Have you witnessed the “wrath of God?” I think I have. The wrath of God is what happens when human violence meets God’s forgiveness. It is when human anger meets eternal life. It is when human vengeance meets God’s goodness. It is when human justice meets God’s redemption. It is when Faith in WHAT we know meets Faith in WHO we know. It is what happens when human based religion meets a Jesus based relationship. It is what happens when humans insist on being right and God lets them. I’ve seen it. It looks like God hanging on a cross. It looks like an innocent man beaten by human rightness. It is when the rage burning inside for human fairness is finally released. It is the furious love of God meeting a rebellious creation. It is trying to give a cat a much-needed bath. It is resistance to reparation and insistence on destruction. It is not an angry God but an angry man. It is peace on a tree in the face of vehement rejection. It is forgiveness from the All-Powerful in the presence of the power of religion and pride. It looks like this:
Rom 4:25 Who was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification (our acquittal), [making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God]. (AMP)
It wasn’t God doing the whipping. It wasn’t God with the hammer and nails. It wasn’t God cursing His son. It was us. We did it.
Isa 53:3 He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. (AMP)
Jesus willingly submitted to our rejection to the point of death. The wrath of God is Jesus reflecting the ugliness that is in us. Why? To reveal the Father. It was God on that cross taking our junk. It was God on that cross forgiving us. It was God that raised His son from the dead to JUSTIFY us not kill us. Sin killed Jesus not God. Separation from God set the stage not Holy justice. Death needed a victim not our Father in heaven. The cross is because the lost needed a savior not an angry God needed a sacrifice. He was there sacrificing Himself to us.
So yeah I think I see the “wrath of God” all the time. When I say stuff like “sin is our obsession not God’s” I sometimes get a reaction. Did you know that a fallen nature (like Jesus encountered) fueled by the fear of religion (like what killed Jesus) will lash out with human vengeance and anger (like what whipped Jesus) and absolutely come against a portrayal of a good God who forgives even without a cross? In case you didn’t know Jesus forgave (and so did Jehovah) before the cross. Here is just one example:
Luke 7:47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (ESV)
God’s purity and holiness is not measured by His disdain for sin but by His willingness to save us from sin. God’s holiness and purity are not His justice without compassion and insistence on punishing the smallest infraction. His holiness and purity are His ability to apply justice that redeems instead of destroys. The devil kills, steals and destroys. God creates. His purity and holiness is expressed by His pure love. He will make things right. His perfect love will cast out fear and doubt and a fallen-insistence on human wisdom. In the end His perfect love will conquer hate and anger and eliminate wrath.
God is too big and too holy and too pure and too loving and too good and too merciful and too gracious to be disgusted with sin (behavior and or conditions that can be defined by the tragic flaw of missing the mark based on unbelief) but is instead compelled by compassion to remove the problem altogether so that we can step back into relationship with life instead of eating death from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ever again. (Wow that was a mouthful but accurate.) Yeah, when I say stuff like that, the reaction is sometimes “the wrath of God.” The anger and hatred and insistence on being proven “right” is quite remarkable.
I used to live in that place because I didn’t know Jesus. I knew about Him but didn’t know Him. To be honest my faith was in what scriptures I knew and what doctrine I could recite. I felt more like a guy who could solve a Rubik’s-cube-like biblical puzzle under pressure. The better time, the greater faith! For me the Holy Spirit was the Holy scriptures and the supernatural was reserved for the devil and crystal ball gazers. So in the absence of divine interaction or a tangible divine relationship, fear was abated by knowledge. That is what I called Faith. When I didn’t understand I didn’t question. When what I read in the Holy book made God out to be a monster (that would give children nightmares), I wrote it off as Faith. My motto was more like “I must have more faith. I am not trusting in the Holy justice of God.” The problem, if you don’t already see it, is NO GOD in that Faith. My faith was in my Bible. God calls that idolatry. Faith is in WHO we know. Faith is in the relationship. Faith is trusting my Father in a relationship that is living and active. The key to strong and growing and mountain-moving faith is knowing God. Jesus says it is eternal life to know God. Jesus shows us the Father. Before Jesus nobody had “seen” the Father. Jesus reveals to us what we humans had never “known.” Jesus reveals the truth of a God of love.
Paul agrees with Jesus. He talks about Abraham and how the right relationship that Abraham had with God is for us too:
Rom 4:21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, (ESV)
We believe in God who raised Jesus from the dead. He didn’t get up to hurt us or harm us or judge us or condemn us or anything like that for any person on planet Earth (1 John 2:2) but instead He justified us.
Don’t forget where Paul starts. He finishes with our justification. He starts with this:
Rom 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness (ESV)
Please “see” what these verses are saying. God is in the business of more than just forgiving the ungodly (if that weren’t enough). He brings them into relationship. He (the Holy God of justice) justifies the ungodly. He has always done that. His nature is to forgive. We are the ones that insist on something else. We fallen humans just can’t let it go. God forgives and forgets. Our fallen nature, insistent on judging, determined to condemn, paralyzed by the thought of unmerited favor, enraged by the concept of unbalanced justice, eating and eating and gorging ourselves on the poisoned fruit of the knowledge of good and evil…WE ARE THE BROKE ONES not God! Don’t believe me? Read the next few verses:
Rom 4:6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (ESV)
It is a quote from Psalms 32. I like how The Message says it.
Psalms 32:1 Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. 2 Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. (The Message)
Fallen David saw it. David who likely killed more people with his bare hands than most have met in their entire lives. David who did not have the Holy Spirit. David who wrote as many Psalms condemning people as praising God. David, like Adam and Eve, saw what so many “can’t see” today. We born-again believers filled with the Holy Spirit (who is constantly reminding us of the goodness and love of God), we new creation people, we children of God with the mind of Christ…insist on an angry God consumed with sin and destruction. I don’t get it. I do know what the writers recorded before the revelation of Jesus, but I chose to have faith in Jesus not blindly believe in what fallen-humans-without-a-divine-perspective have to say about a God that they had not “seen.”
So sorry for all the Bible worshipers out there. I do love my Bible. It is the inspired word of God. It reveals Jesus who is the Word. It, in and of itself, is not the Word. The living expression of God became a man and walked the Earth. He revealed the true nature of God. He went back to the Father so I could have Him in me. He is my rock. He is my salvation. He is my friend. I love Him so.
So I expect to witness more of the “wrath of God.” I can’t give a revelation I can only stimulate the desire to ask a question. Jesus has the answers. He died so we would know for certain we can ask Him our questions. He wants to reveal the Father to us. That is why He came and lived and died and lives now in us.