If you do not diligently observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, fearing this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will overwhelm both you and your offspring with severe and lasting afflictions and grievous and lasting maladies . . . And just as the Lord took delight in making you prosperous and numerous, so the Lord will take delight in bringing you to ruin and destruction; you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to possess.
— Deuteronomy 28:58-59, 63
AMIDST the ongoing coronavirus that has brought even the most powerful countries in the world to their knees, the doctrine of the wrath of God has really fallen on hard times. In today’s modern world, any concept of God’s wrath upsets our modern sentiments. It’s too disconcerting, too intolerant.
We live in a day where we have set ourselves as the judge and God’s character is on trial. We ask questions: “How can hell be just?” “Why would God command His chosen people to destroy their enemies?” “Why does God always seem so angry?”
The fact that we struggle with these questions means that more than ever right thinking is needed about the doctrine of God’s wrath. It is needed for motivation for Christian living, fuel for proper worship, and as a toolbox to confront objections to Christianity.
But we realize from His teachings that God’s wrath is just. But it has become common for many to argue that the God of the Old Testament is a moral monster that is by no means worthy of worship.
However, Biblical authors have no such problem. In fact, God’s wrath is said to be in perfect accord with God’s justice. Paul writes in Romans 2:5, “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” God’s wrath, therefore, is in proportion to human sinfulness.
“God’s wrath is his love in action against sin.”
Similarly, Proverb 24:12 says, “If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”
God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil.
But we also have to gear God’s wrath. It is to be feared because we are justly condemned sinners apart from Christ.
And it is consistent in the Old and New Testaments.
It is common to think of the Old Testament God as mean, harsh, and wrath-filled, and the God of the New Testament as kind, patient, and loving. Neither of these portraits are representative of Scripture’s teaching on the wrath of God.
And the Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.
In Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
So, looking at our situation today when we face a global pandemic that has wreaked havoc across the globe and a host of other problems beset us, among them global warming and pollution and human sins brought about by greed and corruption, could our sorry situation have been brought about by God’s wrath?
In Kerala, as if the onslaught of the coronavirus is not enough, the southern Indian state is quickly ramping up efforts to stop a potential outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus—even as it continues to battle the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country.
Kerala is on high alert after a 12-year-old boy died of the rare virus on Sunday, spurring health officials to start contact-tracing and isolating hundreds of people who came into contact with the boy, who died at a hospital in the coastal city of Kozhikode.
The virus has an estimated fatality rate of between 40 percent and 75percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), making it far more deadly than the coronavirus.