chevron-leftchevron-right-+crossclosefacebook-bwGroup 15instagram-bwmenuNew Tabtwitter-bwyoutube-bw
facebook-bw twitter-bw instagram-bw youtube-bw menu close - +

God is Love

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.

Genesis 8:1
God is Love Book Cover

If we’re honest, Noah’s story would be easier left alone. It raises so many questions and gives us so few answers. But if we’re going to understand the Noahic covenant and the God who initiates it, we have to be willing to grapple with the reality of the flood. And grappling with the reality of the flood means grappling with the reality of God’s judgment.

God, “determined to make an end of all flesh,” instructed Noah to build an ark and fill it with his family, two of every animal, and “every sort of food that is eaten” (Genesis 6:14–16, 19–21). Noah did as God instructed and, at the appointed time, went into the ark with his family and the animals (Genesis 7:1). When Noah was six hundred years old, it began to rain, and it didn’t stop for forty days and forty nights (7:6, 11–12).

Humanity’s wickedness, their corruption and violence, led to a flood so great it cost the life of every living creature (Genesis 6:17). What we see in Noah’s story is a family, scared and living on a boat filled with animals, floating above a watery grave. Sin entered the world and made its home here, and there’s nothing serene about it. What we see in the flood is the consequence of sin, the judgment of God.

It can be hard to reconcile how God can be good while at the same time be the destroyer of life. And while it would be easier to simply skirt the issue by couching it in language about how God’s ways are not our ways, we would be better served by grappling with the tension.

Theologian Miroslav Volf tells a story about his own struggle to reconcile God’s judgment with God’s love. “I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God,” he writes. “Isn’t God love? Shouldn’t divine love be beyond wrath?”2 It wasn’t until he saw his home in the former Yugoslavia ravaged by war that he came to realize it is precisely because God is love that he pours out his judgment:

My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry. . . . How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandfatherly fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators’ basic goodness? Wasn’t God fiercely angry with them? Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.³

God’s judgment is not incompatible with his love and mercy. And that is made ever so clear as Scripture tells us that “God remembered Noah” (Genesis 8:1). His judgment was poured out for a time, but in his mercy, and because of his love, he considered this one man, his family, and all the animals with him, and God made a wind to blow over the earth and made the waters subside.

Just shy of one year later, God would call Noah out of the ark with a blessing and a promise. Wrapped in that promise would come long-awaited rest.

2 Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 138.

3 Ibid., 139.

Share

Leader Guide

Download

Learn More

About IF:Equip

Go Back

God's Unbreakable Promises

Watch Week Two

The Promise of Something Better

Daily Question

Is it hard for you to think of God as love in light of his judgment? How might knowing that God’s judgment is poured out of love change the way you understand God?

Your email address will not be published.

Comments (10)

I definitely struggle with understanding the love of God. I pray regularly for a more clear understanding & revelation of His love & desire to love Him more. I know that I cannot will or make this happen on my own but this can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit

I have a much clearer understanding of God’s wrath and love for us. Because He loves us so much, and He hates evil, wrath is one passionate display of His love. It’s not super easy to understand, and it will probably be something that I have to think on for a while. But knowing that His wrath comes from His love, because He desires to see no evil, it shows me that His love for us is so great and He is a true protector.

It took a long time, but I know God is Love, regardless of what happens in my life. He doesn’t want bad things to happen, but we live in a sinful world and bad things happen every day. The wonderful thing is that God will help us heal from the bad things.

It amazes me that God doesn’t pour out his wrath on us more! His loving grace and mercy are amazing. Knowing God’s judgement is poured out of love helps me believe he deeply cares for his creation.

It helps my by knowing that God is in control and that he pours out his judgement on us at the right place and the right time in our lives. He has a plan for us and we have to believe that he knows what’s best for us.

We are all God’s children and only through his love and guidance will we ever be able to truly understand his plan for each of us. His love may not always be unicorns and rainbows, but He always knows what is best for us and that as long as we follow his lead in showing love, mercy, kindness, and grace to others just as he had done for us, will we ever truly be able to comprehend the magnitude of God’s love.

I understand that God may pour out His judgement because of His love. But I can’t help think of all the innocent children who got caught in the cross fire in this story. What of that? Did a two year old deserve to drown because the adult responsible for the up-bringing of the said child was leading a sinful life and teaching the child to do the same? So many questions about God’s love, mercy and judgement.

God is like any GOOD parent- they don’t discipline their child because they hate them. They discipline BECAUSE they love them. They would rather the child hurt now w a punishment , then go their whole life in so many other kinds of pains because they were never disciplined and set in the right direction.
When God punishes me or withholds something from me, it’s hard to be ok w it at first. But if I look at it with the right perspective- a heavenly perspective- I can know and trust that god is doing it for my good and his glory

God’s judgment and wrath seems to me similar to an earthly father. When there are actions made by his children, there are consequences, oftentimes discipline and punishment. God is the same but on the heavenly scale. He loves us fiercely and when we do not follow Him, he disciplines us out of love. That’s the best way I can wrap my head around it. To be honest, I wonder sometimes why God allows bad things to happen to those who love Him. But then I’m reminded that God does not do these things, it is the enemy. And those who love the Lord will be at rest with Him in heaven forever: the ultimate display of love. It’s a large concept but I feel that this passage, journal and reading other’s comments have helped me sort out my thoughts about it. I love you, Lord! I thank you for your love and your discipline too. Discipline is painful, but being separated from you is the worst pain imaginable. If correction is what is needed to return close to you, then I accept and thank you for it. Please show me how you’re disciplining me in my life. Please help me make better decisions and have discernment for what those are. I love you, Lord. My hope is in you. My faith is in you. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen <3

Have questions?

We've got answers.

View Our FAQs

Thank you to our study partner