People I know have trouble seeing God’s wrath in action in the Old Testament. “It sounds so cruel and unfair,” they say. “I much rather focus on His love. That’s what Jesus was all about when He lived on earth. That’s the New Testament way.”
Most Christians I know want this “loving” side of God but not that “wrathful” side.
That wrath-side of God is so disturbing to some people that they walked away from God altogether. “I don’t want anything to do with the God of the Old Testament – a God who kills women and children, even babies.”
However, David had no trouble embracing both sides of God. He knew Him better than many of us, and I like to read his songs to glean insights into the whole nature of the God that I love and serve. And yet, I must agree that his outright glee in the destruction of the enemy is at first disturbing to my 21st century western mindset.
But recently one of his psalms put this in a new light for me. It seems the first half of Psalm 21 is talking prophetically about Jesus. And if that is so, could the second half be just as prophetically talking about the real enemy of God – the fallen angels and their offspring? (See Genesis 6:4)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the son of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took them as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh; his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men of old, the men of renown. Genesis 6:1-4
(For those who don’t know, the Nephilim were the offspring of the fallen angels (sons of God) and human women.)
Here’s a way to think about it.
Let’s say there are two kinds of small insects flying around you – butterflies and mosquitos. Wouldn’t you enjoy the beauty of the fluttering butterflies while at the same time hate the buzzing mosquitos? Would you reject the person who cares for the butterflies but swats at the mosquitoes? Or destroys the innocent looking larvae wriggling in a bucket of water?
Or to put it another way…
What if those who choose to follow Jesus are like butterflies (Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17) and those who choose to follow the fallen angels, those who choose to do evil, are like mosquitoes (Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8)
What if in their attempt to attack Jesus they also attack the butterflies? Wouldn’t the butterflies look forward to the day God removes all mosquitoes and their offspring from the face of the earth? Would that make God unfair? Or would that show His love and care for the butterflies?
When reading the Bible, we have to keep in mind that God is not man. His thoughts are way above our thoughts. He sees things very differently than we are capable of seeing. One day, when we are with Him, we might begin to understand. But for now, we just have to trust in the goodness of His nature that everything He does is just and right, including the destruction of the wicked and their innocent looking offspring.
Psalm 21:1-13 O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults! You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah. For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head. He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever. His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him. For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
Your right hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man. Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed. For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
What do you think? Does this make sense? How do you see the “God of the Old Testament”?