When God Calls In A Debt

It's one of those conundrums of Scripture, a contradiction where there shouldn't be one, a crack in God's armour, a flaw in his character.

Isn't he the one who is infinite in love, mercy and patience?

That being true, then how can the Scriptures say: "…and the Lord was not willing to forgive" —2 Kings 24:4, NIV?

I can't remember how many times people have reacted to those early verses in Exodus where the Scriptures tell us that the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he would not repent and allow Israel to leave Egypt. No one likes that idea and there is always push back when it comes to entertaining the notion that God might not be infinite in mercy or patience, a situation which, for some, calls into question whether or not he is infinite in love.

In the passage in 2 Kings, Josiah has died. He had been warned, as had Hezekiah, that Jerusalem was going to be overrun and Judah devastated, her people taken into captivity in Babylon. Sparing good King Josiah, God waits until he is gone before bringing about what he has promised as a consequence of rebellion. It's at this point that the fateful words of 2 Kings 24:4 are noted.

Peter writes: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" —2 Peter 3:9, NIV

There is no contradiction, or character flaw here. God is true to his loving, compassionate, merciful nature in giving man every opportunity and plenty of time to repent. He is also true to his righteous and just nature when he forecloses on a longstanding debt.

What always amazed me about God is that love, compassion and mercy live comfortably alongside righteousness and justice. Even in the midst of judgment on sin, God still leaves the door to redemption open for any who might want to enter. Jeremiah, one of the prophets of God who ministered during this dark period of Israel's history proclaimed at the Lord's command: "Therefore this is what the Lord says: 'If you repent, I will restore you, that you may serve me…" —Jeremiah 15:19, NIV.

Love at times has to be tough. Patience sometimes is exercised in punishment. Mercy is often found in the midst of righteous judgment. God still holds out his hand. 


  1. God still holds out His hand. SO profound. I needed this reminder.

  2. Once again you have blessed me with your understanding of His word! Hugs to you, Rita


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