The Lord may become to us as an enemy. We must not suppose the relations of God to those who forsake him are purely negative “Say unto them, as I live, say the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? “(Ezek.33.11).
God cannot simply leave people to their own devices. He is a King who must maintain law and order and punish rebellion, a Judge who cannot permit law to be trampled underfoot with exemption “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb.10:29).
He is a Father who cannot abandon his children, but must reproof them in their wrong doing just because he is so closely related to them “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Ps.13:24).
Let it be well understood, that, in opposing ourselves to God, we run counter to a power, a will, an active authority. “Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?” (Ps.76:7).
When we provoke the anger of God. We do not simply strike ourselves against the stone, we cause the stone to fall upon us and grind us to powder ‘And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Mt.21:44)
Nothing can be more terrible than for the Lord to become to us as an enemy. The very thought of God as an enemy should strike terror into one who finds it is a fact “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb.10:31).
God is almighty. It is at once apparent that the war must end in defeat for the rebel “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Rev.20:10).
God is just. Then he must be in the right with the great controversy. To Cain the Lord said “What hast thou done?” (Gen.4:10) and because of his sin the Lord Judged him “a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.” (v.12)
God is gracious. How fearful must be the wrong doing that provokes so kind a God to enmity! “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen.6:5).
God is our Father. our Father may become as our enemy! The nearness of God and his love to us make the fire of his wrath the more fierce.
The wrath of the “Lamb” is more awful than the raging of him who goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:” (Rev.6:16).
God does not become to us as an enemy until we have proved ourselves to be enemies to him. He has no wish to quarrel with us.
He is changeless in his constancy of righteousness and love. “For I am the LORD, I change not;” (Mal.3:6). It is we who break the peace.
The declaration of war between heaven and earth is always issued by the lower world “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Gen.3:16).
It is not necessary, however, that our enmity should be over in order that God may not be seen as an enemy. Secret alienation of heart, quiet neglect of God’s will, self-willed indifference to God, will constitute enmity.
The fact that the enmity begins on our side will take away all excuse suggested by our feebleness in comparison with the greatness of God.
Though God may become to us as an enemy, he will not really be an enemy. He may act like an enemy, but he will not act in enmity.
He will never hate the creature that he has made “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” JH.3:16).
His apparent enmity is very fearful because it results in actions there is a penalty to pay.
Still behind all is the pitying heart of Divine love. God pities most when he strikes hardest “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate:” (Lk.13:34,35).
Through the atonement of Christ God cease to be to us as an enemy. Christ is our Propitiation. By the sacrifice of himself he makes peace.(I.Jh.1:9).
He does not simply influence our hearts in reconciling us to God. There is a God ward aspect of the atonement. This is not to induce God to love us, since the love of God precedes and originates the very mission of Christ.
But in the mysterious counsels of Divine wisdom the atonement of Christ is rendered necessary for the cessation of God’s inimical action “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I.Jh.2:1,2)