“And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you.” Jules, Pulp Fiction, Ezekiel 25:17.
It seemed that every song on Pandora this morning was a break up song. I changed artists a couple of times, but still – achy breaky hearts. And I needed something upbeat today. Finally giving up on the top 40, I went for happy hymns. “In Christ Alone” was playing, which was good, so I got on with my activities.
Then I heard these words being sung, “the wrath of God was satisfied” and I thought, gee, the words “wrath of God” aren’t very appealing. Which then caught my mind, and off it went. So here are my thoughts as I’m trying to sort out why God’s wrath is in a happy hymn.
You know that feeling you get when you hear on the news of somebody taking a child and sexually abusing him/her until the child is dead? It’s a very unpleasant feeling. It is probably the strongest feeling of anger I can feel. I call that feeling “wrath.” I am angry at an injustice. I want it made right. I want that child back. I want the guilty person to pay with his life. I want a life for a life, because the only thing as valuable as a life is a life. I don’t always hold that opinion, but I can go there when I’m feeling that kind of wrath. I’m not capable of carrying out the sentence myself for many reasons, and even if I could, though my wrath might be pacified, it wouldn’t be satisfied. I want that child back. And my wrath can’t do that.
Maybe wrath is the emotion we feel when a wrong has been done. And though it doesn’t right the wrong, it expresses that wrongness on the offender’s ass (so to speak).
Okay, so I just defined “Alice’s Wrath.” But what is “God’s Wrath”?
We offend God when we sin. No, we don’t shock him. He’s seen it all, even the “all” that hasn’t happened yet. But our sin is offensive to his character. Sin is doing something contrary to God’s goodness and holiness. Big or small, our sin causes wrath. And if the penalty for ANY sin is death….? Does God feel about our wrongdoing the same way we feel towards those who murder children? That’s not happy news for us.
We often imagine God’s wrath as him dropping fire from the sky when he finally gets fed up with all the wrongdoing he sees. Sick of all the murders, rapes, stealing, meanness, jealousy, and one day he’ll finally say “to Hell with it all” and that will be that.
Well. Yes and no.
The Bible does speak of judgement and the end of this world, and the beginning of the New Earth (which sounds like heaven on earth.) But his wrath against the evil of this world has already been spent. He spent it on himself. The wrongness of our wrongness deserves the death penalty. The Bible says, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Sin caused the death of our souls – and because the only thing as valuable as a life is a life, he gave his life. He took our death penalty for us.
So what I’m saying is God’s wrath is satisfied in Jesus’s life sacrifice. And he proves that his wrath is satisfied by bringing the dead back to life; first his only begotten son, then all of us who are his adopted children.
God brings the child back.
God’s wrath is different from my wrath. Mine can only be pacified. God’s is satisfied.
Which is really good news for us. And makes the words “the wrath of God was satisfied” perfect for a happy hymn.
I’m glad I pondered it. Thanks for coming with me.
Oh! I forgot the link! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENtL_li4GbE