I appreciate the ministry of Greg Boyd and his new website, Reknew.org. Recently, he took on a question that often comes up when dealing with the nature of God. Is God violent and wrathful? Here’s and excerpt. I encourage you to read the fullness of his response on Reknew as well:
This couple said they had given all the money they’d made from a piece of property to the apostles when, in fact, they had kept some of the money for themselves. Peter first confronted Ananias, telling him that Satan had filled his heart and that he’d lied not only to people, but also to God. Ananias immediately dropped dead. His wife showed up three hours later and Peter confronted her as well. He gave her a chance to repent, but she stuck to her lie. Peter then pointed out that she had conspired with Ananias against the Lord and would now join him in the grave, at which point Sapphira fell over dead (Ac. 5:1-10).
There’s no denying that the passage depicts the death of this couple as a divine judgment. So, if the cross is the hermeneutical key to understanding God’s true character, the first question we must ask is, what does the cross reveal about the nature of Gods’ judgments? What it says, I contend, is that God judges sin by withdrawing from it, thereby allowing people to suffer its death consequences. God “delivered Jesus over” to suffer at the hands of wicked humans as well as Satan and other fallen powers. And when Jesus became our sin (2 Cor 5:21) and our curse (Gal 3:13), God the Father withdrew his presence from him, which is why Jesus experienced genuine God-forsakenness (Mt 27:46).
The cross reveals, and a wealth of biblical material confirms, that the essence of God’s “wrath” against sin is simply allowing evil to run its self-destructive course. The essence of sin is pushing God away, and since God is the source of life, sin is, by its very nature, choosing death. “All who fail to find me harm themselves; those who hate me love death,” the Lord says in Proverbs (Prov. 8:36). So too, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). And in the Garden the Lord told Adam “in the day you eat from it [the forbidden tree] you will certainly die” (Ge.2:17). Notice, he didn’t say, “I will certainly kill you.” Rather, the couple was removed from God’s presence, showing that their choice to sin was a choice to push God away, which is a choice to die.
In his mercy, God usually strives with people to protect them from the death consequences of their sin. There can come a time, however, when God sees that people have solidified themselves against him to the point that they cannot, or will not, yield to his love and turn from their futile attempts at living apart from a relationship with him. With a grieving heart (reflected in Jesus’ tears over Jerusalem [Lk 19:41]), God at this point grants people their wish and withdraws his protection, thereby allowing evil to run its self-destructive course (e.g. Rom. 1:24-26).
And so, as Jesus bears the sin of the world, he suffers the hellish consequences of the sin of the world as the Father withdraws and delivers him over to wicked people and fallen powers that are allowed to afflict him. And yet, by allowing evil to devour evil on the cross, God defeated evil. Satan and the powers were vanquished by the crucifixion they helped orchestrate (Col. 2:14-15; 1 Cor.2:8). The cross thus reveals, and a wealth of Scripture confirms, that evil ultimately cannibalizes itself. Allowing it to do so manifests the terrible wrath of God.
This is what I believe happened to Ananias and Sapphira… READ THE REST HERE