God tells us what he like. He passes before Moses in the cleft of the rock and announces himself. He informs us what kind of God he is, and he is good.
Exodus 34:6,7 The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children to the third and the fourth generation.
God himself tells us that he is merciful. God desires to show his creation mercy. God does this because he is gracious and long suffering. God graciously offers to his creation mercy. God long suffering, he puts up with our sin because his end game is mercy.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
In fact God’s desire to show mercy is a reason that some start to wonder if God is actually slow when full-filling his promises. Why hasn’t God returned? What is God waiting for? Well God is patiently waiting, desiring that many more should come to repentance. God does this because he truly does not wish any should perish. His nature as he has told us is one wanting to be merciful and he does this because he is so gracious. God suffers us because he is abounding in goodness.
God therefore has a put a plan in place that he is able to forgive inequity and transgression and sin. When the first sin took place, we are told that God makes coats of skin to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, he took some life in order to pay for the sin of Adam and Eve in the immediate sense. This transgression however made sin an ongoing problem for humanity. Isn’t it a good thing that by God’s very definition of himself that he is merciful and graciously long suffering?
God did not want his creation to perish. God does not want his creation to perish. God’s very nature causes him to keep mercy for the thousands. He is good. This is the God of the Old Testament. This is the God of the New Testament. This is all God, always.
But we say “Then why all the judgment?”
God continues to define himself that while he does desire to be merciful and gracious, he however does not clear the guilty. He continues on to even tell of the consequences of the guilty and that the inequity continues to affect the next generations. Sin has consequences. See part of God’s revelation about himself is that he abounds in truth. If the truth is that sin offends God and it cannot stand in his presence then he either has to destroy it or rather do something about it.
In other words these are not two opposing truths because God abounds in it. God can and does both desire to show mercy and be gracious, but he will judge the guilty. This is the point. He desires to show mercy but he doesn’t show mercy to the guilty who stay in their guilt. Obviously all who desire mercy are guilty, all who need forgiveness have transgressed. The point is those who choose to remain in their guilt or those who desire to be forgiven.
Luke 18:9-14 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
God has given us a picture of his nature but in order to have a relationship with him, to experience his gracious nature, his merciful demeanor, his offer of forgiveness, we have to desire it. It requires humility to have a relationship with him.
Just as I have preferences so does God. He desires us to repent and be saved. He desires to show mercy, he desires relationship with his creation. But he has said what he will do in instances of humility and pride. In humility enjoy his gracious nature, or in pride rage against his holiness. God has created a way where there was none, so come and be welcomed or stay at a distance blaming him for, what exactly?
All anyone can be mad at God for is for who he is. All anyone can love God for is who he is.
I don’t know about you but what I see about God is great. God created us and wants to continue his relationship with us. In order to do so and because he abounds in truth and cannot lie he had to act. His holiness means for people to have a relationship with him they need to be forgiven, they need to be reconciled. Fallen people need aid and he gave it.
He came himself to fulfill the law in order to satisfy his governing nature of truth and goodness and holiness in order that he could continue to be gracious and merciful to an offensive and guilty people. He made a way for people to move from being guilty into being forgiven. His nature is of sharing his goodness and graciousness and mercy.
God was not mad in the Old Testament and nice in the New. It was not a different God in the Old and a new better one later. God has been consistent in his nature but operated according to the covenants in place. He is the one who promised the new covenant through Jeremiah and wanted to send his son so that he could more display his gracious nature and we get that through the Son.
If someone does not understand this then they do not understand mercy. If someone does not rejoice at this then they do not desire mercy. God is calling because he is gracious and merciful. He does not desire than any should perish, but many will because in pride they will not accept his offer. Our rejection of his mercy does not in any way besmirch his character. His character is holy, his arms are open, so come.