Friday, August 20, 2010

Judgment and Wrath

This summer I’m preaching through the story of Abraham, and this week we’re looking at Genesis 19 and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  It’s been a sobering week of sermon preparation.  In Genesis 19, God utterly wipes out an entire city and its surrounding villages because of their oppression of others and violent godlessness.  This judgment of God then becomes a metaphor throughout Scripture of God’s judgment on sin, a judgment that finds its final expression in the day of judgment, when Christ returns and when every man, woman, and child will come face to face with their maker.  Those who trust in Christ will find mercy and salvation, those who don’t will find everlasting condemnation. 

It’s hard to read these things, hard to write them now, and sobering to preach.  So much of the Bible woos us to God with the overpowering love of Christ.  And it may well be true that love is a better motivator than fear.  And yet… the Bible doesn’t shy away from telling us the truth of God’s judgment and wrath in all its bleak awfulness that we might rightly fear a future devoid of God. 

There are a few things I’ve read this week that might be a help for those who are wrestling with this incredibly important teaching of the Bible:

• Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God.”
I don’t think I’d read this since high school, but found a copy online and read it again this week.  Edwards is graphic and passionate, but even when it seems he may have gone somehow too far, I was reminded that he’s really only drawing out the reality of God’s wrath and judgment that Jesus himself spoke of in graphic terms.  It is a sobering sermon.

• D.A. Carson’s new book The God Who is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story, Chapter 12: “The God Who Is Very Angry”

• Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God, chapter 5: “How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?”

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