A distorted image of God has evolved in the minds of modern Americans. It's no longer acceptable to believe that God hates sin and that his justice demands sin be punished. We eagerly embrace a God who created heaven but we soundly reject a God who warns of impending hell for the disobedient and rebellious.
God is love. He is also a God of wrath. A.W. Pink addressed this issue: “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.” Put even more simply, Divine wrath is God’s righteous anger and punishment, provoked by sin.
God loves purity and hates sin. There is a marvelous balance between his mercy and his justice, his compassion and his wrath. “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” – Exodus 34:6-7
The wrath of God is measured in proportion to the sin that provokes it. The wrath of God is a demonstration of his holiness, his sinlessness, his intense hatred for all things evil. We, too, should hate sin as God hates sin. As it is a stench in his nostrils so should it be in ours. As it breaks his heart and stirs his anger so should it also break our hearts and stir our anger.
In this post-modern age it’s just not cool to speak of God’s wrath. It is the one attribute of God that we seem to be ashamed of. We cover our lips and whisper of his wrath as if it is a character flaw. We act like the children of a father with a gambling problem or a father who spends his weekends tipping the bottle and ignoring his family. The truth is that the wrath of God affirms his holiness. He would not be holy if he was incapable of love, nor would he be holy if he failed to demonstrate his hatred for all that is sinful and unholy.
He demonstrates his love for us by sending his only begotten Son to hang on the cross and become a target for the wrath of the Father. When John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching he said to his disciples, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) While Jesus hung on the cross with the weight of the world’s sin on his shoulders, he was pummeled by the severe wrath of God. Christ, in his humanity, was feeling the weight of the Father's wrath when he cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
God is merciful and loving but even God’s rope has an end. It’s not as if he boils with anger until he finally has a temper tantrum and explodes like a volcano. God is never ‘out of control’ in his anger. The Psalmist spoke of the endurance of God's mercy by indicating that it lasts all day long. But at the end of the day God must be true to his nature. He ceases to be God if he is all mercy and no justice or if he is all justice and no mercy. God’s children, who rejoice in his love, may also rejoice in his wrath because it has provided us with salvation fro and it promises to place us beyond the reach of sin in the eternity to come.
What will God’s wrath for the sins of America look like? Our culture has become more and more sinful and we have become a nation that has forgotten God. Not content to lie in our own bed of corruption, we have provided a means for others to share in our sinfulness. America used to export steel and textiles, now we export abortion and pornography. There is a word in the book of Revelation for nations that do such things: “"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries." (Revelation 14:8) There is no good ending for a nation that is proud and haughty, a nation arrogant enough to lift her fist to the face of God. If only we would humble ourselves and pray and seek his face and turn from our wicked ways, then he would hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Must we also “drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath” (Revelation 14:10) or shall we “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent?” (Revelation 3:3)
Millions are praying that America repent and turn its heart back to God. But if we harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:8) as the Israelites did during their desert journey we, too, will invite the wrath of God. What might the wrath of God look like? In what ways could God bring a judgment that would turn our hearts toward him?
God might demonstrate judgment on a rebellious nation by allowing us to default on our debt. Some of our Congressmen think default could be as near as five to ten years. What would a bankrupt America look like? Would it be Greece II? Would suicides increase as people lose jobs and retirements they have worked for all their lives? Will the next generation live by a lower standard of living because we have spent their future? Will there be violence in the streets as lines form for the unemployed and the hungry?
During a nationally televised debate presidential candidate Newt Gingrich declared an EMP attack “would literally destroy the country’s capacity to function.” (WND, Nov. 2011) Electric Magnetic Pulse is generated by a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere. The pulse generated by the explosion can fry electrical grids and cut off energy to millions in our densely populated cities. It may take months or years to rebuild and recover. Economic activity would grind to a halt. With no electricity the internet would shut down. Cell phones could not be recharged. Food would spoil and gas would lie useless in underground tanks. During the darkest nights imaginable, crime would skyrocket. The grocery shelves would empty in hours and chaos would reign. The angel of death would sweep through the streets of our largest cities.
God could demonstrate his wrath for our impenitence by allowing us to be victimized by nuclear or biological weapons. If an illegal immigrant can so easily cross our southern border carrying a knap sack, a terrorist can cross the same border carrying a nuclear device in a brief case. Our world will become more and more unstable if Iran gets a nuclear weapon. Their success in doing so will only motivate Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to acquire nuclear weapons. Imagine a successful terrorist plan to detonate nuclear weapons simultaneously in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
The Black Death destroyed 1/3 of the population of Europe during the Middle Ages. In the early 1900’s the Spanish flu may have killed as many as 100 million people. There are at least 20 nations who now belong to the biological weapons club. (Federation of America Scientists Intelligence Resource Program) Many of these nations are hostile and are capable of causing the death of millions.
God doesn’t cast missiles and release viruses on the disobedient masses. He simply lifts his canopy of protection and allows the evil hearts of men to plan destruction for their enemies. He allows us to realize the consequences of our own sin and disobedience.
We must pray as Abraham Lincoln prayed for a nation in peril during the Civil War; “Fondly do we hope -- fervently do we pray - that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.