“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in kindness. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his wrath forever. He does not treat us as our sins deserve nor repay us according to our crimes.
When God looks at the wreckage we have made of His beautiful world, how should he respond? He responds with anger.
We are slightly embarrassed by the countless biblical references to God’s wrath. But our problem stems from thinking God gets angry for the same reason we do: wounded pride, vanity, selfishness, an ugly mood.
God is angry because He is good. Anger is the proper response to evil, and God is justly angered by all the sin and injustice on this planet. A loving and good God will not allow evil to claim victory.
But all this talk about God’s anger and wrath is Old Testament stuff, right? Wrong. Paul, especially, speaks repeatedly of God’s anger -- both his present anger on evil and the coming day of His wrath.
Yet, what if God Himself could suffer the punishment for the evils we have committed? What if God did exactly that by taking on human form and walking to the “Place of the Skull” to suffer in our place? This is the message of good news. Jesus has suffered the anger of God in our place.
Prairie fires often hit fast and devastate farmlands. Once, a grassfire swept through a farm on the plains. When it was over a farmer’s land was nothing but smoke and blackness. As he walked out back to survey the damage he saw the charred remains of a hen. He kicked the hen over and couldn’t believe what he saw. Out from under the hen popped several little chicks. The mother hen covered her chicks with her body to shield them from the fire.
Jesus is our refuge from the wrath of God. Paul says that God’s anger is poured out on all those who refuse that refuge. But, in Romans 5, he says, “Since we have now been declared ‘Not Guilty’ by [Jesus’] blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him.”
When we trust in Christ’s sacrifice for us, we need no longer fear the anger of God. We can rest secure in his forgiveness.
So, think of what this means? We have not acted rightly toward God. He ought to be angry and seek vengeance. Instead, he forgives.
Already in the Old Testament, the Bible speaks these words of comfort, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities.” He has covered them over in His love.
(text copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre)