Four points need to be made concerning the modern day Church’s view of God — four very important points:
1) We need a balanced view of God.
Yes, He is a God of love, grace and mercy. But He is also a God of holiness, righteousness and justice. The prophet Nahum provides us with that balanced view: “The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7). That is the God of love, grace and mercy.
But consider what else Nahum has to say about the nature of God (Nahum 1:2-3):
2) The LORD is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and rage. He takes revenge on all who oppose Him and continues to rage against his enemies!
3) The LORD is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished.
2) The second thing we need to keep in mind is that God has not changed.
There is no such thing as “the God of the Old Testament versus the God of the New Testament. God has always been a God of love, grace and mercy, just as He has always been a God of holiness, righteousness and justice.
God is immutable. And that means He never changes. He declares this in Malachi 3:6 where He says, “I, the LORD, do not change.” The point is reiterated in the New Testament in Hebrews 13:8 where it says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
3) The third thing we need to understand is that because He is a God of holiness, righteousness and justice, He is going to deal with sin.
I’m convinced that most people think of God as a Cosmic Teddy Bear who winks at sin. That is not the true God of the universe. The Bible makes it crystal clear that God takes sin very seriously and that He deals with it in one of two ways: Grace or Wrath.
Everyone knows John 3:16; few seem to be aware of John 3:36, taken from a sermon of John the Baptist: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
4) The fourth thing we need to understand about God is that He is sovereign.
God is on His throne. He is in control. Psalm 2 says he laughs at all the plots and schemes of the world’s political leaders. He is not laughing because He does not care. His laughter is provoked by the fact that He has the wisdom and power to orchestrate all the evil of Satan and Mankind to the triumph of His Son.
People like to attribute all bad things to Satan. But the interesting thing is that the Bible never does that because the writers believed in the sovereignty of God. They therefore understood that when bad things happen, God allows them either to discipline us or to refine us in righteousness — or for purposes known only to Him.
Satan is not free to do as he pleases. The book of Job makes this clear. Satan could not touch Job or his household or his possessions without God’s permission, and even when that permission was granted, Satan was told he could not take Job’s life.
Some people argue that the first half of the Tribulation will consist of the wrath of Man and Satan and that the wrath of God will be manifested only in the Bowl Judgments that occur near the end of the Tribulation. But that is not true.
Even during the first half of the Tribulation, when Satan and the Antichrist will be rampaging around the world, they will do so under the sovereignty of God. They will be used by God as instruments of His wrath, just as the Babylonians were used by God to pour out His wrath on Judah (Habakkuk 1:5-11).
In the fourth part of our study of Armageddon, we will explore the different types of God’s wrath.