What is God’s wrath?

God is love. But how does this fit together with the wrath of God? Should a God of love not refrain from any form of anger? Indeed God’s wrath is a beautiful expression of his love.

As a father of 4 wonderful kids, it would be perverted not to react with anger if I see someone severely abusing my children. Since I love my children and want their best anger is an expression of my love for them if I see someone treading them unjustly or abusing them.

The same is true for God. God’s wrath is an expression of his love when he sees people hurting his children or his children hurting themselves. That is why God hates sin so much because he knows that the result of sin is always death in some way (Rom 6:23) – relational death, emotional death, spiritual death. Sin always destroys and hurts therefore God hates it because he loves his creation.

How does God express his wrath?

In Roman 1:18-32 Paul discusses the wrath of God and three times (verse 24,26, 28) he points out that God’s wrath is expressed in giving people over to their desires. His wrath is letting people have their own way which will lead to harm and destruction because sin is inherently destructive.

But the love of God never fails and will never come to an end (1 Cor 14:4-8). Since his wrath is rooted in his Agape Love we know that it is always restorative in its purpose and never retributive.

Jesus saw the punitive system as a problem and taught us a system of love, forgiveness and justice instead. Punitive justice is based on unforgiveness and balancing books but restorative justice is based on mercy and forgiveness. What of the two fits better to the character of God as revealed in Jesus?

God’s wrath is his last resort to people’s sin and unfaithfulness when all his other strategies are exhausted (Jer 5:1; 18:7-8; Lam 3:32-33). His anger is never an uncontrolled outburst of negative emotions but always a controlled act with the intention of redeeming and restoring his creation.

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