What do we do with these verses that portray God in a harsh, judgmental light?
Because God is love (1 Jn 4:16), I look at Scripture to see what love looks like in the situation.
During the Passover celebration with His disciples Jesus states that He will be betrayed by one sitting with Him. He goes on to say, "The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."
I've always read this with a sense of condemnation upon Judas. God's judgment upon His actions.
Yet, looking for His love in that moment, as Jesus considers what is now set in motion, He speaks with loving compassion. He knows what is ahead for Judas. He feels for this man, a known thief who was misled, who allowed Satan to define his actions.
The Son of Man was expressing compassion for His traitor. He was lost in thoughts of remorse for this man who would kill himself when he realized what he had done. His heart was heavy for one He considered a friend that had gone astray.
Yes, this is the character of my God….And praise this God who knows of our missteps and stands with compassion reminding us that we ARE forgiven, that we do not need to consider punishing ourselves, but rather are invited into His everlasting arms, embrace and love. Always!