The Wrath of God
“…They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 (NIV UK)
Have you ever heard the phrase: The Wrath of God? It’s the kind of saying that sends shivers down your spine and conjures up imagery from Dante’s Inferno. But when you really think about it, what does “the wrath of God” actually mean? How can God be fully love and also pour out wrath? It’s a question that has baffled many scholars for thousands of years.
I want to tell you a story…
More than 20 years ago, my family and I joined another family for a camping trip to the Arizona desert. And as you know, out there you need to remember to check your shoes for scorpions. You usually come up with nothing, but it’s good to be safe. However, one morning, when my friend’s son picked up his shoe to put it on, we all saw a scorpion crawling up onto the little boy’s hand. The father jumped up and slapped the scorpion into the dirt before it could strike—saving the boy’s life. But the child started crying. Why?
Because from his perspective, his father had run over and slapped his hand—not the scorpion. He thought his dad was angry with him. But nothing could be further from the truth. My friend had acted out of a deep emotion of love. Like every father, he wanted to protect his child from harm. And you know what? I think we can see God’s wrath in the same way.
In the Bible, the Apostle John tells us that God is love. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16b). Since the essence of God’s being is love, it’s inherently contradictory to view his divine anger as an equal and separate attribute. And there is no place in Scripture that speaks in the same way, declaring that God is wrath. Rather, God’s anger is an aspect of his love. His anger arises when the object of his love is being harmed in some way. In fact, if God were not opposed to what is destructive to us and our relationship with him, God would not really be loving at all! The vehemence of his wrath is proportional to the strength of his love.
So the next time you’re reading your Bible and you come across a passage about God’s wrath, remember to keep things in perspective—His perspective.
Holy Father, you tell us to come to you as little children, children who know only in part and too often act from that part knowledge. Keep us safe, surrounded by your love, even if it requires your rod of correction. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by Joe Tkach
About the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA. You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.