In Revelation 15:1 we read, ‘I saw in heaven another great and marvellous sight: seven angels with the seven last plagues – last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.’ Why does God describe Himself as a ‘compassionate, gracious God, abounding in love…’ if He pours out His wrath on people?
One of the answers is found in the narrative of Genesis 22. God told Abraham to go and sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. One has to visualise the agony, the pain, and the torment which Abraham must have experienced. Yet he obeyed.
Naturally atheists and other God haters denounce God. How could a good God expect that of a father? It is cruel, sadistic, typical of a terrible cosmic monster. Sadly, as usual, they miss the point.
In Genesis 3:21 we read, ‘The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.’ The innocent animals sacrificed on their behalf, reconciled them to God. In Genesis 22:2 we read, ‘Take your son…whom you love…sacrifice him….’ It has a marvellous application to what God would do in future for man, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave [sacrificed] His one and only Son….’,John 3:16
God demonstrated His plan through Abraham. Abraham had a son, the necessary ‘ingredient’ for a physical nation. God also has a Son, the necessary ‘ingredient’ for a people of His own. God sacrificed Him and people of all nations can become children of the Father in His Name. The question is now, how big a sacrifice was that for the Father?
Abraham’s agonising experience demonstrates what it cost a father to sacrifice his dearly loved son. Jesus is the dearly loved Son of God. The Bible is generally silent on it, but it must have rent God’s heart to see what His Son endured. The only difference is that Abraham was prevented by God from sacrificing Isaac, but God went all the way with His Son.
Now, think for a moment. At great personal agony God allowed His innocent Son Jesus to be sacrificed by crucifixion for the sins of the whole world. It was not a fast death, but slow and agonising, beginning with the scourging by the Roman soldiers. What is God’s reaction towards those who scorn it, mock it, make fun of it and ridicule Jesus? Exactly the same as every normal father would have done whose son was sacrificed on behalf of people, and then they ridicule and reject it – anger and wrath.
God is a Father, with a compassionate heart, especially towards His Son. Nevertheless, He was willing to suffer the anguish and pain of sacrificing His Son to reconcile us to Himself. No wonder He is full of wrath towards those who shove Jesus back in His face, because it is Jesus‘ …whom He raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.’ 1
People who talk about God’s wrath and Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, should rather marvel at God’s mercy and grace, and fall down in absolute awe of such a display of love on our behalf.
1. 1 Thessalonians 1:10