God’s Wrath: An Argument by Analogy

Not far from where I live is a nationwide (I think) drive-in, no appointment necessary, oil-change business.  I regularly drive and jog by this place and have even succumbed to having my vehicle serviced there, on desperate occasions.  

Every day, employees stand out in front, holding a sign that proclaims oil changes for $19.99 and beckoning people to stop for service.  It’s the classic bait-and-switch. The parameters under which one can actually get an oil change for that price are so narrow as to be virtually impossible.  But, hey, they got you in the door.

Worse, once they’ve captured you, they try to sell you stuff you don’t need. I’ve always serviced my own vehicles, but, as I said, occasionally, I’m desperate and too busy to do it myself.  One time I was in this store getting the “$19.99” service job that actually cost me $35 and change and, during the ordeal, the service manager came into the waiting room to tell me that I needed new windshield wipers.  I couldn’t believe it.  He did not bat an eye when I informed him that those wipers were brand new because I had changed them myself two weeks earlier.  He had moxy, I’ll give him that.  As you might imagine, I have not frequented this place of business in a long, long time. 

When I jog or drive by this place and see the poor employees standing out in the heat or the cold, I feel genuinely sorry for them.  They need the job.  I feel for them, but I still withhold my business.

Which makes me think of God’s wrath.  Maybe there is an analogy here, even though, admittedly, my little scenario is trivial.  It points to an important truth.  A merciful/just God eventually withholds benefit in the face of persistent injustice in order to bring about change.  It’s not a passive inactivity.  It is an active withtholding of blessing; God’s wrath revealed against all unrighteousness…     

I think this point important for two reasons.  First, I work with students who often exhibit the attitude that their actions (or lack thereof) deserve no untoward consequence.  It’s easy to dismiss their assumption that they’ll get a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th chance on the basis of the immaturity of adolescence, but the truth is, humanity suffers from this disease, especially American humanity.  Within the church the sappiest of notions of divine love prevails, a view in which God’s love always trumps God’s wrath.  

Partly, I admit, we think this way because some Christian leaders have overworked and distorted the impact of God’s wrath.  I for one don’t want to go around consigning people to the outer darkness.  That said, our shallowness on this point is truly shocking.  Maybe our society is caught in the arrested development of perpetual adolescence.

Secondly,  this analogy bespeaks the real emotions of God who loves the world and suffers its waywardness.  As I mentioned, I genuinely feel for the guys who work in that oil-change shop.  I wish them well.  But I don’t take my business there.  Does God genuinely feel the world’s pain while at the same time withholding blessing because of our sin?    

If so, those of us who are Christian leaders ought to help people grapple a little more seriously with their own sinfulness.  Instead of noticing the sin in “the other” we ought to consider our ways in light of God’s nature.  This is theology at its most practical: helping people think about God so that they can walk in faith and obedience.

About Stephen Rankin

Professionally I am an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I currently serve as University Chaplain at Southern Methodist University. Personally I am married to Joni and we have four grown children and four grandchildren. You can find my personal thoughts on this site, as well as on twitter at @stephenwrankin.

Comments

  1. Steve,

    I’m a little late, but catching up with you and your blog. A question: Must we worship a wrathful God before we can take our own sin seriously?
    In a contest between God’s love and God’s wrath, I am betting my life on His love. That is what grace means to me; if that is “sappy”, so be it.

  2. Hmm, I think the form of the question you ask is a bit wide of what I was aiming at. The primary question is not “Must we…?” but “What is God like?”

    Your betting on God’s love is a good bet. Me too. But there is an implicit dichotomy in your comment between love and wrath, which I think is a false dichotomy. Precisely because God is loving, God’s wrath is sometimes enacted.

    Actually, what I was aiming at in the blog is to try to move us away from the notion of God’s wrath being connected to rage, i.e. uncontrollable, consolable anger. Wrath and justice are connected, I think, therefore love and justice/wrath are connected.

    Again, I don’t think the idea of grace negates God’s wrath. I think you’re implying that grace may be a form of indulgence or patience on God’s part. I think grace is actually the work of the Holy Spirit to shape us into the people God wants us to be.

    So, if God’s nature includes the disposition of wrath, then the “Must we worship…” question would be answered with, “Yes, if you want to worship the God who really is.”

  3. “There will be no peace on Earth until My Son’s Kingdom. I will crush every kingdom now standing and rock the earth off it’s foundation. I Yahweh will destroy every enemy to My throne, and who can stop Me? Who can turn back My anger? No one.”

    Christ Jesus said at Matthew 10:34 “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

    While Satan works to maintain “peace on earth” and halt prophecy, mankind is alienated from God. What was prophesied long ago is currently taking place and will continue to until the battle of Armageddon.

    Ezekiel 29:8 “Therefore this is what the Lord GOD says: I am going to bring a sword against you and wipe out man and animal from you.”

    Yes, that means God is angry.

    Revelation 16:21 “Enormous hailstones, each weighing about 100 pounds, fell from heaven on the people, and they blasphemed God for the plague of hail because that plague was extremely severe.”

    We are currently in the Tribulation and the severity is about to become much worse. If you think things are bad now, you can’t imagine how bad they will become.

    Satan is not the cause of what is occurring in the world via natural disasters, plagues, pestilence, financial crisis and all the rest. It is Yahweh’s will and it comes directly from Him. He is the One in control, and the One whom is nature.

    Psalm 83:18 “May they know that You alone – whose name is Yahweh – are the Most High over all the earth.”

    Calamity will come upon mankind and it will be via Yahweh’s hand. Satan is powerless to stop Him and mankind is powerless to stop Him.

    Ezekiel 28:23 “I will send a plague against her and bloodshed in her streets; the slain will fall within her, while the sword is against her on every side. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

    Yahweh is about to bring full rebellion to Satan’s empire. As hard as he works to try and keep peace, he will not be able to halt the people from rebelling against the governments. There is a reason the job failures and the staggering economy, and the lost homes. They are all designed to culminate against each government of every nation affected by this curse from God.

    Malachi 1:4 “Though Edom says: “We have been devastated, but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of Hosts says this: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called a wicked country and the people the LORD has cursed forever.”

    Satan will bring the nations back up from ruin for a short while, but they will not hold together. During that period of destruction, the people will curse God and seek their true benefactor that is opposed to Christ and Yahweh – Satan. The Antichrist will then make his appearance. The people will be awed by Satan’s regained powers and his strength to bring peace to this world of people. But it will not last. Yahweh will see to that.

    Matthew 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!”

    All of mankind is cursed except for the remnant. Think. How many people survived the Great Flood? Sodom and Gomorrah? It will not be any different. Those events were precursors to what will occur in these End Times.

    Mark 11:12 “[ The Barren Fig Tree Is Cursed ] The next day when they came out from Bethany, He was hungry.”

    Mark 11:21 “Then Peter remembered and said to Him, ” Rabbi, look! The fig tree that You cursed is withered.”

    Satan’s family tree is barren and was cursed long ago. Mankind is withering under our Creator’s curse.

    Jeremiah 17:5 “[ Curse and Blessing ] This is what the LORD says: Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes [human] flesh his strength and turns his heart from the LORD.”

    Mankind is under a curse and belongs to Satan. It requires effort – action on the part of anyone hearing this wake up call to get out of Satan’s empire. Those that have remained are to receive the plagues just ahead. Everything else has just been foreplay. The worst is just ahead, and it’s all from Yahweh.

    When Satan’s empire totally crumbles out from under him and them as their Antichrist, this is what will happen:

    Ezekiel 33:27 “Tell them this: This is what the Lord GOD says: As surely as I live, those who are in the ruins will fall by the sword, those in the open field I have given to wild animals to be devoured, and those in the strongholds and caves will die by plague.”

    Ezekiel 38:22 “I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed. I will pour out torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and brimstone on him, as well as his troops and the many peoples who are with him.”

    Habakkuk 3:5 “Plague goes before Him, and pestilence follows in His steps.”

    That is the path Yahweh will lead Satan’s followers down.

    Deuteronomy 28:16 “You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.”

    There will be nowhere to hide.

    For the so-called Christian churches that claim to reveal Yahweh’s Word in truth:

    Revelation 2:23 “I will kill her children with the plague. Then all the churches will know that I am the One who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.”

    They are cursed especially for their lying conduct in reference to Yahweh and Christ. Remember when Yahweh killed the first born males of ancient Egypt? Now He will kill the children of Satan that make up the false churches.

    1 Chronicles 21:27 “Then the LORD spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.”

    The only way this will happen is if they repent and accept Yahweh for who He really is – in Truth.

    Otherwise, those churches professing to be true Christians will go the way of the rest of cursed mankind.

    Revelation 2:11 “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.”

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