Post Number: 1206
|Posted on Monday, June 18, 2012 - 6:23 am: || |
This post has been on my mind for two weeks now. I haven't wanted to write it ... I realize that the topic is one that causes angst, and angst not just amongst former Adventists, but also among Christians.
Let me start with my Adventist understanding ... The main attribute of God is Love. His love is so powerful it will succumb to give mankind power over Him. Power to judge Him before the watching worlds, power to choose or not to choose Him ... I had been often told, "God doesn't want robots following Him, but people that choose to serve Him ... Therefore, out of His love He gives us a choice and doesn't force us, but woo's us to Him ..."
Does only love bring about change? Do consequences also bring about different behavior? Is there a place for anger?
Recently, I have been studying Ezekiel. I came across this verse:
Thus My anger will be spent and I will satisfy My wrath on them, and I will be appeased; then they will know that I the Lord, have spoken in My zeal when I have spent My wrath upon them. Ez. 5:13)
If you read further in Ez. 7:8-9:
Now I will shortly pour out My wrath on you and spend My anger against you; judge you according to your ways and bring on you all your abominations. My eye will show no pity nor will I spare. I will repay you according to your ways, while your abominations are in your midst; then you will know that I, the Lord do the smiting.
We can't get around this in the context it is written. God is wrathful and He does the smiting. Throughout these chapters the word "I", referring to God, is used constantly. God DOES this ... and another phrase crops up .... "So that they will know that I am the Lord: I have not said in vain that I would inflict this disaster on them."
What a disaster, too! Father's eating their dead sons (Ez.5:10)
Then in chapter 8 we hear why wrath is being displayed. I nearly cried in chapter 8. The Israelites had carved pagan idols into the walls of Solomon's temple and were worshipping them (8:10)! Women were weeping for a pagan god in the entrance to the gate of the Lord's house (8:14). And in the very inner court of the temple men were bowing down to the sun god (8:16).
God, after repeatedly warning the Israelites through the prophets, pours out His wrath. This is not an instinctual consequence to their sin, a "God allows this", but scripture says God does "wrath".
Somehow in Adventism I had understood wrath as something very separate from God. Wrath was something that naturally happened as a consequence to sin. It was not connected to God. Yet, according to scripture this wrath of God is something that is very much connected to Him. And this isn't a case of "sin can't exist in the presence of God." No, the sins described had been going on for awhile ... Finally, God unleashes His anger ...
Does any of this make sense? Somehow in Adventism I had cut away one of God's attributes - His anger/wrath. Or I had seen His anger in the phrase "His anger is righteous" - as if wording it that way justified the impact of the anger.
Look again at the context of Ezekiel. Israel is prostrating themselves in Solomon's temple to other gods. That is like a husband walking into his bedroom and seeing his naked wife having sex with the naked neighbor next door. Sorry, to be so graphic - but that is a parallel to what is happening in Ezekiel. And God through long-suffering and words from prophets talks to Israel. Finally, His wrath, His anger is ready to be unleashed. He has redeemed these people from slavery out of Egypt - He carried them on "eagle's wings" away from their incarceration ... He provided food and water for them in the desert ... He led them by a pillar of fire ... and they are worshipping pagan gods in the temple built for Him - so that He could live amongst His people.
God's wrath ...Hot poison - as the Hebrew word depicts ...
Justified, yes ... but that does not take away from the horrors of its impact ... Sons eating their dead fathers ... starvation, 1/3 of Israel dying by the sword of a pagan nation ...
Ezekiel cries out and God responds with:
Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
God preserves a remnant.
Who gives them a new heart? God does. Who takes out the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh? God does. Do the people change on their own? No, God does the changing for them. Who changed the Israelites? Who did the surgery on the heart of stone? Who replaced the stoney heart with one of flesh? God did/does!!!
God's wrath ... Somehow I had missed that attribute of God.
Post Number: 13779
|Posted on Monday, June 18, 2012 - 4:43 pm: || |
Carolyn, I completely understand. I also had cut off God's wrath and anger from Him. Somehow He was benevolent and somewhat distant, and I believed that when Scripture said God did things that seemed punitive, that it was just the way the Israelite's understood things, so they wrote it from their primitive worldview.
But Scripture distinctly says God exercises anger and wrath, but that He is always just.
When I began to realize that the biblical teaching of hell and God's wrath is actually part of God's justice, that He provided a fully righteous and just way for us to escape His wrath, I actually felt a sense of relief that I have trouble explaining even now. I think that admitting that part of God's justice is His personal wrath against sin was the final piece that fell into place in knowing I could completely trust Him. He IS sovereign, and He IS good and faithful.
He is just, and He has provided reconciliation for us to Himself.
Post Number: 2108
|Posted on Monday, June 18, 2012 - 5:44 pm: || |
A good study of the book of Isaiah will demonstrate God's character. We did it last year in BSF. I learned so much about Him in that class.
A side benefit was discovering that Isaiah's prophesies spanned Jesus' birth, death, resurrection and the end times. Talk about God's sovereignty!
Post Number: 1207
|Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 3:33 am: || |
I, too, studied Isaiah in BSF a year ago. I was a children's leader in BSF at the time. Breaking the lessons down to a first grade level was very challenging for me ... But OH, so rewarding. One of the things I took away was what type of "idols" did I have in my own life. Very convicting ...
Did you know that BSF is putting together a study on Revelation! I think it is coming out in 2014.
And I, too, was amazed at God's Sovereignty in Isaiah ... Isn't it Isaiah that mentions Cyrus as a king years before he is even born.
God is so amazing ...
Colleen, I had a similar understanding about what seemed were punitive actions by God in the old testament. Something always bothered me about my Adventist understanding ... It never really explained what I was reading. Finally, after much wrestling, I accepted the doctrine of hell and all those Old Testament stories began to make a whole lot more sense.
God's wrath was the last big Aha, I had while leaving Adventism. I have regular little aha's now . Probably will have those in years to come ....
It is hard for my puny human mind to wrap itself around the fact that God is 100% merciful and 100% just. We humans have a hard time being and seeing 100% justice perfectly coupled with 100% mercy. Somehow humans skew one for the other.
Post Number: 2716
|Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 7:31 am: || |
This is a great topic. It's certainly important to keep in mind God is both 100% merciful and 100% just. However, for me I knew all about his wrath and didn't understand his love. Still learning about his love and keep wondering about his mercy. I am in wonder about his mercy for such a person as I know I am.
Post Number: 1208
|Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 8:47 am: || |
Me, too, Phil, me, too... When I finally "got"the depraved part of my own sinfulness - God's mercy and grace, was sweeter than I had ever known.
Grace is all the more sweeter when the reality of the "other" sinks in.
Post Number: 26
|Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 9:45 am: || |
Amen, Carolyn and Phil-- just... AMEN!
Post Number: 2671
|Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 1:13 pm: || |
The New Testament also speaks about God's wrath. Matthew 10:28 says: "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him Who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
BTW, the women in Ezekiel's time were participating in a pagan ceremony where they wept 40 days for a false "god" named Tammuz. (Ezekiel 8:14) I think they wept and fasted each year in commemoration of the false "god's" being killed by a wild boar. Then I think they had a feast to commemorate his "resurrection" from the dead.... I haven't looked that up lately...
Post Number: 13784
|Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 6:02 pm: || |
Yes, Phl and Carolyn. I know...He overwhelms me. I cannot believe how diminished God was to me as an Adventist!
Post Number: 870
|Posted on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 11:09 am: || |
Great insight Keri. It's amazing to me how different "aspects" of God can be muted depending upon how a person grows up in the SDA church.
What is so wonderful is that His wrath has to be appeased and was done so at the Cross. At the cross The father's wrath was seen, His love was seen and the price was paid. The picture of the cross is so far removed from the "example" message taught within the SDA church
Post Number: 1714
|Posted on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 3:23 pm: || |
Great post Carolyn! Really good stuff.
Post Number: 1209
|Posted on Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 11:55 am: || |
Thank you all for your encouragement!
I really struggled with sitting down and writing it. I know how "touchy" this subject can be.
No one really wants to talk about this attribute of God - Christian or former. Yet, scripture illustrates that this is a part of Who God is.
Post Number: 415
|Posted on Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 1:46 pm: || |
So true Enoch. In sdaism Jesus was only The Model Man. He was merely our example so we could be our own saviors. If we could become perfect so that not one unconfessed sin were found in us & we could stand before God without a mediator or intercessor, then we would have no need of a savior.
It absolutely dethrones Christ & enthrones self.
Thank God for opening the eyes of my heart to the Truth!!