Friday, July 16, 2010

Judgment and Joy; Wrath and Rescue

Is God full of wrath and hatred for sin, ready to pour out condemnation on sinners for eternity?  Or is he full of mercy and grace, eager to rescue sinners and amaze them with his love forever?

Biblically speaking, the answer is YES

Old Testament and New alike reveal God's attributes of both wrath and mercy.  Obviously we tend to elevate one attribute over the other, preferring his love to his judgment.  But the Bible is God's revelation of himself to us, and declares that in all of his attributes God is good and worthy of praise.  It is easy for us to see how he is praiseworthy in his mercy and grace, yet sometimes we struggle to glorify God for his just anger against sinners. 

However, justice is a good thing.  If God did not hate evil he would BE evil!  It is a glorious thing for God to right the wrongs and stretch out his sword in hot anger against evil.  He is praised in Scripture for his judgments:

And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments.  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink.  It is what they deserve!”  And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!”  Revelation 16:5-7, ESV

God is glorified when he gives sinners what they deserve.  It displays to the universe his own holiness and his passion to show off that holiness to all.  Those who observe are left standing in awe.  And how can we complain?  After all, he gave what was deserved.  He did the right thing.  Justice was served.  Glory to God.

Rather than refusing to glorify God for his justice or, worse - feeling or speaking ill of God for judging, we should let God's justice increase our gratefulness that he is also a God of mercy and grace! 

God is praised when he gives sinners what they deserve.  And we are sinners who deserve his furious wrath!  One sin against an eternally holy God is a sin deserving eternal condemnation.  And we sin every moment!  Even when we do the right thing - have we ever, even once, loved God with all our heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:5)?  This is the greatest commandment!  And no one has ever kept it.  Not even once

We deserve God's wrath!  We deserve for the angels in heaven to sing praises to God for unleashing his glorious sin-hating wrath upon us foreverBut...  (praise God!) the message God has sent us to the ends of the earth to proclaim is that he has unleashed that fury on his sinless Son, Jesus Christ, in our place at the cross!!  Oh, Hallelujah!  He became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21); took the curse for us (Gal 3:13); bore our shame and guilt and sin and sinfulness on his own body at the cross, so that we could be forgiven and rescued and redeemed and declared right with God for the sake of Jesus.  What a gospel!  He took our punishment so that we could receive his righteousness.  He took all our sins and all the wrath they deserved.  And God has, on that basis, by faith, given us the righteousness of Christ. 

God will be praised in heaven forever and ever both for his wrath and his love.  But the good news is that we can flee from his wrath because of Christ Jesus and be embraced by his love forever. 

Judgment and Mercy.  Isaiah 34 declares God's coming judgment: "For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter" (v2).  But the next chapter details his mercy for his covenant people!  "And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (v10). 

Praise the Lord in all his attributes!  Judgment and Joy, Wrath and Rescue.  He is forever to be praised.

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