Sometimes we label God as a loving God that is incapable of any sort of harsh judgment. However, the Bible paints a very different picture of God than a lovey dovey God that never uses any harsh language. In the Old Testament especially, the picture we see of God is a God that loves his people, but also takes disobedience and sin seriously.
Do we view God the same way today?
Do we view God as only a loving God that can show no harshness at all?
Do we view God as only a harsh judge that likes to take vengeance?
OR do we view God as a mix of each a loving God that judges sin with an appropriate response?
Let us look at some of these passages from the Old Testament and make some observations.
Notice Leviticus 10:1-2 which says “Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” For some this may seem like a really harsh punishment. But for God sin is sin and must be dealt with. It is not up to us to judge whether God’s judgement is unjust or not. We are not the judge Psalm 7:11 tells us that God is a just judge. Do we believe it?
Also notice with me 2nd Samuel 6:6-7 “And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.” Again, some may see this as a picture of God as a harsh God and not loving at all. But again, we see that sin has consequences and God is serious about that.
In the New Testament we have the example of Ananias and Saphira. Acts 5:3-5 says “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God. Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last.” Notice for something as small as a lie this man and his wife were struck dead. Might seem a little harsh for some. But God is a just judge and He makes the right decision.
Notice how 2 Timothy 4:8 refers to God. “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” God is the righteous judge, one who we KNOW will judge accordingly.
Have you ever seen a case where the evidence pointed to a guilty person and the punishment they get does not fit the crime? That is because our system of justice is flawed and ran by imperfect humans. God’s system of justice is ran by God himself the creator of the universe and mankind. God who is a righteous judge and can do no evil.
We know that we are all guilty of sin. The punishment for sin is eternal damnation (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23.) When God judges us who are in sin we cannot argue that we did not know the punishment for sin it is clearly written for us.
However, that is not the end, something happened that flipped the script for us.
Notice this powerful passage in 1 Peter 2:21-24 “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” Through Christ we have a chance to make things right to be found righteous in God’s eyes, the righteous judge. We know the punishment we deserve for sin. But we also know the redemption that can be found through Christ.
So how can we answer the original question? Is God harsh?
Yes, God is harsh on sin. But He loves all men and wants us all to come to a knowledge of the truth. Where do you stand on this matter? Are you going to find yourself on the “harsh” end of judgment? If so while you still have time do something about it to be found righteous in God’s eyes.
Know this. God is a righteous judge and all his judgments are righteous. It is not up to us to decide whether God’s judgment is just or unjust in our eyes, rather, it is up to us to understand the seriousness of sin and realize the importance of being found in Christ.