Reconciling Wrath, Discipline & the Love of God

Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Despite how some might characterize the Bible, it’s fair to say that there are some tough things to swallow in its pages. To acknowledge that uncomfortable reality doesn’t in any way diminish the beauty and authority of God’s word; it’s beauty and authority are the result of it being true, not merely pleasant. It’s simply an honest response of finite people to an infinitely good and wise God whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55).

One such painful place is preserved in the early chapters of Isaiah.

After centuries of gradual spiritual and moral decline, the divided kingdom of Israel (North & South) is called to account for their longstanding infidelity in relationship to God. When faced with the impending threat of a ruthless Assyrian Empire, God urges them to trust in Him rather than in their own plans and resources. It is an opportunity to return and be restored, but God’s people remain in their self-reliance.

Now for the tough part.

God uses Assyria – of all nations – to discipline His people. Take some time to read it for yourself, but it isn’t pretty. Its bad enough that the once great nation of Israel would be reduced to a “remnant,” but it would be at the hands of a nation considered to be among the most vile and cruel military forces of ancient times.

Specifically, Isaiah describes Assyria as “the rod of God’s anger” and the staff in their hands, “His fury.” (Isaiah 10:5) Not a way in which we like to think about our God, but an indisputable facet of His holy character. So how are we to incorporate this part of the biblical story with the parts we more naturally appreciate? See my message from Isaiah 10 here

First of all, we should remember that this is only PART of the story; certainly not all of the story. In fact, this part must be understood in the context of the larger story (GEN – REV), which is redemptive at its core, and most fully displayed on a first century Roman cross.

As harsh as any portion of the biblical record may be, none of it begins to approach the profound wrath which flooded from the Father’s hand, swallowing our Savior with the consequences of our sin. It’s near impossible to grasp the magnitude of this singular act, but suffice it to say that Jesus endured separation from the Father and the Spirit He had never known, and did so for the express purpose of securing mercy for death-deserving sinners.

And the motive for this supremely sacrificial act? Love! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16–17, ESV)

Every act of judgment carried out by God in human history was perfectly just in light of humanity’s rebellion (Check out Romans 1:18-2:11). Here are a couple messages tackling the Problem of Evil and the Doctrine of Hell from our Apologia Series that help to explain. Suffice to say, the only injustice ever carried out was against the perfectly innocent Son of Man for the good of humanity.

So, in the face of sorrowful stories from the pages of Scripture, though we are left with sobering heartache and loss, we can be comforted by absolute clarity about the sacrificial love of God (Romans 5:6-10), without which not a single person would ever be saved.

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