Deuteronomy 5:9-10 (KJV) Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, 10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
Much has been said in the debate about whether God is a God of love or a God Who is sadistic and cruel. People outside of the Body of Christ (and some within) struggle to understand “how we can serve a God Who judges?” The answer can be found within this passage of Scripture.
Verse 9 speaks of God being a jealous God and punishing those who are disobedient to His commands and “hate” Him. The word ‘jealous‘ used here is often misunderstood to have a negative connotation. However, when viewed in light of God’s nature and His expectations from those who are in an exclusive, covenantal relationship with Him, the true meaning is brought forth. In this sense, God’s jealousy describes His powerful commitment to and His love for His people. It is a Biblical example that sets the foundation for the imagery of an exclusive marital relationship. Therefore, it is offensive to God for His people to place anything before Him and in His rightful place. This is what causes us to incur the anger of God.
Then, God does something phenomenal in verse 10. He speaks of extending mercy unto those who “love” Him and are obedient to his commands. In contrast to God’s response to our abovementioned actions, we see the true desire of God’s heart. When weighed in the balances of justice, we do not deserve God’s response in the form of His extending love and mercy to us. However, because God’s desire is to receive exclusive love and commitment from us when we demonstrate our love for Him through our obedience to Him, He floods our lives with an abundance of His love and mercy in return.
When we make a quick observation of two verses of Scripture, we will begin to understand where God’s heart truly lies. In comparison, verse 9 speaks of the anger of God lasting over three to four generations; whereas, in 7:10, the Word speaks of the love and mercy of God be extended to a thousand generations. This is how we, as believers, can serve our God! God is ready and willing to forgive those who turn from their disobedience to obedience. He is “…not willing that any should perish (live here or in eternity without Him), but that all should come to repentance…” (2 Pet. 3:9)!
So, in other words, God does not hate any of us. When we violate God’s Word by placing other things before Him, His anger is incited. However, regardless of what we may have done, the scales of justice are always weighted and are leaning toward God’s Divine attributes of love and mercy. But we have to be willing to see life from God’s perspective to understand fully these spiritual truths.