The wrath of God. It makes us uncomfortable doesn’t it? We as Christians, we love to think about grace, we love to converse about mercy, and oh the joys of reflecting on God’s love. We highlight the times in our lives when God comes through – the times that His presence overwhelms. Yet, we rarely use up our quiet times pondering the goodness of God’s wrath. We hesitate in spending our time in community chatting about God’s anger, jealousy, and fury. There are few, if any, worship songs in which we declare our gratefulness or praise for the wrath of God. However, as we enter the first two chapters of Hosea, the wrath of God refuses to be ignored.
“Or I will strip her naked and expose her as on the day when she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, Make her like desert land and slay her with thirst.” ~Hosea 2:3
Yikes. This verse seems to be a massive juxtaposition from the love and tenderness of God we read about in the Psalms or in the New Testament. Even just a few short verses later in Hosea chapter 2, the tone of God’s message becomes much more comfortable for our gentle, longing hearts.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.” ~Hosea 2:14
So let’s pause for a moment to ask a very crucial question, is the former verse any less beautiful than the latter? In my humble opinion, I would have to say, “heck no!”
You see, when we live our spiritual lives solely reflecting on the lovely, gentle, and forgiving characteristics of God, it is like beginning the book of Hosea halfway through the second chapter…we are missing a whole other, very vital, chapter. A whole other, very vital portion of God.
Chapter 1 and the first portion of chapter 2 are definitely not fun to read. They don’t leave us with warm, fuzzy feelings about God and they address sides of Him that we rarely like to talk about, and definitely don’t like to think about. They show us His angry side, His jealous heart, His wrath that has come out of a grief-stricken heart. And here is the thing. We can’t get to verse 14 without verses 1-13. Without chapter 1, there is no chapter 2. Without God’s wrath, there is no love.
Notice how verse 14 begins. It begins with the conjunctive, “therefore.” Now if you are like me it’s been a while since your last grammar lesson so let me give you a real quick one: A conjunctive adverb is used to show cause and effect. So in using this word to start off verses 14-23, the prophet Hosea is recording that these verses are an effect of what has been caused by the first 13 verses. Because of God’s wrath, His anger, His grief, we are able to hear a message from God that is filled with compassion, love, mercy, and tenderness.
What a powerful single word to illustrate a powerful and life-altering message: We need God’s wrath in order to fully experience His love.
God’s wrath stems from His hatred of sin, and rightfully so. Sin is the ultimate rebellion against His very nature and His very character. It destroys lives, it wounds hearts, it obliterates perfection…sin deserves to be hated. And because of His hatred of sin, because of his absolute disdain for our rebellion against Him, we have the privilege of experiencing the ultimate form of forgiveness and salvation, Jesus Christ.
If not for the wrath of God, there would be no need for Him to send His son on our behalf. If not for his absolute hatred for sin, there would be no need to save us from its ultimate wage of eternal death. If not for God’s angry and jealous heart, we would have never been able to experience the greatest love story to ever be told, the story of our salvation.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8
Because of His wrath, we get to experience His grace. Because we grieve Him, His redemption is that much sweeter. Because we anger Him, His desire for us is all the more incredible. Because we are broken, He pursues.
There is not a single characteristic of God that isn’t perfect on its own and does not deserve to be celebrated. God’s wrath is every bit a part of Him as His mercy, His grace, and His forgiveness. And until we fully realize and revel at God’s complete and full character, we will never be able to fully praise or worship Him as He deserves. So here is your call to celebrate the wrath of God. Here is your challenge to never run or ignore it, but to love and adore it. In truly reflecting and meditating on the wrath of God, we are able to more fully and deeply bask in His love and grace. In daring to understand and appreciate the parts of God that make us uncomfortable, we are able to realize an appreciation and a love for Him beyond our wildest dreams.