Read Psalm 76:1-12
Righteous Wrath—Oh What A Relief!
Surely your wrath against men brings you praise,
and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
Ask most people and they will tell you they prefer a God of love, not wrath. They like the Jesus who is “full of grace,” but they are not so sure about the Christ whose grace is perfectly balanced with “truth.” People get very uncomfortable with a Deity who actually punishes sin, preferring a world where “all dogs go to heaven,” as do all people. All of which would render judgment, punishment and hell entirely irrelevant.
Yet throughout the Bible we find in the Triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—a capacity for righteous wrath: Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed by fire, moneychangers are given the bum’s rush right out of the temple, greedy Ananias and Sapphira drop dead in church, and at the proper time, the living and the dead will face the final judgment. Though perfectly loving, resplendent with grace, unequaled in patience, a place of safety for his children, God is also a bit dangerous because he is organically just.
I prefer a God like that. I don’t won’t the syrupy, doting eternal Santa Claus who does nothing but dispense goodies to one and all—even the bad ones. I want a God who is fair and true and just…and dangerous.
However, what I prefer, what anyone prefers, matters little. Like it or not, the kind of God we get is a God of love—and of justice! Likewise, the kind of Savior we get wasn’t the sugary sweet version so many in our culture have made him to be—a sanitized, tame, Mr. Rogers version of Christ. Dorothy Sayers was right,
“To do them justice, the people who crucified Jesus did not do so because he was a bore. Quite the contrary; he was too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have declawed the lion of Judah and made him a housecat for pale priests and pious old ladies…“To do them justice, the people who crucified Jesus did not do so because he was a bore. Quite the contrary; he was too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have declawed the lion of Judah and made him a housecat for pale priests and pious old ladies… To those who knew him, however, he in no way suggests a milk-and-water person; they objected to him as a dangerous firebrand.”
But the Bible is quite clear: Jesus is no pussycat—he is the Lion of Judah, and one day, as II Timothy 4:1 says, “Jesus Christ [will] judge the living and the dead.” And on that day, all of heaven will thunder, “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One…Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.” (Revelation 16: 5,7)
All of creation, including you and I, will be utterly amazed at the justice and fairness of God’s judgment, and we will stand in solidarity and declare in unison, “That’s exactly right—true and just are your judgments!”
Justice will finally be served by the only One who can be trusted to judge in righteousness and fairness. What a relief!
“When the author walks on the stage the play is over. God is going to
invade, all right…something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible
to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it
will be God without disguise…it will be too late then to choose
your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down
when it has become impossible to stand up.”
— C.S. Lewis