February 27

Psalm 99:6-9

“O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.” vs. 8

The psalmist had a strong appreciation for the ancient leaders of Israel; Moses, his brother, Aaron, and Samuel the prophet. They were in regular communication with the Lord and often cried out to God on behalf of the people. And the Lord God answered their prayers, and sometimes there was forgiveness, but not always! According to the psalmist sometimes God was an avenger of their wrongdoings. This isn’t the only place in scripture where we see such a picture of God. The stories of God’s interactions with Israel regularly mention that God has no patience with wrongdoing or idolatry, even Moses got hammered for his impulsiveness. It just made sense to the psalmist that God’s forgiveness was conditional…that’s generally our human experience. Unfortunately it was this image of God that was picked up by large segments of Christendom. For some reason some Christians have preferred a God who behaves exactly like we do. Sometimes there’s forgiveness…but we have to be wary. We can never know when God is going to lower the boom! Fortunately followers of Jesus know there is a better way to image God than the one presented by the psalmist. Jesus was very clear…God is holy and just, but God is also compassionate and merciful. God even shows kindness to the wicked. God has a particular passion for sinners and freely offers forgiveness…even before we ask.

Thought for the Day: Why do some people prefer an avenging image for God?

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