Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Jeff Munroe

READ : Judges 3:1-8

They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the Lord. (v. 4)

In seeking a one-sentence definition of sin I asked another professor of theology and received a more traditional answer: “Sin is violating God’s law, which immediately results in alienation from God, self, neighbors, and creation.”

Certainly this is the situation Israel found itself in as Judges 3 opens. The conquest of the Promised Land had devolved into an accommodation with the people already living there. The author of Judges tells us these people remained in the land to test Israel, and Israel failed the test by worshipping their pagan gods. The nation of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord’s anger kindled against them. Once again, Israel went into slavery.

Sin has consequences and there is a relationship between the nation’s disobedience and her misfortune. These verses are reminiscent of the title of the famous sermon by the American Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It’s a place no one should be. Fortunately, the good news, at the time of the conquest and in our time as well, is that love, not anger, is God’s primary defining characteristic. Judges will arise to save Israel. And one appeared to save us as well: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

PRAYER

Lord, we thank you that you choose love instead of anger.