The wrath of God is a misunderstood topic. In this sermon, Greg shows how sin has natural consequences that boomerang back to us. While God’s wrath has serious consequences for us, we need to understand how God uses his wrath.
The topic of the wrath of God has been misunderstood for a long time. Greg remembered a time when he was a kid and a priest taught him about the wrath of God and hell. This led to nightmares about being cast into a pit of lava by the Devil. Many of us have had similar fears about God being angry with us and fears of hell have been pervasive throughout Christian culture. A monstrous picture of God, best described in Edward’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, is not an accurate picture of God’s wrath. The opposite is true as well—those that abandon the idea of God’s wrath, and adopt a picture of a friendly Grandpa who doesn’t have wrath—have an equally inaccurate picture of God’s wrath.
God’s wrath is best described as a judgment boomerang. When someone throws a boomerang, it comes back to them. Last week, we learned that when we act outside of God’s intentions for our lives, we encounter decay and suffering through the natural consequences of our actions. When we sin, it acts like a boomerang that will eventually come back and hit us in the face. If we commit affairs, it will break up marriages. If we hurt others, hurt will come back to us.
God does not personally rage against us when we sin. We see this when we look at Jesus. Jesus never raged against his enemies, and God wasn’t raging against Jesus on the cross. God never lifted a finger against Jesus. Rather, God withdrew his protection and handed Jesus over to those who acted violently against Jesus. Standing in our place as sinners, Jesus experienced the God-forsaken quality of wrath. God withdrew his protection and let evil run its course. In the same way, we experience God’s wrath when evil is allowed to run its course. Instead of stopping the boomerang from coming back, God allows it to smack us in the face, and this is how God’s judgment works.
Sin functions to separate us from God. Every act of sin is us pushing away from God. And the Bible tells us that our sin causes destruction in our lives. God, in his mercy, works to protect us from the consequences of our sin. God’s judgment and wrath is not an external consequence like a judge throwing someone into prison. Rather, God’s judgment and wrath is a natural, intrinsic consequence of our sin. It is the same as a when a liver fails because someone drank every day for 30 years. Sin and evil carry the seeds of their own punishment.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see pictures of a God who promises his wrath and destruction on people that don’t follow his way of life for them. While it looks like God is doing all of this on the surface, we see that other forces are doing the actions of wrath. Other nations take over Israel. This was because there are other forces at work in the lives of humans. Evil, supernatural authorities and powers are at work in this world. When God’s judgment and wrath were given in the Old Testament, we see that these evil powers are simply allowed to do what they do. God withdrew his protection, and it resulted in evil things happening.
We need to understand that God’s wrath is a very real thing, but it has been often misunderstood. God doesn’t act violently, and he weeps over his people when he is forced to withdraw his protection. It is never his intention that we are hurt. God loves you, and his anger is not directed towards you, but rather towards the effects of our sin that boomerang back to us.
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