Articles

The Wrath of God: What Is It? By A.W. Tozer
 

The Wrath of God: What Is It? By A.W.Tozer

IT IS RARE that there is anything good in human anger. Almost always it
springs out of unholy states of heart, and frequently it leads to cursing
and violence. The man of evil temper is unpredictable and dangerous and is
usually shunned by men of peace and good will.

There is a strong tendency among religious teachers these days to
disassociate anger from the divine character and to defend God by explaining
away the Scriptures that relate it to Him. This is understandable, but in
the light of the full revelation of God it is inexcusable.

In the first place, God needs no defense. Those teachers who are forever
trying to make God over in their own image might better be employed in
seeking to make themselves over in the image of God. In the Scriptures "God
spake all these words," and there is no independent criterion by which we
can judge the revelation God there makes concerning Himself.

The present refusal of so many to accept the doctrine of the wrath of God is
part of a larger pattern of unbelief that begins with doubt concerning the
veracity of the Christian Scriptures.

Let a man question the inspiration of the Scriptures and a curious, even
monstrous, inversion takes place: thereafter he judges the Word instead of
letting the Word judge him; he determines what the Word should teach instead
of permitting it to determine what he should believe; he edits, amends,
strikes out, adds at his pleasure; but always he sits above the Word and
makes it amenable to him instead of kneeling before God and becoming
amenable to the Word.

The tender-minded interpreter who seeks to shield God from the implications
of His own Word is engaged in an officious effort that cannot but be
completely wasted.

Why such a man still clings to the tattered relics of religion it is hard to
say. The manly thing would be to walk out on the Christian faith and put it
behind him along with other outgrown toys and discredited beliefs of
childhood, but this he rarely does. He kills the tree but still hovers
pensively about the orchard hoping for fruit that never comes.

Whatever is stated clearly but once in the Holy Scriptures may be accepted
as sufficiently well established to invite the faith of all believers; and
when we discover that the Spirit speaks of the wrath of God about three
hundred times in the Bible we may as well make up our minds either to accept
the doctrine or reject the Scriptures outright. If we have valid information
from some outside source proving that anger is unworthy of God, then the
Bible is not to be trusted when it attributes anger to God. And if it is
wrong three hundred times on one subject, who can trust it on any other?

The instructed Christian knows that the wrath of God is a reality, that His
anger is as holy as His love, and that between His love and His wrath there
is no incompatibility. He further knows (as far as fallen creatures can know
such matters) what the wrath of God is and what it is not.

To understand God's wrath we must view it in the light of His holiness. God
is holy and has made holiness to be the moral condition necessary to the
health of His universe. Sin's temporary presence in the world only accents
this. Whatever is holy is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that must end
ultimately in death. The formation of the language itself suggests this, the
English word holy deriving from the Anglo-Saxon halig, hal meaning well,
whole. While it is not wise to press word origins unduly, there is yet a
significance here that should not be overlooked.

Since God's first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its
holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal
displeasure. Wherever the holiness of God confronts unholiness there is
conflict. This conflict arises from the irreconcilable natures of holiness
and sin. God's attitude and action in the conflict are His anger. To
preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. When He
arises to put down destruction and save the world from irreparable moral
collapse He is said to be angry. Every wrathful judgment of God in the
history of the world has been a holy act of preservation.

The holiness of God, the wrath of God and the health of the creation are
inseparably united. Not only is it right for God to display anger against
sin, but I find it impossible to understand how He could do otherwise.

God's wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He
hates iniquity as a mother hates the diphtheria or polio that would destroy
the life of her child.

God's wrath is the antisepsis by which moral putrefaction is checked and the
health of the creation maintained. When God warns of His impending wrath and
exhorts men to repent and avoid it He puts it in a language they can
understand: He tells them to "flee from the wrath to come." He says in
effect, "Your life is evil, and because it is evil you are an enemy to the
moral health of My creation. I must extirpate whatever would destroy the
world I love. Turn from evil before I rise up in wrath against you. I love
you, but I hate the sin you love. Separate yourself from your evil ways
before I send judgment upon you."

"O Lord,- . . in wrath remember mercy" (Hab. 3:2).

(From: Man, The Dwelling Place of God, by A.W.Tozer)

 


[back]