Reconciling the Love of God and the Wrath of God

COPYRIGHT WARNING

Isaiah 53:5b …The chastisement for our peace was upon Him…

Colossians 1:19-20 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

Isaiah speaks of a chastisement that the Messiah will endure from God in order to make peace possible for us. The Bible is clear that all human beings are in a state of enmity with God in their pre-redemptive state. Because of our sins, we are alienated from God and we cannot have fellowship with Him. In order for fellowship to be possible, all of our sins must be taken away. According to Biblical principle, this can only occur when the penalty for our sins has been satisfied.[1] Isaiah’s prophecy describes the Messiah taking the penalty we deserve and bearing the full wrath of God that was directed at us.

Understanding the wrath of God

One of the most misunderstood attributes of God is His wrath against sin. In the Old Testament, we see graphic illustrations of how this wrath is unleashed on sinners without mercy. To many, God’s anger is offensive and cause enough to flee from His presence. We should give careful consideration to why the Lord is angry against sin. God did not purpose human beings for the suffering we have endured for the past six thousand years. It is because sin came into the world that the good and perfect creation of God has been perverted and corrupted. What should be a wonderful and abundant life for all of us has been ruined by the wrongful actions of people who are doing what is right in their own eyes, without regard to the welfare of others.

Sin has prevented all human beings from experiencing the perfect life that God intended. It has caused unimaginable pain and heartache which has plagued our planet since Adam. When the Lord could endure our misery no longer, He allowed Jesus to come to earth and rescue us. In this amazing display of kindness, God allowed His own Son to take the wrath for our sins, so that we would all be spared from all future wrath.

Our vexation for sin should equal God’s displeasure. We should do everything possible to exile its scourge from the earth. All of the laws of human government are an attempt at holding sin in restraint, so that good people can live in peace and safety.

It is interesting that when we look up the definition for disease, we find that it sounds very similar to Sin:

Disease: A disorder of structure or function in a human being. A particular quality, habit, or disposition regarded as adversely affecting a person or group of people.[2]

Sin really is just a fatal disease that all human being have been infected with. God sent Jesus to be the cure for our sickness and to restore us to a perfect and healthy life.

God’s hatred of sin as illustrated in the Old Testament

Was God justified in wiping out the entire Canaanite nation in the Old Testament? For almost 900 years, the Lord warned these brutal people to cease their worship of demonic gods and the offering of their children to the fiery hot arms of their sadistic god Molech. After nearly a millennia, these warnings bore consequences, as the Lord ordered the systematic destruction of all the nations of the Canaanites.

Because of the patience of God, He was willing to delay judgement for an extraordinary long period of time. The Lord loved the Canaanites and earnestly desired that they would not see judgment but would, instead, turn to Him in repentance and be saved. Before the Lord ordered their complete annihilation, He would demonstrate for us a very important principle in the Old Testament: God’s hatred of sin is rooted in His love for us.

Although God hates sin, His love for us is exceedingly greater. Although His law demands judgment for the sinner, His mercy offers us forgiveness. The consequences of sin is death, but the Grace of God offers us eternal life. Jesus was willing to bear all of God’s wrath for sin in His own body, and die for all of our transgressions. Those who think God is willing to send sinners to hell should consider that His Son died so that this might never happen.

God’s judgment is always preceded by a long interval of time.

Before the Lord would order the destruction of the Amalekites, He would provide them with an extended period of time in which they might change their minds and come to Him for salvation. Before it is too late for each one of us, the Lord allows an entire lifetime for every person to make up their minds whether they will obey God. The Lord is always very patient, kind, and long-suffering towards us. Although each one of the Amalekites would face their own separate judgment at the conclusion of their life, the Lord would allow nearly 900 years before His judgment would fall on the entire nation.

What we find in the example of the Amalekites is that God is not angry and spiteful, instead He is extraordinarily kind and patient. Although the Lord warned these nation to cease their evil, He relented from destroying them for a very long time. The Lord always gives us as much time as possible, with the hope that we will see how much He loves us and that His ways are far better than those we have chosen for ourselves.

For an in-depth look at this issue, please see the chapter: Understanding the Wrath of God.

God’s wrath against Jesus

The wrath that Jesus experienced on the Cross was meant for us. It was because of our sins that God poured out His fury on Jesus. At the cross, Jesus took upon Himself all of the sins of the world. Instead of each one of us standing before God one by one and experiencing the wrath for our own sins, Jesus took them all into His being in a single moment.

During the six hours that Jesus was on the cross, the full wrath of God was poured out on Him as the penalty for all of our sins.

This 244th prophecy from Isaiah 53:5 describes the Messiah taking the wrath of God for our peace.

Many people do not realize that prior to Jesus death for us, the wrath of God was already residing upon each one of us. John wrote that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn us because we were already under the condemnation of God. Jesus came to take this condemnation from us and place it upon Himself.

John 3:17-18 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (ESV)

The nature of God: Love and Justice

We have embraced the grace of God but have forgotten His just and righteous hatred of sin. One of the reasons that people mistake this second attribute of God—His justice and punishment of sin—is that we don’t understand the Holiness or perfection of God. We fail to understand the full effects that sin has on human life. God, who sees every event at once, understands that billions of lives have been devastated—all because of Adam’s disobedience and our own continuing determination to sin ourselves.

What we forget is that we are only here on the earth for an extraordinarily short period of time. God, on the other hand, lives forever. Who are we to protest the actions of an eternal being with the power to create the vast universe that we have come to observe? Can we instruct God? Can we judge His wrath against sin as a wrongful action? Do we have the capacity to understand the reasons why a transcendent being of unlimited power and wisdom has determined the specific details for how all of us can be saved? All we can do is fall at His feet and humbly ask for His mercy, for He has described a day in which all of us will give to Him a full account of our life. We will not be able to utter a word nor execute a single excuse for why we did not submit our lives fully to Him.

Matthew 12:36 (Jesus Speaking) But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

1 Timothy 4;1 …Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, at his return

As surely as God has judged the horrible acts of the Canaanites, He will also bring into judgement all of our sins, if we do not repent and turn to Him for Salvation.

God is always good

There are appropriate reasons for why God does everything. If it seems that God is unfair in any regard, then we have not fully understood the purposes and plans of God.

An important principle that should be understood of God is that He is perfect in every way, and it is impossible that He could ever do any wrong. In order for God to be God, He must be perfect. Therefore, if He had the capacity to ever do any wrongful action, this would show that He is not perfect and He would not be God. Everything that He does is always Good, Right, and Just. We must understand and accept this basic principle before we can progress any further with God.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is God, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

The origin of the word “Good” came from the ancient English word “God.”[3] Those who created the word “good” used the example of God’s goodness as their model. All Good is defined by the perfect goodness of God. Any person who claims that God is not Good in every way is wrong. Their understanding of what God has done has been incorrectly interpreted. We must start with a foundation that enables us to sincerely believe that God is Good, or we will never be able to correctly understand Him in anything that He says or does.

David wrote that when the Messiah arrives, those who come to Him for their Salvation must do so with fear (deep respect), rejoicing (worship), and trembling (awareness of His Holiness).

Psalms 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling. (KJV)

The Book of Leviticus establishes the manner and attitude in which we must come to God.

Leviticus 10:3 And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ” (UKJV)

To regard the Lord as Holy means to understand that He is perfect in every way. He is completely Good, and it is impossible that He could ever do wrong. All that God asks of us is all that He asks of Himself.

Although critics of the Bible constantly highlight moments in the history of man when God brought judgement, there are far more examples of His grace and mercy and constant provision to care for all people. In reality, God is always far more patient with us than we would ever be with anyone ourselves. Our sense of justice in punishing evil provokes us to vengeance; while God waits for the guilty, giving as much time as possible for the hard and obstinate hearts of people to change.

Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them: “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die…”

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient…” (UKJV)

Numbers 14:18 The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty.

Many have criticized God for His order of the total destruction of the Canaanites. What these critics have not realized is that from the time that God told Moses that He would destroy these people, until the eventual destruction of all their nations, there was a period of about 900 years.

In Genesis 15, God informs Abraham that He will destroy the Amorites, but not until their iniquity is complete. He will give them adequate time to repent.

Genesis 15:16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.

This verse was given to Abraham at about 1926 B.C.[4]

God orders the total destruction of the Amalekites, in 1 Samuel Chapter 15, by King Saul.

This order came about 1028 B.C.[5]

1 Samuel 15:3 (the Lord speaking to Saul) Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.

God told us in advance of His actions, what He was planning—by the prophetic word. The intent and purpose of this book is to demonstrate the transcendent and extraterrestrial origin of the Bible. We understand who God is, by what He has written and how He fulfilled every promise of His word.

2 Peter 1:19-21 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts...

Many people focus on God’s order of annihilation against the Amalekites, while missing a far greater point: God spoke these words over 900 years before they were fulfilled. No matter how great the distance is from the prophecy that is given, God will fulfill entirely, everything He has said.

Isaiah 46:11 ...I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. (ESV)

Once we can understand God’s justification is carrying out this judgment, we can move on to understand the significance of this event from a prophetic point of view.

God is making a statement to the world that He loves us all, but He will only put up with our sin and rebellion against His law for a finite period of time. The fact that we can observe the judgement of God so carefully depicted for us in various places throughout the Old Testament, should greatly humble us and bring our hearts to repentance. As surely as God has judged the horrible acts of the Canaanites, He will also bring into judgement all of our sins—if we do not repent and turn to Him for Salvation.

There is a beautiful balance between God’s Love, Grace, and Judgment for sin. In this 244th Old Testament prophecy from Isaiah, we see that it was because of our sin and the future certainty of God’s judgment, that Jesus came and took all of the wrath of God for sin in our stead. Because of the Messiah’s willingness to take God’s chastisement for us, we can have the peace of God that passes all understanding.

Isaiah 53:5 … The chastisement for our peace was upon Him...


NOTES:
[1] Hebrews 9:22
[2] Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary 2013
[3] As defined by the Merriam-Webtser Dictionary, 2013
[4]According to the timelines given in the Bible for births and deaths:Genesis 16:16, http://www.matthewmcgee.org/ottimlin.html
[5] 1 Samuel 15:1-2

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