Wednesday Exodus 32:9-10
9The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.’
This was the verse that I focused sunday's sermon on.
First, the discomfort and even embarrassment caused by 'wrath of God' speech. Whenever a televangelist goes public with usually 'his' assessment that the latest disaster, flood, hurricane, tsunami, is the wrath of God toward whichever social group happens to be the speakers punching bag of choice, we cringe. Even worse are the gleeful proclamation of God's hate for various groups by the Westboro Baptist's (it makes me gag to even type the word baptist in description of that group.)
So wouldn't it be better to ignore the wrath of God parts of scripture.
Unfortunately, if we were to start to excise the witness in the First Testament of God's wrath what would we be left with? I suppose the answer is 'love.' But you have to admit, if you reflect on your own experience of love, that while it does hopefully include mercy, forgiveness, and fidelity, it also includes some disagreements, honesty about hurts and disappointments, and even fights when trusts are broken. My point is that without the 'wrath of God' stories, God is a Xanax, a therapeutic theory that brings comfort or peace when we want or need it. But that God isn't a concept and God isn't a therapist (or as Walter Brueggemann once wrote, a massage) The God that Israel consistently bears witness to, has expectations, hight ones. And this God makes demands of those who wish to live in Covenant with their creator. Without wrath, God is just another self-help and self-actualization tool. Which, according to the book 'Almost Christian' is just what most teenagers are learning from us about God, and perhaps why they are leaving organized religion. It offers self-help and actualization, but so does Oprah. There are stacks of books about realizing potential and being the best person we can be. Without the wrath of God we forget about vocation. We forget that God has a mission to redeem the world and that God has called us to participate in that mission.
I'm not sure 'wrath of God' language is for everyday use. I don't think it's healthy with new Christians or 'pre-christians.' We don't want to start to tell the good news of Jesus with God's Wrath. But we do need to find ways to communicate what Israel communicated; namely that God is not to be taken lightly, is not simply a source of rescue, but also a source of call, of purpose, that God is potently engaged in
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.