God demands repeatedly of Israel, “So you shall purge the evil from your midst” (Deuteronomy 13:5; 17:7, 12; 19:19, 21; 22:21, 22, 24; 24:7). Israel was the one nation in history where God joined together Church and State, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” In that close relationship, when God’s holiness is a daily display, Israel is to bless the world as an example of God’s presence. You cannot have God in your midst and evil, too. Evil must be purged.
For example, Deuteronomy 22:22, “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.” The Pharisees used this passage when approaching Jesus with a woman caught in adultery, “Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” We like Jesus’s answer, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” God, in the Old Testament, seemed so severe, so stiff. Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:3-11). We think him tolerant, and we like tolerance.
Our definition of tolerance is “live and let live.” By that definition, God is, in fact, tolerant, but think about it. Do we really want him to be? God’s tolerance of rebellious people is displayed in Romans 1. He gave them up (let them live) in their lusts (v 24), their dishonorable passions (v 26), their debased mind (v 28), and the result? They are filled with all manner of unrighteousness, inventors of evil (vv 29-30). It turns out God’s tolerance is a tool of his wrath and judgment. It turns out an eternity of tolerance would be hell.
Rather than tolerance, I am grateful for God’s patience. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2Peter 3:9). Rather than tolerance, I am grateful for God’s salvation. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and death must be paid, and was. As a result, “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
And Jesus said to the woman, “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11). That’s not tolerance, that’s grace. Jesus died for that sin. That’s the good news of Jesus Christ.
My God, at the Name of Jesus every knee will bow, above the earth, on the earth, under the earth. Every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord. You reign and Your Kingdom is good. I desire nothing less, nothing else.
You are sovereign, You are Creator, You are King, You are God. You are wonderful. Teach me what it means, what it looks like to love You with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. Increase my love, my faith, my devotion, my delight in righteousness.