The Wrath of God – Terry Nightingale
Apparently, some people don’t like talking about this.
Which is strange because it is in the Bible. In fact, depending on which translation you use, there are over 200 references to it. So, God must have had a reason for putting it there.
It is not pleasant reading but let’s check out some verses:
Paul graphically describes our spiritual state before receiving Christ, as those who were “gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Eph 2: 3)
In fact, that describes the state of all people, outside of faith in Christ: “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Rom 2: 8).
The coming of Jesus to this world is described as Good News. We rightly celebrate His love, the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that drove Jesus to a terrible death on the cross. But any talk of love means nothing unless we also see God’s wrath in the story.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3: 36).
God was not shy to display his wrath in the Old Testament.
“Then once again I fell prostrate before the Lord for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the Lord’s sight and so arousing his anger. I feared the anger and wrath of the Lord, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the Lord listened to me” (Deut 9: 18 – 19).
In this incredible re-telling of the story of the Golden calf, when Aaron bowed to the pressure of popular demand, creating an idol of melted gold, and Israel bowed to a lump of metal, quickly forgetting who their real God was, Moses recounted his personal experience of the wrath of God against a rebellious people.
And in that moment, Moses saw the heart of a holy God, snubbed by a deep ingratitude. Interestingly, when we read the original story in the book of Exodus, we hear God, in very measured tones, speak to Moses about what He plans to do. The Lord’s perfect balance of anger and self-control inspired Moses to fast and pray for mercy.
God’s wrath was and is never wild nor vindictive. It doesn’t itch for that selfish urge to “get even”. Its goal is to drive souls to repentance, so that the relationship between sinful man and holy God can be restored. Hundred of years later, John the Baptist called to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3: 7 – 8). In other words, don’t run away from the wrath of God; allow it to change you.
The wrath of God is very real and very frightening, but the Scriptures invite us to look towards it not away, in order that we might see its purpose: purification, forgiveness and restoration.
“Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
and avenge myself on my enemies.
I will turn my hand against you;
I will thoroughly purge away your dross
and remove all your impurities.
I will restore your leaders as in days of old,
your rulers as at the beginning.
Afterward you will be called
the City of Righteousness,
the Faithful City” (Is 1: 24 – 26).