The Loving Nature of God
Many have stumbled over the apparent conflict between the jealous and wrathful God of Israel and the loving and merciful Christ of whom it was said is the ‘reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of his very being.’ (Hebrews 1:3)
There is, in fact, no conflict or inconsistency at all in the character of our Father. Only our understanding has been limited. Let us now expand our universal view and reveal the magnificent unchanging perfection of our Universal Father, the absolute personification of love, by starting with the apparent contradiction of God’s personality.
The olden prophets tell us that God is a jealous God, a God of great wrath and fierce anger. The prophets say He hates evildoers and takes vengeance on those who do not obey His law. Yet, Jesus teaches us that God is a kind and compassionate Father who so loves all men that He welcomes them into the kingdom of heavens.
These teachings of the olden prophets taught the children of their generation in accordance with the light of their day. Our Father is changeless. But the concept of his nature has enlarged and grown from the days of Moses down through the times of Amos and even to the generation of the prophet Isaiah.
An examination of the scriptures reveal that during the days of Adam, Moses and the kings of Israel, God was not referred to as a Father, but as a warrior and a vengeful God. But by the time of the prophets, He becomes a national Father. And then toward the end, He becomes the father of all nations. But Jesus came in the flesh to reveal the Father in new glory and to show forth His love and mercy to all men as individuals – a new relationship of Father and son.
He also uplifted mankind’s dignity by causing animal sacrifice to cease and to replace the ten commandments and all the laws and regulations of the priests and prophets with just two edicts:
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
– Matthew 22:37-40
We can took at an example in our own lives. When our children are very young and immature, we must chastise them. When we do, they may reflect that their father is angry and filled with resentful wrath. Their immaturity cannot penetrate beyond the punishment to discern the father's farseeing and corrective affection. But when these same children become grown-up men and women, would it not be folly for them to cling to these earlier and misconceived notions regarding their father?
As men and women, they would then discern their father's love in all these early disciplines. So should not mankind, as the centuries pass, come to a better understanding the true nature and loving character of the Father in heaven?
What profit have we gained from successive generations of spiritual illumination if we persist in viewing God as Moses and the prophets saw him? And what great rejection and dishonor to the work of the Christ! Under the bright light of Jesus’ manifestation, we should see the Father as none of those who have gone before us ever beheld Him. And thus seeing Him, we should rejoice to enter the kingdom wherein such a merciful Father rules, and we should seek to have His will of love dominate our lives henceforth.
As the good news of the kingdom spreads over the earth with its message of good cheer and good will to all men, there will grow up improved and better relations among the families of all nations. As time passes, fathers and their children will love each other more, and thus will be brought about a better understanding of the love of the Father in heaven for his children on earth. Remember, that a good and true father not only loves his family as a whole – as a family – but he also truly loves and affectionately cares for each individual member.
No, God has not changed. Man has changed. The Father progressively reveals himself according to our ability to comprehend. In the days of the prophets, the nation saw themselves as slaves and servants of God, even as collective children, but never as individual and personal sons. The time for that revelation arrived with the advent of the Christ.
But fear not. Throughout all of history, the Father in heaven never failed to accept the sincere worship of His children on earth, no matter how crude their concept of deity or by what name they symbolize His divine nature. And in time, this evolving and enlarging concept of God will virtually supplants all previous ideas of our Father.
Now we know God as our loving Father in heaven. Jesus’ life and teachings provide a religion wherein the believer is a son of God. That is the good news of the kingdom of heaven.
And make no mistake, our understanding of the Father will continue to enlarge and brighten throughout the endless ages to come on earth, and in the heavens. Nevertheless, at all times and during all ages, the true worship of any human being – as concerns individual spiritual progress – is recognized as having been rendered to the true Father in heaven.
With this enlightened understanding of our Father’s character, we can reconcile our obligation to exemplify Christ as he exemplified the Father. We pray that you sincerely contemplate these realities as you undertake an introspective look at the good news.