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God’s those who believe in Him engage in an

God’s wrath can seem to be a confusing oxymoron, a stark contrast between the condemnation of Canaan nations against what we are taught about the love of Jesus.    We see God’s wrath when He condemns Moses to never arrive in the promised land in Numbers 20:8-12, declares genocide of Canaan in Joshua, delivers pestilence in 2 Samuel 24 as a reaction to David’s census, and actively destructs Jerusalem during the Babylonian conquest as seen in Isaiah and Jeremiah.  Paul clearly outlines that this characteristic of God is not exclusive to the Old Testament.  It continues in the New Testament.  We are told in Romans 1:18 that the “wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Paul continues to illustrate our depravity in light of God’s universal wrath by stating that we all “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and are “justly condemned sinners apart from Christ” (Romans 5:1).  Even more so, there are eternal consequences apart from Christ’s substitutionary atonement (Matthew 25:46).  All in all, the God of the Old Testament is not exclusively wrathful, nor is the God of the New Testament exclusively loving.  They are the same God, and in the end He sits in judgement of all. In light of this, before we retreat into legalistic submission or lash out in righteous indignation, we need to take a step back.  First off, Christ fully satisfied God’s wrath, and those who believe in Him engage in an eternal covenant: “because of Christ, God can rightly call sinners justified” (Romans 3:26).  In addition, though we may not understand them, these instances of God’s wrath are just and for His glory.  Only he can “search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10).  As J.I. Packer summarizes, “God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is.  It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil” (Packer, 2013).  A key aspect of what Packer is saying, combined with the verse from Jeremiah, is that the standard we so often reference for God’s wrath is human anger, which is affected by sin and depravity.  When God searches the heart and mind, He is making right and just judgements that are perfect.  We must constantly return to scripture to understand God’s wrath, as opposed to human preconceptions, and how His wrath falls in line with His other characteristics.   One way to understand God’s wrath through scripture is to study accentuating characteristics that, from our perspective, lie in contradiction to it.  Examples are God’s love, justice, and glory.  Specifically, we can use metaphorical representations of His relationship with His people to understand His love and justice.  For the sake of brevity, this paper will restrict exploration to instances where God explicitly uses metaphor to explain a broader allegory of the relationship He has with His people within the context of judgement, and spans both Old and New Testaments.  What won’t be covered are metaphorical representations that lack an exemplum (Isaiah 45:4-5), metaphors that conjure images and speak to specific events, but not to a broader, deeper relationship (Ezekiel 11:7-12), metaphors that are not within judgement and repentance (Matthew 6:26), or metaphors that don’t span both Testaments (Matthew 20:1-16).  The lines between these categories and the one we will be covering are blurred, but categorizing delivery is not the intent of this paper.  The chosen method of conveying the relationship with allegorical metaphors within the context of judgement between both Testaments allows for us to understand the Bible as a continued story, to apply the metaphors beyond their literary context, and for an understanding of God’s wrath in light of His love.  


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