TEXT: NAHUM 1:1-3, ST JOHN 3:36
1 The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
2 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
3 The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
ST. JOHN 3:36
36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
We want to call attention to the second verse in Nahum 1. God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. The Lord revengeth, the Lord is furious, We don’t think of God being furious. The Lord reserveth wrath for his enemies. Yet the Lord is slow in anger, slow in power. Even though He is slow in anger and slow in power, the wicked will not be acquitted without a remedy that God provides.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. Two places we see mention of the wrath of God. Not a popular subject for a preacher, but as we are continuing on this series of a “Jigsaw Puzzle,” and this is one of those pieces, which is very hard for a Christian, and very hard for someone perhaps seeking to be a Christian to understand and comprehend. The wrath of God, we like to think that He is a loving God because of “something” and the wrath of God is always a part of history, not of a present help, but a God of the past. Or the wrath of God is perhaps a misinterpretation of something we brought with us. Lots of things misunderstood about it, because it’s very difficult to understand God as a wrathful nature. But this puzzle piece of the nature of God, as a wrathful God, is a doctrinal “piece” of the Christian faith. So these “pieces” if we leave any of them out, remains confusing to us. A piece of the puzzle that statement that comes from this, which is obviously a very angry statement to begin with, but out of it, comes a positive statement, that I have titled, “The Justice of God.” In the original texts of God’s word, we can also interpret the word “justice” as the word “crisis.” The word crisis fits in the way we see the gospel experience, experience of Salvation; it is a crisis because God’s justice is involved in this moment when He presents Himself to us and we understand Him. There’s a crisis that happens in that moment, and the crisis is present in justice and judgement. As we’re “unpacking judgement” this morning, and we’re looking at a component of God’s justice, (justice and judgement is the same thought) we’re considering one component this morning, which is the wrath of God. Justice involves 2 possible outcomes. Either we find ourselves innocent, or guilty at the end of the trial. There’s no need to consider “justice” unless there’s two possibilities of outcomes. If there’s only one possible outcome, there’s really no need for a trial, is there? Because the outcome is inevitable! Because the outcome somehow also depends on us! Then there’s two possible outcomes to this trial. Either innocence, or guilt. If are innocent we go free, and if we are guilty there’s a consequence to our action(s). Guilt in the penal sense always involves punishment. The penal sense that is has resulted in harm to a person, then that results in punishment. Punishment might be deferred, or immediate, but there’s always a consequence that arises to some sort of penalty. Punishment is a hard word to use in a Christian sermon. We all like to think of a remedy for wickedness.
The remedy for God’s wrath is Christ, who takes away the punishment that we are otherwise guilty of. We always like to focus on that! But in doing so we can become overbalanced, and we can out part of the puzzle which must be included, because if it is not, then many parts of the puzzle start to “unravel” and have no more meaning. If there is no consequence to wickedness, if there is no consequence to sin, but somehow Christ’s blood covers it all whether or not we have anything to do with it, that is a universal way to look at Salvation…but I don’t believe that is the biblical way. Otherwise it reduces the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross! He doesn’t need to go to the cross, if at the end of that everyone is saved, and no one has to face the consequence of God’s wrath. Even that statement is controversial in the world today. But if we were to look at the bible as a whole, and look for the places both in the Old and New Testament, it is present and not removed as a topic of important consideration because Jesus died as our Savior. For in John 3:36, Himself referenced the wrath of God! Because if He knows Himself as the Lamb of God, then the wrath of God is irrelevant. There’s no more relevance to the wrath of God if we consider Jesus as the substitute of the wrath of God. John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. This is Jesus talking who knows He is the Savior of all mankind! That there is a part we play, in either believing or not, in either the absence of wrath, or the presence of it. I recently finished again, a famous sermon written in the 1700’s by Jonathon Edwards, who was a famous preacher involved in what was called “the great awakening” in New England at that time, and one of the first great revivals in that country of Christian faith. He preached a sermon called/titled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” by Jonathon Edwards; A sermon preached at Enfield, CT, July 8, 1741. There was a religious revival at that time going on in many parts of that country, and many that heard Edwards preach, didn’t wait until the end of the sermon, but fell on their knees out in prayer in repentance where they were, with the conviction in tears, of being in the hands of an angry God, so that many left whatever life that had separated them from God, and fled to the presences of God! Except this congregation, there had been many that had opposed this revival, for whatever reason. Edwards was called to preach at this congregation, and prior to his arrival, it was heavy on his heart, and he felt the need to help them understand that God isn’t playing church. That despite the fact that God is slow to anger and desirous for all to be saved, He has a nature about Him that is a wrathful nature, and it is important for the individual to consider their spiritual condition in light of God’s wrathful nature. Someone that heard Edwards said it sounded like he was trying to scare people into faith. And Edwards. (one who also preached a balanced message emphasizing the long suffering of Christ to save). But on this sermon, he was speaking about God’s wrath. So he responded to the one who asked, “Is it not a reasonable thing, to frighten a person out of a burning house? That was his thought! Not that he was trying to frighten someone into Salvation, because that’s not going to work. That would be conviction compelled to respond by fear. No, he would rather cause an awareness, to understand their spiritual condition. To understand that God is a wrathful God, but with a remedy to escape. But if we don’t take God’s wrath seriously, we will remain in opposition to God and run the risk of leaving out this puzzle piece of God’s wrath. And if we leave out this piece, there is no remedy, for it then will mean almost nothing.
The remedy is Jesus that died! A man died for us! We believe this! He died for us, because we are His friends. He wishes His enemies were also His friends. So He died not only for those who would follow Him, but also for those who oppose Him! The wrath of God is present in that person who opposes the Will of God, and so until full repentance we’re all of us under the wrath of God. Wrath is hot anger, it’s not cool, not a calm agreement, but from a hot anger. Jesus is not the substitute for God’s wrath to be removed from us. Jesus is the antidote! So now it becomes necessary to seek the antidote! For we are all under the wrath of God without the antidote Jesus ! As a sinner, I would be under the wrath of God. With the nature and sins of the sinner, I would remain under the wrath of God! Jesus is not a substitute for the wrath of God, but an antidote! “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23-24 Have a self examination and ask: “God, am I yet under Your wrath?”
The Wrath and Justice of God