We recently finished a unique week at language school. They call it “spiritual emphasis week.” During the week a guest speaks twice every day (the teachers aren’t supposed to give homework to make it easier to fit it all into our schedule). This semester it was a pastor named Matt Davis from Helena, Montana who gave a series of talks on the attributes of God.
The most difficult, yet most profound, session was on God’s wrath. It is a subject we don’t hear much about. There is a lot of preaching in the American church on God’s love, but I (Scott) don’t hear much about God’s wrath. Matt’s point was that we can’t comprehend the depth of God’s love unless we also understand his wrath.
Anyone who reads the Bible knows that it reveals much about God’s wrath. In the Old Testament, the violence and destruction against those who violated God’s laws is frequent and harsh. The most discussed events are the flood in Noah’s time and God’s judgment on Egypt during the time of Moses. However, we don’t usually view those events from the point of view of the recipients of God’s wrath (instead the perspective is usually that of Noah and the people of Israel and God’s promises, salvation, and faithfulness). [As Matt Davis put it, when referring to the customary Bible stories: “Where are all the dead people?”]
But, if we are honest, God’s wrath against the unrighteous is terrible. Through the flood, he killed everyone on earth at that time (except Noah and his family). Men, women, and children. It isn’t knowable how many people were on the earth at that time, but scholars have estimated that it could have been two to ten billion people.
And we can’t argue that God’s wrath is limited to Old Testament times, for it is spoken of frequently by Jesus and the authors of the New Testament.
If we accept and understand God’s wrath against sin, the miraculous redemptive work of Jesus Christ reveals the depth of God’s love for us. For God, the Father, poured out His terrible wrath against sin — onto His own beloved Son! Christ was willing to endure incomprehensible suffering on our behalf — because of His great love.
Do you want to have a greater appreciation and love for Jesus the savior? Read in the Bible the many terrible judgments that God has inflicted on the unrighteous; contemplate the depth of his anger (it’s not pleasant); then rejoice and appreciate how much He loved us that Jesus was willing to bear this immense wrath on our behalf.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)