Monday, February 23, 2015

Wrath + Love

God's Word is so amazing. I have written and taught a study on the attributes of God, and I've studied covenant in-depth, but tonight doing my Bible study I made a connection I've never seen before.

One of the first passages I ever memorized was Isaiah 54:10: "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken," Says the LORD who has compassion on you." A great verse in a beautiful context of God restoring His relationship with His covenant people, pictured as a bridegroom renewing His promises to His bride.

As I reflected on this from the perspective of the bride, I thought of the differences between human relationships. In human relationships there is almost always wrong on both sides. But in this situation, God was 100% right to be angry with His people, His bride, and put her away for a time because of her unfaithfulness. She was 100% wrong and He was 100% right. But despite the judgments of the earlier portions of Isaiah, now the emphasis has shifted to a completely undeserved outpouring of grace, love, compassion. Why? What makes the difference?

Context is key in Bible study. Isaiah 54 follows Isaiah 53 which ends with this moving and dramatic truth about God's Servant, the Messiah:

53:12 "So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, because he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the rebels, when he lifted up the sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”

An intervention has occurred. The Messiah has carried their sins. He intervened on their behalf. They were no less rebels. But He took on the wrath of God that they deserved.

And not just them ... us. Me. Everyone. Romans 5:10 says "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Reconciliation came when we were still enemies, because Jesus bore the full force of God's wrath.

A theology that omits the wrath of God is not only incomplete, it steals from us the deep joy that comes when we realize the depth of God's love. We cannot know His love fully until we realize that His Son bore the wrath we deserved. When we hear this message it either becomes the craziest thing we've ever heard, or the most hopeful. We either think there is no way it could be true, or we desperately hope it is true.

God loved Jesus fully. Jesus fully pleased God. Yet He died. That makes no sense apart from one great truth that has drawn people for 2000 years: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16).

Wrath + Love = The Cross.
Love + Acceptance of the sacrifice = The Resurrection.
The Cross + The Resurrection = The Hope of the Gospel.

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