Isaiah often weaves messages of hope and promise very closely with warnings of destruction for wickedness. Consider the beginning of Isaiah 32, which promises rulers who will bring safety to their land and where even those with personal weakness will find strength (Isaiah 32:1-4). Immediately after such a hopeful message Isaiah reflects on the nature of the wicked and ruthless. Isaiah immediately warns women who have become complacent in trusting the strength of Israel that they will see desolation. This desolation will give way to a time where the Spirit will cause the land to be filled with fruitfulness, and God’s justice will return. Such is the back and forth nature of Isaiah’s prophecies that read somewhat like the Psalms of lamentation like Psalms 13 & 22.

God’s relationship towards us reveals a great deal about His character. God is just and righteous, so the Lord will not tolerate sin. God is loving and merciful, thus He is willing to show kindness to those He loves. Some skeptics suggest that such a God is far too mercurial to be believed. I would argue that this is normal behavior for a God who loves what is good. God isn’t all over the place emotionally, but rather unified in His love of good and hatred of wickedness. They are closely bound, and we experience God’s unity in character as if God were sporadic only because we vacillate between love and faith, between disdain and distrust. God does not change, but we do. Thus, God reveals His intention to judge our wickedness, while also being willing to show us mercy. Such unity finds its most perfect expression in the unity on the cross between Father and Son in opposition to sin coinciding with the grace to forgive it.

The Bible holds judgment and mercy tightly together because our world needs both the assurance that wickedness doesn’t go unpunished, and the hope that when we have rejected the good, there is still mercy for us. Thank God for both His justice and mercy.