Lamentations 3:1-3 “I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. He has led me and made me walk In darkness and not in light.
Surely He has turned His hand against me time and time again throughout the day.”
Who are those who have experienced the wrath of God’s love?
Some may say this as a conflict of interest, how the very notion of judgement might precede a loving God…but according to scripture, this is exactly what we see.
The Wrath of Love
Whether someone experiences the Lord in light of His wrath or knows God in light of His blessing, the principles that govern His actions remain the same.
You can’t say God is loving when He is gentle and kind, then turn and say He is unjustified or hateful when His strong hand brings judgement upon the accused. God’s people do not serve a bipolar God who is prone to fits of rage and then depending on His mood, gentle and kind.
When God has acted in history, He revealed certain attributes of His character that we can know and understand.
The patience of God
To understand God’s wrath is to first see His measure of love. His love is expressed by the patient endurance by which He puts up with sin. The wrath of God will be found at the completion of a time of patient endurance, for those who continue to defile His name His wrath will be the response He has toward sin. Sin is measured in response to God’s law, it accumulates over time and the measure of His wrath is reflected in the offense.
Job 21:30 “For the wicked are reserved for the day of doom; They shall be brought out on the day of wrath.”
The wicked are summarized by those who have rejected God’s laws and have offended Him through their actions. God patiently endures their sin for a season, some will turn and repent, most will live out their days experiencing the error of their ways and will perish in their unrepentance. God has graciously allowed sinners to thrive for a time, knowing an eternity of suffering awaits them.
Just as people have stored up wrath for the day of destruction, so they can also be given a reprieve. God’s love does not diminish before sinners, His nature does not shift because of the way people respond to Him. When unrepentant sinners continue in rebellion, the loving and gentle response of God goes unnoticed. The Lord doesn’t squash a person the moment they sin against Him, and so many think there is no eternal consequence to their actions. Sadly, many will be shocked to find themselves at the bottom of the abyss once they’ve taken their last breath.
When God calls a person from the error of their ways and they turn from their sin in belief, God graciously turns from the wrath He had stored up before them.
Psalm 85:1-3 “Lord, You have been favorable to Your land; You have brought back the captivity of Jacob. You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah You have taken away all Your wrath; You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.”
* For those who turn to Him, they move from a position of destruction to a position of favor. A return from being separated from God’s presence into living out the promise He prepared for them.
Forgiveness was demonstrated by His grace and mercy which spared them until they fell humbly at His feet.
God’s anger is satisfied because His people have submitted to Christ in repentance. Jesus fulfilled the requirement of the law—which is death.
A Choice is Given
The God who stands in judgement, who created all that we see and know, shows His love toward people in giving them autonomy. People have a choice whether to follow Him or to rebel against His authority.
All must know that with freedom comes responsibility.
Everyone will reap the consequence of their actions and they will have no one else to blame but themselves. People get angry with God when they think their actions should be deemed as ‘good’. It is by their standard of righteousness they hold themselves accountable since subjecting themselves to God’s standard would place them in a position as subservient.
What looks like faithfulness is actually rebellion.
Those who observe from a distance think to themselves, “how can God be so unjust in His dealings?”, but the reality of justice is that the law remains fixed, people cannot make their own moral laws, they do not have that right. When judgement comes for offending God’s law, the world will see that His law revealed His nature and it was by His nature that all things were created.
Psalm 19:7,8 “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes”
For believers, the misery of affliction has a purpose in life:
*It corrects * It shows the error of my path * It reveals truth and falsity * It demonstrates God’s love * It causes His church to rely on His provision.
Deuteronomy 26:7 “Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression.”
When believers are brought through the fire and recognize once again God’s faithfulness, their response will determine how they move forward.
Will they stop and worship or will they continue on their own way?
Will they grow in knowledge and understanding or will they continue in foolishness?
Will they recognize the error of past decisions and learn to trust or will they stumble again?
If a believer doesn’t learn to grow from mistakes, the way forward will continue to be difficult.
I know this because I have learned these mistakes myself.
Lamentations 3:7-9 “He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out;
He has made my chain heavy.
Even when I cry and shout,
He shuts out my prayer.
He has blocked my ways with hewn stone;
He has made my paths crooked.”
When God corrupts the path of a wayward pilgrim it is a reflection of God’s love. If believers want to embrace God’s love, they have to accept the path God has placed them on—the two go hand in hand.
This is the way of peace–this is the pathway of joy–this is the journey of those who choose to trust in the Lord with all their hearts.
Lamentations 3:22-24 “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
The Lord has reserved the full measure of His goodness for those who trust in Him, He has reserved the full measure of His wrath for those who have not.
The goodness God’s people experience now is but a taste of things to come. Will you be that man or woman who chose to follow Christ instead of their own ambitions?
We will all see one day.