NAHUM 1:2-8 MARCH 6, 2016
“THE WRATH OF GOD”
The wrath of God is often overlooked or ignored. God’s wrath is also not a frequent subject preached in our churches today. One also does not hear that wrath is a part of the character of God. Speaking the truth about the nature of God must include the wrath of God. The word “wrath” is listed 197 times in the NIV concordance as being used to describe the actions of God. What is the wrath of God?
I chose the book of Nahum for my second scripture reading as it provides us an insight into the Lord God. Nahum 1:2-3 (NIV) “2 The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies. 3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.” What is God so upset over?
Remember that God is holy and sin is an affront to his holiness and goodness. Hate is a human emotion that 99% of the time is not a desired response. On the contrary hate when used to describe the response of God is 100% of the time holy and righteous. The same is also true for the wrath of God. Romans 1:18-23 (NIV) “18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
God is upset with all humanity for failing to see and acknowledge Him as God, the Creator. This righteous anger continued in that people failed to see the light of the world, Jesus is the One whom God sent to save us from our sins. John 3:18-20 (NIV) “18 Whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” In the words of J.I. Packer, in his book Knowing God, states: “God’s wrath in the Bible is never the unpredictable, self-indulgent, irritable, morally repugnant thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil. God is only angry where anger is called for.” Righteous anger is even permissible for Christians when our anger is directed toward evil being committed.
The wrath of God flows naturally from the understanding that God is a judge, the perfect judge who makes no wrong judgments. Throughout the scriptures we understand that God makes his judgments upon all mankind. God began in the Garden of Eden when he judged Adam and Eve for their sin; and when the world ends and Christ returns there will be the final judgment. Ecclesiastes 11:9 (NIV) “9 Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.” Ecclesiastes 12:14 (NIV) “14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” Mankind is not basically good in our nature, but our nature is thoroughly warped and sinful
With the appearance of Jesus, the Son of God, God has given this responsibility to render judgment unto the Son. John 5:22 (NIV) “22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” John 5:28-30 (NIV) 28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
Many people think that God will not judge them and send them to hell. I find that the vast majority of those who mistakenly think this way are those who never read the scriptures. Anyone who systematically reads through the scriptures will discover God’s wrath against sin and that God will judge all people. God must judge or he goes against his nature, his holiness. Romans 2:5 (NIV) “5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”
Why do we shy away from this knowledge of God and his wrath against sin? How could we praise a God who fails to judge the great evil doers of history: the Hitler, the Stalin’s, the Pol Pot of Cambodia, the soldiers of ISIS? If God did not punish sin then he cannot be a good, holy God. Until we come to Christ, we are unlikely to make a close examination of how sinful we truly are. John 15:22-24 (NIV) “22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin.”
Most people are not willing to give up control of their lives by giving up their sinful pleasures. Yet, we cannot run away from God forever. Every person is going to be confronted with their choices in life. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV) “10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” No one has to face the wrath of God unless they make the choice to ignore the offer of Christ. Refusing the gift of Christ means that they will then face the judge.
Scripture issues a warning for those who continue to ignore Christ. The longer we resist the good news of the Gospel the more we become hardened to our sinful ways. Romans 1:28-32 (NIV) “28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
By looking at the wrath of God we will come to a greater appreciation of the gift of his grace. We can face the future judgment because we bear the name of Christ our Savior, who paid the price and redeemed us by his blood. Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) “6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” As we approach the Lord’s Table today rejoice in the fact that in Christ our sins have been forgiven and we have been redeemed.
Let us pray.