New Perspective on God’s Wrath [Guest post by Steven Kline]

New Perspective on God’s Wrath [Guest post by Steven Kline] September 7, 2018

A passage in Psalm 18 really stood out to me this morning:

“With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.”

The conception among most Christians is that God is angry with us and that if we don’t repent then He will pour out His wrath on us. I’m not saying this is completely wrong, but I believe God has been leading me to go deeper than I, and most other Christians, have in the past on these ideas.

Yes, we have sinned horribly against God. We denied him. We believed the lie about Him, that He was keeping something from us, holding us back, putting us down. We took the lie so far that when He came to earth as Jesus, one who was perfect in every way, we crucified Him. My sin, your sin, murdered Jesus. It crucified Him. Our corrupt, wicked, evil system, which is really Satan’s kingdom, murdered God. For that, we must repent if we want to enter the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, eternal life. This was the thrust of Jesus’ entire ministry for the first words of His ministry were “The kingdom of heaven is at hand, repent and believe the gospel.”

But, for those that don’t repent, is it God’s wrath that will be poured out on them? Or, is it the lies and the violence of the unrepentant themselves that will come back on their own head? Throughout the Bible, we see that the pit the wicked dug they themselves fall into. Or, the snare that evil people set they get caught in themselves. And, in the depictions of Satan (for example, Goliath and Haman), he is almost always killed with his own weapon.

The repentant have become merciful, blameless, and purified. And, to the repentant God shows Himself as such.

But, to the unrepentant, the crooked in Psalm 18, God makes Himself SEEM tortuous. It SEEMS to them like God is vengeful, spiteful, and vindictive, pouring His wrath out on them. However, in reality, it is their own lies and violence that are coming back on their own heads (the Psalms often speak of this idea and I could quote them all day).

Satan’s kingdom is marked by two things – lies and murder (John 8). Satan’s character is to lie, therefore he speaks lies and is the father of lies. All those in his kingdom, the unrepentant, do the same because Satan is their father. Satan is also a murderer from the beginning, having spiritually murdered Adam and Eve. All those in his kingdom, the unrepentant, do the same because Satan is their father. In Satan’s kingdom, the lies and murder (as well as all evil, violence, and wickedness) will escalate until that kingdom is completely burned down as it reaps what it sows.

We must know Isaiah 53:9:

“And they made his [Jesus’] grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”

Jesus didn’t do those things because they are not in His – or in God’s – nature.

This is why Jesus could say in John 14:30-31:

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world [Satan] approaches. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”

So, while God permits this, is the wrath His? Or, is he simply letting the unrepentant reap what they have sown? Is God “rewarding” the unrepentant according to their deeds?

Could it even truly be “God’s wrath” that will be poured out? Based on what we see in Jesus, who is the radiance and glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1), wouldn’t this be God returning evil for evil? Remember Isaiah 53:9 – Jesus did no violence and spoke no lies. He does not operate anything at all like the world and the system that we see around us.

Rather, Jesus, the image of God, returns evil with good. Is this not what the cross is all about? What we meant for evil, God meant for good? He returned the most wicked, evil, vile thing we could ever do – crucifying His Son – with good by using that very same act to show us the very definition of love.

All this speaks to why Jesus says that we must repent to enter His kingdom. There must be a complete change of mind and attitude, seeing the earth and fellow men and women in a completely different light, so that we can put away the lies and the violence. So, that God can transfer us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. So, that we can be like Jesus who did no violence and deceit was not found in His mouth.

Just something I’ve been meditating on for a while now.

Steven Kline

**

Keith Giles new book Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

BONUS: Unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more on my Patreon page.

 

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The Mouse Avenger

    *gasp* I never thought about it like that before! 😀 This article has been really enlightening! ^_^

  • Matthew

    I love the Eastern Orthodox understanding of God´s wrath.
    If I understand it correctly, it goes something like this:

    God is pure love … nothing else. God is only experienced as
    wrath by those who are unrepentent.

    This idea (and also what you share in this post) has helped me
    see how, for so many years, my view of God´s wrath (and also the
    atonement) was mostly incorrect.

  • Markus R

    Glad to see someone honestly attempt to deal with the subject of wrath. The wrath of God is not s popular topic. Some people do suffer the consequences if their sins while alive. Others, who are clearly wicked (as we read in Job, Psalms, and Ecclesiastes) enjoy a life of ease and die an easy death. But our consolation that God is just us assured by the truth that he will indeed pour out his just wrath in Judgement Day.

    How angry is Gid towards sin? We see it at the cross. God poured out his wrath in his own son. And it is only by justification through trust in the sufficiency of that sacrifice that we can be saved.

    We struggle with the thought of wrath because we struggle with accepting the serious nature if our smallest sins. And we question how a loving God can also be wrathful. God is indeed loving. Yet he is also holy. “Holy, Holy, Holy,” we read in Isaiah. He is also just—he will not let sin go unpunished.

    We only need to read through the Bible to see how God punishes a wicked world. Consider the flood of Noah’s day. God killed every human on earth except Noah and his family. Consider how he repeatedly warns Israel and the surrounding nations throughout the Old Testament. And consider how he poured out his wrath when they did not heed his warnings.

    We must grasp what it means to be holy. Perhaps one of the best insights is the story of Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6. This is the story of the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. It was a joyous day and David prepared a new cart to transport it (in violation of God’s clear commands as to how the ark was ti be moved.). The Levites knew how to transport the ark with long poles inserted through rings on the side. The road became rough and one of the oxen stumbled, threatening to tip the cart and send the Ark into the mud. One of the Levites, Uzzah, sticks his hand out to steady the ark and prevent the fall. God instantly struck Uzzah dead. David was angry.

    What was going on? Uzzah did not want the holy Ark bring contaminated with the dirt! What hevand the others failed to understand was that the dirt if this earth would not contaminate God’s holiness. It is the hand of sinful man that is filthy with sin. God, in his holiness, will not tolerate it.

    Yes, we are that wretched and filthy in our sinful state. And God is that holy. The only thing that will cleanse us from our sins is the blood that flowed from the wounds of Christ as he bore God’s wrath on the cross.