Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wrath of God (2)

When the Scriptures refer to the wrath of God, it is often a euphemism for the powers of evil working evil in situations where sin gives them the freedom to do harm. There are many examples, but here are a few.

Great is the wrath of the LORD that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us (2 Kings 22:13).
The king was really saying that the sins of the fathers had released the powers of evil to do great harm in their nation. This is referred to as the wrath of God.
They mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy (2 Chron 36:16).
When the people mocked God’s message, they lost his blessing and allowed the forces of evil back into their nation. The prophet called this the wrath of God.

The wrath of God brings destruction.
Leave me alone so that my wrath may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation (Ex 32:10).
Jesus explained that the devil is the one who destroys (John 10:10). When the Israelites lost God’s blessing and protection, the devil would take the opportunity to destroy them.

Wrath sometimes manifests in fire.
Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his wrath was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp (Num 11:1).
We know from Job 1:16 that fire falling from the sky was referred to as the “fire of God”. We also know that it was the work of Satan (Job 1:12). When the Israelites grumbled against God, they lost his protection, and the powers of evil were able to set fire to the outskirts of the camp and some of the people. This evil is described as the wrath of God.

Miriam got attacked with leprosy when God withdrew his presence and protection from evil attack
The anger of the LORD burned against them ,and he left them. When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow (Num 12:9-10).
God did not inflict the leprosy directly, because it only came after he had gone and the cloud had lifted. The evil one moved in and inflicted the sickness when God’s protection was removed.
Wrath has gone out from the LORD. The plague has begun (Num 16:46).
The plague was inflicted by the powers of evil, but it is described as coming out from the wrath of the Lord, because God was forced to withdraw his blessing by sin.

The wrath of God is sometimes linked with fury.
I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath. I will strike down those who live in this city—both man and beast—and they will die of a terrible plague (Jer 21-5-6).
But we know from the Revelation of John that the one who is furious is the devil.
He is full of fury (Rev 12:12).
And he is the one who brings plagues on the earth (Rev 16:1). The fury associated with God’s wrath is a euphemism for the word of the evil one.

Disasters and calamities come when God withdraws from his people.
In that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us (Deut 31:17)?
When God hides his face, the powers of evil are free to work.
They made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts… Thus the land became desolate after them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate (Zech 7:12-14).
The land became desolate, because God had gone, and the powers of evil had moved in.

The same practice continued in the New Testament.
Those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth,
but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation (Rom 2:8).
Those who reject the truth and follow evil are obeying unrighteousness, wrath and indignation, but they are really submitted to the forces of evil. They have fallen into the hands of the powers of evil, but God deliberately chooses to minimise their activity, so that they do not gain too much glory.
The law brings wrath (Rom 4:15).
The powers of the evil use the law to get an excuse to attack and harm people.
Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever (Rev 15:7).
The bowls contain the wrath of God, but what actually happens is that evil on earth releases the evil one to great harm.

God is holy and just, so wrath is his natural response to sin and evil. However, sometimes what is called the wrath of God is actually the activity of the forces of evil, which have moved in when he withdrew his blessing and protection.

I had better stop here. I have already given evil more publicity than it deserves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a helpful way to understand the wrath of God and to explain it to non believers who don't want any part of "such a ruthless deity". Thanks Ron.