For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Scripture is terribly fond of extreme paradoxes. God’s righteousness is high as the heavens and his justice is like the great deeps. For most of us, the vision of ourselves—our measly, scrubby, compromised, little selves—standing before a Judge like that is… intimidating. Just trying not to look like a fool before such a judge would be about the best we could remotely hope for. But Scripture does not just give us the extreme portrait of God the Judge. It is also God the lover who rears his head high above the earth. And in his passionate (and enthusiastic) love he takes all those transgressions we thought God the Judge was going to nail us for and casts them “as far as the east is from the west”. And so, we find God “writing straight with crooked lines” and revealing himself in “luminous darkness” (to cite two other paradoxes). We find him teaching the last shall be first and the first last, the greatest shall be the least and the least greatest. And because he his both Judge and Lover, we find him taking, not us, but “the bond which stood against us with its legal demands [and] nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14).