Thursday, October 30, 2014

Is God Wrathful?

So many Christians hang their hat on the saying that "God is love" and it is true that is what John says in his 1st letter to the churches. I believe that far too often, we as believers, pigeonhole God by saying this... now don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that God IS love! However, I fear that for many who hear this phrase they may only see God as some hippie type, love fest guru who is incapable of anything but a syrupy, namby-pamby approach to the evils of this world.

Let me say this as plain as I can, God is NOT weak in His approach and handling of evil. God is NOT some hippie type guru of 'love' who eschews all forms of anger. I am saying this so that our minds can understand it... God DOES get angry and God DOES show that anger in action from time to time.

In Nahum 1 God's wrath and anger is written about by His prophet Nahum. Nahum is writing about the Assyrians whom God had allowed to conquer Judah because of Judah's disobedience and sin. They had taken God's people into captivity and God used the Assyrians as instruments of discipline for His people. Some 150 years before Nahum, a prophet named Jonah, was sent by God to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh to preach repentance. It was the MOST wicked of all cities and Jonah did not want to go. We know his story. When he finally arrived in Nineveh and preached God's message of repentance; to Jonah's disbelief (and dismay - because he wanted God to destroy them) Nineveh repented and there was a great revival. God relented from his anger because they repented, but that did not last. In fact, by the time of Nahum the city of Nineveh had become even MORE evil than in the days of Jonah and God's anger had increased toward them.

God had used them as instruments of discipline, but He did not overlook their own sinful and evil ways. In this chapter Nahum begins to reveal this angry and wrathful God and how He was going to deal with Assyria. They had come to think that they were invincible and all powerful, but here God proclaims his very ominous power over not only them, but over all creation.

v1 reveals God's jealousy. I believe that this word jealousy, which is the Hebrew word kan-naw and is the same word used in Ex 20:5 where God says you shall have no other gods before ME! I am a JEALOUS kan-naw God. This jealousy is not one like human jealousy but it is God's demand of our focus on Him. He is Creator and we were created FOR Him and when we stray from that focus it displeases Him. I also see this as God's jealous intention toward those He loves and protects...He will not leave them abandoned, He will redeem them!

Another adjective used in v1 is 'avenging' noh-kahm which is a reference to the surety of vengeance. In Deuteronomy God says, "Vengeance is mine..." speaking of the future of those who oppose Him. Calamity will come to those who oppose Him. Here Nahum was speaking this calamity on the Assyrians, specifically Nineveh. God's judgment was coming and was imminent!

A final adjective for v1 is wrath, which is the Hebrew word bah-hahl which speaks to punishment inflicted by one who rules. God is saying thru Nahum that HE is in charge and that He will bring punishment onto those who oppose Him. This message was specifically FOR the Assyrians, but when we look at it today we can KNOW that God's wrath is poured out on ALL who oppose Him.

In v3 Nahum speaks of the patience of God and we see this spoken of by the Apostle Paul in that God's patience as it pertains to sin, evil and judgment. There are some in the world who castigate Christians for believing in a God who could allow so much evil in the world. There is an abundant amount of evil and treachery in this world, but what boggles my mind is how quickly humans assign this evil to God rather than taking responsibility for that evil themselves. God allows us, His creation, the freedom of will and we choose to turn away from Him and follow our own path. The evil of this world does not come from God, but it is a direct result of our sin. Any evil perpetrated in our world stems from sinful hearts and from the one who seeks to destroy us and tear us down [Satan]. Nahum's words here remind us that God is a patient God who is slow to anger, but he is also reminding us that evil will not go unpunished. He says, "the Lord will by NO means clear the guilty..."

Now this is statement may be a problem for many outside the church, especially when Christians constantly preach that we are ALL sinners and have fallen short of God's glory. Our message says that all are 'guilty' of sin and if this is applied to this verse, to the outside world it would bring a message of no hope because it says God will not clear the guilty.

But there is good news, all hope is NOT lost! The Good News of the Gospel is that God has made a way where His creation can stand before Him NOT guilty! This 'way' is in Jesus, who proclaimed, "I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE, no one comes to the Father except through Me." God is patient and prudent before judgment, and God has provided a path of redemption for those who will turn to Him. However, we cannot overlook the fact that ultimately judgment will come and IS coming and at that time (in God's time) the guilty will be judged as such. The guilty are those who openly oppose God/openly defy His rule as Creator.

The God of Nahum is the same God Paul preaches in his letters and the same God John proclaims in his letters to the church. This is a God who loves His creation, but we cannot simply believe that God is some weak minded lovey-dovey hippie who cannot be angered. He is God and He is Creator. He is God and He is holy and just. He is God and He is in control. Knowing this we must understand that God is angered at any sin and He will punish those who oppose and defy Him. That punishment is always going to be in God's timing, but it is imminent.

With that being said, all the wrath and punishment that is DUE those who oppose God has been taken upon the shoulders of Christ upon the Cross of Calvary. Every ounce of God's wrath against sin and those who oppose Him was thrust upon Jesus. Paul described it like this, he said that Jesus 'became sin for us'. This means that ALL of what we are guilty of, Jesus willingly stepped in and took the punishment and endured the shame. If you will accept and receive Jesus as Savior, the guilt of your sin will be erased and you will stand justified and NOT guilty in God's sight, all because of Jesus!

God's avenging wrath is REAL, but in Christ we are sheltered, delivered and redeemed from that wrath and the punishment it brings. We are restored by Christ to the created order...innocent and pure before God. Isn't wonderful news that a wrathful and avenging God can love us and forgive us and make a way that His wrath will not fall upon us... PRAISE HIM!

No comments:

Post a Comment