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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.

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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?

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Comments (4)

Knowing that God’s judgement is poured out of love is something I have to continually remind myself of daily and work to wrap my brain around. It helps me to trust Him, helps me have peace and an inner clam that He is in control. There IS an eternal plan that my brain can’t grasp and I have to be confident that he has a perfect plan that will come to fruition at a perfect time. I don’t think I necessarily understand God more bc of his judgment (I still wrestle with it) but knowing this, it refines my heart and encourages me to rest in His truths.

I think of Gods love despite his judgement more like his boundaries. Boundaries are set to protect us. When we go beyond the boundaries, judgement out of love may come. (It’s like raising teens…sometimes we have to go to extremes out of love)

I think it has always helped me to understand God’s wrath when I think of how He gave us free will. He didn’t want robots, He wanted people who would choose him and love Him for who He is. Without that free will the relationship we have with Him would be shallow, and really meaningless to Him. I think not only is God love, I think He wants to feel loved back. Thankfully He knew we would choose sin, and made a way to reconcile us back to Him. We can choose Jesus and have a relationship with Him. This constantly blows my mind! I also think….would we really want to live in a world without God’s perfect justice? It guides us to know right from wrong. And a world without a standard of right and wrong feels really scary. And God never makes a mistake—-He would never wrongly accuse someone like the world did His son. Thankfully his mercy is just as perfect as His justice and He desires that all men would be saved. Praise God for His perfect mercy and grace. that offers us a way to have our sins washes away!

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