September 04, 2016

How You Think of God

Numbers 16:28-35

Fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men.

—  Numbers 16:35

My friend Ron had a rough relationship with his father. I met Ron’s dad only once, and to me he didn’t seem to be a fire-breathing monster.

Still, at some point Ron’s dad had embraced the idea that God is a fire-breathing monster—maybe based on some Bible readings about judgment. In the Bible there are lots of pictures of God. There are places where God ordains judgment on sin, and where God’s prophets bring dire warnings.

Here, in Numbers 16, I get it, down in my soul: rebelling against God is a sin. There is nothing easy or cheap or casual about following and living for God, and yet this God also sent his Son, Jesus, to take on himself the punishment for our sin.

So because of Jesus, the image that now guides our faith is that, in some way beyond under­standing, he absorbed all of the judgment for sin into himself. What Jesus gives us instead, by simple faith, is himself as a shepherd, leading and guiding us. With childlike faith, the main thing we should notice about God is his unfailing love.

Ron’s dad never understood that. Neither did Ron. But God so loves us that he took the judgment for sin on himself, through Jesus, his Son. It can be hard to understand such love, but that’s God. Sanctification happens, through this love, when we walk with Jesus through all kinds of circumstances.

Lord, please place and grow your love within me, through Jesus. Please make this love flow from me to others too. Amen.

About the author — Keith Mannes

Keith Mannes serves as pastor at Highland Christian Reformed Church in McBain, Michigan. Keith and his wife, Alicia, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary,
and they are thankful for their three children—Eben, Charis, and Breanna.

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