A passage in Psalm 18 really stood out to me this morning.
“With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.”
The conception among many Christians is that God is angry with us. If we don’t repent, then He pour out His wrath on us. I’m not saying this is completely wrong, but I believe God has been leading me to go deeper than I, and many other Christians, have in the past on this idea.
Yes, we have sinned horribly against God. We denied him. We believed the lie about Him, that He was keeping something from us. We took the lie so far that when He came to earth as Jesus, one who was perfect and Isaiah 53:9 says did no violence and no deceit was found in his mouth, we crucified Him. Our sin murdered Jesus. Our corrupt, wicked, evil system, which is really Satan’s kingdom, murdered God. For that we must repent if we want to enter the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, eternal life. This was the thrust of Jesus’ entire ministry for the first words of His ministry were “The kingdom of heaven is at hand, repent and believe the gospel.”
But, for those that don’t repent, is it God’s wrath that will be poured out on them? Or, is it the lies and the violence of the unrepentant themselves that will come back on their own head? Throughout the Bible we see that the pit the wicked dug they themselves fall into. Or, the snare that evil people set they get caught in themselves. And, in the depictions of Satan (for example, Goliath and Haman), he is almost always killed with his own weapon.
The repentant have become merciful, blameless, and purified. And, to the repentant God shows Himself as such. But, to the unrepentant, the crooked, God makes Himself seem tortuous. It seems to them like God is vengeful, spiteful, and vindictive, pouring His wrath out on them. However, in reality it is their own lies and violence that is coming back on their own heads (the Psalms often speak of this idea).
Satan’s kingdom is marked by two things – lies and murder (John 8). Satan’s character is to lie, therefore he speaks lies and is the father of lies. All those in his kingdom, the unrepentant, do the same because Satan is their father. Satan is also a murderer from the beginning, having spiritually murdered Adam and Eve. All those in his kingdom, the unrepentant, do the same because Satan is their father. In Satan’s kingdom, the lies and murder (as well as all evil, violence, and wickedness) will escalate until that kingdom is completely burned down as it reaps what it sows.
Again, remember Isaiah 53:9. “And they made his [Jesus] grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” Jesus didn’t do those things because they are not in His, or God’s, nature. This is why Jesus could say in John 14:30-31, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world [Satan] approaches. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”
So, while God permits this, is the wrath His? Or, is he simply letting the unrepentant reap what they have sown? Is God rewarding the unrepentant according to their deeds?
Could it even be “God’s wrath” that will be poured out? Based on what we see in Jesus, who is the radiance and glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1), wouldn’t this be God returning evil for evil? Remember Jesus did no violence and spoke no lies. He does not operate anything at all like the world, the system, that we see around us. Rather, Jesus, God, returns evil with good.
All this speaks to why Jesus says that we must repent to enter His kingdom. There must be a complete change of mind and attitude, seeing the earth and fellow men and women in a completely different light, so that we can be and do differently than we ever have before.
Just something I’ve been meditating on for a while now.