Janet Weaver Smith – copyright 2013 gardenminstries.org
[Authors note: This article may sound a little strong at points but the strength of language is intended to counter underlying accusations from those who process and conclude that disasters prove that the character of God is ultimately not good and cannot be trusted. The author of this article honors and accepts that there are people who are honestly struggling to believe that God is good and are still in the process of discovering this truth.]
The merciful God who judges is first and foremost Love. God is full of mercy, compassionate, patient, enduring, suffers long, and is faithful to His Word and His promises. And because God is Love and operates exclusively in Truth, He can be trusted in every decision He makes because everyone of His decisions are rendered from His heart of goodness, mercy, love, humility, and holiness.
Whenever anyone thinks that God has NOT done enough for him or her, or for others in this world, they are speaking from a state of presumptuous entitlement. They do not believe that God can be trusted, nor do they believe that God operates out of absolute Truth from a heart of perfect justice. They believe their own opinion of what God should or shouldn’t do is above what God’s Word says is True about God. They are refusing to surrender their opinion of God and accept God’s Word as their standard for Truth.
Yet from the onset of creation, God has revealed over and over that He is a Redeemer and a Restorer. Jesus is living proof of this truth. God’s free gift of eternal life, through receiving and believing in Jesus Christ, denounces any accusation that God has not done enough for mankind. Romans 2:4: Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
When God’s judgments are manifested in earthly disasters, God may simply have lifted His hand of prevention and given humanity the answer they cried out for in their sinful choices that rejected Him and His Word. The testimony of the Holy Bible tells us that throughout history, God always calls for repentance long before and/or soon after He lifts His hand of prevention or deliberately sends disaster upon the land He is judging. Every person has the freedom to choose whether or not we believe that God can be trusted as perfect and just in all His ways.
Throughout the Holy Scriptures we find testimony to God’s character; that God is always faithful to warn of upcoming judgments. God gives multiple invitations to repent and find forgiveness and many times, even relief from consequences to sin. God is patient and endures the willful rebellion and suffers long before He calls forth judgment for sin and rebellion.
God exercises great patience upfront and is faithful to prepare us to receive Him without being “taken out” by the severity of His holiness when He comes. When God’s holy presence comes to dwell and inhabit His people in fullness, the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord come first to prepare us. Since the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 show us that lies and deception cannot exist in the fullness of God’s holy presence, we have His Word and this story to warn us ahead of time what we can expect when God comes and dwells with us.
“The fear of the Lord – Reverence for God; respect for his law, his will, his government, himself; the fear of offending him, which will lead us to do right. This fear is not that of a slave; it is not mere dread; it is not terror. It is consistent with love, and springs from it. It is consistent with calmness of mind, and promotes it. It does not produce terror, but rather delivers from it, and preserves the mind from alarms. The word here rendered “fear” is a noun of the same origin as the word rendered “reverend” in the previous verse. The suggestion to the mind of the psalmist that the “name of the Lord” was “reverend,” or was to be venerated, introduced this thought that such reverence is the very foundation of wisdom.” [Barnes' Notes on the Bible]
Deuteronomy 32:4: He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
Psalm 18:30: As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.
Psalm 145:17; The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.
2 Chronicles 34:14-33: esp. vss. 26-28: 26 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 27 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. 28 Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.’” So they took her [the prophetess' Huldah's] answer back to the king.
2 Chronicles 7:12-18: The Lord appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. 17 “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to rule over Israel.’
The book of Jonah, esp. Jonah 3:10: When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
Psalm 103:8-13: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
Psalm 136 the entire chapter, esp. verse 1: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.
James 2:10-15: For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
The book of Obadiah: You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble. 13 You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor gloat over them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. 14 You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble. 15 “The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.
Ezekiel 18:21-32, esp. 25-29: 25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, you Israelites: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? 26 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die. 27 But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life. 28 Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die. 29 Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?
Habakkuk 3:16-19: I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
“Habakkuk ministers during the “death throes” of the nation of Judah. Although repeatedly called to repentance, the nation stubbornly refuses to change her sinful ways. Habakkuk, knowing the hardheartedness of his countrymen, asks God how long this intolerable condition can continue. God replies that the Babylonians will be His chastening rod upon the nation—an announcement that sends the prophet to his knees. He acknowledges that the just in any generation shall live by faith (2:4), not by sight. Habakkuk concludes by praising God’s wisdom even though he does not fully understand God’s ways. Habakkuk’s name probably means “One Who Embraces” or “Clings.” At the end of his book this name becomes appropriate because Habakkuk chooses to cling firmly to God regardless of what happens to his nation (3:16-19).” [NKJV commentary]
Matthew 10:29-31: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Isaiah 11:2: The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
Psalm 19:9: The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.
Proverbs 9:10: the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 14:27: The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.
Psalm 111:10: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
Psalm 40:3: He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.
Psalm 36:1: I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Psalm 34:11: Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8: If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 John 4:8: Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.