God’s Judgment, God’s Love


Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliff

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you…And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life.” (Gen. 3:16-17).

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4: 7-8).


I recently listened to a podcast in which pastor Greg Laurie commented that God is a happy God. His statement caught me a little off guard — I’ve never thought of God as happy.

My earliest childhood conception of God was of a man clothed in white, with long white hair and white beard, sitting in a control booth of sorts in the sky, watching carefully over His creation. In front of him was a panel with hundreds of small buttons that he was furiously but thoughtfully pushing one after another, so that just the right thing at the right time in the right place would happen to the right people in just the right way. After all, that was His job — running the universe and calling the shots.

I never thought of Him as loving or intimately involved with the humans He had created. The God in the control booth actually seemed rather aloof to me now that I think back on it (of course, I didn’t know what aloof meant when I was five years old).

As I got a little older and began reading the bible on my own, God began to seem like more of a judge to me — a big, huge Judge-in-the-Sky ready to pronounce sentence on anyone he saw misbehaving (see the verse from Genesis above).

Love? That didn’t seem to be what God was all about. He was surely too busy telling all the birds which way direction to fly and managing thunder and lightning to be concerned with much else. How could He find time to love and nurture us?

Why have I always struggled with this particular image of God while others see Him only as loving and kind, like a good earthly father?

I’ve actually been pondering this question for some time now. Of course, in reading the New Testament we find numerous verses describing God’s love for us. In particular, we read that He loves us so much that he allowed his only son to die for for our salvation.

Even so, it just never really clicked into place that God loves me personally, that He cares for me, or that He gazes down from Heaven at me with a gleam of love and compassion in His big eye — like my father might have.

Then one day my mind drifted back to my early bible reading days. When I was in elementary school I had a Living Bible my older sister had given me for Christmas. As I pictured that big old bible with its soft, green cover I had a revelation. If I were to go find that bible right now and look at the edges of the pages, I would notice a clear demarcation between the more worn, dirty pages and the cleaner, white pages. That division would be close to the beginning of the bible, somewhere near the latter part of Genesis.

It would be clear from even a quick glance that most of my reading from that bible had been from the very beginning of the scriptures. Over the years each time that I had decided I needed to start reading the bible I started at the beginning, Genesis, just as I would read any other book.

In the beginning is where we find a representation of God not only as Creator, but also “Judge of all the earth” (18:25). Besides the story in the Garden of Eden referenced above, we find the account of the tower of Babel where God disperses the prideful people and confuses their language. We also read how God sends fire to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin, and He turns Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt because she looks back at the destruction of the two cities.

dinosaurs However, in Genesis perhaps the most powerful image of God as a Judge is found in the account of the great flood. God sees that man has a penchant for wickedness, so He says, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them” (6:7). After reading the story of the flood I vaguely remember wondering how God could kill all of the living creatures on the earth. That seemed so mean and cruel to my young mind.

Furthermore, God’s love is not very well-represented in Genesis. The word “love” is found several times in the book, but only once is the word used of God: “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love…” (Gen. 29:31a).


I recently attended a discipleship class led by a very godly man. He exuded peace, and I could tell by talking to him, even briefly, that his walk with God was of utmost importance to him.

During one of the sessions I happened to glance down at his bible. Even sitting several fee away, I couldn’t help but notice that its pages were worn and dirty beginning about 3/4 of the way through, roughly near the beginning of the New Testament. I certainly have no idea of the entire history of his bible reading, but one thing was certain — most of his reading in that bible had been from the New Testament.

I suspect that this man’s underlying image of God is quite different from mine.

I’ve heard new Christians (or those investigating Christianity) told to start reading the bible at John, not Genesis. As a small child, what if I had done the same? As an adult would I now have a significantly different image of God?

I’m betting I would see God as a happy God, just as my discipleship class leader sees Him, and just as Greg Laurie describes Him.

God in a Hazy Shade of Winter

Recently, as I was sitting at a traffic light and staring up at billboard, the thought hit me that since God is eternal, and that since man has only been on the earth for a few thousand years (I know this point is debatable), the whole span of human existence is but a mere blip for God.

I wondered then, “What did God do for all the ages leading up to our existence?” Does He have a much bigger role that He is filling, rather than just “Creator of Humans”? There is a whole universe out there, after all. And the vast majority of it has to do with us tiny, weak humans.

I have always thought of humans and the earth as being God’s big success story, that His big accomplishment was us. However, we are really only a minute part of what God has done. It’s kind of like how a small child imagines that he is his parents’ whole life. He isn’t able to fathom them ever having a life before him — as though they were born parents.

One thing I have wondered about for years is what Satan was doing after He and his cohorts were kicked out of Heaven, but before God created man. Satan is called the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), but what was happening before there really was a world (earth) and people to tempt? Why did God even allow Satan to enter the Garden of Eden in the first place? I think I’m getting ahead of myself.

The more I’ve thought about all these questions, the more I realize that I’m asking the wrong questions, or maybe it’s just that I’m making inaccurate assumptions about God.

God isn’t constrained to time like we are. For example, we often think in terms of humans having been around for a specific length of time, say 6000 years (again, debatable). Furthermore, we understand that God existed before humans, and will, of course, exist for all eternity with His believers in the New Jerusalem, after earth as we know it is gone, and He has created a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1-2). Thinking about time in a linear fashion is the only way we know to do so.

I believe that God is also able to do the same thing — view time as a long line stretching to eternity in both directions, both past and future. However, I believe that for Him there really is no such thing as time. Everything past, present, future exists all at once for Him. He sees it all, all the time. He’s God. He’s big. He can do that.

Therefore, to ponder what God was doing before He created us, is really basing the question on faulty assumptions. In Exodus 3:14, God calls himself, “I AM”. God is, was, and will be. There has never been a time, nor will there ever be a time, when God does not exist.

In fact, even framing the last sentence the way I did is inaccurate. God came before time, not the other way around. It would be impossible for there ever to be a time when God did not exist, because He created time. God exists without time.

This brings me back to my original question then, “What did God do for all the ages leading up to our existence?”. I believe the only way to answer it is by concluding that for God humans have never not existed. We’re no less real and alive to Him today than say, a billion human years ago.