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God’s Wrath is Just

by General James Green, July 1, 2011


“ACCORDING to their deeds (the transgressors’ iniquities), accordingly He (God) will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies….” (Isa 59:18).

     In this article I want to deal more fully on God's WRATH & ANGER. “Anger,” as a verb, occurs in Psalm 106:32, “They ANGERED Him also at the waters of strife,” and in Romans 10:19: “...and by a foolish nation I will ANGER you.” We find “anger” twice in the Apocrypha: “And he that ANGERED (RV = PROVOKETH) his mother is cursed of God” (Sir 3:16), and “...he ANGERETH him that punisheth him...” (19:21), to which the RV adds, in Wisdom 5:22, “The water of the sea shall be ANGERED (AV = RAGE) against them.” All other places we find “ANGER” as a noun.


The “ANGER” (“WRATH”) of God

IS ANTHROPOPATHICALLY DESCRIBED in the O.T. “by terms derived from the physical manifestations of human anger”; in the N.T., the terms “anger” or “wrath” may be defined generally as “an energy of the Divine Nature called forth by the presence of PRESUMPTUOUS TRANSGRESSION, and expressing the reaction of the Divine Holiness against it in the PUNISHMENT or DESTRUCTION OF THE TRANSGRESSOR(S). It is the ‘zeal (Heb. ‘qaná’) of God for the MAINTENANCE OF THE LORD’S HOLINESS AND HONOR, and of THE ENDS OF HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LOVE, when they are threatened by THE INGRATITUDE, REBELLION, PRIDE, AND WILLFUL DISOBEDIENCE OR TEMERITY of the creature.” The attitude of INGRATITUDE angers God, yet no one even considers this.

     So, in this light, it appears both in the O.T. (passim) and in the N.T. (Matt 3:7; Jn 3:36; Rom 1:18; Eph 5:6; Rev 19:15; et al.; study these). Not only this, but “it is uniformly represented as something very TERRIBLE in its effects.” I personally have seen people DIE under the wrath/anger of God. I’ve seen others receive terrible punishments that were not lethal, but very terrible.


“Anger Kindled”!

“AND THE ANGER of the LORD was KINDLED against Moses...” (Ex 4:14). His anger was “kindled” here by the sin of His very own servant. (See also Num 11:1-10; Deut 29:27; 2 Sam 6:7; Isa 5:25; etc.) God’s anger was “kindled” by the SINS and provocations of men, and was “poured out” on them (see Psa 79:6; Isa 42:25; Jer 44:6; et al.); its “fierceness” is dwelt upon by psalmists and prophets (Psa 78:49; 88:16; Isa 13:9; Jer 25:37-38; et al.); and it burns down to the lowest Sheol (Deut 32:22). Each of these Scriptures cited ought to be studied carefully. God is JUST in His dealings.

     Similarly, the N.T. represents God as “a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29; Matt 3:12; 13:42; 2 Thess 1:8 and 2:8). But at the same time, this “anger” is not pictured, as in pagan religions, “as the mere outburst of capricious passion, but always appears in union with the idea of Divine Holiness (that principle, as scholars point out, ‘which guards the eternal distinction between Creator God and creature human, in the union effected between them, and preserves the Divine Dignity and Majesty from being infringed on,’ and which, on its positive side, is in God THE INFLEXIBLE DETERMINATION TO UPHOLD—AT ALL COSTS—THE INTERESTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUTH).” And I might add, “AND THE MAINTENANCE OF THE MORAL ORDER IN THE WORLD”—which is certainly OUT of ORDER currently! Specifically, in the O.T., it was “the upholding of the covenant relation with Israel,” which manifested its close alliance with RIGHTEOUSNESS and LOVE (read Num 32:14-15; 2 Kgs 17:13-18, Ezek 23; Amos 3:2; Psa 7:11; et al.; all these need to be studied). The “ANGER” of God is also expressed this way in the N.T. with spiritual Israel.


God Angry Every Day?

YES! IF WE believe Psalm 7:11 — “God judgeth the righteous, and God is ANGRY WITH THE WICKED EVERY DAY. Why? Because of what was written above: GOD PROTECTS HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS!

     Let it be said, WOE to those who plot and do evil; God is the God who EXECUTES PUNISHMENT every day somewhere. Verse 6 of Psalm 7 states, “Arise, O LORD, in thine ANGER, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded” (KJV); “Awake, O my God; thou hast appointed a judgment” (RSV).

     Two things stand out clear here: (1) God means to judge, and the men/nations of today NEED to be REMINDED of this FACT; and (2) It is a reasonable prayer to pray that God may make judgment a vivid and somber reality HERE and NOW! It is foolish to pray for the “good ol’ days” to return when HE IS POURING OUT HIS JUDGMENTS TO GET MEN AND NATIONS TO REPENT!!


Ethical Anger

“ANGER” IN GOD has always an “ethical connotation,” and manifests itself “in subserviency to the ends of RIGHTEOUSNESS and MERCY,” by which also its measure or limit is prescribed (see Jer 10:24). In its out-workings in providence, “anger” uses as its instruments “the agencies of nature, as well as the passions and ambitious designs of men and nations,” which I’ve already written about.

     When Jesus prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem/Judah (see Matt 24), He knew that the Romans would be the “perfect weapon,” for they had a repulsion of Israel and the Jews; therefore, when God called the Roman armies to punish Judah/Jerusalem, they had NO PITY! This is a historical fact.

     God called the Assyrians the “rod of Mine (GOD’S) anger” (Isa 10:5; the notoriously wicked, ruthless Assyrians were used as JUDGMENT against Israel’s 10 Northern Tribes). Both the Assyrians and Babylonians were civil forces “sent to afflict the disobedient Jews with the calamities (Heb. “ra”) of war, famine, pestilence, and with mental torments to boot (look up Deut 28:15-68; Amos 4:6-12 also).


Weakened Down?

THAT IS WHAT our liberal bleeding hearts do: THEY TRY TO WEAKEN OR EXPLAIN AWAY GOD'S JUSTIFIED ANGER/WRATH (e.g., Origen, Augustine and Turretin were theologians who did this). Liberal theologians water down and compromise God's Truth “into a mere anthropomorphism; or generalize Biblical expressions for the LORD’S HATRED and AVERSION TO SIN and His DETERMINATION TO PUNISH IT (AND THE SINNERS).

     We who know the LORD/Lord regard God's aversion to sin as very real, and He has every right to punish, even take life in order to awaken fear in the minds of sinful (and phony!!) men (even so-called “believers”!!).

     I can’t fathom a world left to itself without God's judgments. I guess it would be HELL ON EARTH for sure! Is this what you “Don’t judge me, just love me” folks want? (See Psa 2:11-12; Heb 10:31).


O.T. God — N.T. God

SOME MISINFORMED SOULS believe that the “O.T. God” has grown old, tired, feeble, and compromising in His old age; therefore, He ALLOWS sin to reign unchecked in the N.T. HA! Wishful thinking.

     N.T. theologians/scholars/preachers/teachers of the liberal mindset believe (or HOPE!) that they are right and I am wrong. Since they can’t avoid the WRATH/ANGER passages in the N.T., they merely place them into the “eschatological file”—the future. They see the “Day of the Lord” (Rom 2:5 and Rev 6:17) as future—at the end of the world. Well, what if this is the END of the WORLD?!

     There is a BIG FAT problem with their exegesis (really, their eisegesis): What do we do with the Divine WRATH/ANGER that has manifested continuously throughout history in the punishment of those men/nations whose EVILDOINGS called it forth? (See Psalm 7:11.) Somebody is dreaming...AND IT IS NOT ME!

     It should be understood that the later representations in Scripture are every whit as “strongly conceived” and inspired as those of an earlier date. Of course, this has been debated.

     The late Rev. James Orr, M.A., D.D., professor of Church History at the United Presbyterian Hall, Edinburgh, refuted the idea of another historian (H. Schultz), who spoke of “the impression of [a certain] terrible [pagan] god” in the earlier ages. Orr said, “the ancient Hebrews, too, tremble before a mysterious wrath of God” (O.T. Theology, ii., p. 175, Eng. tr.). Orr cites these early Scriptures, showing that the Hebrews have always feared God: Lev. 10:6; Num. 1:53; 18:5; Ex. 12:12; 30:12; Num. 8:19 — all from the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Bible).


What About the First Book — Genesis?

REMARKABLY, GENESIS HAS no “specific” mention of the “wrath” of God. But the equivalent is there in repeated manifestations of the LORD God's judgment on SIN. For example: the expulsion from Eden, cursing of the ground, the flaming sword, the universal Flood, the utter DEVASTATION AND DESTRUCTION of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their inhabitants, etc.

     For sure, there is just no way one can miss the connection between Divine Holiness and Divine WRATH. God smites some for “slight” faults as well as large ones (see 1 Sam 4:19-20; 2 Sam 2:7). Second Samuel 2:7 speaks of King Saul being dead—smitten by God through suicide (1 Sam 31:4). This was completely the result of Saul’s disobedience.


WRATH — Not Altered in the N.T.

I WILL REPEAT, we find that the notions of God's WRATH are not altered in the N.T., though the revelation of “love” and “grace” which now fill the pages place it in the “background”—but it is still there!

     Scholars point out that the Marcionite view, which would represent the contrast between the God of the O.T. and the God of the N.T., as that between a “wrathful avenging” Deity and a “loving Father” who is “incapable” of anger/wrath, is, at face value, TOTALLY INCORRECT. I agree!

     And I must say, “the pitying, Fatherly character of the Almighty God is NOT absent from the O.T.” I’ve already proven this (see Ex 34:6-7 and Psa 103:13 for starters). Even in the O.T., love is rather the primary basis of God’s self-revelation, to which the manifestations of WRATH-ANGER-JUDGMENT are subordinate. God is “love” in both Testaments; He warns, pleads and corrects before He punishes. Even after punishment—in both Testaments—He forgives and loves again. He is not the “bully God” as many believe. He is the loving, Holy God of principle.


Slow to Anger

BECAUSE OF HIS love, He is slow to anger, as Psalm 103:8-17 shows us.

     Originally, “orge” (Gk. noun for “anger”) meant “any natural impulse, or desire, or disposition, as the strongest of all passions.” It is used of the “wrath” of man (Eph 4:31; Col 3:8; 1 Tim 2:8; Jam 1:19-20), the displeasure of human governments (Rom 13:4-5), the sufferings of the Jews at the hands of the Gentiles (Lk 21:23), the terrors of the Law (Rom 4:15), the anger of the Lord Jesus (Mk 3:5), God's anger with His people (Heb 3:11; 4:3), God’s present anger with the Jews nationally (Rom 9:22; 1 Thess 2:16), His present anger with those who are disobedient (Jn 3:36), His purposes in judgment (Matt 3:7; Lk 3:7; Rom 1:18; 2:5, 8; 3:5; 5:9; 12:19; Eph 2:3; 5:6; Col 3:6; 1 Thess 1:10 and 5:9 — see also “indignation,” “vengeance,” and “wrath”).


“Thumos” (Gk. “Wrath”)

“THUMOS,” TRANSLATED “WRATH” (not “anger”) is to be distinguished from “orge” in this respect: that “thumos” indicates “a more agitated condition of the feelings, an outburst of ‘wrath’ from inward indignation, whereas ‘orge’ suggests a more settled or abiding state of mind, frequently with a view to taking ‘revenge.’” We can discern this in Scripture.


“Parorgismos” (Gk.)

“PARORGISMOS,” found in Ephesians 4:26 (R.V. margin), is a strengthened form of “orge.” It points especially to that which provokes the “wrath.” Westcott explains that “the first keenness of the sense of provocation must not be cherished though righteous resentment may remain.” It is also pointed out that the verb, “orgizo,” (in Eph 4:26 — “Be ye ANGRY, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath”) implies a just occasion for the feeling (see the Septuagint Psa 4:4, where the Hebrew word it replaces signifies “to quiver with strong emotion”).

     “Thumos” and “orge” are coupled in Revelation 16:19—“fierceness of the wrath”—and also in 19:15—“the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God” (see also “wrath”).



THIS GREEK WORD originally signified “physical pain or indignation, hence, vexation,” and is used in 2 Corinthians 7:11 as “indignation.”

     We here hear God using “WRATH, FURY, INDIGNATION” quite often. Before I turn to “FURY,” I must say, one ought to study-out the verbs “orgizo,” “parorgizo,” “cholao,” “thumomacheo,” and the adjective “orgilos” (as in Titus 1:17).


“FURY” (Heb. “chemah” = “heat”; “charon” = “burning”)

“FURY” EXPRESSES INTENSE anger; it is attributed to God metaphorically, or by speaking after the manner of men (see Lev 26:28; Job 20:23; Isa 63:3; et al.). It is “the spontaneous reaction of the Divine Holiness AGAINST SIN treasured-up and RIPE for JUDGMENT.” God uses this word often in relation to His displeasure with sin and sinners (see our Words of the Spirit publications).

     If one takes a topical concordance and researches “fury,” one will find it connected with “fierceness,” “rage,” “wrath,” “anger,” etc. “FURY” (Heb. “chema” = “heat,” “poison,” “hot displeasure,” “furious,” “rage,” “wrath,” etc., and is found 66 times in the O.T. “Charown” or “charon” = “a burning of anger, sore displeasure, fierceness, wrathfulness, etc.”; it is found one time, in Job 20:23. And “chema“ = “anger”; it is found two times, in Dan 3:13 and 19).


“FURY” Debate — Isaiah 27:4

I’VE RUN ACROSS this debate surrounding Isaiah 27:4. The verse says, “Fury is not in me...” Some take this literally: “God has NO FURY in Him!” The Hebrew word for “FURY” here is “chemah” (“anger”). The Septuagint and Syriac read “chomah.” One ancient manuscript has “cheimah.” Adam Clarke, in his Commentary [Vol. IV (Isaiah), p. 120, April 1826 issue], has a long article on that verse. If you have this volume, read it.

     The RSV reads, “I have no wrath...” Almost all the scholars I’ve read from find that verse and chapter very difficult; the exegesis reveals the “fragmentary and confused condition of the text,” as they say. From what I can glean, “the oracle responds to the entreaty of chapter 26.” It really begins in verse 20, where we find the word “wrath.” There follows in 27:1 “the announcement of the Divine verdict on the world powers: they are to be destroyed.” God's “strong sword” will punish (hew/ pierce) Leviathan (see 51:9; Job 26:13), where YAHWEH’S “primeval victory are thus portrayed with the classical materials of mythological imagery” [Note: There are many parallels in God's Word where mythology has been accommodated to Hebrew tradition: e.g., Leviathan (Isa 27:1; Psa 74:13-14; 104:26); Rahab, “The Rager” (Isa 30:7; 51:9; Psa 89:10; Job 9:13; 26:12-13); Tannin, “the dragon” or “the monster” (Isa 51:9; Ezek 29:3; 32:2; Psa 74:13; Job 7:12), “the serpent” (Isa 27:1; Amos 9:3; Job 26:13), or “the Sea” (Isa 51:10; Hab 3:8; Psa 74:13; Job 7:12; 26:12; 38:8; Rev 21:1)—all reveal “the symbol of the FINAL OVERTHROW of God's (and our) enemies and the establishment of His (our) unquestioned sovereignty.”

     This same theme appears in many ancient mythologies (see Gaster, pp. 140-51). The Biblical forms most resemble, as might be expected, the Babylonian and Canaanite versions.

     Leviathan is from a root meaning “turn, twist”; the closeness of the Biblical narrative to the Canaanite myth can be seen from the Ras Shamra tablet I AM (as translated in Alexander Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis).

     I can’t go into all this debate (on chapter 27), but we do know that the chapter consists of a song about God's vineyard (Israel) which was under His protection. Verses 7-11 set out the conditions of final deliverance that were possible for His people.

     In terms of RETRIBUTION, God has been very lenient (despite what critics say otherwise) in His punishment of disobedient Israel; in fact, He has been patient PLUS!! Forgiveness was promised to ancient Israel, but only FOLLOWING the putting away of the last vestige of IDOLATRY from Israel’s national life (remember this, IDOLATROUS AMERICANS!). Verses 12-13 close with a prophecy of the recall of the banished and outcast—again, God’s “love” in action (in the O.T.!).

     We can take all this to heart concerning the current Christian Church. The tragedy of our current situation is that the Church is so “damned” backslid, where does this leave the national life?

     The only way I see verse 4 (on “FURY”) is in light of God's principles, seeing the way Israel was—many times backslid, and many times in right standing with God. That is, God will fight against HIS very own people when they fight against Him; He will be a hedge of protection for them (“without FURY”) when they cherish Him and His Word. THE ONLY WAY GOD COULD SAY “FURY IS NOT IN ME” IS WHEN ISRAEL WAS (AND WE ARE) IN OBEDIENCE, THEN DELIVERANCE FROM THEIR ENEMIES WAS IN ORDER; GOD'S “FURY” THEN WAS DIRECTED AGAINST ISRAEL’S ENEMIES.

     Actually, there are times when God literally pities His backslid people instead of being full of anger, fury, wrath; yes, His heart has pity. This does not mean that God has no reason to punish out of fury, wrath, and anger; but He withholds these things, as he did in the past with Israel, hoping that His people would REPENT….repent and come home to our Christian citizenship, forsaking the far country of SIN with all the estrangement and entertainments, all the worldliness,...returning, returning home to peace and the love of God.


Love of God

THE FATHERLY “LOVE OF GOD” IN THE N.T. DOES NOT EXCLUDE THE ASPECT OF HIM AS JUDGE. Most would like the opposite, but 1 Peter 1:17 tells us that “if ye call on the Father, who without respect of person judgeth according to every man’s work...” (there is much that could be discussed here). He not only is Judge, but is also a “CONSUMING FIRE” (Heb 12:29; I’ve written on this in our FREE HELL booklets), whose WRATH is a TERRIBLE REALITY, from which Christ alone can save us (Jn 3:36; Rom 1:16-18; 5:9; 1 Thess 1:10).

     I assure you, some scholars labor hard trying to prove that the “wrath” in the N.T. is simply eschatological. You can find this Biblically, but one cannot dismiss the present workings of WRATH. Some go to the extreme, challenging the concept of “wrath” being “Christian” at all. HA! They would like to dismiss wrath/punishment as much as they have (in their own sinful minds) dismissed an eternal HELL-FIRE. But HELL-FIRE is real. Biblically read, its FOREVER!!! These perverters of truth hate God's WRATH, and they are themselves idiosyncratically wrathful. These feral “Bible scholars” are leading people to their own destruction with their unbiblical eisegetical interpretations.


No Worth?

ONE SCHOLAR has written, “The notion of the affection of wrath in God has no religious worth for Christians, but is an unfixed and formless theologoumeon.” Get serious, man! God has every right to exercise WRATH, FURY, and INDIGNATION against whoever needs it. Man has no say so in this matter. If man gets MAD or ANGRY, why cannot God?

     It is no doubt true that the eschatological aspect of His Wrath-Fury-Indignation are prominent in the N.T., and that, for the reason already given, the Wrath-Fury-Indignation of God throughout the N.T. “recedes into the background” and becomes, as it were, an “attribute in reserve” (see Rom 2:5; 3:25). But, dear ones, many indications warn us that it is ONLY IN RESERVE, and is STILL THERE IN ITS UNCHANGED CHARACTER, and RESTS WITH ITS HEAVY WEIGHT UPON THE DISOBEDIENT (see Jn 3:36; Eph 2:2-3).

     So, in a very real sense, its effects are manifest in the terrible (like TERROR!) retribution for SIN/SINS exacted from men even today (see Matt 23:35, 36; Rom 1:21-32; Acts 5:1-11; etc.).



IF THE OBJECTION is pushed, as it seems to be more and more these days, that the attribute of God's Wrath-Fury-Indignation is an “unholy concept,” and “derogates the Divine Perfection of God,” it may at least, with equal justice, be replied that a Ruler, the Ruler of the Universe, if said to be incapable of being moved with an intense moral indignation at sin and a desire to use DESTROYING energy against it, would actually be lacking a vitally essential element of MORAL PERFECTION; further, this Ruler’s righteousness, love, and mercy would NO longer “have any substantive value.”

     Think about that.


[Study material has been adapted from its original sources.]