Who is our one and only God? Who is our one and only LORD? The God who is slow to anger. (Exodus 34:6). The God who, nevertheless, punishes people with bad consequences for their disobedience and their evil ways. Bad choices bring bad punishments! (Exodus 34:7).
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and United States President Franklin Roosevelt met in 1941 to issue a joint declaration that became known as the Atlantic Charter.
They anchored their warships off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
In a joint worship service, including the crews of the warships, British and American voices joined in hymns that spoke of the most sacred beliefs that the British and Americans shared.
These sacred beliefs anchored their historic proclamation:
[A]fter the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the [peoples] in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.
In addition to inspiring the British and the Americans, these sacred beliefs inspired many other peoples (who were neither British nor American) to destroy the Nazi tyranny so that all the peoples in all the lands may establish a peace with freedom from fear and want.
In the Bible, the Psalms are “hymns” that express sacred beliefs that guide all of us who love our one God—our one LORD—with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 22:36-38).
Who is our one and only God? Who is our one and only LORD?
The God who is slow to anger. (Exodus 34:6).
Indeed, there are times when we think God is too slow to become angry.
If we are threatened by evil people, we are eager for the LORD to become angry so that he brings them down. (Psalms 56:7).
However, usually we are glad that the LORD is slow to anger.
Because we know we have done things that justify him being angry with us!
The Psalms are full of examples.
In Psalm 95, God said, “For forty years I was angry with my people because their hearts went astray and they did not follow my ways.” (Paraphrasing Psalm 95:10).
In Psalm 78, the Psalmist described how God was slow to anger again and again. Nevertheless, eventually God became so angry at the willful disobedience of his people and their evil ways, that he decided to punish them. (Psalm 78:31-33,37-39,49-50,56-59,65-72).
Therefore, when the LORD described himself to Moses, he warned that he “does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:7).
The LORD gave this warning about punishing people so that no one got the wrong idea.
It’s true that the LORD our God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness. He also forgives wickedness, rebellion and sin. (Exodus 34:6-7).
Nevertheless, disobedience and evil ways bring bad consequences. Bad choices bring bad punishments, such as:
—Israel wasting forty years traveling to the Promised Land due to its repeated disobedience and evil ways. (Psalm 78; Psalm 90).
—King David suffering the death of family members and a civil war due to raping Bathsheba and murdering her husband. (Psalm 51; 2 Samuel 12-18).
—Israel going into exile from the Promised Land due to its repeated disobedience and evil ways. (Psalm 106; Psalm 107; Psalm 137; Lamentations).
Nevertheless—like Israel in Psalm 126—we can learn after such experiences to fill our mouths with laughter and our tongues with songs of joy. (Psalm 126:2).
Nevertheless—like David in Psalm 145—we can learn after such experiences to celebrate the abundant goodness of the LORD and to sing joyfully of his righteousness. (Psalm 145:7).
Because “[t]he LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalm 145:8 (emphasis added)).
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT
When have you been eager for God to hurry up and get angry at someone else?
When have you been thankful that God was slow to get angry with you?
When did God punish you for your willful disobedience and your evil ways?
When have you suffered bad consequences from your bad choices?
Have you learned from these experiences to celebrate the abundant goodness of the LORD and joyfully sing of his righteousness?
For my related thoughts, please read my blogs “Healing with Psalms: The Atlantic Charter”, “Healing with Psalms: Light Overcoming Darkness”, “Healing with Psalms: The LORD Is Compassionate”, and “Healing with Psalms: The LORD Is Gracious”.