The Mercy and Wrath of God

MIF 16:3 (May-June 1984)

The Mercy and Wrath of God

Arthur F. Wilder

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).

The message of the prophet Nahum is one of solemn warning as well as encouragement, and it is one for all generations. The repentance of the great city of Nineveh under Jonah’s preaching some 150 years earlier was shallow and temporary. In the first six verses of Nahum’s prophecy the anger and wrath of God against apostate Nineveh are revealed. Many years after Nahum’s prophecy, Nineveh was destroyed in exactly the manner as he foretold it.

The divine principle illustrated here applies to men as well as nations —namely, that disobedience to the sovereign will of God only brings destruction. We cannot logically believe in God’s love and mercy unless we also believe in His anger and wrath. Because of His absolutely pure and holy character, God must exercise His power in vengeance on the wicked, while He shows mercy and love to those who obey His divine will.

God’s Word contains many expressions of His wrath against sin in any form, of which the greatest is unbelief. But for all who put their trust in Him, He is a stronghold and refuge. He knows those who are His, not by their good works, wealth or wisdom, but by the measure of their faith in Him. The crowning expression of His wrath against sin and His love for mankind is seen in giving His beloved Son to die on Calvary in full payment of the penalty for our sins. For all who are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, Paul puts God’s love and wrath together in Romans 5:9, “Much more then, being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Because there was no taint whatever of sin in Him, Christ could take on Himself the sins of all mankind.

For all who reject and despise the finished work of Christ, there is the solemn warning in Hebrews: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God… for our God is a consuming fire” (10:31; 12:29).

—Arthur F. Wilder