"So you shall purge the evil from your midst."
~Deuteronomy 13:5; 17:7, 12; 19:19, 21; 22:21, 22, 24; 24:7
Question: The God of the Old Testament is a brutal God. Why can't he be more tolerant? Like Jesus.
For example, in today's passage, 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 (Where'd the man go?) caught in adultery. Moses said to stone such a woman. "What do you say Jesus?"
Everyone loves his answer, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." Jesus is so tolerant, "Neither do I condemn you," so loving. We don't catch that Jesus has exposed the motive behind our own infatuation with tolerance. We excuse the sins of others because we want our own sins excused. Thus, the most (mis)quoted verse in the Bible, "Judge not, that you be not judged."
Our definition of tolerance is "live and let live." By that definition, God is, in fact, tolerant, but do we want him to be? God's tolerance of rebellious people is displayed in Romans 1. He gave them up (let 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.
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.
Rather than tolerance, I am grateful for God's patience. When asked about a coming Day of Judgment, the apostle Peter answered, "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."
Rather than tolerance, I am grateful for God's salvation. The wages of sin is death and God is not tolerant. Death was paid. 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).
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.