Universal Salvation: The Wrath of God Part One
Ephesians 4:26 has this to say about wrath: " 'Be angry (Be wrathful), and do not sin:' do not let the sun go down on your wrath" (from the Greek parorgismos - severe anger which arises from provocation).
The Greek word there for 'be angry' or 'be wrathful' is from orgizo, and here it is in the second person plural present passive imperative; it properly means 'become angry or wrathful because of some else's doing'.
"By all means, be annoyed or have the feeling", God says, but the advice given by God is "do not sin". So anger is an emotion which, if not taken control of, leads to sin. Since it is impossible for God to sin, God must always, on every occasion, be in control of any wrath or anger.
Proverbs 29:8 says "…But wise men turn away wrath (from orge, the noun form of orgizo, in the Septuagint translation).
The problem with wrath, or anger, is that it often catches us unawares; but not God. Hebrews 4:13 says this about God: "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
His is always a controlled response; ours usually is not. Therefore the wrath of God is used only as a loving and justifiable means to take everyone up to Universal Salvation. It has to be: God can not, and will not, allow anyone to get in the way of His plans, and justifiably so.
You may say: "Why justifiably so?"
Because God has to legally justify everything that He does; and He does so.
Look what it says at Deuteronomy 32:4: "He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He."
Can you see that? "…all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice…."
The wrath of God is not unjust; it is not sinful. Therefore wrath or anger not accompanied by sin can be justified; anger accompanied by sin can not: the conclusion being that the response to anger can be expressed righteously or sinfully.
There are about ten different Hebrew words in the Old Testament for anger. They are often used interchangeably in various English translations, and are usually translated as anger, wrath or fury. And although there are distinctions, when you look at them in a broader sense, they show a picture of anger as a physical and emotional reaction in man.
Let us read about Cain at Genesis 4:1-8: "1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, 'I have acquired a man from the LORD.' 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6 So the LORD said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.' 8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him."
God warned Cain, "If you continue to be angry, sin lies at the door". What He was saying was "Step back from your anger, Cain. Be in control."
And that is what God says to us when we get angry: "Step back." Cain did not, and Cain killed his brother: he sinned.
Emotion is one of Satan's deadliest weapons. He is behind excessive drinking of alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, jealousy, to name but a few. Whatever the weapon Satan uses against you, you can personally disarm it by stepping back; which, as the disciples learned in later life, could well mean accepting death. All of which is easier said than done.
It is virtually impossible not to sin for untrained Man. And since Man is not successful in not sinning, God Himself has to step in and do something about it personally. As Deuteronomy 32:4 says: "…His work is perfect…"
Everyone on the planet and in the heavens are God's children in need, and since love never fails, God can not fail because 'God is love'. Therefore, Universal Salvation can not fail, because, as His name Yahweh suggests, He causes all things to become (what He wants them to become: the end result being righteous man).
Proverbs 10:12 says this: "….love covers all sins".
Well, it is no good just to keep covering sin; what is necessary is to remove sin altogether so that it never comes into play. But God has to play the cards that perfection has dealt Him, and wrath is one of them. Just as we do, He has to deal with wrath. So let us see how He deals with it, without sinning.
Jesus, as the Word, was personally trained by God. In fact, He and His Father thought as one, so Jesus would be a good example to quote. Mark 3:1-5: "1 And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 And He said to the man who had the withered hand, 'Step forward.' 4 Then He said to them, 'Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?' But they kept silent. 5 And when He had looked around at them with anger (or wrath: orges, from orge), being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other."
How did Jesus deal with anger in this incident? He did not say to His disciples, "Well, chaps, let's take them behind the garden shed and kick the living daylights out of them". Or, "Peter, I want you to cut off all their ears." No, He did an act of healing. Good thinking? Yes. He combatted what could have been bad by doing what was definitely good, so disarming Satan's missile. Can you see? He stepped back from it.
And how about when He drove out those doing business in the temple and defiling it? Those who were in violation of the Law of Moses by making it a place of merchandise! He did not do it in an uncontrolled fit of anger. What He did was justified, because it was controlled zeal for the house of God and not sin. The account is at John 2:13-17, which says: "13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, 'Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!' 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.' "
As in the story of Cain and Abel, Man has not fared so well with his wrath. Some have not been in control of their emotions, and sometimes God has been angry with them so as to teach them a lesson. Look what happened to Miriam, and how God controllably dealt with the situation at hand.
Numbers 12:1-15: "1 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 So they said, 'Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?' And the LORD heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) 4 Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, 'Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!' So the three came out. 5 Then the LORD came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. 6 Then He said, 'Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. 7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. 8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?' 9 So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed. 10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper. 11 So Aaron said to Moses, 'Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned. 12 Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother's womb!' 13 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, 'Please heal her, O God, I pray!' 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, 'If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.' 15 So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again."
'So the anger of the LORD was aroused'. God was angry, but as absolute Ruler of the universe, He could not legally allow others to put His plans out of control. His was not uncontrolled anger, but controlled. It reached the point where God was displeased with the situation, and had no choice but to act. You see, Aaron and Miriam were displaying a wrong attitude towards God's leadership, and God let them know in no uncertain terms that they were stepping out of line. Whatever anyone says, God does bring about leadership, and He expects it to be respected. Failure to respect God's leadership has often ended in death for many; and in the future, will end in death for many again.
The wrath or anger of God is one of the procedures which will result in Universal Salvation for everyone. It is no more than God's displeasure at the intervention in His plans by others, whereby a legal response is necessary and justified, even up to death. This is on the basis that everyone one day will live forever; no life is lost indefinitely. If any life were to be lost at the hands of God forever, He could not justify the taking of that life. His great Plan would be null and void. Only Universal Salvation is the justification for all that has happened, and the way that it has happened. Without Universal Salvation, there could be no justifiable reason in Jesus shedding His blood on the cross. And without Universal Salvation, He would have died for only a few, when the Scriptures quite clearly say otherwise.
1 Timothy 2:4-6 says this: "4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
The wrath of God has a necessary part to play! It acts as a prohibitor. It prohibits anyone from getting in the way of His great Plan.
Be sure to read our next article "Universal Salvation! The Wrath of God Part Two".
Next article: The Wrath of God Part Two