Recently I was in a small Bible study group, and one person stated that God would be pleased and rejoice as Satan and the ungodly are finally destroyed. I was horrified by that thought and decided to go through the Bible to find indications that God will not be rejoicing when His enemies are finally destroyed.
How does God feel about His sinful children? What does God feel when He removes His protection because of His children’s sinful practices when discipline, correction, and instruction are necessary? In other words, What is the heart of God?
The following verses are just some of the texts I found that indicate how God reacts to His sinful children.
“He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 17:5
“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.… Do not say, ‘I will do to Him just as he has done to me…” Proverbs 24:17, 18, 29
God treats other tribes and nations with the same heartfelt pain and sorrow as He does to Israel, even the descendants of incestuous Lot and his oldest daughter!
“My heart will cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee to Zoar, like a three-year-old heifer. For by the Ascent of Luhith they will go up with weeping; for in the way of Horonaim they will raise up a cry of destruction.…” “Therefore, I will bewail the vine of Sibmah, with the weeping of Jazer; I will drench you with my tears, O Heshbon and Elealeh; for battle cries have fallen over your summer fruits and your harvest. Gladness is taken away, and joy from the plentiful field; in the vineyards there will be no singing, nor will there be shouting; no treaders will tread out wine in the presses; I have made their shouting cease. Therefore, my heart shall resound like a harp for Moab, and my inner being for Kir Heres.” Isaiah 15:5 and 16:9-11
God’s concern towards Israel.
“Oh my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace.… For my people are foolish, they have not known me. They are silly (foolish) children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 4:19-22
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you.… Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore, My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him says the Lord.” Jeremiah 31: 3, 20
“Therefore, I will judge you, O house of Israel…Cast away from you all the transgressions…and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why would you die? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies, says the Lord God. Therefore, turn and live!” Ezekiel 18:30-32
God even uses shock therapy to turn the Israelites back to him.
“Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore, I will deliver you no more. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.… And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.” Judges 10:13-16
David exemplified how God treats and reacts to His enemy Saul in 2 Samuel 1:17-27 and his son Absolom in 2 Samuel 18:33.
God recounts how He brought Israel out of Egypt and promised to fill them with His bounties.
“But My people would not heed my voice, and Israel would have none of me. So, I gave them over to their own stubborn heart…Oh, that My people would listen to me. I would soon subdue their enemies…” Psalms 81:5-16
God recoils at the thought of giving up His people as he did to the five cities of the plain. Genesis 14 & 19
“I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms.… I drew them gently with cords—with bands of love, and I was to them as those who [remove] the yoke from their neck. How can I give you up Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns (margin - turns over) within me; My sympathy is stirred.” Hosea 11: 3, 4, 8
Jesus made it very plain how God feels about His wayward children.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Matthew 23: 37-39
The love of God appears to humans as a violent fire and cannot be suppressed or stifled.
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.” Song of Solomon 8:6, 7
There are indeed texts expressing joy when the wicked are punished (Revelation 18:20), but this compares to the context of the merchants mourning over the calamities befalling Babylon. Of course, there will be joy and relief when sin, death, and sinners finally no longer exist, but this is not the attitude taken as the final destruction occurs.
Somehow, I cannot envision the God who prayed for forgiveness for His torturers at the cross will be joyfully dancing while those same sinners die! Instead, God will wipe away every tear, perhaps even as He is crying.
Other texts that reveal the heart of God.
Jeremiah 31:3, 13, 14, 20
Isaiah 48:17, 18
Note: Most quotations from the NKJV.
Dennis Hollingsead works in the Office of Development at Andrews University.
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