If you are just joining us I encourage you to take a look a the last three posts. In “You Will Surely Die” I discussed how we “died” in the garden to the understanding of the goodness of God. Joseph Prince says we were clothed with His glory and when we ate the wrong fruit we were naked. I like that image. When we see the goodness of God and step into His goodness we are being clothed by His “manifest goodness” or glory. Yep, that is a good picture. In the next post “Heart of Understanding” I talked about how this broken connection to the understanding of the goodness of God is actually what Jesus saves us from. When we see how good God is we are drawn to Him, we rely on Him, He commune with Him, we have a relationship with Him…He becomes our very life. That is our salvation. That is our freedom…to see and be with God. In the last post “Allowances for His goodness” I revealed how prevalent this concept of blindness or hardness of heart is. Paul talks about it over and over again. Because we are “blind” to the goodness of God it manifests as all kinds of stupid junk. I am intentional about the word “stupid.” When we can’t see or understand we make dumb decisions. We turn to self instead of God. As a result we make all kinds of mistakes. Over time our mistakes drive us further and further into the bushes where we hide from God. Our fallen human nature or our flesh tells us God must be mad at us even though it is an outright lie. Our man-made religion re-enforce that veiled understanding by injecting a demonic deception and fear of a temperamental, angry God who demands perfection. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. God is good, period. He is love, period. Anything contrary to that is a lie founded in our fallen thinking or injected by a devil that wants us as far from seeing a loving God as we can be. The devil is angry, bitter, divisive and jealous. He wants to see us dead and apart from God. What better strategy than to make us think that God is mad or angry or vengeful against His kids.
So in the middle of this little series a friend sends me a question about wrath. I could go on and on about how we have missed this one big time. A fallen understanding processor will absolutely miss the goodness of God even in His “wrath.” First to think of God being angry like a human is ridiculous. Human anger is an emotion and is a response to offense, attack, need for fairness, etc. when the angry person is not in control or wishes to take control of a situation. God is always in control and can change the situation in a blink. He is not offended by anything I can do. Think about it. Is God so insecure as to be offended by my insults or ignorance or disobedience? God is really happy with Himself. He is so secure with who He is and lacks absolutely nothing so He only has stuff to give. He “needs” nothing. His joy in this relationship is to provide for His kids. He loves to see us grow in a dependent relationship with Him. He loves it when we “see” how good He is and we let Him show it.
Hopefully after these posts you are beginning to understand the bigger issue. Our inability to see a good God is the problem. We move from Him not Him from us. We hide from Him not Him from us. We are disappointed with Him not Him with us. So what is His “wrath?” I am going to trust the Holy Spirit to show you. I’ll just give you a few sign posts to guide you.
First, Jesus is God and He does what God does. So what does it look like when we see Jesus’ wrath? Want to see?
Mark 3:5 Jesus was angry as he looked at them, and he felt very sad [distressed; grieved] because they were stubborn [of their hard hearts]. Then he said to the man, “Hold out [stretch out] your hand.” The man held out [stretched out] his hand and it was healed [restored]. (EXB)
That word “angry” is the word “wrath” in almost every other occurence. You might remember this story. The man with the whithered hand is brought there to see if Jesus would break the rules of the Sabbath. Jesus is so hurt because they just don’t believe in a good God, a God standing right there in front of them, a God who would always heal. Rules are from man. Law is for a rule worshiping man. God is love. Here is the same passage in the Message.
Mark 3:5-6 He looked them in the eye, one after another, angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion. He said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out—it was as good as new! The Pharisees got out as fast as they could, sputtering about how they would join forces with Herod’s followers and ruin him. (The Message)
So what did God do in His wrath? He healed. What did the religious do? They ran away and plotted to kill Him.
So what is a result of God’s wrath? Check this out:
John 3:36 And he who believes in (has faith in, clings to, relies on) the Son has (now possesses) eternal life. But whoever disobeys (is unbelieving toward, refuses to trust in, disregards, is not subject to) the Son will never see (experience) life, but [instead] the wrath of God abides on him. [God’s displeasure remains on him; His indignation hangs over him continually.] (AMP)
Death. We are already dead without the revelation of the goodness of God. We are already dead in our self effort. We are already dead in our dead religion. Only Jesus gives us life. Only a loving, good God gives life to His kids. Here it is in the Message again.
John 3:34-36 “The One that God sent speaks God’s words. And don’t think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts. That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.” (The Message)
God is “angry” at unbelief. What else must He do to convince a stubborn, hard-hearted, fallen man? He could blast us with all His love and maybe we would be convinced but He gives us choices and options. Some day only His goodness will remain. Some day the judgement of man will be a complete and unfiltered revelation of the love and goodness of God. If you are hell-bent on hiding in the bushes I bet it will feel like punishment. If you are absolutely sure of an angry, vengeful and spiteful God maybe a full revelation of His goodness is so contrary to a stubborn unbelieving heart it breaks that heart.
Eph 2:3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (ESV)
Here is what Paul said in the Passion Translation:
Eph 2:³ The corruption that was in us from birth was expressed through the deeds and desires of our self-life. We lived by whatever our natural cravings and thoughts of our minds dictated, living as rebellious children subject to God’s wrath like everyone else. ⁴ But God still loved us with such great love! He is so rich in compassion and mercy! ⁵ Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, He united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by His wonderful grace! ⁶ He raised us up with Christ the Exalted One, and we ascended with Him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm , for we are now joined as one with Christ! (Passion Translation)
Want to “test yourself?” Did you see verses 5 and 6?
Last verse. The word disobedience is the “reluctance to believe” in the Greek.
Eph 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (ESV)
Sometimes the Message gets it so right!
Eph 5:6-7 Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that. (The Message)
Look to God and see His goodness. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His love. Ask Jesus to show you a greater revelation of the cross. God came all the way to Earth, emptied Himself to become a man and humbled Himself as a servant to LET US KILL HIM. A son of disobedience is a person who refuses to believe in the goodness of God. The people who “anger” God are like the religious ones who refused the goodness of God for the laws of man. Which side would you chose if you were in the room with Jesus and the man with the withered hand? How would you react to the “wrath of God.” Do you run away and hide in your death bound bushes or run to Jesus?