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.”
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.
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.
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