Imagine doing a talk on Barak Obama and not mentioning the fact that’s he’s the president. Imagine talking about Winston Churchill without also talking about World War II. Even worse, imagine talking about Simon Cowell and not mentioning his television shows. Pretty stupid huh? In all three cases sure you’d get a picture of the character of the person but it wouldn’t be the full picture and in actual fact it would almost be insulting.
Yet when was the last time you heard a Christian talk about God’s anger or, as it’s better know, God’s wrath? When was the last time you heard a sermon on it? When was the last time you mentioned it? Somewhere over the last fifty years God’s wrath just dropped out of Christian teaching.
How monumentally stupid!
As A W. Pink pointed out the Bible has more references to God’s wrath in it than it has to God’s mercy and love. Open your Bible and you’ll barely be able to go two chapters before coming across an example or teaching on God’s wrath. The Bible is about God’s continued wrath against mankind. Read Isaiah, read Revelation, read about the Flood, read the history of the Israelites, read the Bible!
“The Lord is a jealous and avenging God
the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
and maintains his wrath against his enemies.”
Nahum 1 v 2 (read the rest of the Chapter as well!)
Or as Jesus talked about Jerusalem’s destruction:
“How dreadful will it be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.”
Luke 21 v 22 – 24
Or Romans 1 v 18
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”
(Notice the present tense of ‘is being’. God’s wrath is still being revealed today!)
Throughout the entire Bible God’s wrath crops up again and again and again and again and again. And we see it also in the wretched world we live in. Why then are Christians silent on the issue? When the Bible is so vocal about it why don’t we speak up? Could it be that we are ashamed of God? Could it be that we somehow think that wrath is unworthy of God?
To investigate God’s wrath let me first ask you a simple question: is God’s love still being preached? The answer is a clear YES God’s love is certainly not a neglected topic. But love is a dangerous emotion, responsible for as much as good, people can kill for love, they become jealous and bitter, they harm others and themselves through love. Does this affect God’s display of love? Of course not! God exhibits a perfect love, one free from all the sin of man’s love.
And in the same way God’s wrath has none of the human sinfulness! God’s wrath is a perfect, holy and righteous wrath because it couldn’t be anything else. God’s wrath isn’t the red faced anger as pictured above but a praiseworthy quality that we need to mediate on and learn about.
Hang on; doesn’t wrath imply a cruelty on God’s part?
No, for we must bear in mind two considerations: first is that God’s wrath is judicial. God is holy and burns with wrath against all that is unholy. His wrath is set against all sin; his wrath is our punishment for our sins. His wrath is completely and utterly what the human race deserves for its rebellion. There can be no excuse on our part. Anyone who has come under conviction of sin knows this to be true.
Secondly, God’s wrath is our choice! As Jesus says in John 3 v 18
“Whoever believers in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son.”
And a bit further on John the Baptist says about Jesus:
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
John 3 v 36
These verses make it crystal clear. We bring God’s wrath on ourselves! Our rejection of God leads to his wrath against us. All judgement from God is merely showing us the full consequences of our folly.
This is terrible!
Yes, God’s wrath is terrible. And we are called to realise this. It is too easy to make light of sin and pass it off as nothing. The more we dwell upon God’s wrath the more hideous our sin is revealed to be. After all, if sin really wasn’t that big a deal would God say this?
“Terror and pit and snare await you,
O people of the earth
Whoever flees at the sound of terror will fall into a pit
Whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare.
The floodgates of heaven are opened
The foundations of the earth shake
The earth is broken up
The earth is split asunder
The earth is thoroughly shaken”
Isaiah 24 v 17 – 19
God’s wrath is no laughing matter and it reveals his full abhorrence of our sin against him.
Is that it? Isn’t there anything more?
Yes! Wonderfully, gloriously, mercifully there is more. So much more!
“For the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion
For the Lord is a God of justice
Blessed are all those that wait on him!”
Isaiah 30 v 18
God is wrath and yet God is also love and compassion. He longs to be gracious to us! And part of his compassion and love was what was said in John 3 v 16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
We have hope! We have a way to be saved from God’s wrath. For why did Jesus have to die on the cross? To provide us with salvation from the wrath of God against sin. And what salvation did he bring!
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…
For God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinner Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”
Romans 5 v 6, 8 – 9
While we were still sinners Christ died for us! And in his death he justified all who believe in him and through this we are saved from the wrath of God. What wonderful redemption!
The greater sense of God’s wrath we have the more majestic the truth of salvation is. The more terrible we realise God’s wrath to be the more abounding is God’s mercy and the more astounding is his grace. To deny or have too narrowed a view of God’s just wrath is insulting to Jesus’ need to die on the cross. To be able to praise God for his boundless love we need first appreciate and praise his boundless wrath.