“Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Wrath – According to the modern liberal school of theology, God finished His anger management training with flying colors. That Old Testament God of fire and brimstone has been replaced. We live in a time when God is portrayed as a peaceful, grandfatherly figure, full of love and mercy, ready to excuse every sin. We have inherited a picture of God as a celestial forgiving machine, open to every plea and excuse. We have been infected with a Santa Claus myth. But the Bible does not limit God to this one-sided Pollyanna portrait. God is a God of wrath! Unless we understand how wrath describes God’s personal reactions, we will have little appreciation for the magnitude of the death of Jesus. And we will certainly not fall on our faces in awe over our undeserved deliverance.
Perhaps our cultural obsession with tolerance is really far more deadly than we can imagine. God sets the standard for all Life and God is not tolerant. Wrath is the summary of God’s attitude toward disobedience, rebellion and pride. It is not an impersonal, judicial proclamation. It is the expression of an encounter with God who is angry at the violation of His personal holiness. This is why the Bible warns us about falling into the hands of an angry God. This is why Isaiah knows that he is “undone”. In the presence of absolute holiness, human beings are terrified by the implications of their sins.
The Greek word orge was originally used in the context of “boiling up”. It described decisive actions in order to protect what is right. It was not unjustified emotion but rather deliberate determination needed to secure moral virtue. In the Bible, wrath is an expression of God’s response to our refusal to live under His covenant promise. He will protect His holiness. The actions that He takes to do this are called wrath and they involve some very serious consequences.
We need a good dose of God’s reaction to sin before we can absorb the magnificence of Jesus’ sacrifice. When you imagine what God must see as He looks over your life, don’t brush aside those pangs of guilt. Don’t minimize. Don’t excuse. Every one of those sins put Jesus on the cross. Every one was a nail. The only reason you do not experience God’s wrath is found in Jesus’ death. Someone already took the consequences for you. That’s why you serve with thankfulness.