God Wants to Avoid Punishing Us
In her book The Ten Commandments, Dr. Laura Schlessinger writes, "According to one Jewish tradition, after the Israelites had passed safely through the Red Sea and water crashed down killing the entire Egyptian army, angels began to sing the praises of God. But God silenced them, saying, 'My creatures are drowning and you are praising me?!?'"
God longs for His people to repent so He does not need to punish.
In 1 Kings 21 Ahab tore his clothes in repentance. I think there was a tone of excitement and joy in God's voice when He said to Elijah, "Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me?" (vs. 29) He was sharing exciting news much as we'd eagerly share with our spouse, "Did you notice how our child's attitude is totally changed. He's so much more obedient!"
God wishes He did not have to use severity. The Bible calls His wrath His "strange work, his strange act" (Isaiah 28:21).
Because God is good, He placed consequences in His law to prevent sin. But punishment is not His main intention. He knew what He must require for us to have an intimate relationship with Him. When His people disobey, He seems to want someone to appease His anger so that He does not need to punish.
Dear Lord, I want to be one who will stand in the gap for others so You will not need to punish.
"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none" (Ezekiel 22:30).