As I’ve done in the past, today we’ll ask the ever pressing question of ‘so what?’ concerning God’s jealousy and wrath. From asking why these doctrines matter there are 5 things to rise to the surface.
1) Proper Understanding: without an understanding of God’s jealousy and God’s wrath, we cannot understand the reason the cross took place. It is the epitome of foolishness to deny these doctrines, if you do you end up with this: ‘A God without wrath, brought men without sin, into a kingdom without judgment, through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.’ (Richard Niebuhr)
2) Assurance: does the Christian have to fear God’s wrath now? No, but we can still grieve the Holy Spirit when we walk in disobedience (1 Thess 1:10, James 4:4-5, Psalm 103:8-9). Do we feel a divine jealousy when we see or hear God’s honor being scorned or blasphemed? What can we do to create within us a deeper jealousy for God’s honor? (in this manner it is right for us to imitate God’s wrath, being jealous for the things He is jealous for).
3) Encouragement: Two J.I. Packer quotes are instructive to us:
‘But, we ask, what is the nature of this divine jealousy? How can jealousy be a virtue in God when it is a vice in men? God’s perfection’s are a matter for praise; but how can we praise God for being jealous?…God seeks what we should seek – His glory in and through men – and it is for the securing of this end, ultimately, that He is jealous.’
‘To those who are Christ’s, the holy God is a loving father. They belong to his family, they may approach him without fear, and always be sure of his fatherly concern and care. This is the heart of the New Testament message.’
4) Evangelism: these doctrines should move the Christian to eagerness in evangelism because they remind us that God will punish all sin, no exceptions, so all those who we know who still are in sin, apart from Christ, will go to hell unless they repent. The first words I ever heard a pastor say, ‘If you truly understand the nature of hell, you’ll be the greatest evangelist in the world.’
5) Thankfulness / Praise: God not only upholds His glory, but He is jealous to do so. This is good news for us, because God’s passion for His glory is also the measure of His commitment to our joy. Or to say another way, God is jealous, God has a zeal to uphold that which makes us infinitely happy, His glory. If He did not do this, He would not love us at all.
His wrath is terrible, our God is a consuming fire, like C.S. Lewis’ Aslan, God is good but He is not tame. There is something wild, mysterious, and threatening about God’s and His jealous wrath.
Praise Him! May He make us jealous for His Glory.