Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I, even I, am against you, and I will execute judgments among you in the sight of the nations. ‘And because of all your abominations, I will do among you what I have not done, and the like of which I will never do again.
Ezekiel 5:8-9 NAS
Thus My anger will be spent, and I will satisfy My wrath on them, and I shall be appeased; then they will know that I, the LORD, have spoken in My zeal when I have spent My wrath upon them. ‘Moreover, I will make you a desolation and a reproach among the nations which surround you, in the sight of all who pass by.
Ezekiel 5:13-14 NAS
We don’t like people who get angry, they are problematic and irritating. They inflict their frustrations on everyone and the collateral damage can be overwhelming. We see anger as a loss of control often driven by arrogance and pride as they impose their will on those who are less determined. They hurt others, leave a trail of chaos and devalue others to place themselves at the front of the line. We lose respect for people who cannot control their own dysfunction and we hate it when they turn others into victims of their own problems. So when we read about God’s anger and wrath we tend to project our experiences with humans back on to God and wonder why God would lose control like this and take it out on mere mortals. We might concede that God has a right to deal with sin but for most of us, God’s response seems like overkill, pardon the pun.
But the reality is that God is not human. Everything we see in the human experience is plagued with problems if we use it to try and understand God’s anger and wrath. We have to remember that we have to consider God’s attributes or perfections do not operate in isolation; they are a holistic complex of perfections that always work together. In other words we don’t think of just God’s anger as an isolated response to the sin of humanity. We need to see this is God’s holy, righteous anger. Neither does anger operate independent of His love, compassion or mercy. These complex of attributes operate perfectly together so that no injustice or wrongdoing is even an accidental byproduct of God’s actions. His judgment is driven by His holiness and His anger over sin but cannot be separated from His love, compassion or mercy. For our finite, and I might add dysfunctional mindset, thinking this way may seem impossible. When we get upset, we are out of balance when one aspect of our personality or emotions overwhelms everything else; we don’t think properly, we can reason accurately and common sense is undermined.
Our struggle is that we can’t comprehend that God’s wrathisrighteous because of how abhorrent sin is to His very nature. What we would consider a complete overreaction when God judges, is a failure, not on God’s part, but our finite and limited ability to comprehend how offensive sin is to a perfectly holy and righteous God. When we conclude that a certain action is not really that bad, God’s holiness is offended beyond words. His wrath on His own people, much less other nations, is never some knee-jerk reaction where God suddenly loses control because some human king pushes God’s buttons the wrong way. God is patient, loving, kind and forgiving but when humanity continually “spits in His face” by excusing their sinfulness there is a point when God engages His righteous judgment on rebellious and sinful people; it Is not like they were not warned about it.
What about extreme judgment that affects families including children, the elderly and the “innocent”?One of the typical examples is Achan in Joshua 7. When Achan decides to take items banned by God. It is obvious that this is a private sinful action. But when his sin is exposed the judgment falls on all family members including children. While there may be debate whether all these people are innocent and naïve about the theft the judgment seems extreme. Why do all these people need to die over one person’s action? What this shows is that sin is never just a private matter. Our sin can impact others where God’s judgment consumes any and all who are in its path. Is this fair? God is showing us that sin is destructive and when His people do not repent they are others who are in harm’s way.
God is just and He is righteous. God must judge sin because it is abhorrent to His character. Like a sliver embedded under our finger nail, so is sin like a sliver in the hand of God. He cannot tolerate the incisive nature of sin. He hates sin and will judge sin.
Under His grace,
Pastor Brad Little