Since last month, before I opened this blogsite, I already had the heart to open up this topic. Not because I am angry to the world and I have to slap this thing on the faces of people, but to share the Biblical truth about God’s punishment and Human suffering. I planned to make it a series (consists of seven parts) because a single blog entry wouldn’t answer all the questions about both truths that are revealed constantly in the Bible.
What pushed me to finally make the first part is that, there has been a chaotic argument about God’s punishment and Human suffering in my surroundings. Some people would only consider Human suffering but disregard God’s punishment, and some would speak harsh and shout more about God’s punishment. For those who are already confuse on where this blog series will end, don’t worry because every insights that I am going to share are Biblical. I don’t like going beyond what is not written in the Bible.
In times like this, we should seek answers from the Word that God has given us. This is not a time for us to argue using the absurd wisdom of the world. This is a time for us to clarify things through what God has already revealed to us through His Word.
II. WHAT IS THE WRATH OF GOD?
Honestly, this is the attribute of God that I used to disregard during my high school and college years although I was trained by my parents (especially my dad) to never neglect it. If you’re asking if it is Biblical, yes it is. God’s wrath is way too far different from our own wrath. We do get angry most of the time because of pride, but God gets angry because people love sin and keep on sinning. For me to be able to explain more about God’s wrath, I am going to quote what Arthur W. Pink wrote years ago about the Wrath of God. It has everything that you need to know. He is a preacher back in 20th Century.
Arthur W. Pink on the Wrath of God:
It is sad to find so many professing Christians who appear to regard the wrath of God as something for which they need to make an apology, or at least they wish there were no such thing. While some would not go so far as to openly admit that they consider it a blemish on the Divine character, yet they are far from regarding it with delight, they like not to think about it, and they rarely hear it mentioned without a secret resentment rising up in their hearts against it. Even with those who are more sober in their judgment, not a few seem to imagine that there is a severity about the Divine wrath which is too terrifying to form a theme for profitable contemplation. Others harbor the delusion that God’s wrath is not consistent with His goodness, and so seek to banish it from their thoughts.
Yes, many there are who turn away from a vision of God’s wrath as though they were called to look upon some blotch in the Divine character, or some blot upon the Divine government. But what saith the Scriptures? As we turn to them we find that God has made no attempt to conceal the fact of His wrath. He is not ashamed to make it known that vengeance and fury belong unto Him. His own challenge is, “See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand. For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, I live forever, If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me” (Deut. 32:39-41). A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; And because He hates all sin, His anger burns against the sinner (Psalm 7:11).
The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is the displeasure and indignation of Divine equity against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of that just sentence which He passes upon evil-doers. God is angry against sin because it is a rebelling against His authority, a wrong done to His inviolable sovereignty. Insurrectionists against God’s government shall be made to know that God is the Lord. They shall be made to feel how great that Majesty is which they despise, and how dreadful is that threatened wrath which they so little regarded. Not that God’s anger is a malignant and malicious retaliation, inflicting injury for the sake of it, or in return for injury received. No; while God will vindicate His dominion as the Governor of the universe, He will not be vindictive.
The wrath of God is a perfection of the Divine character upon which we need to frequently meditate. First, that our hearts may be duly impressed by God’s detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, to make excuses for it. But the more we study and ponder God’s abhorrence of sin and His frightful vengeance upon it, the more likely are we to realize its heinousness. Second, to beget a true fear in our souls for God: “Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28,29). We cannot serve Him “acceptably” unless there is due “reverence” for His awful Majesty and “godly fear” of His righteous anger, and these are best promoted by frequently calling to mind that “our God is a consuming fire.” Third, to draw out our souls in fervent praise for having delivered us from “the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).
Our readiness or our reluctance to meditate upon the wrath of God becomes a sure test of how our hearts’ really stand affected toward Him. If we do not truly rejoice in God, for what He is in Himself, and that because of all the perfections which are eternally resident in Him, then how dwelleth the love of God in us? Each of us needs to be most prayerfully on his guard against devising an image of God in our thoughts which is patterned after our own evil inclinations. Of old the Lord complained, “Thou thoughest that I was altogether as thyself” (Ps. 50:21), If we rejoice not “at the remembrance of His holiness” (Ps. 97:12), if we rejoice not to know that in a soon coming Day God will make a most glorious display of His wrath, by taking vengeance on all who now oppose Him, it is proof positive that our hearts are not in subjection to Him, that we are yet in our sins, on the way to the everlasting burning.
III. REASON FOR GOD’S PUNISHMENT
A. HUMAN SIN
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD. -Romans 6:23
The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all evildoers. -Psalm 5:5
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. -Proverbs 6:16-19
The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful;the Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries and keeps wrath for His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; He dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before Him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before Him, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the heat of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by Him. -Nahum 1:2-6
Yes, I do believe and hold on to the love of God, but disregarding His wrath is like not loving Him for who He really is. A true Christian doesn’t neglect God’s capacity to avenge His enemies and hate all kinds of sin. We should not neglect it because it just shows that God is Holy, Righteous and Good, and whatever opposes what is good is something that He hates. Without His punishment or in general, His anger, it will completely oppose His holiness. He cannot take sin as something light because if it is, Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross is unnecessary, but it is truly necessary and always will be necessary. God needs a pure sacrifice so that our sins will be washed away. Sin cuts us from Him, and only through Christ that we will be reconciled to Him.
(I am going to talk about more on Human Sin and God’s Punishment on the next part of this series.)
But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. They despised His statutes and His covenant that He made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight. -2 Kings 17:14-20
Therefore I still contend with you, declares the Lord, and with your children’s children I will contend. For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see, or send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has been such a thing. Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. -Jeremiah 2:9-13
“You shall have no other gods before Me.” -Exodus 20:3
God hates idolatry. He hates any forms of worship that will eventually disregard Him, and I believe idolatry has been rampant today. Not just in idols that were formed from silver and gold, but also in everything that snatches the glory that should be for God alone. It could be a person, it could be things, it could be human wisdom, or anything. That’s why we should be careful on what we do. Let’s not snatch what is should be for God.
If you read the 1 Kings and 2 Kings, you’ll see what God has done to the Kings that did not remain faithful to Him. He took all the tribes of Israel except Judah from Solomon (2 Kings 11:9-13), and from then on, unity in Israel and Judah only comes when a King that is faithful to the LORD reigns. Although it has been thousands of years ever since those things took place, God still want the same thing from us. We should humble ourselves and see where we really stand in the midst of our Holy God.
C. DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD’S LAW
Although the New Testament tells us that whoever is in Christ should not be under the law anymore, but let’s just take some points from the verses that will lead us to know why do God punish.
Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against You and cast Your law behind their back and killed Your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to You, and they committed great blasphemies. Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to You and You heard them from heaven, and according to Your great mercies You gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. -Nehemiah 9:26-27
God hates any practice of disobedience. Although we are not under the law of Moses anymore because we now have Jesus Christ, but it doesn’t mean we are free to sin. In fact, we should already be dead to sin, and that is God’s will for us. It means, that is one of the things we should obey.
We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died, He died to sin; once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. -Romans 9-12,14
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. -Matthew 7:21-23
Yes, we are saved by grace and we are sanctified through and through, and since it is done that way, a life that is lived without obedience to God is a sign of an unregenerated heart. We are called to do good works through the work of God in our lives.
IV. METHODS OF GOD’S PUNISHMENT
What I am going to enumerate will be based on how God shows His punishments according to what is written in the Scripture.
A. TEMPORAL PUNISHMENTS
- Sickness – “Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the Lord, by the altar of incense. And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the Lord had struck him.” -2 Chronicles 26:19-20. What happened to Uzziah was the consequence of not following God’s law that priests will be the only people who will enter the holy place, but he got so proud of himself and neglected what God said about burning incense on the altar in the Old Testament.
- Death of A Loved One – “Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” -2 Samuel 12:14. God punished David for committing adultery and even plotted the death of Bathsheba’s wife Uriah in the battle. And since God cannot tolerate sin, he punished David by taking the life of his firstborn child in his wife Bathsheba.
- Drought – “Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives,before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” – 1 Kings 17:1. God sent drought to the people of Israel because they turned away from Him and praise the gods of other nations.
- Famine – “My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city.” -Lamentations 2:11-12. When you read the whole 2nd chapter of Lamentations, you’ll find how angry God is to His people that he even sent famine to them.
- Violent Storms – “But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.” –Jonah 1:4. God punished Jonah because God told Him to go to Nineveh, but instead he took the ship that will take him to Tarshish.
- Plagues – “What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.”-Joel 1:4. If you’ll read the whole chapter, you’ll know that Joel portrayed Israel’s enemies as a plague of locusts. There were several invasions because they disobeyed God.
- Defeat By Enemies – “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt.They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. 13 They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of theLord was against them for harm, as the Lord had warned, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress.” –Judge 2:10-15
- Exile – The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God,despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy. Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia.” -2 Chronicles 36:15-20.
V. CONCLUSION FOR THIS CHAPTER
God’s punishment does exist, and it should not be something that we should neglect. Do we have to fear Him because of this? Yes. You know why, because Jesus said “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28).”
We should fear God, but if we truly love God, His capability to punish is not a threat for us who believe and love Him because we have confidence in His presence through Jesus Christ alone. But what do that fact mean then? Should we live freely and act as if no one owns us? No. We should live according to what God wills for us. He ransomed us to worship Him for eternity, and a true follower of Christ delights in that privilege. 🙂
PS: This is just the half part of our Part 1. Stay tuned for this series. 🙂 It is my pleasure to hear some thoughts from my readers, but I pray that God’s Spirit will enlighten you all too to the truth He has shown me through the Scripture. I don’t write to start a debate or an argument. I write for the truth about my living God. I may not be a preacher and I believe that’s not my calling, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to share what I learned. I don’t see this as a form of preaching, but a form of sharing out of love. God bless you my readers. 🙂