“God’s wrath is always judicial” and “is a right and necessary action to objective moral evil.” – J.I. Packer
I have always been nervous when discussing God’s wrath because I can’t see how it works with God’s mercy and love. But then I read James Bryan Smith’s book The Good and Beautiful God and learned that God’s wrath is an action of God against those things that destroy his people rather than a characteristic of God. Wrath is something that God does not something that God is. His love for us is so strong and so powerful that it results in wrath against sin and evil and those things that are destructive.
In Revelation 5 we see God’s wrath appear and the reaction of those who are in its path:
15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us[f] from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their[g] wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
This is one powerful image and leaves me with two thoughts. 1) My reaction to sin and evil in my own life should reflect the distaste that God shares for the things that will disrupt and destroy my life. Instead, I often tolerate, feed, and cultivate my own sin. I should recognize it for what it is and take action against it. 2) God will make things right and bring justice to this world. I am a pessimist by nature and am burdened by the evil and injustice I see in the world but reading this reminds me that there will be no ultimate reward for evil and for evil people. Everyone that has destroyed and performed evil against others on this world will be subject to judgement and God’s wrath.
These are sobering thoughts that should leaves us humbled and willing to fall at the feet of Jesus with this prayer on our lips, “Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”