7 Godly Sins? – the Wrath of God
If God destroys people for not obeying Him is it Wrath?
The Lord is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.
There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I stumbled across this image1 this evening and intend to spend this week, looking at scripture and our common human experience regarding these so-named “Godly Sins”. I am not an apologist and typically feel that God does not need me to defend His good name… He does just fine Himself. However, these thoughts resonated with me, and several of them I have thought myself before. As Ecclesiastes reminds us, “…there is nothing new under the sun.”
The first sin, is God’s wrath, which is particularly relevant this Easter season as we proclaim that God’s wrath was poured out upon Jesus. I won’t spend time spouting subjective opinions about the difference between the word wrath and anger. Does God get upset? Yes. Maybe all the time. It happens in both the Old and New Testament. God is not a round Buddhist monk in the sky pondering His navel. He cares for the world and everyone in it as the most loving parent cares for her children, and you better believe there is anger when those children are being killed every day – particularly when they are being killed simply because they love God or because they are unable to defend themselves. The quickest way to get your ticket punched in a bad way is to go after orphans and widows.
Even God’s own chosen people were punished for their misdeeds. Many of them (most all of them I believe) had opportunity to repent, and often some of the harshest punishments occurred when God’s own miraculous provision and deliverance was met with ingratitude or worse – the desire to take advantage of others. Let me give you a modern example. I have heard personal testimony about ministries that go overseas to help young women get out of the sex trafficking industry and help give them skills to make a living without selling their bodies. In more than one occasion, some of these women – who now experience the freedom and provision provided by God from the abuse they suffered as a child, go back and buy a young boy or girl and begin renting them out as a sex slave for money – thus making extra profit while remaining clear themselves.
How would you judge such a person? Oh, perhaps you do not judge, you might think. Would you befriend such a person? Would you do business with them? If they were working in the school system, would you let your children attend that school. Or would you instead judge them guilty and disconnect any relationship with them whatsoever?
God is the source of all life. When He disconnects from someone and stops actively blessing them, life ends and the consequences for sin (death) rushes in. I would argue, that every second someone, who is actively others, remains alive is another second that God’s mercy has tempered His judgment with punishment accorded them to lead them out of that destructive life and into a life that blesses others instead of tearing them apart. By my own standards, I think God lets some people live too long. But here is why…
God does not look upon only Christians, of Jews, or Muslims, or “good” people as His children. He loves every one of us. So, this is not like a parent whose kids are getting hurt by the neighbors or strangers passing through. God sees the mess of our world as his own children, like Cain and Abel killing each other in their own wrath and judgment. How it must break His heart to see us! Even in that case, where Cain rightly deserved death according to the “eye for an eye” rule of the great early lawmakers, God did not kill him but merely punished him by preventing him from enjoying that blessing of family he so easily rejected by killing his own brother.
Likewise, the psalmist above recounts not just God’s blessing but the punishment they faced as well and the way it helped lead them to a better path. They were grateful for it. If you don’t think God punishes us before we die and face the consequences of Hell, you are either living an over-privileged life or you are not in touch with reality. God’s wrath, as per the Bible, has far less to do with dying and going to hell and far more with the consequences of sin in our daily life here on earth. Without it, we are left with a God who could simply care less about us.
I think the crucifixion is a little oversimplified when we look at it as nothing more than Jesus taking God’s wrath for us. God was merciful in the Old Testament long before Jesus was born. For me at least, that crucifixion is a better example of our wrath poured out against God, slaughtering His only Son because we were not getting what we wanted from Him. Jesus gives His own take on it here:
The Parable of the Wicked Tenants
He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went to another country for a long time. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Next he sent another slave; that one also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. And he sent still a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Heaven forbid!” But he looked at them and said, “What then does this text mean:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.
When have you experienced God’s wrath?
How has it changed you?
- [Indeed+dog_027882_4149050]: http://static.fjcdn.com/pictures/Indeed+dog_027882_4149050.jpg ↩
- (Mt 21:33–46; Mk 12:1–12) ↩