Friday, July 8, 2016

The Quality of God’s Wrath

The quality of wrath is seen in that it is divine, and of God. Nothing is like it in the present world. His wrath is different than anger expressed by humans, which has the taint of sin. His wrath is righteous always and complete. He does not lose His temper.[1]

There is no capriciousness or irrationality in God’s wrath. It is the only way a holy God could respond toward evil. God cannot be holy and not be angry at evil.[2] Habakkuk says of God, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13 ESV) Habakkuk describes the eyes of God as too pure to view evil. For him God was holy and therefore cannot tolerate wrong.[3]

Twice Jesus chased the money changers and sacrifice sellers from the Temple. He was angry that they made His “Father’s house a house of merchandise” and “a robber’s den” (John 2:14-16; Matthew 21:12-13). They had dishonored the house of God and Jesus was angry. Jeremiah recognized the righteousness of God’s punishment, saying, “The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word; but hear, all you peoples, and see my suffering; my young women and my young men have gone into captivity.” (Lamentations 1:18 ESV)[4]

Even in our fallen society, there is outrage against perceived injustices of the world. It is often viewed as an essential aspect of the goodness of humanity. There is an expectation that people will be outraged by injustices and brutality. God is perfectly outraged against these injustices with a “holy fury” all the time.[5]

[1]. MacArthur, 1991. 62.

[2] Ibid. 63.

[3] Barker, Kenneth L. Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. Vol. 20. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999. 314.

[4] MacArthur, 1991. 63.

[5] Ibid.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Revelation of God’s Wrath

Illustrated throughout Scripture the wrath of God has always been revealed to sinful humanity. The first revelation of the wrath of God was seen in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit the curse of death was conferred on them and all of humanity. Even the earth was cursed. In the time of Noah, God revealed His wrath through the flood and drowned all of humanity except for the family of Noah. The wrath of God was revealed against Sodom and Gomorrah by “brimstone and fire.” The wrath of God was revealed against the army of pharaoh when they were drowned in the Red Sea. The curse of the law reveals the wrath of God against every transgression of the Israelite and as part of the sacrificial system of the Mosaic covenant.[1]

Paul says in Romans 5:15, “For if many died through one man’s trespass” indicating that because of the sin of Adam all now die. In verse 16 he calls death a judgment which came about because of the transgression of one man, the first man, Adam. And again in verse 18, Paul says that the “one trespass led to condemnation for all men.” Universal human death is one revelation of the wrath of God.[2]

Misery and widespread pointlessness are also revelations of the wrath of God against human sin. Consider the words of Paul in Romans 8:20: “the creation was subjected to futility.” In a fallen world sufferings are inescapable. The long labor of a farmer may be erased by flood or drought just before the harvest. Creation was subjected to the futility of sin or “slavery to corruption.” (Romans 8:21)[3]

Another way God’s wrath is revealed against human sin is the ruin of human thinking and behavior. After Paul gives a description of man’s ungodliness and unrighteousness in Romans 1:19-23 he says in verse 24, “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” God’s wrath is revealed against mankind by giving man “up to be more sinful.” Paul repeats this thought in verse 26 “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,” and again in verse 28 “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,”[4]

[1] MacArthur, John F., Jr. Romans. MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. 64.

[2] Piper, John. Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2005. 269.

[3] Ibid. 270.

[4] Ibid. 270-271.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What is the Wrath of God

Often when one thinks of the word wrath, images brought to mind are those of an individual who is red faced and overrun with rage. Packer notes that his dictionary defines wrath as “deep intense anger and indignation.” Anger he says is defined as “stirring of resentful displeasure and strong antagonism by a sense of injury and insult.”  The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defins wrath as “exterme anger.” Jonathan Edwards sees anger and wrath as two different words. Wrath is expressed in the torments of hell and sinners will “bear the fierceness of his wrath.”[1] He describes wrath as having “glowing flames,” “black clouds,” and “great waters that have been dammed for the present.”[2] John Stott says there is a close relationship between God’s holiness and God’s wrath. It is a holy reaction to evil.[3]

Packer calls the wrath of God, His action in the punishment of sin. “It is as much the expression of a personal, emotional attitude of the Triune Jehovah as is His love to sinners; it is the active manifesting of His hatred of irreligion and moral evil.”[4] It is possible that the phrase “the wrath of God” may refer to the future manifestation of this hatred on “the day of wrath” from Romans 5:9. But it may also refer to “present providential events and processes in which divine retribution for sin may be discerned.”[5]

There are several Hebrew words that illustrate a “highly personal character” that are used in the Old Testament as a description of God’s anger. Frequently used of God is hārâ which “refer to burning with fury, and is frequently used of God.” The word hārôn used exclusively to describe diven anger which means “a burning, fierce wrath.” Qâtsaph means bitter and often refers to God as in Deuteronomy 1:34, “Then the Lord heard the sound of your words, and He was angry and took an oath saying.”  Often linked with jealousy is the word hemâh which can also refer to a venom or poison. Psalm 7:11 says “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” The word indignation is zā,am has the meaning to foam at the mouth.[6] The wrath of God when focused against sin is in close relation to His holiness and justice. There His wrath may defined as, “God’s wrath means that he intensely hates all sin.”

[1] Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. Vol. 2. Banner of Truth Trust, 1974. 8.

[2] Ibid. 9.

[3] Stott, John R. W. The Cross of Christ. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2006. 105.

[4] J. I. Packer Knowing God. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1973.. 139.

[5] Ibid.

[6] MacArthur, John F., Jr. Romans. MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. 65.