How Well Do You Know God? (Part 12)

Tommy Thornhill

In writing this series on “How well do you know God?”, the purpose has been to help give you a deeper understanding of God. At the same time, with our finite minds, we can only know what has been revealed to us in His revealed word. But, surely you know more now than you knew before. And we can learn even more. Now, let’s study something about God that is seldom discussed. The awesome God we serve is a God of WRATH.

Yes, it is true that the Bible teaches that God is love, the awesome God of mercy and grace. He is the God who continually shows His lovingkindness and goodness to those who trust Him and submit to His will. But, at the same time He is also the God of WRATH, who reacts with severe punishment against those who refuse to listen to Him. “God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies. The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power; and will not at all acquit the wicked” Nahum 1:2-3.

The majority of people who say they believe in God only want to see the good side of God. They do not see, or refuse to see, that as an impartial God, He “shows no partiality, but in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” Acts 10:34-35. To be impartial He must also be a God of justice, that will punish those who refuse to fear Him and refuse to work righteousness. Paul confirmed both sides of God (His love and His wrath) as he pointed out that God was exercising His justice in casting off OT Israel as His chosen people, because of their rebellion and unbelief, while He showed His love in choosing the Gentiles (and the Jews who turned from unbelief) to be His people, if they would accept and obey His Son, Jesus Christ He writes, “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness, otherwise you also will be cut off” Rom.11:22.

People don’t like to hear about God’s fierce wrath and the pain and suffering He is capable

of inflicting on people who refuse to know Him and refuse to obey Him. But, whenever one neglects to talk of God’s wrath one speaks only half the message God wants man to know. God wants man to know that as a holy God, He so deeply resents sin, that He will pour out His wrath against it. Note the following, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent to be well-pleasing to Him, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” 2.Cor.5:9-11.

In years past some preachers were known as “hell and brimstone preachers,” and people said their sermons were so hot they could almost feel the heat from the pews. But, today little preaching is done on the wrath of God. It is not a popular subject, because It makes people feel too uncomfortable.

But, this neglect of preaching on God’s wrath is one of the reasons why many people are so unafraid of disobeying God. As Paul wrote, in discussing the sinfulness of the people, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” Rom.3:18. In fact, they have such little regard for God, that they continually blaspheme and profane His holy name, in word and action.

Some might question the idea of a wrathful God, saying that this is against the nature of God. But, In reality, God is showing His impartial nature, by exercising retributive action against those who ignore His majesty and holiness. Whatever means He chooses to exercise His wrath, it is His righteous just anger and indignation against sin.

In showing that wrath is not against the nature of God it may be good to define some words. Wrath is defined as deep and intense anger. Anger is the stirring of resentful displeasure and strong antagonism by a sense of injury and insult. Indignation is righteous anger aroused by injustice and baseness. So, with these definitions, what is the wrath of God like?

From a human standpoint people usually associate wrath, anger and indignation with such things as a loss of self-control, a bad temper, wounded pride, but, none of these actions can be used to define the wrath of God. Just as God’s love never leads Him to act foolishly, neither does He lose self-control and act rashly with a bad temper tantrum out of hurt pride or feelings. He never acts impulsively or immoral, so His wrath is not unpredictable, self-serving or morally reprehensive and repugnant. When He pours out His wrath it is His righteous reaction to moral evil and sin. How else could He as a righteous, holy God react against evil in His world, if He is no respecter of persons and morally perfect?

God’s wrath is not cruel, inhumane treatment against mankind. He is acting judicially as a holy and righteous judge, administering proper justice in punishing those who persist in sinful rebellion against Him. “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deed” Rom.2:4-6. (This article on the wrath of God, as well as this series on “knowing God will be concluded in the next issue).

 

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