Summary: (PowerPoint Slides and Cell Study Notes freely available by emailing Emile@Wolfaardt.com) Is God judging America - and how should we live?...
The Anger and Joy of God
This morning I want to speak with you from the Word of God on something rather unusual - The Anger and Joy of God. I dare say that as I have prepared for this morning, I have come to realize that God is angry, and we tend to misunderstand how angry He really is, and God is joyful, and we tend to misunderstand how joyful He really is. We do not like the idea of God being overly angry or overly joyful. We somehow feel it may compromise His balance, and look like sin on the one hand and frivolousness on the other. Yet I believe God is both - He can be and is indignantly angry, and He can be and is ecstatically joyful.
Here is what we need to understand - when God is angry at something or someone, He brings great judgment to bear on that person or that thing. When God is joyful at something or someone, He brings great blessing to bear upon that person or that thing.
As a culture and as a Church, we like to look at the blessing side of the equation don’t we. We enjoy the fact that God exalt the humble and blessing His children with abundance and meets their needs, promises them safety and the list of God’s goodness goes on and on. And that emphasis it good and true, because God is a loving benevolent God.
But the other side of the equation is just as true. When God is angry at a nation, He judges that nation - and He judges it severely. Three times in the Old Testament God judges Israel significantly. In 722 BC Israel was ransacked by the Assyrians because of their sins and taken off into captivity. They recovered. Then in 586 BC the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians because of their sins. And the same thing again in AD 70 by the Romans.
So the question we need to ask is this: - What brings about the judgment of God? Good question - the answer is simple - the behavior of man. Do you understand that everyone who is in Hell is in hell because of his or her behavior? That is not how you get to heaven, but that is how you get to Hell. People who go to Hell go to Hell because of how they lived. But people who go to heaven go to heaven because of how Jesus Christ lived. He lived a perfect life as our substitute, actively obeying God’s law in our place and He took your judgment and my judgment, your sin and my sin on himself.
But the behavior of man stirs up God’s anger and brings about His wrath here below. In dealing with Israel’s sin and the coming judgment in AD 70 Jesus says in Matthew 32:23, "Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers."
It is almost as if Jesus were telling them that there is a judicial scale, and on the one side of the scale is the good a nation does and on the other side of the scale is the evil a nation does. On the one side is a nation obeying the law of God, a nation following justice and living for God. And on the other side of the scale is a nation disobeying God, going its own way, committing acts of injustice. And Israel was, at that time, living on the wrong side. And Jesus is warning them saying they should be careful, because there is a tipping point, and when the scale tips, God judges that nation.