In-Depth Edition

I.  Holy Characteristics


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Chapter 2  Part I

Holy Characteristics

A good understanding of God requires a balanced understanding of his character, including the fundamental attribute of holiness. To obtain such an understanding, we must “take to heart” all aspects of his character. As well as the many characteristics that we find consoling, we also need to appreciate those that inspire godly fear.


See also:

God’s holiness involves his moral purity. It concerns God’s separateness from and his intolerance of that which is morally impure. Holiness is basic to the other characteristics that follow in the first half of this chapter.

God is holy

Isa 6:3  And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”a ▤ 

a Or may his glory fill the whole earth

The threefold cry of “holy” (cf. Rev 4:8 ) emphasizes God’s perfect holiness.

Rev 4:8  And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” ▤ 

Lev 19:2  Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. ▤ 

Ps 111:9  He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! ▤ 

Isa 43:15  I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King. ▤ 

Similarly, in Habakkuk 1:12 the prophet calls God “my Holy One”.

John 17:11  And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. ▤ 

Rev 6:10  They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” ▤ 

There is nothing bad in God – and he cannot tolerate evil

See also:

Ps 92:15  … to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. ▤ 

1Jn 1:5  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. ▤ 

As is often the case in the Bible, “light” here is a metaphor for holiness and truth, while “darkness” represents evil and falseness.

Deut 32:4b  A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. ▤ 

Ps 5:4  For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. ▤ 

Ps 94:20  Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? ▤ 

The fact that God will not allow the wicked to be associated with him illustrates that he cannot tolerate them.

Hab 1:13a  You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong … ▤ 

Because God is holy he cannot do such things as stand evil and tolerate wrongdoing.

Josh 24:19  But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. ▤ 

God’s holiness means that he will not tolerate apostasy – “rebellion” (NIV®, NKJV, NLT; cf. CEV, NCV).

2Chr 19:7  Now then, let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking bribes. ▤ 

God does no wrong and correspondingly he does not “tolerate” (NLT, GNT) such things as “injustice… or partiality or… bribes”.

  • God cannot be tempted by evil:

James 1:13  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. ▤ 

In addition to the fact that God cannot be tempted by evil, note that the last clause points out that neither does God tempt anyone to do evil.

There is no one holy like God

1Sam 2:2  There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. ▤ 

Rev 15:4a  Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. ▤ 

Ex 15:11  Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? ▤ 

Rev 16:5  And I heard the angel in charge of the watersb say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. ▤ 

b Greek angel of the waters

This suggests that God is the “Holy One” – the only one who is perfectly holy.

  • There is no one good like God:

Mark 10:18b  No one is good except God alone. ▤ 

Here “good” is a reference to perfection, including being sinless.

God shows himself to be holy by what he does

See also:

Isa 5:15-16  Man is humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughtyc are brought low. 16But the Lord of hosts is exaltedd in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. ▤ 

c Hebrew high

d Hebrew high

God would show himself to be holy (v. 16) by his righteous judgment on evil doers (v. 15).

Isa 29:23  [God:] For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. ▤ 

God’s holiness would be recognized in his restoration of his people, fulfilling his promises and proving his faithfulness and righteousness. Consequently the people would “sanctify” God, i.e. acknowledge his holiness and relate to him accordingly.

Ezek 36:22-26  Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. ▤ 

God’s name had been disgraced when Israel, his people, had been conquered and dispersed throughout the nations. Israel’s rebellion – the reason for its exile – had also very much contributed to the dishonoring of God. So God would take action to demonstrate his holiness, by re-gathering and cleansing his people (vv. 24-26; cf. Ezek 39:25, 27 ).

Ezek 39:25-27  Therefore thus says the Lord God: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name. 26They shall forget their shame and all the treachery they have practiced against me, when they dwell securely in their land with none to make them afraid, 27when I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them from their enemies’ lands, and through them have vindicated my holiness in the sight of many nations. ▤ 

Luke 1:46-49  And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. ▤ 

This may well be implying that God’s holiness was apparent in the great blessing he had bestowed upon his “humble… servant” (v. 48), Mary.

Ps 18:25-26  With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; 26with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. ▤ 

  • God’s way is holy:

Ps 77:13a  Your way, O God, is holy. ▤ 

Places where God dwells are also holy . . .

See also:

Places must be holy for God in his holiness to dwell in them. God is primarily spoken of as dwelling in: heaven; places containing the Ark of the Covenant (cf. comment on Ex 26:33 ); and his people (as reflected in the following subsection).

2Chr 30:27  Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven. ▤ 

Isa 57:15  For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. ▤ 

Zec 2:13  Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling. ▤ 

Ex 26:33  And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy. ▤ 

The tabernacle, a tent-like structure, preceded the temple as the centre of worship of God. In the tabernacle and later in the temple was a section called “the Holy Place”, which had an inner section called “the Most Holy” or “the Most Holy Place”. In the latter was the Ark of the Covenant, which signified God’s very presence (cf. The Ark of the Covenant and God’s Presence). It was the reason why the places in which it was contained were deemed holy places. In fact, even places where the Ark had been were considered holy: “…the places to which the ark of the Lord has come are holy” (2Chr 8:11).

Ps 65:4  Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! ▤ 

Joel 3:17  So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall never again pass through it. ▤ 

Just as the temple was holy because it contained the Ark of the Covenant which signified God’s presence, in turn Jerusalem was considered holy as within it was the temple and so God’s presence. Note that “Zion”, God’s “holy mountain”, originally denoted the mountain or hill in Jerusalem on which the temple was built. It was later used to refer to the whole of Jerusalem.

Rev 21:2-3  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling placee of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,f and God himself will be with them as their God.g ▤ 

e Or tabernacle

f Some manuscripts peoples

g Some manuscripts omit as their God

The holy city known as the new Jerusalem (v. 2) is where God will dwell, with his people (v. 3) throughout eternity.

Ex 3:2-6  And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. ▤ 

God’s presence in the burning bush meant that the ground before it was holy.

. . . and God only dwells with those who are holy

See also:

Ezek 37:27-28  My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore. ▤ 

The term “sanctify” basically means to make holy. This passage and Ephesians 2:21-22 below demonstrate that God dwells with those who are holy and it can be inferred from these passages that he only dwells with those who are holy.

Eph 2:21-22  … in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God byh the Spirit. ▤ 

h Or in

Here the church, God’s people, is described as “a holy temple” (v. 21) – “a dwelling place for God” (v. 22).

Ps 15:1-2  O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? 2He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; … ▤ 

Verse 2 effectively describes one who is holy (cf. Ps 24:4 ; Heb 10:22 ). As God only dwells with those who are holy, only those who are holy can dwell with or approach him (cf. Ps 24:3-4 ; Heb 10:19-22 ) – or see him (cf. Heb 12:14 ; Matt 5:8 ).

Ps 24:3-4  Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. ▤ 

Heb 10:19-22  Therefore, brothers,i since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. ▤ 

i Or brothers and sisters

Heb 12:14  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. ▤ 

Note that here “Lord” may be referring to God rather than to Jesus Christ. The implication here and in Matthew 5:8 immediately below is that only those who are holy will see God (and Jesus Christ) and dwell with him in the afterlife.

Matt 5:8  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. ▤ 

  • The Israelite soldiers’ camps had to be kept holy so that God would not turn away from them:

Deut 23:14  Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you. ▤ 

Things of God are likewise holy

See also:

All things belong to God, but not all things are holy. However, things that are his in a more exclusive or dedicated sense are holy.

Luke 1:49  … for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. ▤ 

Isa 52:10  The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. ▤ 

God’s “holy arm” denotes his “holy power” (GNT, NCV, NLT).

Ps 5:7  But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. ▤ 

As shown earlier, heaven (cf. Ps 20:6 ) and God’s temple are holy due to his presence. They are holy also because they belong to him.

Ps 20:6  Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. ▤ 

Ps 47:8  God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. ▤ 

Ps 77:13  Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? ▤ 

Jer 23:9  Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the Lord and because of his holy words. ▤ 

Note that Jeremiah is speaking of being overcome by the Lord and his holy words against the false prophets.

Dan 9:16  O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. ▤ 

Deut 7:6  For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. ▤ 

The people of God – “his treasured possession” – are holy.

Lev 6:25  Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering. In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the Lord; it is most holy. ▤ 

Lev 27:9, 14-15, 28  If the vowj is an animal that may be offered as an offering to the Lord, all of it that he gives to the Lord is holy. ▤ 14“When a man dedicates his house as a holy gift to the Lord, the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall stand. 15And if the donor wishes to redeem his house, he shall add a fifth to the valuation price, and it shall be his. ▤ 28“But no devoted thing that a man devotes to the Lord, of anything that he has, whether man or beast, or of his inherited field, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord. ▤ 

j Hebrew it

Things given to God become holy. In the OT this included things dedicated to him – which could be redeemed or bought back (vv. 14b-15) – and particularly things devoted to him (cf. text note) – which could not be redeemed, being deemed “most holy to the Lord” (v. 28).

  • God’s Holy Spirit:

Ps 51:11  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. ▤ 

Note: God and his ways are perfect

See also:

Matt 5:48  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. ▤ 

In Leviticus 19:2b God says: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Jesus’ statement here is based on this, with “perfect” being used in place of “holy”.

Ps 18:30  This God—his way is perfect;k the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. ▤ 

k Or blameless

Rom 12:2  Do not be conformed to this world,l but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.m ▤ 

l Greek age

m Or what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God

Deut 32:4  The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. ▤ 

God’s works being perfect reflect that his ways are perfect. The same applies to his law being perfect, as stated in Psalms 19:7a below.

Job 37:16  Do you know the balancingsn of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge, … ▤ 

n Or hoverings

Ps 19:7  The law of the Lord is perfect,o reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; … ▤ 

o Or blameless

Similarly, James refers to “the perfect law” (James 1:25).

Isa 55:8-9  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ▤ 

In keeping with his ways being perfect, God’s ways are infinitely better than our ways.

  • God has excellence:

2Pet 1:3  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us top his own glory and excellence,q … ▤ 

p Or by

q Or virtue

Pray for persecuted Christians

Righteousness and Justice

God is righteous

See also:

Job 34:17  Shall one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty, … ▤ 

Ps 50:6  The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah ▤ 

The heavens are depicted as witnesses to God’s righteousness – possibly because they have been present during his righteous acts as judge.

Ps 97:6  The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. ▤ 

Ps 98:2  The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. ▤ 

Ps 116:5  Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. ▤ 

Ps 119:137  Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules. ▤ 

Jer 12:1a  Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. ▤ 

John 17:25  O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. ▤ 

Ps 25:8  Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. ▤ 

God is just

Ezra 9:15a  O Lord, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. ▤ 

Isa 30:18b  For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. ▤ 

Ps 9:7  But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, … ▤ 

Prov 29:26  Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice. ▤ 

Justice ultimately comes from God, who therefore should be the focus of one’s petitions for justice.

Ps 89:14  Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. ▤ 

Isa 5:16  But the Lord of hosts is exaltedr in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. ▤ 

r Hebrew high

Isa 28:5-6  In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory,s and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people, 6and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. ▤ 

s The Hebrew words for glory and hosts sound alike

The first clause in v. 6 speaks of God leading judges to make decisions justly (cf. GNT, NCV, NIrV, NLT).

Isa 51:4  Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a lawt will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. ▤ 

t Or for teaching; also verse 7

The last clause suggests that God’s justice will become a “guiding light” (NIrV®) to the nations, possibly in part due to the prevalence of God’s aforementioned law. Additionally, God’s salvation (cf. v. 5) may be in view as securing the nations’ welfare, turning the darkness of their circumstances to light.

Heb 6:10  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. ▤ 

Gen 18:25  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? ▤ 

Here Abraham points out that injustice is outside of the sphere of God’s actions.

  • God guards the paths of justice:

Prov 2:7b-8  … he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. ▤ 

God’s righteousness and justice are great – and everlasting

Ps 36:6  Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. ▤ 

The greatness of God’s righteousness is paralleled with the greatness of the awesome mountains that he has created.

Job 4:17  Can mortal man be in the right beforeu God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? ▤ 

u Or more than; twice in this verse

Particularly if the rendering in the text note is taken (cf. NIV), this indicates that God’s righteousness surpasses that of all others.

Job 37:23  The Almighty—we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. ▤ 

This indicates that God’s righteousness – and justice (cf. NKJV, NRSV) – is abundant.

Ps 48:10  As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with righteousness. ▤ 

Ps 71:19a  Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. ▤ 

Ps 111:3  Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. ▤ 

Ps 119:142  Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. ▤ 

Isa 51:6, 8  Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;v but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. ▤ 8For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations. ▤ 

v Or will die like gnats

God’s righteousness is associated with his salvation, for in bringing salvation God is doing what is right (cf. NCV).

Zeph 3:5  The Lord within her is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame. ▤ 

God’s ways are right and just . . .

See also:

Hos 14:9  Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. ▤ 

Rev 15:3  And they sing the song of Moses, the servantw of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!x ▤ 

w Greek bondservant

x Some manuscripts the ages

Ps 99:4b  You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. ▤ 

Ps 85:10-13  Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. 11Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. 12Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 13Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way. ▤ 

This attests to God’s righteousness – along with his love and faithfulness – in his dealings with his people.

Ps 103:6  The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. ▤ 

Ps 111:7-8  The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 8they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. ▤ 

At the start of v. 8, “they” may refer to God’s works (v. 7a) – the things he does – or alternatively his precepts (v. 7b).

Jer 9:24  … but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord. ▤ 

. . . Examples of God’s righteous and just ways

See also:

Neh 9:8b  And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous. ▤ 

Ps 129:4  The Lord is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked. ▤ 

Isa 28:17  And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter. ▤ 

God states that he will make justice and righteousness the standards by which he will judge the evil doers in view here.

Isa 51:5  My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait. ▤ 

“My righteousness draws near,” means that God will soon show his righteousness by what he does – here in bringing salvation and judgment/justice.

Luke 18:7-8a  And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. ▤ 

Rom 3:25  … [Jesus Christ] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. ▤ 

In the NT “propitiation” means to turn away or appease the wrath of God against sinners in their guilt. The second sentence means that God’s justice requires that sins be dealt with – with the implication that sins committed under the old covenant were not satisfactorily dealt with, and could not remain as such. God dealt with them through Jesus Christ, thus showing his righteousness.

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ▤ 

2Chr 12:5-6  Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and to the princes of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, ‘You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.’” 6Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is righteous.” ▤ 

God is shown to be just even in his punishment of people (cf. Neh 9:33 ).

All God does is right and just . . .

See also:

Deut 32:4a  “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. ▤ 

Ps 145:17  The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. ▤ 

Dan 4:37  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. ▤ 

Dan 9:14, 16  Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. ▤ 16“O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. ▤ 

In v. 16a, “all your righteous acts” (cf. 1Sam 12:7 ) does not necessarily mean that all of God’s acts are righteous, but particularly in light of v. 14 saying, “God is righteous in everything he does”, it does suggest this.

Neh 9:33  Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly. ▤ 

In all that God had caused to happen to the Israelites, he had been just (cf. CEV, NLT).

1Sam 12:7  Now therefore stand still that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your fathers. ▤ 

. . . God does no wrong

See also:

Deut 32:4b  A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. ▤ 

Zeph 3:5a  The Lord within her is righteous; he does no injustice … ▤ 

Job 8:3  Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right? ▤ 

This implies that God definitely does not do such things.

Job 34:10, 12  Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong. ▤ 12Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. ▤ 

2Chr 19:7  Now then, let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking bribes. ▤ 

God “will have no part in” (NASB) nor “tolerate” (NLT, GNT) such things as “injustice… or partiality or… bribes”.

  • It is impossible for God to do wrong:

Heb 6:18  … so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. ▤ 

This illustrates that it is impossible for God to do wrong, for him to do anything incompatible with his holiness.

God is truthful

See also:

Isa 45:19, 23  I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’y I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right. ▤ 23By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’z ▤ 

y Hebrew in emptiness

z Septuagint every tongue shall confess to God

1Ki 17:24  And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” ▤ 

Ps 43:3  Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! ▤ 

The use here of “truth” quite possibly alludes to God’s promises to his people and his faithfulness to his promises.

Isa 65:16  So that he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my eyes. ▤ 

As “the God of truth” God will fulfill his promises and will carry out what he has stated he will do. This verse appears to imply that when all this has come to fruition, God’s truthfulness in fulfilling his word will be reflected by people who invoke a blessing or take an oath doing so by “the God of truth”, in order to emphasize the truthfulness of what they have said. (cf. BBC)

John 3:33  Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. ▤ 

In saying that God is “true” (cf. 7:28) Jesus could well be implying that God is truthful (cf. CEV, GNT, NIV). Alternatively, he may be meaning that God is real – the true God – and/or that God is faithful. Note that Jesus refers here to his testimony of what he had seen and heard from God (cf. vv. 31-32).

Rom 3:4  By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” ▤ 

God will remain true and faithful (cf. v. 3) even if or when every person is false. The contrast with men being liars implies that God is always truthful. Paul may be using the subsequent quotation to show that God is justified in what he says and does (in particular in his judgments) or possibly that he is faithful to his word, carrying out threatened judgment for sin.

God does not show favoritism

See also:

Deut 10:17  For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. ▤ 

Acts 10:34-35  So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. ▤ 

Rom 2:11  For God shows no partiality. ▤ 

Gal 2:6  And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. ▤ 

Eph 6:9  Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Mastera and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. ▤ 

a Greek Lord

Job 34:17b-19  Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty, 18who says to a king, ‘Worthless one,’ and to nobles, ‘Wicked man,’ 19who shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands? ▤ 

Note: God loves righteousness and justice

Ps 33:5  He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. ▤ 

Ps 37:28  For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. ▤ 

Ps 11:7  For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. ▤ 

Ps 99:4a  The King in his might loves justice.b ▤ 

b Or The might of the King loves justice

Isa 61:8  For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong;c I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. ▤ 

c Or robbery with a burnt offering

Jer 9:24  … but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord. ▤ 

Prov 11:1  A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight. ▤ 

  • God is displeased when there is no justice:

Isa 59:14-15  Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. 15Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased himd that there was no justice. ▤ 

d Hebrew and it was evil in his eyes

Pray for persecuted Christians


See also:

God is faithful

Deut 7:9  Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, … ▤ 

2Cor 1:18  As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. ▤ 

Heb 10:23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. ▤ 

1Pet 4:19  Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. ▤ 

Ps 40:10  I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. ▤ 

Ps 89:8, 14  O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? ▤ 14Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. ▤ 

Ps 89:24  My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. ▤ 

Ps 111:7-8  The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 8they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. ▤ 

Verse 7a means that God is “faithful and right in everything he does” (NIrV®; cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT). As noted earlier, “they” (v. 8) may refer to God’s works (v. 7a) – i.e. the things he had done in saving and caring for Israel – or to his precepts (v. 7b).

Isa 25:1  O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. ▤ 

  • God is true:

Rev 6:10  They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” ▤ 

As noted earlier regarding John 3:33, the description of God as being “true” could have in view one or more of the following: God is faithful; God is truthful (cf. CEV, GNT); and/or God is real, the true God.

God’s faithfulness is great

See also:

Ps 36:5  Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. ▤ 

Ps 86:15  But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. ▤ 

Lam 3:22-23  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;e his mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ▤ 

e Syriac, Targum; Hebrew Because of the steadfast love of the Lord, we are not cut off

Gen 32:10  I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. ▤ 

Ps 25:10  All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. ▤ 

The great extent of his faithfulness is reflected in the fact that God is faithful in all he does (cf. Ps 3:4 ; Ps 111:7 ).

Ps 33:4  For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. ▤ 

God’s faithfulness lasts forever

See also:

Ps 100:5  For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. ▤ 

Ps 117:2  For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! ▤ 

Ps 146:6  … who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; … ▤ 

Ps 119:90  Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. ▤ 

Ps 89:2  For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.” ▤ 

This appears to be implying that God’s faithfulness is “as enduring as the heavens” (NLT; cf. CEV, GNT, NCV) – i.e. that it is “unchangeable and perpetual” (AMP).

Ps 89:30-33  If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,f 31if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, 32then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, 33but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. ▤ 

f Or my just decrees

Jer 31:3  … the Lord appeared to himg from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. ▤ 

g Septuagint; Hebrew me

God never forsakes

Josh 1:5  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. ▤ 

Ps 9:10  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. ▤ 

Ps 37:28  For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. ▤ 

Ps 94:14  For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; … ▤ 

Isa 42:16  And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. ▤ 

Jer 51:5  For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord of hosts, but the land of the Chaldeansh is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel. ▤ 

h Hebrew their land

1Chr 28:20  Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished. ▤ 

David promised Solomon that God would not fail or forsake him throughout all the work in building the temple.

  • God does not fail his people:

Zeph 3:5  The Lord within her is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame. ▤ 

The reference appears to be in particular to God not failing to bring forth his justice.

God does not lie nor change his mind – he keeps his promises

See also:

Num 23:19  God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? ▤ 

1Sam 15:29  And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret. ▤ 

Titus 1:2  … in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages begani ▤ 

i Greek before times eternal

Although not specifically stated, this and 2 Samuel 7:28 immediately below imply that God, “who never lies”, will keep the promises referred to.

2Sam 7:28  And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. ▤ 

Ps 89:35  Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. ▤ 

Ps 145:13  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]j ▤ 

j These two lines are supplied by one Hebrew manuscript, Septuagint, Syriac (compare Dead Sea Scroll)

Isa 31:2  And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. ▤ 

As well as keeping promises regarding blessings, God does not change his mind and take back his words regarding promised judgments (cf. Jer 4:28 ).

Jer 4:28  “For this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above be dark; for I have spoken; I have purposed; I have not relented, nor will I turn back.” ▤ 

Heb 6:17-18  So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. ▤ 

God’s promise and oath (v. 17) are “two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie”.

Heb 10:23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. ▤ 

  • The Lord is not slow to keep his promises:

2Pet 3:8-9  But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,k not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. ▤ 

k Some manuscripts on your account

Pray for persecuted Christians


Although we usually view anger in a negative light, this is not how the Bible depicts God’s anger, or wrath. God’s anger is always justified and righteous, consistent with his holiness. Moreover, it arises in response to that which is contrary to his holiness. Unlike human anger, God’s anger is never uncontrolled, wayward or spasmodic – and is tempered by his mercy, notably where his own people are concerned.

God’s anger and its consequences are awesome . . .

Ps 18:7-8, 15  Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. 8Smoke went up from his nostrils,l and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. ▤ 15Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. ▤ 

l Or in his wrath

Verse 8 poetically portrays God’s readiness to potently express his anger (cf. text note), consuming his enemies. Verse 15 may have in view God’s devastation of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea.

Ps 90:7, 11  For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. ▤ 11Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? ▤ 

Isa 5:25  Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. ▤ 

The Lord’s anger burned against his people because they had rejected his law and spurned his word (cf. v. 24).

Isa 9:19  Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is scorched, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no one spares another. ▤ 

Jer 21:5-6  I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger and in fury and in great wrath. 6And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast. They shall die of a great pestilence. ▤ 

Jer 33:4-5  For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah that were torn down to make a defense against the siege mounds and against the sword: 5They are coming in to fight against the Chaldeans and to fill themm with the dead bodies of men whom I shall strike down in my anger and my wrath, for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their evil. ▤ 

m That is, the torn-down houses

The Hebrew in parts is not clear, but it is clear that there would be numerous dead bodies of men struck down due to God’s anger and wrath.

Jer 25:38  Like a lion he has left his lair, for their land has become a waste because of the sword of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger. ▤ 

Jer 50:25-26  The Lord has opened his armory and brought out the weapons of his wrath, for the Lord God of hosts has a work to do in the land of the Chaldeans. 26Come against her from every quarter; open her granaries; pile her up like heaps of grain, and devote her to destruction; let nothing be left of her. ▤ 

Lam 2:1-4  How the Lord in his anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud! He has cast down from heaven to earth the splendor of Israel; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. 2The Lord has swallowed up without mercy all the habitations of Jacob; in his wrath he has broken down the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; he has brought down to the ground in dishonor the kingdom and its rulers. 3He has cut down in fierce anger all the might of Israel; he has withdrawn from them his right hand in the face of the enemy; he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob, consuming all around. 4He has bent his bow like an enemy, with his right hand set like a foe; and he has killed all who were delightful in our eyes in the tent of the daughter of Zion; he has poured out his fury like fire. ▤ 

Ezek 13:13  Therefore thus says the Lord God: I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath, and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to make a full end. ▤ 

Rev 14:9-10  And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. ▤ 

. . . This has been and will be evident upon all nations and the whole earth

See also:

More so than the surrounding subsections, metaphorical or figurative language features prominently in this subsection. There are also a number of references that are generally understood to be eschatological (e.g. Isa 34:2-3; 63:3, 6; 66:15-16; Zeph 3:8; Rev 14:17-20).

Deut 32:22  For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. ▤ 

Isa 13:9, 13  Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. ▤ 13Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. ▤ 

Isa 30:27-28, 30  Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke;n his lips are full of fury, and his tongue is like a devouring fire; 28his breath is like an overflowing stream that reaches up to the neck; to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction, and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads astray. ▤ 30And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstones. ▤ 

n Hebrew in weight of uplifted clouds

The final illustration in v. 28 implies that God leads the nations “off to their destruction” (NLT, cf. CEV).

Isa 34:2-3  For the Lord is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction,o has given them over for slaughter. 3Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. ▤ 

o That is, set apart (devoted) as an offering to the Lord (for destruction); also verse 5

Isa 63:3, 6  “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifebloodp spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. ▤ 6I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” ▤ 

p Or their juice; also verse 6

Isa 66:15-16  For behold, the Lord will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the Lord shall be many. ▤ 

Jer 4:23-26  I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. 24I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. 25I looked, and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the air had fled. 26I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the Lord, before his fierce anger. ▤ 

Jer 25:15-16  Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. 16They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” ▤ 

Ezek 38:18-20  But on that day, the day that Gog shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord God, my wrath will be roused in my anger. 19For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. 20The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. ▤ 

The final statement – in view of the preceding one – may well be referring to the effect on the whole earth rather than just in Israel.

Hab 3:12  You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger. ▤ 

Zeph 3:8  “Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed. ▤ 

Rev 14:17-20  Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.q ▤ 

q About 184 miles; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters

This is quite possibly speaking of the final judgment, although some suggest that end-time judgments preceding Jesus Christ’s return may be in view.

  • God regularly feels indignation:

Ps 7:11  God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. ▤ 

God’s anger cannot be quenched

2Ki 22:17  Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. ▤ 

Jer 7:20  Therefore thus says the Lord God: behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched. ▤ 

Jer 21:12  O house of David! Thus says the Lord: “‘Execute justice in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed, lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of your evil deeds.’” ▤ 

Jer 17:4  You shall loosen your hand from your heritage that I gave to you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever. ▤ 

Note that “burn forever” may be hyperbole, indicating that God’s anger would burn against Judah until that generation had been destroyed.

God’s anger cannot be withstood

See also:

Jer 10:10  But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. ▤ 

Nah 1:5-6  The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. 6Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. ▤ 

The final statement reinforces the implication of the preceding rhetorical questions, i.e. God’s anger cannot be withstood or endured.

Rev 6:15-17  Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slaver and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” ▤ 

r Or servant; Greek bondservant

Ps 76:7  But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused? ▤ 

Joel 2:11  The Lord utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome; who can endure it? ▤ 

This speaks of the day of God’s judgment, with the manifestation of his wrath.

Lam 2:22  You summoned as if to a festival day my terrors on every side, and on the day of the anger of the Lord no one escaped or survived; those whom I held and raised my enemy destroyed. ▤ 

  • God’s anger does not relent until he fully accomplishes his purposes:

Jer 23:20  The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly. ▤ 

God is slow to anger and often holds it back

Ex 34:6-7  The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7keeping steadfast love for thousands,s forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” ▤ 

s Or to the thousandth generation

This description of God is often quoted in some form throughout the OT (cf. Num 14:18 ; Nah 1:3 ). The phrase “slow to anger” occurs nine times in the ESV. Note that v. 7b appears to mean that the ongoing effects of severe punishment would still be felt by future generations. Some commentators think that it also alludes to the sin itself filtering through to later generations, and so being accompanied by appropriate punishment – although this would not apply to any repentant children.

Num 14:18  ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ ▤ 

Nah 1:3  The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. ▤ 

Ps 78:38  Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. ▤ 

The latter part of the verse suggests that, in accordance with restraining or holding back his anger, God is generally reluctant to express it to its full extent.

Isa 48:9  For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. ▤ 

Here “defer” may have the sense of “restrain” (NKJV, NRSV; cf. NLT).

Hos 11:8-9  How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. 9I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.t ▤ 

t Or into the city

  • God is always acting justly when he expresses his wrath:

Rom 3:5-6  But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6By no means! For then how could God judge the world? ▤ 

God does not stay angry

Ps 103:9-10  He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. ▤ 

Note that v. 10 suggests that God’s people do not suffer the full extent of God’s anger.

Ps 30:5  For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.u Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. ▤ 

u Or and in his favor is life

Expressions of God’s anger are only temporary. In contrast to his continual, lifelong kindness (cf. Isa 54:8 ), they last only “a moment” (cf. Isa 54:8 ).

Ps 85:3  You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. ▤ 

Isa 12:1  Youv will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. ▤ 

v The Hebrew for you is singular in verse 1

Isa 26:20  Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. ▤ 

The reference is to God’s fury.

Isa 54:8  In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer. ▤ 

Isa 57:16  For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before me, and the breath of life that I made. ▤ 

Mic 7:18  Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. ▤ 

God’s anger arises in response to sin and disobedience

See also:

1Ki 16:2  Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins, … ▤ 

2Ki 17:11b, 17-18  And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, ▤ 17And they burned their sons and their daughters as offeringsw and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. 18Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. ▤ 

w Or made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire

2Ki 22:13  “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” ▤ 

Isa 5:24-25a  Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. ▤ 

Isa 42:24-25  Who gave up Jacob to the looter, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned, in whose ways they would not walk, and whose law they would not obey? 25So he poured on him the heat of his anger and the might of battle; it set him on fire all around, but he did not understand; it burned him up, but he did not take it to heart. ▤ 

Isa 57:17  Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry, I struck him; I hid my face and was angry, but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart. ▤ 

Isa 64:5  You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?x ▤ 

x Or in your ways is continuance, that we might be saved

God’s anger was due to the people’s sin.

Mic 5:15  And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey. ▤ 

Mic 7:9  I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. ▤ 

Rom 2:5  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. ▤ 

Those who stubbornly do not repentant of sin and disobedience will experience the ultimate expression of God’s wrath on the final judgment day.

Eph 5:5-6  For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. ▤ 

The phrase “because of these things” is here referring to the sinful characteristics listed in v. 5, rather than the “empty words” (v. 6) that excuse them (although it is applicable to the latter).

Heb 3:8-10, 17  … do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. 10Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ ▤ 17And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? ▤ 

Verses 8-9 speak of the people hardening themselves and rebelling against God, testing his patience. As such they went astray from God’s ways (v. 10), and so sinned (v. 17). The final clause in v. 10 refers to a willful ignorance of God’s ways; they had not “understood” (NCV™, cf. CEV) them, although they had had ample opportunity. The result of the people’s sinfulness was that God “was provoked” to anger.

God’s anger arises in response to people forsaking him

See also:

Deut 29:24-26  … all the nations will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’ 25Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, 26and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them. ▤ 

Judg 2:12-14a, 19-20a  And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. 13They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. 14So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. ▤ 19But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. 20So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, … ▤ 

Judg 10:6-7  The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him. 7So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites, … ▤ 

1Ki 11:9  And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice … ▤ 

Ezra 8:22b  “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” ▤ 

  • God’s anger arises in response to acts of unfaithfulness to him:

Josh 7:1  But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel. ▤ 

Although it would appear to be not as serious as being unfaithful to the point of actually turning away from God (as in the above passages), acting unfaithfully to God in regard to any matter can arouse his anger, as was the case here.

Other things that arouse God’s anger

Num 11:1  And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. ▤ 

Num 32:10-11  And the Lord’s anger was kindled on that day, and he swore, saying, 11‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me, … ▤ 

2Chr 36:16  But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy. ▤ 

Ps 2:2, 5  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ▤ 5Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, … ▤ 

Those who oppose God face his anger.

Ps 78:21-22  Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, 22because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power. ▤ 

Rom 2:8  … but for those who are self-seekingy and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. ▤ 

y Or contentious

  • God’s wrath remains on whoever disobeys Jesus Christ:

John 3:36  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ▤ 

Because of their sin every person is under God’s wrath. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are saved from God’s wrath, but those who do not believe and disobey the Son remain under it.

Pray for persecuted Christians