One of the most famous sermons preached by 18th-century pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards was titled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Edwards said that the sermon was “attended with many impressions upon the hearers.” Some, who felt convicted of their sin, cried out in fear. Others wept with joy over their salvation.
In today’s world, we hardly hear about God’s wrath. Yet Paul’s words make it clear that such a thing is very real. Paul explains its basis and the form it takes. God’s wrath is revealed because humanity suppresses what God has revealed about Himself. All people are accountable for this revelation because “God has made it plain to them” (v. 19). However, God does not express His wrath by flying into an emotional rage and showering the wicked with thunderbolts. Instead, He allows sinful humanity to go their way (v. 24). In other words, when sin entered the world through Adam, it produced a downward spiral of disobedience and distortion of truth.
The Bible’s language of divine wrath reminds us what it is like to be in an oppositional relationship with God. We all know how it feels to be the focus of someone’s displeasure or to experience rejection. The emphasis is not on God’s emotional state so much as it is on our position. Sin makes us God’s enemies. He is opposed to us because we are opposed to Him. Unrighteousness always places us at cross purposes with God so that we cannot be in harmony with Him.
>> Have you ever considered that the worst thing that could happen to you might be for God to let you have your way? C. S. Lewis observed, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”