we listening? Yes, God is not mocked and will judge us if he has to. But his nature is mercy and grace, patience and steadfast love. The Lord is not the angry type. He’s not testy or cranky. He’s not looking for an excuse to punish us. He wants to show us his mercy and love, and he’s far more faithful to us than we are to him.
Are we listening? Our ideas about God, right or wrong, affect everything we do. If we see him as an angry father, a distant dad, or a control freak, we’ll behave accordingly. But once we come to know him as he really is, everything—everything—changes.
From the upcoming book, Think Again, copyright 2007, 2013, A. Milton Stanley