One of the most famous self-introductions of God to mankind came at the time that the nomadic nation of Israel was encamped at Mount Sinai.

I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:5-6 and Deuteronomy 5:9-10

God’s jealousy makes Him zealously protective of His own, exclusively loyal to His own, and omnipotently engaged in acting on their behalf. Therefore He responds decisively just to their sin, and excessively loving to their obedience. The LORD is the perfect God, able to harmonise justice and forgiveness, jealousy and love.

But that does not mean that God’s justice and love are equal as though they need to be balanced by one another—not at all! God does not balance love and justice to keep the perfect balance—instead, God maintains both in their fullest necessary expression. When there is sin and evil and wickedness among His own, then He response with jealous justice; when there is obedience, then He response with steadfast love. Love does not at times obscure justice, nor does justice at times override love—God is the perfect combination of both jealous justice and loyal love.

That is all objectively true and evident from His self-revelation to His own. But from our perspective, there seems to be a more obvious evidence of one compared to the other. From our experience God’s justice and God’s love do seem a little mismatched—not that they are, for God is both in their perfect form—but it appears that the one is more obvious to us than the other.

The words from the LORD even reveals this. Justice is limited to a few generations who themselves all hate God (see Ezekiel 18 for the correct theology of so-called ‘blood-line’ curses), but love is given to “thousands”. From our perspective, God’s love is much more obvious than His justice. We don’t often realise that, but we ought to be very thankful that 1) our LORD is perfect in both justice and love, and that 2) our LORD demonstrates His love in excessive proportions, while His justice is limited to our sins only.

Praise the LORD Who alone will judge, and Who Himself has set His love upon us to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness so that the just penalty for our sins would be laid on Christ and we would be called children of God!