As Larry West was leading us in the communion meditation during a campaign a few years ago, I was reminded of what kind of God we have. Larry explained the ancient concept of a covenant by going step by step through a typical Hittite suzerain-vassal treaty. We see different parts of a typical "covenant" in some of the covenants that God makes with us in scripture. I remember studying this sort of thing in graduate school in books by Jon D. Levenson and other scholars.
But Sunday, it really hit me what kind of God we have. These covenantal forms do not appear to have been invented by God. There were already in use by humans in their dealings with each other when God descended and entered into a "covenant" with humans. In today's time, it might be like God coming down, sitting across a table from us, and signing his name on the dotted line next to the "X" on a contract with us! As I understand it though, the ancient "covenant" was something much more intense than signing on a dotted line today. God is above all of this. This is something that human beings have invented. And yet, God comes down, and enters into an agreement with people using their forms and ways of making agreements!
Theologians have recognized that God "condescends" to us and meets us where we are. How amazing is it that God, using our man-made forms of treaties, would relate to us with them to demonstrate his faithfulness to us! He was not obligated to do so, but he chose to do so for our sakes. It is like the book of Hebrews says in chapter 6, he gave an oath to us so that we can have strong assurance. This is the God that "inclines" his ear to us when we pray. This is the God that delights in us as a groom delights in his bride. This is the God that went so far as to meet us in the flesh . . . literally. How amazing is that?
God loves passionately, with his whole self. God "IS" love. If God loves passionately, doesn't it make sense that his anger would also be passionate when that love is spurned? If one is indifferent, there would be no anger. If there is no anger, cant there really be love. God is a jealous God, which is a pure jealousy in the same way a man wants his spouse for himself and not for other men. The source of God's intense anger is from his passionate love. At the end of the day, love is what wins. The story does not end with God destroying mankind, but with him offering adulterous mankind a way back through the sacrifice of the cross.
When one gives his personal name as God did, "I AM", or "Yahweh," one initiates a relationship with someone else. This is what God did when he gave his name. When you initiate a relationship, you make yourself vulnerable to someone else. You make yourself susceptible to their needs. You make yourself susceptible to being disappointed or even hurt by them. Yet, this is what God does. He allowed himself to be "hurt" by us because of his intense, loyal, and faithful love for us. Even though he was "grieved" that he made man on the earth, he had a plan to redeem us through self sacrifice. God put it all out there for us. Angry? Wrath? I would expect no less from a God who went to these lengths to demonstrate his love and faithfulness to win us back to himself.
Truly, God "Is" love. Love is at the center of his nature. His faithfulness and anger are both expressions of his love. How amazing is the God we serve!