Tag Archive | wrath

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: The Terrible Duty of Truth

Our Bible Reading Plan for today brings us to some difficult Psalms, Psalms 9-11.

I love these Psalms where David exhorts to God for justice, for the wicked to perish, for nations that rebel to be put down.

In today’s loving and tolerant climate, such imprecations are seen as unworthy of the Christian.

But they’re not.

The wicked (as we all were, to be sure) who reject the kingship of Messiah and refuse to repent, do polluted things against our most Holy God. These things are evil, they are wrong, they are a grief and a cause for mourning in the Christian that our God should have mud splattered on His holy name. We concentrate so long on the wicked person, praying for salvation, urging repentance, we forget the reason we do these things is to proclaim the name of Jesus among men and urge men everywhere to repent of the evil they do against Him.

I’m with John MacArthur when he said in his book Found: God’s Will:

“If the truth offends, then let it offend. People have been living their whole lives in offense to God; let them be offended for a while.” John Macarthur

In today’s Psalm, David said

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. (Psalm 9:17)

O, terrible thought! It gives me no delight to proclaim the fact of hell and the individual’s sure condemnation of those who reject Jesus. It gives no consolation to know that nations will fall into the lake of fire to remain trapped in punishing fire for all eternity. Yet Spurgeon said it so well,

Many of God’s ministers have been accused of taking pleasure in preaching upon this terrible subject of “the wrath to come.” Indeed we would be strange beings if so doleful a subject could afford us any comfort. I should count myself to be infinitely less than a man, if it did not cause me more pain in speaking about the impending sentence of condemnation, than it can possibly cause my hearers in the listening to it.

God’s ministers, I can assure you, if they feel it to be often their solemn duty, feel it always to be a heavy burden to speak about the terrors of the law. To preach Christ is our delight; to uplift his Cross is the joy of our heart; our Master is our witness, we love to blow the silver trumpet, and we have blown it with all our might. But knowing the terror of the Lord, these solemn things lie upon our conscience, and while it is hard to preach about them, it would be harder still to bear the doom which must rest upon the silent minister…

Reminding the world of the wrath to come is part of the terrible duty of truth. We stand firm in it.

duty 2

Photo EPrata

When a sweet smell is foul

Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it. What use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me. (Jeremiah 6:19-20).

The LORD had instituted incense offerings which can be seen in Exodus 30:7-8; Exodus 30:34; 2 Chronicles 13:11. According to Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, from 1897, we read of incense that the sacrifices were

a fragrant composition prepared by the “art of the apothecary.” It consisted of four ingredients “beaten small” (Exodus 30:34-36). That which was not thus prepared was called “strange incense” (30:9). It was offered along with every meat-offering; and besides was daily offered on the golden altar in the holy place, and on the great day of atonement was burnt by the high priest in the holy of holies (Exodus 30:7 Exodus 30:8). It was the symbol of prayer (Psalms 141:1 Psalms 141:2; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3 Revelation 8:4). Source Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

A Renaissance era pomander container. Source

In today’s verse from Jeremiah we read that the LORD had become angry with a sweet smelling offering that was devoid of obedience and love for His law. An empty sweet smelling fragrance would do nothing to satisfy Him or render the giver justified in any way. It’s ineffective. Instead, such an empty sacrifice incurs wrath.

The notion of ineffective perfumes reminded me of the 14th century bubonic plague remedy. People were told to carry pomanders, which were perfume balls containing herbs, flowers, and spices, either around their neck or in their hand, and to sniff it constantly so as to ward off the disease.

Pomanders are traditionally mixtures of fragrant substances which are often held within a container – although the term can also be applied to the container itself. The odours given off by the mixtures were once believed to offer protection against disease and they are particularly associated with times of plague, from the 1300s onwards. Their use is linked to centuries-old miasma theories which suggested that disease was transmitted through foul-smelling air. Keeping a sweet-smelling pomander close by was believed to offer protection.

Miasma theory posited that disease was carried by a cloud of poisonous vapor in the air, which was created by decay and could be identified by a bad smell. Following the logic that bad smelling air carried disease, it makes perfect sense that you could “cure” the air by making it smell good. Hence the perfume. And the long nose to stuff good smelling material into.

It seems silly to think that a perfume ball containing a few herbs and sweet-smelling spices would protect one from bubonic plague! But just as silly were the Jews who thought that they could disobey Him all day long and at the end offer the Lord God a sweet smelling offering and everything would be all right. Such empty fragrances do nothing to ward off the disease of sin. Nor would they protect one from wrath and judgment.

So what would satisfy His wrath and stay His judgment?

Thus says the LORD:
Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls
(Jeremiah 6:16)

The good way is traveling the road of His word. It pleases the LORD and it gives rest to the rebellious soul. We also would do well to inquire as to where the good paths are, and walk on them. The sweetest scent of all is obedience.

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Note: Tomorrow- the link between incense and prayer

Predestination means people are elected as vessels of wrath, too. Part 2

The verse to consider today is from Romans 9:21-24

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

There are vessels of mercy, and there are vessels of wrath. Considering anything regarding God is weighty and should fill the saved and the non-saved with awe and humility. But to really consider His work of judgment should bring to mind the famous comment attributed to martyr John Bradford,”There but for the grace of God go I”.

Here is Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne preaching on the Romans verse. In my opinion, it’s brilliant. I’ll post M’Cheyne’s point 3 tomorrow, Lord willing. Part 1 is hereM’Cheyne’s full sermon is here.

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The Vessels of Wrath Fitted to Destruction

I come now to the second reason why any are left to perish–it is, that God may show his power. “What if God, willing to make his power known?” We are frequently told in the Bible of the power of God. He said to Abraham, “I am the Almighty God.” We are told in the ninety-third Psalm, that “the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters; yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.” We are frequently told of his almighty power; and not only so, but we have brilliant examples of it.

The first upon record is creation. “God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” “He spake and it was done – he commanded and all things stood fast.”

Another example of the same thing is, the constant providence of God. “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” He rides on the swift wings of the wind.

Another example of the power of God is, his restraining and bridling of the wicked. “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with the bit and bridle.” – Psalms 32:9. This is the way in which God holds the wicked.

Another way in which God makes his power known is, in the conversion of souls. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.” This is said to be “the wisdom of God and the power of God.” I believe the converting of a soul is something greater than the making of the world.

Brethren, there is one exhibition of divine power that yet remains – it is, the destruction of the wicked. “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?” I believe, dear friends, that the reason why God has raised up Pharaohs is to show his power in them. He said to Pharaoh, “For this cause have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee.” No, I say, in regard of those of you in this congregation who will die unsaved, that God has raised you up, to show his power in you. Thus, it is said in Isaiah 62, “I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.” And then in Revelation 18, “She shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” And we are told by our Lord in Matthew 10:28, to fear God, “who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” You will notice in this passage that he says, “God is able to destroy”; and therefore, brethren, it is plain that there must be some great power exercised in his destroying the wicked; and I think it is to consist in this – God will destroy their well-being, but not their being. Here, then, is another exhibition of the power of God.

When lately in the north of Scotland, I stood on the sea-shore, and saw the rocks standing out of the sea. It was very remarkable to stand and see the mighty waves dashing upon the rocks. There were two things remarkable in it: first, the greatness of the rocks on which the waves dashed: second, the rocks remaining unmoved – no force of the waves could move them. Brethren, this scene is an emblem of what will be witnessed another day, when God shall pour out his wrath on the wicked. Ah, brethren! will it not be fearful to see God put out his power upon the wicked – to see him upholding them with one hand, and pouring out his wrath upon them with the other? Surely, brethren, the power of God’s wrath is very great. If any of you have seen a great furnace, you will have seen the power that the fire has; but fire is God’s creature. What must his power be who is the Creator?
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Further Reading

Predestination means people are elected as vessels of wrath, too. Part 1
Predestination means people are elected as vessels of wrath, too, part 3

Jesus’ Predestined Life

Is Predestination biblical?

Predestination means people are elected as vessels of wrath, too. Part 1

A few days ago I’d posted an essay about predestination. This is the doctrine where the Bible teaches that God is completely sovereign over everything that happens, including individual salvations. He elects people to salvation, independently and apart from foreknowledge of any decision they make. It’s all His grace, and not our decision.

People dislike that doctrine and fight against it. One of the reasons people resist the plain truth of the doctrine is that people want to think that somewhere in their heart or mind, they chose God. However, we are dead in sins and trespasses and have no ability to choose God, or ‘make a decision’ about our salvation. It is granted to us. (Galatians 3:22). We have no part in it, except the resulting gratitude and service in His name.

The verse to consider today is from Romans 9:21-24

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

There are vessels of mercy, and there are vessels of wrath. Considering anything regarding God is weighty and should fill the saved and the non-saved with awe and humility. But to really consider His work of judgment should bring to mind the famous comment attributed to martyr John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God go I”.

Here is M’Cheyne preaching on the Romans verse. In my opinion, it’s brilliant. I post ed M’Cheyne’s point 2 here. I’ll post point 3 tomorrow and the next day, Lord willing. The full sermon is here.

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The Vessels of Wrath Fitted to Destruction

The following sermon preached on the afternoon of March 12, 1843, was the author’s last in St. Peter’s. “It was observed, both then and on other occasions,” says Andrew Bonar, “that he spoke with peculiar strength upon the sovereignty of God.” The following evening McCheyne’s illness commenced and on Saturday, March 25, he went to the Saviour whose glory he lived to proclaim.
“What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory?” – Romans 9:22,23

In a former discourse, brethren, I attempted to show you that the reason why God will punish the wicked eternally is, because he loveth righteousness. It is said in the eleventh Psalm, “Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup, for the righteous Lord loveth righteousness.” I then tried to show you, that God has created hell, and will maintain it for ever, not because He loves human pain – I believe it is not so, nor is it because He is subject to passion, as men speak of passion – but because the righteous Lord loveth righteousness.

And I showed you, as you will remember, what a certainty hell is to the wicked. If it had its origin in the love of human pain, then you might have hoped that it would have an end; or, if it proceeded from passionateness, then it might cool; but ah! when it proceeds from Jehovah’s love of righteousness, I see, brethren, in that a reason why “the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

There is a second question which no doubt has occurred to you: why are there any left unpardoned at all? Why was Adam left to fall? Could God not have held him up? Or, if it was necessary that Adam should fall, in order that Christ might die, why are not all saved? Surely there is efficacy in the blood of Christ to pardon all – why, then, are not all saved? There are many answers to that question which we will know in a higher state of being; but here is one; “What if God, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory?” You will notice, brethren, that in these words the apostle Paul tries to give an answer to that question. He does not answer it directly, he employs a “what if”.

Let us enter into this subject a little more deeply. There are three reasons set down here why men are allowed to perish.

I. The first is, that God was willing to show His wrath. These words are terrible. We are told frequently in the Bible of the wrath of God. It is not like human wrath: it is calm, settled – it consists principally in a regard to what is right. This is the wrath of God. We are told a great deal about it in the Bible. It is revealed against all sin. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” – Romans 1:18 Observe the word “all” – it is against all sin. Then Colossians 3:6, “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.” We are told also, brethren, that this anger is constant. “God is angry with the wicked every day.” – Psalms 7:11. The bow of God’s justice is, as it were, already bent against the wicked, the arrow of God’s is already on the string against the wicked. And then we are told that His wrath is intolerable. In the Psalm which we were singing (Psalms 90:11), it is said, “Who knows the power of thy wrath?” And we are told in Revelation, “The great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?”

But we learn more by example than even by these declarations. We have many examples of God’s wrath and its consequences. The first example we have is, his casting the angels out of heaven. We are told by Jude, “That the angels which kept not their first estate, He hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” And we are told by Peter, “That God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” Now, brethren, in several respects this was one of the greatest examples of divine wrath we have, for it seems to have happened in one day. One day these angels were in heaven – the next in hell. One day they were angels of light – the next fiends of darkness. And then this made it fearful, when the Lord left them no room for repentance. One thing the universe might have learned from this was, that God will certainly punish sin.

Another example of God’s punishing sin was not in heaven, but one earth, when He sent the deluge upon it. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth.” And so it came to pass: “The flood came, and carried them all away;” and it has left traces on our world still, to show that God will not fail to punish sin.

Another example of divine vengeance was, when God destroyed Sodom. “Now, the men of Sodom were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” The cry of its wickedness went up to heaven, and God sent down two angels, to see if it was according to the cry that came up; and they found it even so; and, when they had taken out just Lot, God rained fire and brimstone upon the devoted city; and he has left traces of it there to this hour.

There was yet another exhibition of divine wrath on earth – it was the death of God’s dear Son. If ever there was a time when God could have said that he would forego his wrath it was surely this. It was this for two reasons. First, because the object of that wrath was dear to God. There never was on in the universe so dear to God as his Son. And another reason was, Christ had no sin of his own. Just as his robe was seamless, so was his soul sinless. Nay, brethren, that one act of his – laying down his life, was so glorious, as an exhibition of God’s justice, that the universe never saw its “marrow”. “Yet it pleased God to bruise him.” These words do not give the least shadow of his suffering from God on account of our sin. Brethren, if any thing in the world can show that God will punish sin, it was the death of his dear and sinless Son.

There is one exhibition of his wrath yet to come. Verse 22 – “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?” God is yet to destroy the souls that he has made–not the angels that fell, for he has done that already, when he cast them into hell, but the souls on which he has waited. There is to be a new exhibition of wrath that the world never saw the like of before. He is going to show what he will do to the despisers of his Son – to those who despise his gospel. it will be a new thing when “God will be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know him not, and that have not obeyed the gospel.” God waits to show his wrath. Ah, brethren! it will be fearful to feel it – it is fearful even to think of it. so I believe it will be with the wicked: they will be beacons, to show how God will punish sin.

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One day as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day

The reality of a faith-filled life is a beautiful thing. Jesus’ sweet intercessions, His providential care, the magnanimity of His salvation, the ongoing gratitude we feel during increased sanctification, are all wonderful buttresses to the daily grind we experience. It’s wonderful to have Him to focus upon as the object of our adoration and awe.

Just as pondering His love and kindness is an encouragement, His wrath and judgment are weighty topics that should be mulled over as well. The fact is, many human beings will populate the Lake of Fire for all eternity, a devastating thought if you really chew on it for a while.

I’ll be posting a three-part series on the verse from Romans 9:22 about the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. I’d found a wonderful sermon from Robert Murray M’Cheyne, his last sermon in fact. He raised three important points about God’s electing people to be His ‘vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,’ and I intend to post them piecemeal over the next 3 days.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the reality of hell for the lost. One of the verses I studied today was this from 2 Peter 3:8.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8).

In context, Peter is assuring his readers that the Lord’s final plan regarding His return and the judgment WILL come to pass. God is not slack concerning His promise, Peter goes onto state. The point of the verse was to remind the audience that God is outside of time and in control of everything. We read a parallel to the time thing in Psalm 90:4,

For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary explained the thousand year/day v. day/thousand year part of the 2 Peter verse.

No delay which occurs is long to God: as to a man of countless riches, a thousand guineas are as a single penny. God’s œonologe (eternal-ages measurer) differs wholly from man’s horologe (hour-glass). His gnomon (dial-pointer) shows all the hours at once in the greatest activity and in perfect repose. To Him the hours pass away, neither more slowly, nor more quickly, than befits His economy. There is nothing to make Him need either to hasten or delay the end. The words, “with the Lord” (Ps 90:4, “In Thy sight”), silence all man’s objections on the ground of his incapability of understanding this

When reading the J-F-B about the gnomon, œonologe, and horologe, I got pretty excited! More stuff to study. But for today’s thought, back to the beginning of thinking over the fate of the lost in the Lake of Fire for all eternity, it might be helpful to see the thousand year part of the verse this way. Though there is not a literal ‘day’ in heaven or in hell:

–Those who are with the Lord in heaven experience such post-life joy that a thousand years passes as one day.
–Those who are with the Lord in hell (He is not there but His wrath is), experience such post-life torment that one day is as a thousand years.

It is a sobering thought.

The Drumbeat Warning of Divine Judgment on the USA

I’ve been warning of coming judgment for a while. When believers look out over soft pastures, busy and productive streets, viable farms, and thriving factories, they have a hard time seeing a nation under judgment. They think everything is OK if brimstone and 100 lb hailstones aren’t falling. But it’s not all right. We are crumbling from the inside and rot has set in, permanently.

There are different kinds of judgments. Judgment can be eschatological and very visible, as the coming prophecies and past histories show us. Judgment can be invisible, secret, and deadly, as God said in Hosea 5:12, I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah. Judgment can be an abandonment, as when God simply releases a nation to itself to pursue its sin. (Romans 1:24).

The discerners have been warning, and warning, and warning. We warned judgment would come, we warned it was about to come, and we warn that it is here.
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