God’s Anger (Remember The Manger!)
Last post we discussed unrighteous human anger &
some ways to Biblically deal with it.
Yet there also is a holy, righteous anger.
We should feel a type of anger over
sin, suffering, oppression, injustice.
It’s a sign of a cold/hard/numb heart
to see sin & suffering & oppression &
have no internal reaction,
that smells spiritual manure & doesnt gag but only shrugs its shoulders
or breathes in deeply in enjoyment of the smell.
2 Peter 2:7-8: “…and if [God] rescued Lot, a righteous man,
who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless
8 (for that righteous man, living among them [Sodom] day after day,
was tormented in his righteous soul
by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)…”
It is possible to have righteous, holy anger,
a controlled but fierce reaction against
sin, suffering, injustice, evil.
God has this kind of anger at sin. That will be our focus this post.
I want to briefly show this in Scripture,
this anger of God at sin,
and then I want to invest the rest of our time discussing
how to Biblically think about/understand God’s anger.
- “Arouse [God’s] anger” because of sin occurs 40x in the Bible.
- “Wrath” occurs 181x in Bible (29x in New Testament);
- “wrath” and “God” appear together
more times in NT (19) than OT (16).
- “Judgment” referring to God’s final judgment
occurs over 40x in NT.
So it isn’t a topic we can faithfully avoid.
2 Peter 3:5-7, 10:“But they deliberately forget that long ago
by God’s word the heavens came into being
and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.
7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire,
being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
[I’m skipping verses 8 & 9 now; we will read them later! 🙂 ]
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.
The heavens will disappear with a roar;
the elements will be destroyed by fire,
and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.”
Romans 2:5-6: “But because of your stubbornness
and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself
for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”
You might say—“Ah yes, the wrath of God.
But that’s the Old Testament. Jesus isn’t like that.”
My dear friend, both of those passages are in the NT.
Also, God’s covenant has changed, but not His character.
God hasn’t matured & become less angry or
more patient toward sin in the NT.
God the Father & God The Son
will treat sin fiercely in the final judgment:
Revelation 6:15-17: “Then the kings of the earth, the princes,
the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else,
both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16They called to the mountains and the rocks,
“Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne
and from the wrath of the Lamb!
17 For the great day of their wrath has come,
and who can withstand it?”
Hopefully we can agree that the Bible teaches
that there will be a future judgment when God will
judge & condemn & destroy sin forever. It will not be pleasant.
But how are we to think about this? This is so important.
- A person with a knife is coming at me to cut me! Or
- A surgeon with a scalpel is coming at me to heal me.
- How we look at the situation matters!
May the LORD bless us to see His future wrath in a Biblical way.
We Must Understand the Horribleness Of All Sin
After listing how God will judge His people, He tells Ezekiel—
Ezekiel 14:22-23: “Yet there will be some survivors—
sons and daughters who will be brought out of it
[God’s consequences for his people at that time].
They will come to you, and when you see their conduct and their actions,
you will be consoled regarding the disaster
I have brought on Jerusalem—every disaster I have brought on it.
23 You will be consoled when you see their conduct and their actions,
for you will know that I have done nothing in it
without cause, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
If we truly saw what all sin really is
- we’d agree with God’s ultimate response;
- we wouldn’t struggle with God’s judgment;
- we might struggle with it taking so long to happen.
Describing sinfulness as brokenness only tells part of the story.
My watch may be broken, but it doesn’t rebel against me personally.
The Bible describes our sinfulness as malfunction & malevolence.
We not only dont work as God designed us,
we work against Him Who designed us.
That’s the issue, my friends—Christ came in deepest, purest love
to enable us to trade loves, trade what we treasure…
we must give up one & cling to the other.
“No one can serve two masters,
either he will hate one and love the other,
or you will be devoted to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).
We humans love our sin.
Perhaps not everyspecific instance of sin,
but we love the root of all sin:
- being in charge of our lives,
- doing things our way,
- being our own boss (Isaiah 53:6).
We love it & cling to that so-called independence
more fiercely than the patriots in the revolutionary war—
indeed humans are willing
to die eternally for such independence!
We scream to God, “Give me liberty…or give me death!
Give me liberty, freedom, to do what I want, when I want,
to make my own decisions according to what I think is best,
give me that, or give me death…
without self-sufficiency, being my own boss & god, I’d rather die.”
That’s the issue.
We don’t realize, though, that such “liberty” actually is death.
We Have Very Little Experience With Righteous/Pure Anger
We must see God’s anger as different from our anger.
His anger is always appropriate, not too much, not too little.
Even when it seems to us like it is too much or too little,
we must trust that He is God, and His ways are not our ways.
Our struggle will always be to make God in our image,
having our values,
instead of us being re-made in His image,
having His values.
Though many have had brutal earthly fathers,
we must not think that His anger against sin is like that—
uncontrolled & abusive.
We must also not go to the other extreme &
make God into a benign grandpa just giving treats &
letting us do whatever we want/never holding us accountable.
He is the One True God & Father, & He is slow to anger…
but not never to anger.
Isaiah 5:15-16:“So people will be brought low
and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.
But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice,
and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts.”
Exodus 34:5-7a: “Then the Lord came down in the cloud
and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord.
6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming,
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion & sin.
Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…”
This isn’t the opposite of His love…this is part of His love.
Either Christ took our guilt on the cross,
or we keep our guilt for eternity.
Psalm 78:36-39: “But then they would flatter him with their mouths,
lying to him with their tongues;
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a passing breeze that does not return.”
The Only Way To Make The Universe Safe Is To Judge/Destroy Sin
Reveleation 21:3-5: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people,
and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people, and God himself will be with them
and be their God.
4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Then he said, “Write this down,
for these words are trustworthy and true.”
- Can’t have Easter without Good Friday;
- can’t have the promise above without Judgment Day.
- Only way to truly make people truly healthy
is to destroy all chance of disease forever.
And the only way to make the universe new & safe is to destroy sin.
Once & forever.
Not just mop up the spills of sin: racism, selfishness, idolatry,
betrayal, unforgiveness, greed, adultery, etc…
but turn off the faucet and dry up the well from which sin flows.
And so Christ came in love to die & rise again
to enable us to trade loves;
trade our love for sin for love for Him.
But if we won’t, if we won’t admit our sin
and cry out to Jesus to pry our grip from sin
and embrace Him as our Savior & King,
it is also out of love that He will sink all sin—roots & weeds—
to the bottom of the abyss forever.
If we won’t leave the sinking Titanic of our sin that we love,
if we won’t humble ourselves &
get in (what seems like) the “dingy” lifeboat of His free salvation
(compared to the “impressive opulence” of the Titanic of our sin),
if we insist on going down with the ship of our sin,
clinging fiercely to our independence,
it is loving for Christ to sink sin forever,
knowing that humans made in His image will be sunk too.
If we wont trade our loves,
it is loving for Him to let us grip our sin forever,
& be forever gripped by it, separated from Him.
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
To be clear, He takes no delight in the death of the wicked
(Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11), His good & holy anger against sin
does not mean He enjoys or laughs maniacally
at this final sinking of all sin.
But it is not just anger that does this; it is also love.
Dear friends, you can go to jail for a long time
for leaving bruises on another’s face;
we know its loving to enact some kind of punishment
if we go around leaving bruises all over people’s bodies.
How much more serious when we leave wounds on the souls
of other humans, either intentionally or unintentionally,
every day through our sin?
Many of us still wince at the pain of things said/done to us
from decades before,
even when we’ve reconciled with the person…
How much more loving is it for God
to eventually end humanity’s ability to leave soul-scars?
It is loving to end such a horrific disease, the disease of sin.
And no one needs to keep their disease forever,
there is a free and guaranteed cure,
there is room on the lifeboat,
there is freedom and pardon for anyone
currently on spiritual death row.
The Son of God became a son of man
so that sons & daughters of man
could become sons and daughters of God.
He died to forgive & make new & adopt & cure
diseased sinners like you & me
so we don’t have to fear His final judgment…
amazing love, how can it be, that You my King would die for me…
amazing love, I know it’s true,
and it’s my joy to honor You, in all I do, I honor You…
Please reflect on all this:
Some buildings are so filled with disease/bacteria,
so rotted from termites/decay/asbestos,
from a meth-lab in the basement,
from so much black mold & a crumbling foundation,
that the building is condemned.
It is no longer safe for anyone to be in that building,
& so the building is decreed to be knocked down & leveled.
Efforts are made to ensure that no one is actually in the building
when it is destroyed, but one way or the other,
the building must be brought down
so something new, healthy, clean, pure, safe and secure
can be built in its place.
It is loving to knock down such a building,
it is unloving to leave it standing forever,
allowing people to go in and out of it.
Oh dear friends, that is the fate of
this current world and universe.
It is condemned because of the spiritual termites and asbestos
and spiritual meth lab and black mold of all sin…
not just his/her sin, not just “their” sin,
but my sin and your sin as well.
The LORD will destroy this current universe by purifying fire
and build a new heavens and a new earth
where righteousness and purity and safety will reign—
the old order has passed away, no more mourning or sickness
or crying or pain. This is loving for Him to do!
The free offer of the Gospel is made to all sinners
to get out of that condemned building
and run into the name of the LORD, our strong tower,
taking refuge in His name given for us,
not in our name made for ourselves.
But the building will come down,
and so will all who refuse His name
and take refuge in the decaying walls of sin.
2 Peter 3:8-9: 8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day.
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise,
as some understand slowness.
Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.
That is how we must frame up & look at
God’s final judgment against sin…
Last post we looked at human anger, which is often unrighteous:
human anger is one letter away from danger.
This post we looked at God’s righteous anger against sin.
If it troubles you to think of God’s anger, remember the manger!
Remember what it cost Him to forgive & cleanse sinners like us–
the price He willingly paid, consider the lifeboat of Christ,
made out of the wood of the cross,
provided graciously by the Father–
when we read of Him justly sinking the Titanic of sin.
Remember the manger!
If someone spills something and makes a mess,
it is polite and kind to help them clean it up.
There’s even an expectation that we should help someone
when they spill their books at school or
spill a bag of groceries in the parking lot.
But my friends, the LORD wasn’t obligated
to send His Son to the manger & cross,
He didn’t have to clean up our mess…
He would have been right to provide no way of
salvation, escape, pardon and new life.
But He did…at great cost to Himself, oh He did.
Have you received that free gift by faith?
Are you on Christ’s Lifeboat?
When you think of God’s anger, remember the manger…