September 22, 2009

Is God Angry? The long-standing view of God is that He is an angry school master, ready to bring the full weight of His wrath upon us at the slightest provocation. His holiness, it has been thought, necessitates His rage, but somehow Jesus persuaded the Father not to smite us-- as if Christ were a poor boy begging his father not to hit his mother any more. As a counter response to this warped view, the trend in our age is to paint a picture of God as being so loving that He would never be displeased or disappointed by anything we do (as Paul Young suggests in The Shack). "God is love", we quote the Scripture, but then proceed to fill out the picture of what "love" looks like by using our human examples. But it is not human love that leads us to understand what God is like; it is God's love that sheds light on what Love is. The pages of Scripture (particularly in the early history of Israel and in the later in the prophetic passages) are full of examples of God's anger toward sin and His destruction of sinners. There is very little doubt that God gets angry. We also understand that His anger is rooted in His justice. He can't tolerate sin and still be called "Holy". But is His anger the last word? How does His anger interact with His love? Based on both Old and New Testaments, here are some thoughts: 1. God's Love Comes First.
 "But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Ps. 86:15 (NIV) In Deuteronomy, when Moses is giving Israel a recap of the law and final reminders before they enter the Land without him, he reminds them that that God...
The Gift of Disappointment [EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an adapted excerpt from Chapter 4 of"Secondhand Jesus". If you like, you just might enjoy the rest of the book! :) Click here to see what Eugene Peterson and others have said about it.] How must it have felt for Israel on the day that they lost the Ark of the Covenant? Not only had they lost friends and fathers, sons and brothers, not only had they lost their leader and sense of certainty and security, they had lost God. Out of the ashes of that devastating day came a question that haunted their nation for years to come: “Where has the glory gone?” In many ways, the loss of the Ark of the Covenant for Israel was just an outward sign of an inward spiritual loss that had occurred long ago. Israel had lost God when they stopped hearing His voice, when they ignored His commands and did “that which was right in [their] own eyes” (Judges 21:25 nkjv). Their attempt to pull God out of hiding and get Him to do their bidding was proof that they had been without God—the one, true, holy, awesome, loving, and terrifying God—long before that day. For us, God is “gone” when we fail to see Him or seek Him. He is “gone” when we treat Him like a lucky charm, a thing to be stowed away in a dusty chest and pulled out only in a crisis. He is “gone” when we insist on letting someone else go to Him for us instead of going to Him ourselves. In all those ways and more, He is “gone” not because He actually left but because we never really let Him be present in our lives. I wonder if He then finds a way to make His absence felt,...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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