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Romans 1.18

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For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

This is a very serious verse and one that needs considerable contemplation by all Christians. Let’s first of all define the phrase “wrath of God”. The Greek word is orge (pronounced or-gay) and it can mean violent emotions or it can mean punishment.

Most commentaries I read seem to lean towards defining orge in this verse as violent emotions. This goes back to the Calvinist idea that God is angry with the world. I even read one commentary that said that God hates sinners – that if you sin, God hates you until you repent.

I believe whole heartedly that this idea of “sinners in the hand of an angry God” is a false one. We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God, and we were never sinners in the hands of an angry God! We were sinners, but God was not angry. Now, as Christians, we are not sinners any more: we are righteous saints in the hands of a loving Father.

The preacher of “sinners in the hands of an angry God” first transcribed sermon was about how God will not save anyone who comes to Him in sincere faith, as God can do what He likes and God will only save who He wants to save! People in his church were so depressed by his preaching that some of them committed suicide, including his own uncle. He then said that it was God that made them kill themselves! If I thought that unless I was specially chosen by God there was no way I could be redeemed from sin, no matter how much I wanted to be, I think I would be suicidal too! It is utterly Biblically incorrect to say that we are sinners in the hands of an angry God, yet many Christians use this era of Christianity as their benchmark of living Christianity and ignore the book of Acts!

Let’s look at this topic of the wrath of God across the wider Biblical teaching of God and then let’s look at this within the context of Romans 1 and unpick what this verse means. I believe it means that the legal punishment of God is revealed, not God’s emotional anger.

Firstly, let me say that the Bible is clear that God is pure and righteous and holy. Godliness is about being pure and acting right and living holy. I am not for sin – sin is a killer: sin will keep you enslaved and take you places where death can attack and destroy you. However, the sin problem has been dealt with. Sin will never affect your relationship and intimacy with God.

You see when God created Adam and Eve and when they first sinned, God did not punish them. Pain in childbirth, having to work and sweat to make the world produce, difficulty in relationships, being dead spiritually and eventually dying physically were not placed on Adam and Eve by God – they were just the natural consequences of kicking God out of your life and your planet. God gave Adam and Eve planet Earth and they booted God out of it – no wonder the planet is in a mess! No wonder marriages are in a mess – they booted God out of marriage! No wonder child-rearing and producing a living are such hard work – they booted God out of these things!

God wasn’t punishing them, they were just dealing with the natural consequences of their actions. If you live a promiscuous lifestyle and catch a sexually transmitted disease, God didn’t put that on you – it is simply the natural consequence of you actions. If you eat 5000+ calories a day, and you have a heart attack – God didn’t do it. If you drink and drive and crash your car, God didn’t do it. If you sin and end up in hell because you never accepted the redemptive work of Christ at Calvary, God didn’t send you to hell – it is simply the consequence of your actions.

God found Adam and Eve and clothed them with the skin of an animal. God brought death into an animal, so that Adam and Eve could live. That is not the actions of someone who is “violently emotional and angry”. You don’t make a sacrifice for someone you hate.

Now, God continually showed love and affection to the human race. Cain murdered his brother and God marked him. The mark of Cain wasn’t judgment it was mercy: it said that you couldn’t punish Cain. It was protection. You don’t protect a murderer if you are violently emotional and angry.

However, people took the love and mercy of God and the goodness of God for granted. The world became more and more wicked, and people such as Lamech said essentially if Cain could murder and God still loved him, I will go and murder who I like. The goodness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2.4) but not if we take it for granted.

So God had to develop a system of laws. He had to wipe out everyone in a flood. But God did it as a discipline and a punishment for sin – not out of a temper. He is our Father – if a father disciplines and punishes a son, that is fine. If my son was rude or stole something, I would punish them in some appropriate way. But, if I did it out of violent anger (which I have on occasion lost my temper at my children and had to repent of it) then you would say that this was bad parenting. How much more is God a good Father?

He flooded the world because He was the judge of the world, not because He violently hated mankind. Someone in a violent emotional state would not have led Noah to build an ark and waited 100 years to discipline humanity, spending that time calling them to repent with a powerfully anointed preacher. Violently angry people do not wait 100 years pleading with people to change!

He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because He had to stop their wickedness spreading. Violently angry people don’t wait until people escape before destroying a city – God did.

You see this idea of God being violently angry and needing to be placated is actually a pagan idea, not a Christian one. The truth is that sin does need a punishment, a death, but God is the one providing the lamb that takes away the sin of the world, not the one looking for it. We are the ones looking for it, and we found it at Calvary – the love of God in a human, giving up His life for us. That is the nature of God.

God must punish sin. The wages of sin is death, and if you die in sin you will go to hell. Sin cannot enter heaven. God’s justice demands that sin is punished. But the love of God triumphs over sin through Calvary. Mercy has triumphed over justice.

This is what this verse is talking about, not a God in heaven looking at people enjoying getting them and blasting them and being violently angry at them. It is a God who knows that sin must be punished and needs to deal with that so that He doesn’t have to punish sin. God doesn’t want anyone going to hell, God doesn’t want anyone sick, anyone suffering, God loves people! Your ungodliness must be punished, your unrighteousness has to be punished! But Jesus was punished so you don’t have to be!

The context of Romans 1.18 is the gospel. The whole reason we need the good news of Jesus is the wrath of God. Not the capricious anger of God, but the punishment of God. God must punish every sin you have ever committed, every impure thought you have ever had. But far from being violently angry with you, God loves you so much that He gave up His only Son to die your death, to bear your iniquity, to take the punishment for your sin – so you could have eternal life, so you could be righteous and pure and so you could have a relationship with God! Selah!

You deserved hell, Jesus went there so you don’t have to. You deserved death, but you are going to live forever if you accept by faith that Jesus took your place. This is the good news. The wrath of God is what makes the good news good news. If there is no wrath of God, then the gospel is meaningless. If sin did not warrant death, then the gospel is useless.

But let that realization of a clear punishment for sin lead you to say that God is an angry God – He is a God who only has thoughts to prosper you not to harm you. Angry people cannot think like that. God is angry – but not at humans, He is angry at injustice, He is angry at ignorance, He is angry that the devil keeps tripping people up and lying to them and making them think that He hates them. He is angry at anything that stops you and Him enjoying fellowship and friendship. But He is not angry at you.

Look at Isaiah 54.7-8:

8In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
9For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

God compares His never being wroth (angry) with us again like the promise that He will never flood the earth again. They are as important to Him. Every Christian knows that God will never flood the world again like He did. You need to know as well and as deeply in your spirit that God will NEVER be wroth with you. Ever.

Next time you see a rainbow, thank God that He is not and will never be angry with you. The wrath of God was entirely poured out on Jesus, the entire punishment for the sin of the world was laid entirely on Him.

That is good news!

The Gospel in Genesis (Chuck Missler)

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We frequently use the familiar term, gospel, or good news. Where is the first place it appears in the Bible? The answer may surprise you.

An Integrated Message

The great discovery is that the Bible is a message system: it’s not simply 66 books penned by 40 authors over thousands of years, the Bible is an integrated whole which bears evidence of supernatural engineering in every detail.

The Jewish rabbis have a quaint way of expressing this very idea: they say that they will not understand the Scriptures until the Messiah comes. But when He comes, He will not only interpret each of the passages for us, He will interpret the very words; He will even interpret the very letters themselves; in fact, He will even interpret the spaces between the letters!

When I first heard this, I simply dismissed this as a colorful exaggeration. Until I reread Matthew 5:17 and 18:

“Think not that I have come to destroy the Torah and the prophets; I have not come to destroy but to fulfill.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

(A jot and tittle are the Hebrew equivalent of our dotting an i and the crossing of a t.)

An Example

A remarkable example of this can be glimpsed in Genesis Chapter 5, where we have the genealogy of Adam through Noah. This is one of those chapters which we often tend to skim over quickly as we pass through Genesis it’s simply a genealogy from Adam to Noah.

But God always rewards the diligent student. Let’s examine this chapter more closely.

In our Bible, we read the Hebrew names. What do these names mean in English?

A Study of Original Roots

The meaning of proper names can be a difficult pursuit since a direct translation is often not readily available. Even a conventional Hebrew lexicon can prove disappointing. A study of the original roots, however, can yield some fascinating insights.

(A caveat: many study aids, such as a conventional lexicon, can prove rather superficial when dealing with proper nouns. Furthermore, views concerning the meanings of original roots are not free of controversy and variant readings.)

Let’s take an example.

The Flood Judgment

Methuselah comes from muth, a root that means “death”;1 and from shalach, which means to bring, or to send forth. The name Methuselah means, “his death shall bring”.2

Methuselah’s father was given a prophecy of the coming Great Flood, and was apparently told that as long as his son was alive, the judgment of the flood would be withheld; but as soon as he died, the flood would be brought or sent forth.

(Can you imagine raising a kid like that? Every time the boy caught a cold, the entire neighborhood must have panicked!)

And, indeed, the year that Methuselah died, the flood came.3

It is interesting that Methuselah’s life, in effect, was a symbol of God’s mercy in forestalling the coming judgment of the flood.

Therefore, it is fitting that his lifetime is the oldest in the Bible, speaking of the extensiveness of God’s mercy.

The Other Names

If there is such significance in Methuselah’s name, let’s examine the other names to see what may lie behind them.

Adam’s name means man. As the first man, that seems straight forward enough.

Seth

Adam’s son was named Seth, which means appointed. Eve said, “For God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.”4

Enosh

Seth’s son was called Enosh, which means mortal, frail, or miserable. It is from the root anash, to be incurable, used of a wound, grief, woe, sickness, or wickedness.

It was in the days of Enosh that men began to defile the name of the Living God.5

Kenan

Enosh’s son was named Kenan, which can mean sorrow, dirge, or elegy. (The precise denotation is somewhat elusive; some study aids unfortunately presume that Kenan is synonymous with Cainan.)

Balaam, looking down from the heights of Moab, uses a pun upon the name of the Kenites when he prophesies their destruction.6

We have no real idea as to why these names were chosen for their children. Often they may have referred to circumstances at birth, and so on.

Mahalalel

Kenan’s son was Mahalalel, from Mahalal which means blessed or praise; and El, the name for God. Thus, Mahalalel means the Blessed God. Often Hebrew names include El, the name of God, as Dan-i-el, “God is my Judge”, etc.

Jared

Mahalalel’s son was named Jared, from the verb yaradh, meaning shall come down.7

Enoch

Jared’s son was named Enoch, which means teaching, or commencement. He was the first of four generations of preachers. In fact, the earliest recorded prophecy was by Enoch, which amazingly enough deals with the Second Coming of Christ (although it is quoted in the Book of Jude in the New Testament):

Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against.”
Jude 14, 15

Methuselah

Enoch was the father of Methuselah, who we have already mentioned. Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah.8 Apparently, Enoch received the prophecy of the Great Flood, and was told that as long as his son was alive, the judgment of the flood would be withheld. The year that Methuselah died, the flood came.

Enoch, of course, never died: he was translated 9 (or, if you’ll excuse the expression, raptured ). That’s how Methuselah can be the oldest man in the Bible, yet he died before his father!

Lamech

Methuselah’s son was named Lamech, a root still evident today in our own English word, lament or lamentation. Lamech suggests despairing.

(This name is also linked to the Lamech in Cain’s line who inadvertently killed his son Tubal-Cain in a hunting incident.10)

Noah

Lamech, of course, is the father of Noah, which is derived from nacham, to bring relief or comfort, as Lamech himself explains in Genesis 5:29.

The Composite List

Now let’s put it all together:
Hebrew English
Adam Man
Seth Appointed
Enosh Mortal
Kenan Sorrow;
Mahalalel The Blessed God
Jared Shall come down
Enoch Teaching
Methuselah His death shall bring
Lamech The Despairing
Noah Rest, or comfort.

That’s rather remarkable:

Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.

Here’s the Gospel hidden within a genealogy in Genesis!

(You will never convince me that a group of Jewish rabbis conspired to hide the Christian Gospel right here in a genealogy within their venerated Torah!)

Evidence of Design

The implications of this discovery are more wide spread than is evident at first glance.

It demonstrates that in the earliest chapters of the Book of Genesis, God had already laid out His plan of redemption for the predicament of mankind. It is a love story, written in blood on a wooden cross which was erected in Judea almost 2,000 years ago.

The Bible is an integrated message system, the product of supernatural engineering. Every number, every place name, every detail every jot and tittle is there for our learning, our discovery, and our amazement. Truly, our God is an awesome God.

It is astonishing to discover how many Biblical controversies seem to evaporate if one simply recognized the unity the integrity of these 66 books, penned by 40 authors over thousands of years.

It is remarkable how many subtle discoveries lie behind the little details of the text. Some of these become immediately obvious with a little study; some are more technical and require special helps.

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