Vine’s Concise Dictionary of Bible Words defines wrath as “heat, rage, anger.” “Most of the usage involves God’s ‘anger.’ His ‘wrath’ is expressed against Israel’s sin in the wilderness. In God’s dealing with Israel He was jealous of His Holy name, for which reason He had to deal justly with idolatrous Israel by avenging Himself.”
Is God a God of wrath? In a word, “Yes.” Is God a God of love? In a word, “Yes.” How do we know this? The Bible answers both questions in the affirmative repeatedly throughout Scripture.
Virtually every soul acquainted with Christianity knows what John 3:16 says about the love of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” We see it everywhere. We hear it quoted often.
How many people know what Romans 1:18-19 says about God’s wrath? “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.”
There is no question that God is a God of love. This is stated forthrightly in 1 John 4:7-8. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
However, in order for us to have a spiritually healthy view of who God is and how He deals with us, it is a somber imperative that we understand the two sides of God’s nature. To embrace a belief that does not accept this equality of the nature of God will cause a person to face an eternal, burning hell! This warped view of God is causing untold billions to be lost. “God is a God of love, and He is never going to do anything to hurt anybody.” Where in the Bible does it say that?
To incur God’s wrath is to suffer His hot anger and fierceness. The children of Israel experienced God’s wrath when they wandered in the wilderness for forty years. There are numerous passages that reveal how they suffered. Psalm 78 enumerates Israel’s rebellion and God’s subsequent wrath. Verse 49 reads, “He cast on them the fierceness of His anger, wrath, indignation, and trouble, by sending angels of destruction among them.” Psalm 95:10-11 reveals God’s wrath because of their unbelief. God said, “For forty years I was grieved [disgusted] with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways. So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest.’”
This description of God’s displeasure and wrath because of Israel’s unbelief is recorded in graphic detail in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12. Verse 5 reads, “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” How could any sane person conclude that to have been an act of love and not an act of God’s wrath?
Ephesians 5:6-7 is another passage that reveals how God will pour out His wrath. “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
A companion passage with Ephesians 5:6-7 of the coming wrath of God is 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
Hell will be God’s final and irrevocable wrath that will be unleashed upon the rebellious, disobedient, arrogant and unrepentant! To oppose God is the most damnable thing that a person could ever do! Because of this coming destruction, Jesus Christ spoke and warned us more than anybody else about the place called hell. How is it that all He had to say about that horrific place could be considered a figment of His imagination?
Even those who God called into His service did not escape when they disobeyed. Psalm 99:6, 8 say, “Moses and Aaron were among His priests; Samuel also was among those who called upon His name. They called to the LORD, and He answered them.” “O LORD our God, You answered them; You were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings” (ESV). What do these verses tell us? Moses, Aaron and Samuel were called by God Himself, and yet their disobedience had dire consequences!
God created us with choice, but we do not get to choose the ramifications of our choices. God declared in Deuteronomy chapters 27 and 28 numerous curses and blessings that were declared to the children of Israel. The bottom line being they would be blessed by Him in the most gracious ways if they chose to obey Him. They would be cursed by Him in the cruelest ways if they chose to disobey Him. Was God a God of wrath in times past? Yes. Is God a God of wrath to come? Yes. Nothing has changed.
Romans chapter 2 addresses God’s righteous judgment; verses 5-11 are very pointed. “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds; eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath… but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” This chapter states very concisely the love and the wrath of God.
How can God’s wrath be avoided? We see the balance of God’s love and God’s wrath as it is again revealed in Romans 5:8-9. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
To avoid God’s wrath, there are a host of things that we must do to walk worthy of being called Christians. Perhaps they can be summed up in three points. We must bring our thoughts, our words and our deeds into harmony with God’s revealed will. This will involve self-denial. Jesus Christ going to the cross of Calvary demonstrated that trait to the zenith! We will have to make a resolve to do these three things if we want to go to heaven.
First, we must learn to control our thoughts since every word and every deed originates with a thought. Paul commanded the Christians at Corinth regarding their thinking process. Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
Second, we must learn to control the words of our mouths. Regarding the mouth, Psalm 19:14 is a prayer. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.” Regarding the mouth, Psalm 141:3 is a plea. “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
Third, we must learn to control what we do. Contrary to what the world is saying and pushing society to believe, God will hold every accountable person responsible for his or her actions. Colossians 3:17 commands us, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” What does that mean? In simple terms, it means what we do must have the authority, the approval, the sanction and/or the permission of Jesus Christ. We live for Him Who died for us (2 Corinthians 5:13-15).
The lifestyle encompassed in these three points is revealed in God’s Word. Is God a God of wrath? Yes, He is, but that wrath can and must be avoided at any cost by all throughout this world!
by Marilyn LaStrape
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