The most quoted passage in the Bible by the Bible is Exodus 34:6-7. It’s about God’s character. The God that revealed himself to Moses said that He is, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”
At its most basic, God simply says that He’s merciful and just. But there’s more to it in the original Hebrew. There’s no noun connected with the “third and the fourth”. “Generation” is simply assumed for the translation. And without that noun “the third and fourth” is compared and contrasted to the “thousands” mentioned earlier in the verse. God’s scales aren’t balanced. He isn’t simply merciful and just. And He isn’t more just than he is merciful. His mercy has practically broken the scales.
I’m thinking about this because a good friend asked me about heaven and hell yesterday. His brother’s recently died without putting his faith in Jesus. And my friend wanted to know if there’s still hope. While I don’t believe there’s a second chance, the Bible’s pretty clear about that, I do believe that my friend can and should hope for his brother. The God that has revealed himself in the Bible is good and weighted towards mercy. And the one that has personally revealed Himself to us has been extremely merciful. And I think we should believe that whatever God does he will prove himself good and merciful in the end. And that’s where I put all my hope.