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The wrath of God in the Tanakh

[A guest post by Andy Dvoracek about his paper “A Perfect Anger: A Brief Survey of Divine Wrath in the Tanakh“]

The wrath of God: it is rarely comfortable, often misunderstood, and sure to stop any conversation dead in its tracks. The idea of God, who is renowned for his love and compassion, being angry and acting on that wrath, has proved understandably problematic for many. Uncomfortable with divine anger, some insist that interpreters of Scripture have misunderstood the biblical testimony and have suggested that fury has erroneously been ascribed directly to God. Instead, they argue that when the biblical writers wrote of divine wrath, they were merely employing anthropomorphic language to denote “an impersonal process…by which sin is inevitably followed by unpleasant consequences.” Surely, this makes the task of reconciling the tension of divine anger and wrath less difficult. However, is it faithful to the biblical testimony?

The intention of this paper is to demonstrate that it does not represent the teachings of the OT Scriptures. Rather, the Tanakh depicts divine anger as God’s personal and perfect response to sin. That is to say, God himself is opposed to those who reject him and at times personally acts in his wrath. Moreover, far from a vindictive and out of control tirade, his wrath is impeccable, perfectly governed by his attributes of love, justice, holiness, etc. The importance of thinking well on this topic cannot be overstated. Hanging in the balance is a true understanding of God. While it is easier to neglect any mention of wrath in Scripture, forcing ourselves to investigate the biblical teaching on it helps us develop a fuller and more accurate picture of God’s nature, his works, and his relation to sin.