God’s True Heart Revealed

Posted on December 27, 2021

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By David Ettinger

Unfortunate Characterization
I hate when people refer to the “God of the Old Testament” as being harsh, uncaring, and vengeful. Ironically, this unfortunate characterization often comes from Christians who don’t read the Old Testament.

These no-O.T.-readers also refer the “the God of the New Testament” as “the God of love” (1 John 4:8). Of course this is true, but “the God of the New Testament” is no more a God of love than “the God of the Old Testament” as “both Gods” are one and the same.

In fact, God reveals His true heart throughout the O.T. We see this His dealings with individuals, forgiving His wayward children the many times they go astray. God’s merciful treatment of the likes of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and especially David are proof of His compassionate heart.

The Nation of Israel
However, if you really want examples of God’s true heart being revealed, you can find them in His dealings with Israel.

Throughout the O.T., we see God’s relationship with the nation He birthed as one of a loving, tender father reaching out in mercy and forgiveness to His ever straying and rebellious children. Yes, there are times when God must severely discipline them, but it is something He loathes.

God would much rather His children repent of their sins. In Psalm 81:13-14, He says:

Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their adversaries.”

Does this sound like a harsh God just waiting for His people to stumble that He may punish them? Not at all! This is a tenderhearted and patient God, almost pleading with His people to turn from their wicked ways and embrace His loving forgiveness.

God’s true heart is fully revealed in the above petition. How God desires for Israel to do what’s right!

We see this again in Deuteronomy 5:29:

If only they had such a heart in them, to fear Me and keep all My commandments always, so that it would go well with them and with their sons forever!

 Notice the words “If only.” This is God expressing His desire and longing that His children obey and love Him. This is not a Sovereign Dictator threatening, “Obey Me or die!” This is the God of all creation pouring out His heart!

Later in Israel’s history, God reveals the pain He experiences by having to punish His people – specifically via the coming Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. He says in Hosea 11:8:

How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I surrender you, Israel? … My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled.

This is a God who hates the idea of having to discipline His people so harshly. This is a God who grieves over the harm that will soon befall them. This is a God who is in anguish over the wickedness of His children!

This is a God who is not ashamed to reveal His true heart; a God of love, compassion, and tenderness.

His Children Today
And this is the same God who reveals His heart to His children in the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the same God who grieves every time we deliberately sin against Him, neglecting His love for us, and spurning His tender grace.

Joining together the above passages to Israel, we can hear God plead with us:

Oh that My people would listen to Me. If only they had such a heart in them, to fear Me and keep all My commandments always. But how can I give you up? How can I surrender you?

God will never give up on us or surrender us, and sadly, because of it, we take His love for granted by sinning against Him and putting our wills above His. I have been guilty of this multiple times.

May God give us minds to recognize His true heart as He has clearly revealed it to us, and may we who call ourselves “Christian” take heed to respond in love, gratitude, and righteousness!