A few years ago, a public high school English teacher in our town had all of the junior class read Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God.” The teacher told his students that he had assigned it to them in order to stir up distaste for puritanical theology and preaching. After all, among the countless unpopular subjects someone could bring up, the judgment of God has got to take first place.
The teacher then proceeded to tell the class that Edwards was simply trying to scare men and women into a certain form of ethical behavior. Academics have often used this sermon for similar pejorative purposes. However, it must be noted that the content and purpose of this sermon, which God singularly used to bring about the Great Awakening, has often been misrepresented. As he brought this sermon to an end, Edwards, in no uncertain terms, held forth the hope of the mercy and grace of God to those who would come to Christ when he said:
“Now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to Him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north, and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to Him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in His own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.”
The judgment of God is a subject of supreme importance, both for our understanding of who God is and for our understanding of who we are. It is necessary that we come to come to terms with the reality of the righteous judgment of God if we are ever going to understand the nature of His saving work in Christ.
Here in Hosea 5—as the Covenant Lord brings further indictment against Israel for her spiritual adultery—He now sets before His people, in highly symbolic language, the judgment that they deserve for their idolatrous rejection of Him. Hosea explains that God’s judgment will be poured out like water and that He was promising to come as a destroying “moth” and as “dry rot” (vv. 10, 12). Additionally, the Covenant Lord speaks of His coming in judgment as a lion, “tearing them to pieces” (v. 14). These figures are meant to stir up an understanding of what the people should expect from the Lord.
However, mingled in the midst of the promise of impending judgment is a note of hope. At the end of the charge that the Lord brings against the whole nation, He says, “I will return again to My place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face, and in their distress earnestly seek Me” (Hosea 5:15).
Here the hope of mercy is held out for those who would turn from their idols and to the Lord. The same God who promises to come in judgment, offers the hope of mercy and grace. All of this, of course, is based on the fact that the Lord would take the judgment on Himself in the person of Jesus.
When Christ came, the wrath of God was poured out on Him like water.
Written By Nick Batzig