There are some questions that trouble non-Christians that really don’t trouble Christians.
- “Is there such a thing is as truth?” seems so self-evident.
- “Is the crucifixion cosmic child abuse?” is easy to answer if you’ve read the Bible yourself.
- “Is Christianity anti-Semitic?” seems ridiculous when you know the church was founded by 12 Jewish guys who followed another Jewish guy who was fulfilled the great Jewish hope.
Although we are happy to answer the questions of our friends and family, these things rarely ever make us struggle.
But there are some questions that do.
One such question is about God killing people in the Old Testament. God seems utterly brutal to do such a thing. How can we reconcile this with the loving God of the New Testament?
Dave Bish has put up an excellent blog post entitled “What about God killing people in the Old Testament?” where he discusses these issues. I would urge you to read the post for yourself. Let me summarise the main arguments here and then add some thoughts of my own.
A place of burning fire, likened to the loss of an only child. Hell is a horrific place.
No wonder, this doctrine puts people off Christianity.
Emotionally, the idea is so disgusting we want to never hear it again. Logically, it seems utterly inconsistent that Christ could send people to hell.
Surely a loving God can’t send people to hell?
If Christianity is to stand we must ask this question: is there any way a loving God would allow hell?
What does rejection from God look like? We are told it is hell, that it is the worst thing ever but what is that like? Is there any way we can picture God’s rejection.
In Amos 5:1-3, Amos gives us a haunting account of Israel’s fate under God’s wrath. In it we get a clearer picture of the wrath of God and what rejection from him truly means.
Though in Amos we see God acting in wrath, most Christians are uncomfortable with this idea. Therefore I want to explain why a God of wrath is good news for Christians:
God hates sin
We may be deceived by this world but God isn’t. He hates sin. He does not sit idly by and watch as people are murdered, raped and starved. He is seething with anger!
We are not. We would prefer everyone to get off scott-free. We wouldn’t have even thought the substitution of Jesus was necessary. Some even think God is evil for punishing sin! What idiots we are. God hates what harms us and that is a glorious truth.
God will destroy sin
If God hates sin he will not let it exist in his kingdom. It tells us in Revelation he will wipe every tear from our eye (Rev 21:4). All the evil that plagues us now God will banish forever. Utterly decimated, it will never to trouble us again.
God’s love overcame God’s wrath
Think of the passion shown in his anger towards sin. It’s massive. Yet he loves you more fiercely than he hates sin. What an amazing truth!
Moreover, God himself received wrath on the cross. Jesus Christ, God made flesh, was subject to God’s full wrath on the cross. He took all the punishment due upon us.
Christian do not hate the God of Wrath, rather praise him now for hating sin and loving you. Pray also that you may hate sin as much as he does.
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(Picture by Oliver Splat under the Creative Commons Licence and GNU Free Documentation Licence)
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