God is Love.
The wrath of God is what His Love looks like from the vantage point of evil, of that which would threaten or destroy the beloved. Thus, there is no conflict at all between the wrath of God and the Love of God. God’s wrath demands nothing other than what His love demands. Justice demands the very thing which mercy demands. Indeed, one might say that the wrath of God is the demand and judgment of His Love that His beloved must be rescued, must be kept or re-made good and whole and perfect, the demand and judgment of His Love that all the imperfections and evils which threaten or mar His beloved must be destroyed.
The wrath of God against sin, His determination that sin be dealt with and destroyed, is not to be differentiated or considered separately from His love for the creature who has sinned, His determination that good be restored and the creature saved from its sin.
The wrath of God is most fully satisfied in that which most fully satisfies His Love. God is not, on the one hand, loving of the sinner, and on the other hand hating of the sinner. Because God loves the creature He has made, He hates the sin that mars that creature. He certainly hates that the creature He has made is become sinful (He did not make that creature sinful).
The Incarnation of Jesus, His Passion on the Cross, His Sacrificial Death, His Glorious Resurrection and Ascension, satisfy the wrath of God because they satisfy the Love of God – Jesus satisfies the wrath of God by saving us, by cleansing us of our sins and re-uniting us to God in His Body. Jesus satisfies the wrath and Love of God by offering us to God in Himself, to be a holy people.
The statement, “God is Love, but He also hates,” is to misunderstand the Love of God and His wrath. So is the opposition by some Eastern Orthodox to the idea of the wrath of God, on the basis that God, being immutable and not like men, would not be wrathful against sin and then reconciled, or that, being Love, and immutable, God cannot hate. The wrath of God is the wrath of Love. The wrath of God seeks the destruction of all that stands in the way of His Love embracing all of creation in freedom and joy. God’s wrath is because of His immutable Love; not something in opposition to it, nor something that must be balanced with it. Because His Love never changes, He hates the obstruction of His Love, the refusal of His Love, the marring of His Beloved, and because His Love never changes, His wrath is satisfied and quenched by the redemption of the Beloved.
Someone will say, “But God is interested in His Glory above all things! God hates anything that comes in the way of His Glory, and He is right in doing so.”
Granted. But have you ever asked yourself what the Glory of God is? It cannot be contrary to His Nature. The Glory of God is His own Divine Splendour, upon which no eye can look, and it is the Revelation of His Nature, His Divine Splendour, Himself, to creation. God is Love; His Glory is the complete conquest and revelation of Love. That the earth may be covered with the glory of YHWH as the waters cover the sea is that the earth may be covered with the Love of Jesus as the waters cover the sea.
God’s wrath is not on a plane with His Love. You are a fool if you put God’s wrath side by side with His Love, as equivalent, or an equal attribute, or an equal part of His nature, or whatever. You think from all eternity past, in His own Nature, God is… wrath? That is blasphemy! But it is clear that, from all eternity past, in His own Nature, in the communion of the Blessed Trinity, God is Love. You think that God hates as He loves, that His hatred of evil is an equivalent to His Love of good? If so, evil must be as permanent and self-existent as good, which is preposterous nonsense!
God does indeed seek His Glory: which is this, the invitation of all to the banquet, to the marriage feast! God does indeed seek His Glory: which is this, that all will confess the Name of Jesus, that every heart will be conquered by His Glory, by His Love – that He will be all in all! God does indeed seek His glory: which is this, the triumph of Love, the revelation of immutable, omnipotent, all-encompassing, all-embracing, omnipresent, inexorable LOVE. Does God demand that He be worshiped? Yes. To worship God is to desire and honor the good. To worship God is to love. To fail to worship God is to fail to love, to refuse to worship Him is to hate. (To you who deny the existence of God and say that you love: to the extent that you love you worship the true God. If you are right that you love, then when God is more fully revealed to you, you will realize that you have, to some extent, worshiped Him all along, and you will rejoice to be able to worship Him more fully and love more truly. There may well be many who deny the existence of God because what they call ‘God’ is, in fact, an image of the devil, and when they see the true God, who is Goodness and Love, ultimate Existence, they will know that it was for His sake and because He had called them to Himself that they forsook the service of the devil – in fact, that in denying what they had called ‘God,’ they were first beginning to confess the true God.)
(By the way, twice the Apostle John writes that “God is Love.” Never do we read the (nonsensical) opposite. (One may hate because one loves; we experience this ourselves. Who ever heard of loving because one hates?) Many will think here, “But what of the trisagion, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” If you think that Holiness and Love are opposed, then you misunderstand at least one of Holiness and Love, perhaps both. God’s Holiness is not something to which His Love must be made subservient, nor the other way around.)
The wrath of God is the wrath of Love.
Copyright 2019 Raina Nightingale