THE WRATH OF GOD AND THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD
TWO SIGNIFICANT OFFENSES TO THE MODERN MIND IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
In an age of relativism and non-binding moral dictums, the Old Testament depictions of God as both judge and initiator or wrath stand out as causal agents of confusion and rejection in conceptualizing God’s existence. Arbitrary judgment, particularly in areas of morality and practice, can create consternation and revulsion when discussing standards and conditions of life. The bane of modern man, in relationship to the Western expression of civilization in particular is found in a mindset that ruefully avoids the semblance of canons when considering conduct. In this light of philosophic nihilism when evaluating human approbation relative to relational constraints, judgment in morality is viewed as extreme and conducive only to interpersonal conflict when dealing with the tangible differences of social stratification and interaction on a personal level.
This rejection of any appropriate semblance of God as judge containing a viable proposition is tenuous at best. As James Montgomery Boyce states in The Sovereign God: “The immutability of God’s judgments should be a warning to any who have not yet turned to the Lord Jesus as Savior. God’s purposes for the wicked will not change. It is His purpose to judge them. God will by no means clear the guilty. ”
To reject the concept of God’s judgmental nature is to defy the logic of biblical revelation. We appear poised to walk within this perceptual dilemma in perpetuity. The question should be asked, why is God’s judgment necessary? A satisfactory answer may effectively abate the humanistic challenge. J.I. Packer more than adequately answers this difficult postulation by intrinsically connecting the wisdom of God’s judgment to his revelation of perfection in Knowing God. To not judge sin would be an act of imperfection, for, “(To) not judge the world would be to show moral indifference. The final proof that God is a perfectly moral being, not indifferent to questions of right and wrong, is the fact that he has committed Himself to judge the world. ”
The doctrine of God’s positional placement of God as The Ultimate Judge is a necessary component of Scriptural revelation, first formulated in the Old Testament and continued effectively in the New Testament. Judgment is a doctrinal truth that should cause a primal pause in the soul of man. As Packer continues to elucidate, “Judgment will be according to our works that is our doings, our whole course of life.” Within the framework of the skeletal understanding of judgment exists a greater revelation that would emerge as a counter to judgment’s harsh reality, gracious salvation for those who seek a buttress from judgment’s certainty and its partner, the wrath of God.”
Wrath as a revelatory consideration is the truth of a Holy God’s positional resistance to sin’s veracity. When discussing the wrath of God, and man’s reluctance to accept wrath’s inevitability concerning sin’s condition, we are at a disadvantage. Wrath needs to be seen as more than a designation or “description of the inevitable process or cause and effect in a moral universe it is a personal quality, without which God would cease to be fully righteous, and His love would denigrate into sentimentality.”
Simply put, wrath is necessary for love’s true expression to be both witnessed and experienced. Man’s rejection of God creates the need for wrath and its correlating rejection. As author James Montgomery Boice states so succinctly in The Sovereign God that “the wrath of God is displayed against the natural man.” Boice argues that wrath by compulsion needs “to be the first truth we have to learn about Him. ” From a doctrinal standpoint, wrath is the first step in the journey toward an awareness of the need for divine love and forgiveness. God’s wrath brings recognition of man’s spiritual inadequacies in correcting the significant discrepancies of sin’s pervasive flaws that have been superimposed upon humanity’s psyche. As such, wrath is not an emotional expression against improper actions undertaken by mortal human. “Rather, (it is) that necessary and proper stance (against) all that opposes him, (it is) the idea of holiness (as an) element of wrath.”
Although wrath and judgment create problematic difficulties in composing a view of God that is compatible with the natural man and his fallen philosophies and theological speculations, wrath and judgment are necessary components for genuinely entering into an understanding of God’s nature and character. To appreciate God in the essence of his being that has been revealed through Holy Writ, wrath and judgment must be causal considerations that are to be appropriated into the equation of both God’s existence and nature. The twin difficulties of wrath and judgment are the beginning arguments of love and mercy’s essential qualities.