Monday, January 7, 2008

Radical Prophecy

For my class on Isaiah, I am reading a book by D. Brent Sandy entitled Plowshares and Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Biblical Prophecy and Apocalyptic. I am only on chapter 2, but have found it to be an excellent read thus far. Sandy gives a general overview of prophecy in the first chapter.

One of the things I love about prophecy is the cutting edge, extreme language of the prophets. When the Old Testament prophets speak of the holiness and wrath of God, it makes you want to run and hide in a cave. But when they speak of the love of God your heart revolts. "NO WAY! There is no way God could be that kind! How could He possibly still love and redeem such an obstinate, sinful people?" I love the prophets because the character of God is so clearly portrayed.

In talking on this same subject, Sandy said,

"As a billboard for God's hatred of sin, prophecy speaks boldly to the point. Anyone who fails to see the message is terribly near-sighted. And as a sign of God's everlasting love, prophecy speaks tenderly to the heart. Unfortunately, those who fail to read the billboards advertising God's anger probably miss the signs announcing his love as well. One cannot be understood without the other."
I give a hearty "Amen" to Sandy here. I am afraid that in an attempt to protect the warm fuzziness of the love of God from the heat of the wrath and anger of God, many have ended up losing the love of God. It is simply impossible to understand the love of God apart from an understanding of how much God hates sin. One simply cannot understand the love of God apart from an understanding of what sinners deserve as a result of their rebellion. The love of God losses its meaning when divorced from His hatred of and wrath toward sin.

This is what makes the prophets so attractive--the love of God shines infinitely brighter than the sun because it is seen in light of the sinfulness of man. The wrath of God forces us to our knees in humble petition because it is seen in the context of his love. Folks, God is extreme--extremely infinite in all of His ways.

While you are at it, check out my brother's (Luke) post on the book of Hosea. In this post he explains the overarching message of Hosea. You will see the infinite love and holiness of God portrayed in all of it's splendor. After reading Luke's post, read the actual book of Hosea!


John said...

I agree with the wrath/love combination you mentioned, which is why I always found it ridiculous that scholars would try to use that very combo as a reason to suggest the notion of "Deutero-Isaiah" starting at chapter 40.

Luke Snowden said...

Luke 7:47 "He who is forgiven little, loves little."

This kind of love is of Jesus in context as it is about a sinful woman's expression of love to Christ by kissing his feet. What Jesus is saying is that you will love him as much as the degree of desperation you saw yourself in prior to salvation.

The reason it is so necessary to know of the immensity of God's wrath is because of the immensity of deep love it cultivates in the soul for God.

If you have a tendency to downplay wrath it is inevitable that your love for Christ will be lesser. This is not to try and be super spiritual, and in a childish way accuse people of loving Jesus less because they disagree.

But, the point is simple. If you don't see God's wrath as terrible and directed at you and the world, then you must have a lesser view of your condition pre-Christ. Thus, the degree of forgiveness will be necessarilly lesser.

According to Jesus himself, the lesser the degree of forgiveness you recognize you need, the lesser the gratitude and love for him you'll have.

If anything this should cause us to study the scripture to see how much or little of the wrath of God is directed at sinners. If you're like me, when you see it your mouth will not be able to close and you'll find it difficult to remain on your feet before God in awful realization of your condition before God apart from Christ.