Wrath or Favor ?

I pulled in to park for my 7:00 a.m. men’s meeting one Thursday this past September. On the eastern horizon was a blood red sun and I stopped to take a picture of it. But suddenly there was a monstrous lightning bolt followed instantly by an ear-splitting thunderclap. I quickly decided to take shelter inside, not willing to risk being struck by the next lightning bolt! (That’s why today’s picture is only a stock shot!)

Reflecting on that narrow escape leads to two quotes from God.

 I will gather you and I will blow on you with my fiery wrath (Ezekiel 22:21a)                                                                                      I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor (Ezekiel 36:9a)

At first glance these verses seem incompatible with each other. How can they both be true?

The first verse sounds like such bad news.

Did you ever walk through the long corridor from the Port Authority terminal in NYC to the 42nd Street subway stop? Often, you’ll see someone in the tunnel giving a loud warning about the wrath of God. This is not very winsome, but it is not because speaking of wrath is incorrect. The problem is that they are only presenting the bad news and leaving out the good news.

Thank God, the good news of entering God’s favor via Jesus outweighs the bad news of wrath. God does not enjoy spewing wrath on anyone but offers every one of us the opportunity to turn around.

Wonderfully, it is true that as we repent and move into living in and for Christ, we live in God’s favor. This is not a magic entrance into my best life now, where everything goes the way I would like, but it is a life with God and with his people. We are together no matter what happens, even when things are hitting the fan.

Just as I took shelter from the lightning bolts, we are offered shelter from wrath. Our shelter is Jesus Christ. We get a loving escape from wrath. God wants to win your heart. Then his mercy triumphs over judgment.

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