1 Kings 21.20-24 – Divine judgment
Posted: 26 February 2011 in 1 Kings

And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD. Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

The above passage follows on from the murder of Naboth, and the confiscation of his vineyard by Ahab. As a passage about judgment it could have been plucked, almost at random, from among many similar passages in the Bible. The point, however, is that none of these passages can very easily be reconciled with much of today’s liberal theology. In this theology God implicitly says, “Well, you can do what you want my children, there is no need to accept the means of salvation I have offered you, because I am the God of love, and I will give you eternal life anyway.”

It is very common for people to try and sweep passages concerning God’s wrath under the carpet by drawing a distinction between the God of wrath in the Old Testament, and the God of love in the New Testament. That won’t wash for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which is that Jesus himself took the Old Testament very seriously, and seemed to think that the God described in the Hebrew scriptures was his Father. Another problem is that it would be reviving a very ancient heresy, which was condemned as such in the second century.

In any case, the New Testament itself contains passages which speak of judgment. One such is the parable which has the rich man in hell and the poor man, Lazarus, in heaven, following the rich man’s not very charitable behaviour towards Lazarus. Hell as being a not very pleasent place, and which was the eternal destiny of some people after death, must have been a belief already current in first century Judaism. Were it not so, Jesus’ hearers wouldn’t have known what he was talking about. More to the point, it was a belief evidently shared by Jesus himself.

So if the incarnate second person of the Trinity thought that God’s wrath was as real as his love, perhaps it should be worked back into today’s theology, and dispose of the cuddly God, who never displays his displeasure, and never utters a word in judgment, as the pious fiction that he is.

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