The Loving Wrath of God

A search for compatibility
between God's Love and His Wrath

"The stork in the heaven knows her appointed times...
but my people know not the judgment of the Lord." Jeremiah 8:7

The entire Christian world has taught that God will put up with sinners only so long, and then His patience runs out, He gets mad and angry with them and then lets 'em have it. What a pity. The truth is that God never loves the sinner less. Never.

We do not understand the judgments of the Lord. "How unsearchable are His judgments; how unfathonable His ways!" Paul concluded.1 "Can we by searching find out God?" Job asked.2 God's thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways out ways, observed Isaiah.3

And God's way of dealing with the errant, the rebellious, the rejectors of His law is best demonstrated by the cross of Jesus. There He is seen as our propitiation for sin.4

Propiti- What?
Propitiation is a big word. We don't use it very much, but it's the same word used to describe the mercy seat--that solid gold covering on the ark of the covenant. Jesus is the Mercy Seat which shielded the 10 commandments and on which the blood of sacrifice was sprinkled for atonement. And atonement is what the Mercy Seat does for us: one side takes the law, the other side takes the blood.

Story Time: King David
There once was a king of Israel by the name of David who got into some real trouble with the wife of one of his soldiers. To try and cover things up he had her husband conveniently killed in battle. But Bathseba's grandfather, Ahithophel (probably the most influential and brilliant mind in all Israel), became David's most bitter enemy. He even planned his assassination.

But when Nathan the prophet confronted the King with his great sin, David broke in bitter repentence, pronouncing himself guilty of death. Then Nathan added, 'The Lord also has put away your sin. God would provide an atonement.

Punch him in the face, bloody his nose,
rip out his beard


When David's most bitter enemy would like to punch him in the face, bloody his nose, rip out his beard, spit on him, beat him up...his Atonement, his Mercy Seat, would stand in the way to be his propitiation and take the beating full force Himself. Jesus at last did take the blows. And there on the cross He has taken the ones aimed at us as well.

Every punishment that has ever been suffered has been first suffered by Christ; just as every good act that anyone has ever performed first comes from Him. And the judgment of God is in taking the punishment for us, becoming a curse for us, condemned for us, murdered in our place, to defend us, to protect us from being hurt. "He has made him to be sin for us" 2Cor 5:21. "He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows... wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities" Isa 53:4,5. But if we refuse to let Him take it, He reluctantly steps aside and lets us take it ourselves.

No better description of God's Loving Wrath is given than the commentary on two of David's sons. Amnon had raped his sister and Absolom retaliated by killing him.

"David had neglected the duty of punishing the crime of Amnon and because of the unfaithfulness of the King and father, and the impenitence of the son, the Lord permitted the events to take their natural course, and did not restrain Absolom. When parents or rulers neglect the duty of punishing iniquity, God will take the case in hand, His protecting hand will be in a measure removed from the agencies of evil so that a chain of circumstances will arise to punish sin with sin."6

C.S. Lewis has said that at the end of this world there will be but two groups of people: Those who say 'Thy will be done,' And those to whom God will say, 'Thy will be done.' This is the Loving Wrath of God--letting the sinner have his own way.

Story Time: The Prodigal Father
Jesus tried to illustrate this marvelous truth about His father by telling a story of two brothers. Big brother was a hard worker. Little Joe like to have fun. Dad was getting old and soon they both would inherit the family fortune.7

But fun loving Junior couldn't wait. And so one day, in so many words, he told his father he wished he were dead. "Give me my share of the estate now so I can hit the road and have my fling in life." Dad was terribly hurt. But he loved his son, foolish though he was, and after all the goodbyes were said, sadly watched him leave.

The boy went to the big city, bought a lot of good times, fair-weather friends and lived it up until the money ran out. Bad times came, he couldn't find work and finally, while scrounging around for garbage pail scraps, he determined to head back home. He'd work as a hired hand and maybe, just maybe, someday he'd be able to save up enough to pay his father back.

As he neared home he realized that his father had liquidated half of the family assets because of him. The tight budget would have required Dad to leave retirement and help his older brother run the farm. The staggering guilt that all this had happened because of his own selfishness nearly stopped him from going on.

Junior can't
believe his ears


He's about to chicken out and turn around when down the road he sees an old man running toward him, waving his open arms and shouting, 'O son, my son! I thought you were dead, but now you've returned to me alive. It's so wonderful to have you back home again!"

Junior can't believe his ears. Father quickly sneaks him in a side door so no one can see him in shame. He gets out his best suit. "No boy of mine is going to be embarassed by coming home looking like a tramp." All the time father is telling him about all the letters he had written, pleading for him to return. And Home-again-Joe never does get a chance to make his offer to become a hired hand because now father is on the phone calling all the relatives and neighbors and inviting them to a big reunion celebration for his son! What a story. The Prodigal Father--reckless with his love and forgiveness.

Older Brother
But that's not the end of the story. Because big brother hears all the comotion going on up at the house, finds out that little brother has come home and the party is for him! "Now, WAIT A MINUTE!," he tells Dad,."I've stayed right here at home all these years working my tail off to make this place a success and no one's ever thrown a wing ding like this for me! But this son of yours insults you, dishonors your name, takes half your life's savings, blows it on wine, women and song, and then has the gall to come back here and you welcome him with open arms! Well, it just burns me up! No! I'm not going to come inside or give him the time of day. You both make me so mad I could spit nails!"

Now why didn't Jesus just finish His story with the happy reunion of a lost son come home? Why did He have to bring the older brother into it at all? Because He wanted to make some very important points:

  1. God never forces us to love him; He lets us do our own thing.
  2. As our Father, He's jealous of our reputation and protects us from embarrasment.
  3. God never rejects us, even though we reject Him.
  4. And even then He pleads with us. The older brother "was angry and would not go in: therefore came his father out and entreated him."

One son anticipated a cold reception and was surprised with a warm celebration; the other son expected paternal vengence and was disappointed to see fatherly forgiveness.

Older Brothers
The Bible is full of older brothers. Cain refused to follow God's way and hated his younger brother for doing so. Joseph's older brothers conspired to kill him. Esau hated Jacob and intended to march with his army against him. Each older brother despised the goodness they saw in their younger brother; and each rejected the invitation of God to accept that goodness into their own lives.

For example, Jesus plead with the older brothers of the Jewish nation to let Him gather them under His wings like a mother hen gathers her little chicks, 'but they would not.' "What was it that destroyed the Jews? It was the goodness of God despised, the righteousness spurned, the mercy slighted."8

God never rejected the Jewish nation, they rejected Him. Paul said that they put the word of God from them, and judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life, therefore he turned to the gentiles.9 But will God ever come to the place where He finally rejects anyone? No. When we speak about the close of probation, we are talking about a decision that we make, not one that God makes.

Since the great controversy began, it has been Satan's studied purpose to persuade angels and men that God is not worthy of their faith and love. He has pictured the Creator as a harsh, demanding tyrant who lays arbitrary requirements upon His people just to show His authority and test their obedience. It was this same perversion of the Good News (about the loving character of God) that stirred Jesus most deeply. He was gentle with the worst of sinners. But when some of the religious leaders echoed Satan's lies about God, Christ uttered those awful words, "You are of your father the devil."

There was no disagreement between Jesus and those teachers as to which day was the Sabbath, or as to the existence of God, or the story of Creation. Their disagreement was about the character of God. Jesus came to bring them a picture of God that would enable them to go on doing many of the same things but for a far different reason--but they killed Him rather than change their view of God.10

Where did they get their view? "Satan, the author of sin and all of its results, had lead men to look upon disease and death as proceeding from God as punishment arbitrarilly afflicted on account for sin...Thus the way was prepared for the Jews to reject Jesus."11 Why? Because when Jesus hung on the cross, why, there you had it: undisputed evidence that He was a great sinner. You don't suffer like that unless you've been very bad! Him? The Son of God? Impossible.

Story Time: Judas
This mind of Lucifer can be seen in the life of Judas. Judas was ambitious. He was also embarrased by the very lack of ambition that he saw in Jesus. So he struck on a plan to force Him into a position where He would have to act like a Messiah was supposed to act. Judas would be proclaimed a hero and get all the credit for such a brilliant strategy. And if Jesus didn't cooperate, then He wasn't the Messiah anyway. Either way Judas would be 30 pieces of silver richer. He couldn't lose.

But Judas didn't understand the mind of Jesus. And when Jesus showed Himself of no reputation but took upon Him the form of a servant,12 even Lucifer was taken by surprise. Neither of them had ever anticipated such a move on the part of God. Satan had never thought like that; it was foreign and repulsive to him. He couldn't imagine that God would humiliate Himself. It had never entered his selfish brain that God could be victorious in defeat; that He could bring life to billions through death to Himself. To Lucifer this was not only stupid, it was insane. He had imagined in his mind that God was out to get him just as he was out to get God. But he was wrong.

"You give your mouth to evil and your tongue frames deceit...These things you have done and I kept silent. You thought that I was altogether such a one as yourself."13

But God's ways are not like ours (Isa 55:8); He doesn't think the way we do.

So as Judas watched Jesus submit to insult and abuse he became nervous, then guilty, then desperate. His screams of innocence, his confession of betrayal were met by the priests with stares of contempt, but by the Saviour with a saddened look of pity. The same look that drove Peter to heart-breaking repentance, drove Judas to suicide.

The Look
of Love

So, too, God treats all, the redeemed and the lost, exactly the same.

The God of Protection
The Loving Wrath of God is also revealed in the merciful protection which He grants to His vulnerable creation. The God of the Old Testament was a God of protection. He instructed Moses to have each home sacrifice a lamb and paint the entrance with its blood, for "the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses" Exodus 12:23. "The sign of blood--the sign of a Saviour's protection-- was on their doors, and the Destroyer entered not."14

The Destroyer
Numbers 21:6 records that "the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people." Yet we are also informed that they were there all the time.15 But when Israel murmured and rejected the evidences of God's presence, He was forced to remove His protecting hand and they were exposed to the natural dangers of the desert. Thus Paul wrote that 'when they murmured, they were destroyed by the Destroyer.'16 And we read that angels have many times "thwarted the Spoiler's purpose and turned aside the stroke of the Destroyer."17

It is the restraining power of God that prevents mankind from passing fully under the control of Satan...But when men pass the limits of divine forebearance, that restraint is removed...Every transgression of the law of God is a seed sown which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sinner, and there is left no power to control the evil passions of the soul, and no protection from the malice and enmity of Satan.18

Vengeance "is not an act of arbitrary power on the part of God.
The rejectors of His mercy reap that which they have sown."

God is the fountain of life and when one chooses the service of sin, he separates from God, and thus cuts himself off from life...God gives them existance for a time that they may develop their character and reveal their principles. Thus accomplished, they receive the results of their own choice.19

Since God protects us from the Destroyer if we allow Him, He also honors our choice to not accept that protection when we demand release from it by withdrawing His hand. Then, as Paul says, "He give us up to our own sinful hearts."20

"God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner...but leaves the rejectors of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown."21 "So long as the people of Israel were loyal to God and continued in obedience to His law, no power in earth or hell could prevail against them. But when they transgressed God's commandments, then they separated themselves from Him, and they were left to feel the power of the Destroyer."22

Story Time: Miriam's Leprosy
When Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses, "the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and He departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous."23

God's ways are truely different from ours. When our anger is kindled against someone we move toward them, to attack, to strike! But God moves away. He departs. We attack...
God moves away.

And at the cross God personally showed how He will ultimately deal with sin. For the cross "explains all other mysteries."

In the light that streams from Calvary, the attributes of God which had filled us with fear and awe appear beautiful and attractive. We see His character in its gracious manifestations, and comprehend as never before the significance of that endearing title, 'Our Father.'"24

A Different Kind of Death
On the cross Jesus took the sinner's place and God treated Him exactly as He will treat every sinner who ever lived. There our Saviour died the final death of complete separation from God: the second death.25 Jesus assumed the very position of the sinner who wants nothing of God and demands that He leave him alone.

Sadly God leaves, and as He does, His sustaining, life-giving, protective power is withdrawn. Now nothing can save from the awful power of sin as it crushes the life forces into extinction.

It was not bodily suffering which so quickly ended the life of Christ upon the cross. It was the crushing weight of the sins of the world and a sense of His Father's wrath. The Father's glory and sustaining presence had left Him.28

The divine light of God was receding from His vision, and He was passing into the hands of the powers of darkness...The wrath that would have fallen upon man was now falling upon Christ.27

He felt that by sin He was being separated from His Father...As a man He must suffer the consequences of man's sin. As a man He must endure the wrath of God.28

No wonder Jesus cried out, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?'29 Why have you given me up? Why have you let me go?

But it wasn't at the hand of an offended God that Christ died. The Father didn't slay His Son. Jesus did not say, 'My God, why are you executing me?' We may have gotten that impression. After all, the Bible does say "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him."30

But the Bible often speaks of God as doing that which He permits.31 Because God is sovereign over the events of the entire universe, He also assumes full responsibility for what takes place within it. "We esteemed Him smitten, stricken of God and afflicted." We thought that God was smiting Him. But, in fact, "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities."

You can also read in 1 Chronicles 10 that King Saul "died for his transgression against the Lord...therefore He slew him." But we are also told in detail the real story of his own self-inflicted suicide in 1 Samuel 31:4.

Another example is found in 2 Samuel 24 where we are told that "the anger of the Lord was kindled against them to say, 'Go number Israel.'" But 1 Chronicles 21 tells it like it is: "Then Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number Israel."

The Great Enemy:
destroyer, accuser, deceiver, liar, murderer...

Satan is a legalist. He is constantly fighting for his legal right to destroy us every time he gets a chance. "Satan is the great enemy of God and man...In the scriptures he is called a destroyer, and accuser of the brethren, a deceiver, a liar, a tormentor, and a murderer."32

"Satan had accused Jacob before the angels of God, claiming the right to destroy him because of his sin."33 But Jesus only touched his hip. Satan accused Job before the sons of God and demanded skin for skin; he claimed the right to keep Moses in the grave; he accused Joshua the High Priest standing before the altar.

Satan wanted to destroy Nineveh. But God sent a preacher to warn them. Satan tried to destroy Jonah by sinking his ship. But God prepared a great fish to save his life. And after all that Jonah still didn't understand the character of God.

Wrong Spirit, Boys
James and John wanted to destroy the Samaritans with fire and "consume them, even as Elijah did. But Jesus turned, and rebuked them, and said, 'Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'"34

The disciples' concept of God was one who would use destructive fire for retribution and revenge. To them, God wasn't one to keep a grudge--He got even! But Jesus said that wasn't His style at all.

Then who sent the fire 'out of heaven' in Job's day that 'burned up the sheep, and the servants and consumed them?'35 Or the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha? Or the fire that cremated all the soldiers who came to arrest Elijah?36

When Elijah had fled to Mt. Horeb, he witnessed destructive wind, devestating earthquake, and consuming fire. "But the Lord was not in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire."37

Who is it?
It is vitally important who we believe the Destroyer is. Because the time is coming when the world will soon be experiencing the plagues of sickness, disease, pollution, violence, earthquake, tsunami, cosmic impacts, super storms, catastrophe and death during the final hours of earth's history. And when that time comes, how will we react? Will we decide along with the rest of the world that this is the work of an angry God?

When the angel of mercy folds her wings and departs, Satan will do the evil deeds he has long wished to do. Storm and tempest, war and bloodshed--in these things he delights... And so completely will men be deceived by him that they will declare that these calamities are the result of the desecration of the first day of the week... They are guided by the enemy, and therefore they reach conclusion which are entirely false.38

It is God that shields His creatures, and hedges them in from the power of the destroyer. But the Christian world have shown contempt for the law of Jehovah and the Lord will do just what He declared that He would. [clobber them with His own hand? No.] He will withdraw His blessings from the earth, and remove His protecting care... Satan has control of all whom God does not especially guard. He [Satan] will bring trouble and lead men to believe that it is God who is afflicting them.39

The people of planet earth will be in a panic to do whatever is necessary to appease what they see is the wrath of God. Enforce global religious conformity? Why not. Vote for the Pope? You bet. Anything! Just make God happy.

We may be accused of being legalists now, but when the plagues begin to fall, watch who become the real legalists.

Story Time: Ahab and Jezebel
There once was a King by the name of Ahab who stole a vineyard and then had the evicted owner bumped off by the treachery of his priestess-wife, Jezebel. There you have it: a preview of earth's last great conflict. The state power allows the church to carry out its murderous schemes with state approval and support. And, like Ahab and Jezebel, both church and state will perish.

But God didn't kill Ahab or Jezebel. He didn't have to. They were both destroyed at the hand of their enemies when the protecting hand of God's mercy and been driven away. God never loves the sinner less. But in the face of stubborn rejection He reluctantly turns away and leaves the rejectors to their own natural consequences.

The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent... The Spirit of God persistently resisted, has been at last withdrawn. Unsheltered by divine grace, they have no protection from the evil one. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose.40

God says, "I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms... The horses and their riders shall come down" How? "Every one by the sword of his brother."41

Remember when the Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites ganged up on Judah? King Jehoshaphat was told "You will not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord... for the children of Amoon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of them, every one helped to destroy another... and none escaped."42

"The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which He executes: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hand."43

Story Time: Hanging Hamaan
There once was a man by the name of Hamaan, an Amalakite who lived in the land of Persia, a man of position in the King's court, and who hated a certain Jew named Mordecai. Now Mordecai happened to be the uncle of a very lovely, beautiful, gorgious young lady named Esther.

Well, through the providence of God, Esther won the Miss Persia Beauty Pagent and became Queen of the land. Meanwhile, Mordecai saved the king from a political coup and was recognized by his majesty Ahazeurerus with full royal honors and tickertape parade.

This made Hamaan very, very jealous, resentful, pouty and down-right angry. He finally got so mad, he rigged up a clever scheme to get the King to sign a law that would guarantee the extermination of every Jew in the kingdom. The bill was of course worded in such a way that it appeared to be a matter of national security, but down there in the small print was Hamaan's true intentions. Now it looked like his master plan was almost ready for final execution!

He went home to Mrs. Hamaan, jumping up and down with excitement. 'And I know just what I'll do with Mordecai! I'm going to make a gallows 90 feet high just for him, so everyone can see him singing way up there by his neck!"

Well, Hamaan wa a real dummy when he did that. Because the whole plan backfired when Mordecai heard about it, leaked the news to Esther, who told the King, who was so infuriated that he had Hamaan hung on the very gallows he had custom built for Mordecai.

"Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him."44

Story Time: A Den for Daniel
There once was a prime minister of Babylon, a Jew by the name of Daniel. He had demonstrated integrity, wisdom and loyalty to four different monarchs over two successive world empires. But certain other governmental appointees became extremely jealous of Daniel, a member of an ethnic minority group, and they determined to get rid of him.

First, they tried to dig up every scrap of dirt and any shred of irregularity in the life of Daniel in order to ruin his reputation and discredit him before the King. But they couldn't find a thing. Nothing out of order. No cover-ups. No hanky-panky. Nothing.

So they decided that the only way they were going to be able to nail this guy was to frame him. They finagled the King into passing a neat little law that would in effect make him 'God of the Month.' "Just think, your Highness, every man, woman and child will be praising and worshipping you every day for a whole month! And, uh, well, of course, if anyone should even dare to insult your Greatness by not recognizing you as their god, why then, they would be deserving of the sternest consequences--yes, they would be thronw to the lions!"

Well, Darius, flattered by the thought of all that attention, signs the Law of the Medes and Persians "which cannot be changed."

Meanwhile, Daniel continues to follow his lifelong custom of morning devotions and prayer to Jehovah. His enemies, spying on him, quickly report this flagrant criminal act to the King, reminding him that this subversive conduct is a treasonous violation of his law, the one that he signed, and that now Daniel must be thrown to the lions!

Poor Darius couldn't sleep that night. He had been cruely tricked into betraying his trusted friend Daniel into the hand of fate. But no, Daniel is in the hand of God! And very early the next morning when the King calls out to him from the mouth of the den, Daniel answers. "The God whom I love and trust has protected me, O King."

Then it was the other guys' turn to face the felines. And the Bible tells us that every bone was broken before they even hit the ground.

"His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate."45

The Final Showdown:
The Glory of the Lord shall be revealed.
And all flesh shall see it together.

Mischief Makers Make Their Move
As Esau gathered his army against his younger brother Jacob, so at the very end of time, after a thousand years of consideration, Satan marshals the billions of all history against the saints within the Holy City. But their approach is arrested by the appearance of Jesus. They, who refused to be warmed by the burning love of God throughout their lives, are now to witness a great gigantic panoramic display of God's all-out effort to save them down through the ages. It is now that "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."46

Even though their eternal decision has long been sealed, God makes one last demonstration of His heart of love--a love that "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."47

Jesus now pleads with all the older brothers as He holds out His hands pierced for them: "Return to me... for I will abundantly pardon.48 My hand is not shortened that it cannot save.49 For I am able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Me.50 I am merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth.51 I am not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.52 As I live... I have no pleasure in your death, but that you turn from your way and live. So, please, turn back from your ways; for why will ye die?"53

But again His love is spurned. They remain outside just like the people in Noah's day who refused to go into the ark; just like the older brother, they will not go in even though the Father comes out and entreats them. "Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: Thy right hand [that nail-scarred hand] shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven... and the fire shall devour them... for they intended evil against thee. They imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform."54

Fire for Judas
Jesus reached out to Judas with His hand of love in an effort to draw him back from the edge of eternal darkness. He gently leaned over to him at that last supper table with a moistened piece of bread and whispered in his ear: "He it is, to whom I shall give this morsel." No one else heard it. How protective! How considerate! How very gracious of our betrayed Lord.

But Judas refused. It was his own choice to burn inside with intense guilt, grief and self-hatred until he couldn't stand it any longer and he hanged himself. Judas exchanged the fire of Christ's soul-cleansing love for the fire of guilt and eternal remorse.

"If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head."55

God's Fire
Solomon tells us that the Loving Wrath of God is as "strong as death; His jealousy for us is as hard as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which have a most vehement flame... many waters cannot quench His love, neither can the floods drown it."56

This is the anger of the Lord which He kindles--the fire of love that never dies. Jesus said, "I am come to send fire on the earth and what will I, if it be already kindled?"57 Isn't that what Cleopus said? 'Our hearts burned within us as we walked on the way.'58 They were being exposed to the burning love of Jesus. God's love is a consuming fire.

It is God's intent
__that we are warmed
____by His love;
__It is not His intent
____that we destroy ourselves
______as we try to run from it.

Jeremiah said it this way: "His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones."59 But the fire of Jesus' love works in two different ways. It will either melt your heart or bake it hard; it will either burn in your heart to give you life, or it will burn in your life to bring you death. Jesus said, "Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."60

It is God's intent that we will be melted by His love; it is not His desire that we destroy ourselves as we try to run from it. But because men will reject His burning love for them, they will reap their own burning hate. The 'sweet savor of Christ' will be to those who are saved 'a savor of life unto life.' But the same love will be to 'them that perish... the savor of death unto death.'61

There shall be
gnashing of teeth

As Satan looks upon the fruit of his toil he sees only failure and ruin. He has led the multitudes to believe that the city of God would be an easy prey; but he knows that this is false... Then the spirit of rebellion, like a mighty torrent again bursts forth. Filled with frenzy... he rushes into the midst of his subjects to inspire them with his own fury for a last desparate struggle against the King of Heaven. But there are none now to acknowledge His supremacy. His power is at an end. The wicked are filled with the same hatred of God that inspires Satan; but they see that their case is hopeless. Their rage is kindled against Satan and those who have been his agents in deception, and with the fury of demons they turn upon them. And there follows a scene of universal strife.62

And when people burn with hatred and anger as they did when they rushed upon Stephen to stone him, they "gnash their teeth."63 There will also be gnashing of teeth when they turn on each other with burning hatred and anger upon those who deceived them. "The horn of the Lord [His trophy of saints] shall be exalted with honor; the wicked shall see it and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away."64

"For they have made ready their heart like an oven."65 "Wickedness burneth as the fire... no man shall spare his brother."66 "Every man's sword shall be against his brother."67 "A great disturbance from the Lord shall be among them and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor."68

Who dwells with
everlasting burnings

In Revelation we see fire coming down from God out of heaven and devouring the wicked.69 We are told by our friends that eternal fire is to be the reward of the wicked. But in Isaiah the question is asked, "Who shall dwell with the devouring fire...with everlasting burnings?"70 The answer is given: "He that walks righteously, and is upright..." It is the saints who are going to dwell with everlasting burnings, within the eternal fire of God's love. And where is that? In the presence of God Himself.

Our God is a consuming fire--comsuming to sin,71 but to those who receive His Spirit into their own lives, who become just like Him--it is the fire of love that gives them life. Daniel's three friends were thrown into the fire and it didn't hurt them. Why? Because Jesus, the real Fire, was there with them, and they couldn't be hurt. They had become like the Fire, just like the angels, for "He calls His ministers a flame of fire."72 And "we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" 1John 3:2.

While the redeemed stand upon the Sea of Glass "mingled with fire," the lost of all ages will be immersed in a lake of the same fire until consumed.

Sin is a deadly poison.
It kills without exception.

Digging His Own Grave
Satan taught them how to hate, how to kill, how to destroy. Now he has dug his own grave. "Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God... I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit."73 Who dug the bottomless pit? Satan, and he will fall right into it himself.

At last the universe will know for certain that sin is a deadly poison. It kills without exception. And there is not one thing Jesus or His Father can do for anyone who will choose the fatal separation that sin causes.

The Wages of Sin
We all know that any worker is paid only by the employer for whom he works. Neither the master of sin nor righteousness will pay wages earned from the other. Satan never pays anyone with eternal life, the gift of God; the only currency he is familiar with is death, the wages of sin. Likewise, the Lord never pays the wages of sin; He is the purveyor of life, and that is the only merchandise He dispenses.

A Last Desparate Message
We are living in the time of the third angel's message of Revelation 14. It may sound fierce and violent, but remember, "our heavenly Father is about to witness the loss of vast numbers of His children. For one last time He raises His voice. He--the Gracious One, the One who would so much rather speak to us gently of the truth--raises His voice in one last awesome warning and appeal: 'If you are determined to leave me, I will have to let you go. But when I give you up, you will be destroyed!"

"The devil would have us misunderstand this message as the words of an angry god. But they are the heart-breaking words of a maligned benevolant Creator who is being rejected."74

"Oh, how can I give you up?
How can I let you go?
How can I forsake you?
My heart cries out within me;
How I long to help you!

The Cry of God
David understood the heart of God when His own son rebelled against him, and then as a consequence was killed in battle. He cried out, "O Absolom, Absolom, Absolom, O my son Absolom. Would that it was I that died."73 This is the cry of God.

"There are explanations of the death of Christ and of His intercession in our behalf that put God [the Father] in a most unfavorable light" that depict Him of being much "less gracious and understanding than His Son. Such subjects as sin, the law, and the destruction of the wicked... are sometimes presented in such a way as to leave the people with precisely the picture of God that Satan has been purpetrating."74

I want our own church to be known, more than anything else, for its effective witness to the Good News about God. We desire to be counted among God's loyal people, but if in our eagerness to obey we leave the impression that we worship a legalistic god, then we have not witnessed well to the Good News.

No greater privilege and honor can come to us than to be entrusted with the Good News that God never loves the sinner less. Surely the time has come that God's friends everywhere who share a jealous regard for God's reputation should speak up with pride and conviction as to what we believe is really the Loving Wrath of God.

"At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love."
COL 415

1Romans 11:33
2Job 11:7
3Isaiah 55:8
41 John 2:1,2
52 Samuel 12:13
6Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 728
7Luke 15
8Desire of Ages, p. 600
9Acts 13:46
10Maxwell, Graham: Can God Be Trusted? PPPA, 1977
11PP 471
12Philippians 2:5
13Psalm 50:19,21
14PP 280
15PP 429
161 Corinthians 10:10
17Education p. 304
18Great Controversy, p. 35, 36
19DA 764
20Romans 1. When the unrighteous choose to disregard God's warnings, He gives them up to uncleanness (verse 24), gives them up to vile affections (26), and give them over to a reprobate mind (28). This is God's strange act mentioned in Isa. 28:21 where it is said He 'shall rise up in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth in the valley of Gibeon.' In both of these events, recorded in 2 Sam. 5:14-20 and Joshua 10:12-14, the Lord did not actively vent His wrath upon the wicked but rather permitted destruction to come upon them naturally.
21GC 36
22GC 529
23Numbers 12
24GC 642
25Revelation 20:6
26Testimonies to the Church Vol. 2, p. 209
27SDA Bible Commentary 5:1124
28DA 686
29Matthew 27:46
30Isaiah 53:10
31SDABC 4:267 Comment on Isa. 45:7 'I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.'
32Testimonies 5:137
33PP 201
34Luke 9:54
35Job 1:16
362 Kings 1
371 Kings 19:12
38Review and Herald, Sept. 17, 1901
39GC 589
40GC 614, See also Education p. 179, SDABC 3:642
41Haggai 2:22
422 Chronicles 20:22
43Psalm 9:15,16
44Proverbs 26:27
45Psalm 7:16
46Isaiah 40:15
471 Corinthians 13:7,8
48Isaiah 55:7
49Isaiah 50:2
50Hebrews 7:25
51Exodus 34:6
522 Peter 3:9
53Ezekiel 33:11
54Psalm 21:8-11
55Proverbs 25:21,22
56Song of Solomon 8:6
57Luke 12:49
58Luke 24:31,32
59Jeremiah 20:9
60Luke 20:19
612 Corinthians 2:15,16
62GC 672; Story of Redemption p. 428
63Acts 7:54
64Psalm 112:9,10
65Hosea 7:6
66Isaiah 9:18, 19
67Ezekiel 38:21
68Zechariah 14:13
69Revelation 20
70Isaiah 33:14
71Hebrews 12:29; Deuteronomy 4:24
72Hebrews 1:7; Psalm 104:4
73Ezekiel 28:6-8
74Maxwell, Graham, Ibid.
75Hosea 11:3