Lamentations 3:22—Is God compassionate or ferocious?

Problem: This and many other verses in Scripture describe God as merciful and compassionate, slow to wrath and plentiful in kindness (cf. Ps. 94:9; James 5:11; 1 John 4:16). By contrast, there are numerous passages in the Bible which reveal God as wrathful and vengeful. God told Moses, “You shall destroy all the peoples whom the Lord your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them” (Deut. 7:16; cf. 1 Sam. 6:19; 15:2–3; Jer. 13:14; Heb. 12:29).

Solution: In each case, the object is different. God executes His wrath on the wicked, as His justice demands, and He bestows His kindness on the righteous, as His love constrains Him. These are consistent acts of God in accordance with His own unchangeable essence (Mal. 3:6; James 1:17). But since the objects are different it only appears that God is acting contradictorily when in fact they are eminently compatible in a holy, loving God.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.