The Old Testament wrath of God is the stuff of which legends are made. The Bible search tool I use returned 150 results for the term “wrath.” The use of wrath seems to fall into two categories: warning not to induce God’s wrath; and the actual use of God’s wrath. There have been debates about the angry Old Testament God and the God of love in the New Testament. Should I mention angry Jesus and his whip and the money changers in the Temple?
However, here is an interesting notion, the Holy Spirit is never associated with wrath or anger. St Paul warns us not to grieve the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 4:30, and pleads for character adjustment and calls for compassion and forgiving each other as “God in Christ has forgiven us.” (v 32) Paul asks, “What shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us?”
He goes on to point out this great truth, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
The wrath of God was put away by the sacrifice of Jesus. The Holy Spirit sent at Pentecost points to Jesus, effectively saying: I am God, there is no wrath in me because of Jesus. God’s wrath was induced by our sin. God setup a sacrificial system in which God Himself paid the price, satisfying and putting away that wrath. God Himself points us to the gift he has given us and gives us the faith in His gift. However, where is my part, what can I contribute to all of this? Luther gives us this in his explanation in the Apostle’s Creed, “All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.” Or as Jesus is fond of saying, “Go, and sin no more.” Or as the Holy Spirit has said through St Peter:
Through faith you are being protected by God’s power for the salvation that is ready to be revealed at the end of time.
Because of this you rejoice very much, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various kinds of trials so that the proven character of your faith—which is more valuable than gold, which passes away even though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not see him now, yet by believing in him, you are filled with a joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Trust the Promises,