Wednesday, February 8, 2012

wrath like water

The princes of Judah have become like those who move the landmark; upon them I will pour out my wrath like water.
Hosea 5:10

It is not very devotionally motivating to consider God's wrath. It is a tough way to start any day! Why do Christians struggle with the concept of God's wrath, particularly when the bible is so straight forward in its description of it? I think it has to do with the way we normally express anger. We are bound to mix it with sin, just like we do any strong feeling. And we then translate our messed up experience into understanding God's wrath. We miss the reality of exactly what God experiences in wrath.

God is as holy in His wrath as He is in His love. And we must not forget that in the big picture. When God pours out His wrath, He does so balanced with holiness, truth, and justice. He does not "lose it". His wrath is the perfect response against willful sin. It is tempered with patience and kindness. He is longsuffering, but still moves in ways that His holiness demands that He act.

Hell exists as the ultimate expression of punishment against rebellion against God. Hell exists because God's holy wrath exists. And God does not want any person it perish but all to come to repentance. That is why even as Hell exists, so also do the cross and the empty grave. These give us the full picture. On the cross God poured out His wrath against all sin upon His holy Son. And at the resurrection He gave us new life in His Son so that we could escape being the objects of a holy wrath. With Jesus we can stand as sons and daughters of the Father's love.

God never speaks of His wrath without also giving us an understanding of His holiness. He also always follows with an understanding of His mercy. Even in this strong passage, God ends His revelation of wrath with a clear statement that He would be ready and waiting for His people to return and in repentance come back to Him (Hosea 5:15). God is merciful, even in anger and judgment. He pours out His wrath like water, but He also showers His mercy on the repentant sinner.

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