That word is uncomfortable for anyone to hear, much less from God Himself. Isn’t He loving and merciful and kind and gracious? How can a good God be wrathful toward people?
This passage in Romans 9, among many others, raises tough questions about God’s character. Good questions. Questions that God doesn’t mind you asking and that He can handle.
How can a good God be wrathful toward sin? He can because He is a good judge, and good judges rightfully hate and push back against evil. We want a God who says, “I am here to not allow injustice to reign as king. I am here to reign as King against injustice.”
Because God is perfect, His wrath isn’t like ours—it’s an outflow of His perfect love and goodness. And because of this great love, God calls us to place our faith in His righteousness and not our own.
We’re clay, created by God to worship Him. When we try to earn our salvation, we miss the point of our existence. This was Israel’s greatest mistake.
If you read through the Old Testament, you see Israel obeying and then disobeying God, worshiping Him and then worshiping idols, ultimately placing their hope in something other than God’s unmerited favor. Israel tried and tried to work for their salvation, and they even questioned God for not rewarding their efforts. But God’s not interested in our white-knuckled efforts. He’s interested in our faith driving us to love Him and others.
God is not surprised by sin, but that doesn’t mean He’s ambivalent toward it. God is not surprised by unbelief, but that doesn’t mean He’s satisfied with our misplaced worship. In fact, He cares so much that He sent His Son to live the life we couldn’t live and die the death we deserve.
May we not be bitter or angry toward God like the Israelites, questioning His character because we don’t like something He’s said or done. Instead, let us lay our lives down for Him because of His righteous, perfect character. He is good and He does good.
Written by Brandon D. Smith