God’s Wrath

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
Is God a being of love or wrath? Should God be feared or loved? The answer is “yes”, and it should not be hard to understand. We are beings who can show compassion and anger, and still we can be a person who is generally one way or the other. So it is with God, only His love and anger can be so much larger than ours.
The scary part with people as that we can be inconsistent and unpredictable. God is not. God wants good for all people. He is extremely patient. You can even question why is He so patient with an individual or situation. He is willingly, even eager, to forgive, though forgiveness for Him is not just choosing to do so.
God is also, predictably, completely intolerant of evil. Evil is either punished in the death of Jesus or on Judgment Day, and it is punished through utter separation from God. Other acts of God’s wrath that produce temporary results are done with a goal in mind– repentance of an individual or group. Acts of wrath like this are usually after more gentler means have had no effect.
Because God does not desire to exercise wrath, it is right to say that He is a being of love. Theologians call God’s wrath, His alien nature. It is a part of His capabilities that are forced only by the presence of evil.
That said, why is the fear of God the beginning of wisdom? We all need to respect that God doesn’t just dismiss evil. He will or has already brought judgment on every evil act no matter how small. Don’t think that because there was no immediate repercussion of your evil that God did not see. We need to fear God because do not want the judgment of our evil to fall upon us in eternal ways. Jesus’ death on behalf is our one hope of reprieve. Forgiveness through Christ can be trusted and counted on, but not taken for granted. It never is a pass to do whatever we wish. Fear of God is respecting His capability to punish both temporarily and eternally. As such, you can experience God largely as a friend. His love and concern for you run deep, even if your life has caused great grief for Him.
How often do we truly see that wrath of God in its temporary form? Here it is necessary to answer in a carefully qualified way. Natural disasters, disease (like the current pandemic), personal disasters can be sorted in a cause and effect way to two categories: sin and the curse.
When we do evil and there are “natural” outcomes of that evil (i.e. broken relationships, addiction, disease, problems with the law), I would hesitate to call that the “wrath of God”, but you could. This is how the world works and why God warns against evil in the first place. I doesn’t require God to specifically seek you out for punishment.
Repeated embracing of evil by and individual or group can bring specific, additional negative repercussions. God is looking to change their course. These things can be fearsome. The Bible outlines God response to the sins of Egypt or even Israel, for example. I’m sure it still happens today, but I would always be hesitant to label things as the wrath of God without it being either told to you by God or it being glaringly obvious.
It is important to note how patient God is before acting in this way. Israel provoked God for 490 years before He finally brought the hammer down in the form of a 70 year exile. That is neither hateful or unreasonable. I would think wrath needs to come in a lifetime. God uses wrath very sparingly.
Is the current pandemic or racial riots the wrath of God in any way? I think it is more cause and effect of living in a fallen world or neglecting to pursue justice for all. This doesn’t mean that God can’t use such disasters for good. Let’s hope that this is true for these present trials.
God being parodied as a being of wrath does injustice to the true personality of God. Similarly, God being dismissed as blind, ambivalent or too weak to punish runs a foolish and dangerous course that doesn’t understand how God works. Don’t be that fool.

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