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Reading:                                      Psalm 78

Verses 40-49

How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved him in the wasteland!
Again and again they put God to the test;
they vexed the Holy One of Israel.

 They did not remember his power—
the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,
the day he displayed his signs in Egypt,
his wonders in the region of Zoan.
He turned their river into blood;
they could not drink from their streams.
He sent swarms of flies that devoured them,
and frogs that devastated them.
He gave their crops to the grasshopper,
their produce to the locust.
He destroyed their vines with hail
and their sycamore-figs with sleet.
He gave over their cattle to the hail,
their livestock to bolts of lightning.
He unleashed against them his hot anger,
his wrath, indignation and hostility—
a band of destroying angels
(NIV).

Reflection

There are a number of things I would like to believe. I would like to believe that God never gets angry, that His patience is everlasting, and that there is no such thing as the wrath of God. I would like to believe that Jesus never raised his voice in anger—that he winks at my sins, as though they were no big deal, and then moves on. I would like to believe there is no hell, no burning lake of fire, and no Satan to deceive me.

cape breton 027

Hopewell Rocks, NB — photo by David Kitz

I would like to believe these things, but I would be wrong. I would be putting myself above the authority of the word of God, which says such things are so. Today’s reading from Psalm 78 reminds us that God’s wrath is real and I don’t want to find myself on the receiving end of it, as was the case with the Egyptians. He unleashed against them his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility—a band of destroying angels.

I confess I am tempted to believe in a comfortable gospel, because a comfortable gospel doesn’t call me to account and demand that I change. The Jesus of the comfortable gospel doesn’t demand that I sell all and follow him. The Jesus of the comfortable gospel promises me prosperity and self-actualization. I can become what I want, rather than what he wants. The comfortable gospel leaves me as I am—like a pig in his wallow. But somehow, Lord, I believe you want more from me. You want my life—my changed life.

Response: LORD God, I believe in your wrath because you are grieved at the hate and harm we generate in this world. I want to hear you calling and follow you to the place of deep personal change. Amen.

Your Turn: What kind of gospel do you believe in?