This is part 3 in the series of Putting God’s Wrath in Perspective. We started by considering the fact that God is God. We are not God and really have no say in who God is or what He does. He could be nothing but wrathful, but we discover that God is, ultimately, love.
From there we discover that God’s wrath in history is employed to achieve the ends God purposes to accomplish, beginning with meting out justice, but more importantly to accomplish His ultimate purposes. His ultimate purpose is to bless the entire world and to reconcile the world to God and to mete out justice as justice is due.
This can only make sense, really, in the context of eternity. If this world is all there is, a just God would have to accomplish justice within the parameters of time. He would have to accomplish justice for each person during the life span of each person. That would be impossible to accomplish in a world in which individuals have real choice.
We tend to think of justice in terms of our own experiences. We think of justice at first instance in terms of our own lives; then we look out to the world that we know in the time in which we live. Justice is lacking in our experience – both in our own lives and in the world in which we live. In fact, if we are honest, injustice seems to be the norm.
Yet, we have this insatiable ideal and longing for a just world.
Where exactly does that come from? If justice seems so elusive in this world, why are we not simply accepting of the “way it is”? This is all we know. Why do we long for – actually insist on – something different from the injustice that is our experience?
I suggest, as do many others before me, that this longing for something that we have never fully experienced is evidence that there is something more – some reality – other than what we know that we can sense but not fully realize. I think this is so because we live in space and time, and this reality for which we long exists outside of space and time. We are matter living in a material world (as Cindi Lauper crooned), but that is not all we are. We are intelligence, mind, conscience, will…. Though these things are part of who we are, they are contained presently in the matter that we call our bodies.
This is our present lot, but it is not all that we are meant to be. Thus, a longing for something else.
This is philosophical, but it is also biblical. God created the universe (time, space and matter) out of nothing He created the see from the unseen), and He created us from the same material of the universe (“dust”), but he breathed His Spirit (the unseen) into us. We have knowledge like God (including knowledge of good and evil – cross reference the Adam, Eve story), but we do not presently have eternal life (the other tree in that Garden).
As the story goes, the temptation of the one thing we could not have was too much. That was the risk of giving us free will – the ability to choose our own way and to learn right from wrong. Once we knew we had a choice, it was nearly inevitable we would exercise it – and exercise it contrary to God’s purposes. But, God being all-knowing (because He stands outside of time – He knows the beginning, in between and the end), His plan would be carried out anyway – in spite of the choice He gave man.
Subject to corruption by the very choice God gave us, He could not give us eternal life at the same time – else, we would be eternally locked into the corruption we chose. So, we are confined to time and space in this matter called our bodies because God’s plan is to give us another choice – the ability to choose Him!
Our eternities rest on this choice.
The wrath of God we see played out in history is evidence of the serious business life is. Though we may fail to grasp it, this life is not all there is. This life is a springboard to eternity, when time, space and matter end, and eternity is all that is left – all there ever really was.
This life will launch us into that eternity. We will either spend that eternity in harmony with God or in opposition to and tension with God. The “wrath” of God in history is nothing compared to an eternity “separated” from Him (in opposition to Him). If God us love and is the author of all that is good, an eternity separated from Him (or in opposition to Him) is an eternity separated from love and all that is good.
These are high stakes – so high that God will not stand by watching without warning.
We feel something of God’s wrath and of His love in this present life, filtered as they are through time, space and matter – human experience. Like the longing we cannot quite grasp, these elements of God are sensed but not fully realized. Sensed as they are through our finite experience, we define them as “wrath” and its opposite “love”. In truth, these are the experiences of being positioned in our attitudes contrary to God or positioned in harmony with God.
See the final segment in the series on Putting the Wrath of God in Persepctive – Love of God and Wrath of God through the Filter of Human Experience.