How God Satisfies His Wrath: A Deeper Look at Propitiation, Part Three (Final)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

How God Satisfies His Wrath:
Part Three (Final)

This is the third and final post in this blog series on propitiation. In the first post we opened up a can of worms on this subject, from Genesis 6, by looking at the sorrow of God with respect to the pouring out of His anger and judgment against sin. In the second post we observed further exegetical evidence for understanding the 'sorrow' of God in this way: God consoling or comforting His offended holiness by pouring out His wrath until He is satisfied. In this third and final post we will observe the climactic point in history in which God consoled or comforted His offended holiness once and for all, by pouring out His wrath upon Jesus Christ on the cross until He was satisfied.

In the last two posts you've heard mostly what seems like bad news. So much negativity! But it all has a point! If there is no bad news, there can be no good news, because good news is only good because we know what bad news sounds like, right?

Now for the good news! Let’s move quickly to the other side to which I have already alluded.

Not only does God comfort His offended holiness by punishing,
but He also does the same by NOT punishing.
That’s called mercy!

In Jeremiah 26:3, God is seen “repenting” of His plan to destroy Israel if they will turn and obey Him again. In essence, their obedience assuages God’s wrath. This is incredibly merciful!

In Joel 2:14 we read, “I am the LORD your God. Perhaps I will change my mind and treat you with mercy.” This phrase “change my mind” is our Hebrew word translated “sorry” in Genesis 6:6.

Finally, in Jonah 3:10 we see something very similar. “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not.” Again, God’s sorrow found an outlet through mercy instead of punishment.

As I draw a conclusion from all the Scriptural and exegetical data in the first and second posts in this series, what we see first is that...

...Our unchangeable God is described in human terms as changing His mind. (Please listen carefully here, and if you wish to quote me, quote all of me and not some of me on this point...I don't want to be labeled a heretic!)

BUT! this changing His mind finds a better home in the thought of “sorrow” and “grief.” It is not that He changes His mind as much as He moves to take action in a way that satisfies the demands of His holiness.

Sin demands death. Sin causes sorrow. God comforts His real and genuine sorrow over sin by bringing about death through judgment, wrath and punishment. That is called justice. And that is seen in the case of the flood. That cup of judgment was poured out for forty days and forty nights, kill all animal and human life who existed outside the confines of the ark.

BUT! God also comforts His real and genuine sorrow over sin by not bringing about death, judgment, wrath and punishment. That is called mercy. And that is seen in the case of the cross. The cup of God’s judgment on sin was “unleashed in all its fury on His beloved Son. He held nothing back” (Bridges).

And just as the wrath of God against the sin of the world was satisfied when He wiped out all life at the flood, His wrath was satisfied against all our sin when He killed Christ.

And just as Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord so that he and his family were saved in the midst of God’s judgment, you and I, and anyone else for that matter, can find favor with God in the midst of His promise to judge us for our sin.

Noah was saved, and anyone else can be saved also. They must simply believe in the work of the Lord Jesus who satisfied God’s wrath for them. They must love and adore Him as their substitute, as the One who “bore the full, unmitigated brunt of” God’s wrath so they wouldn’t have to.

HERE'S THE KEY: It was on the cross that God did comfort the offense to His holiness. He was so sorry over our sin that He killed His Son. What that meant for you and I (and anyone else who will come to Him) is that in our sinful condition, God could comfort His holiness by not killing us. Our justice was given to Jesus, and His mercy was given to us.

Think on these things. And if I've only succeeded in raising more questions than you had initially, email a nastigram to me and we'll hash it out.

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