The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;
the LORD is avenging and wrathful;
the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries
and keeps wrath for his enemies.
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty.
As adults, we often think of things we did as children and cringe. I am embarrassed to say I was a big fan of a TV comedy called The Munsters. Today, I can almost feel my brain cells dying when I watch clips from that show.
The Munsters were a family of monster-like characters. Herman, the father, looked like Frankenstein’s monster. Lily, the mother, and her dad (Grandpa) were vampires. Eddie, the son, was a werewolf. Herman and Lily had a niece who lived with them. Her name was Marilyn, and she was normal – in fact, she was beautiful. However, the rest of the Munsters felt sorry for Marilyn because she was (in their eyes) so homely.
It seems almost sacrilegious to make a spiritual lesson from such silliness, but it does help make a point. There are aspect of God’s character that we find less than attractive, such as his wrath, jealousy, fearsomeness, and passion for his own glory. Yet the Bible not only reveals these characteristics about God, it makes songs about them:
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled. (Psalm 2:12)
You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. (Psalm 73:27)
My flesh trembles for fear of you,
and I am afraid of your judgments. (Psalm 119:120)
Expressions like these from Nahum and the Psalms do not tend to make it into our worship songs. We may even react with embarrassment that they are in the Bible. Why is that? Let’s face it – we are the Munsters! Sin has distorted our perception of beauty. We must remind ourselves that God is the true measure of beauty, not our perception of him. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is in the eye of the Creator.
Without the aid of the Bible’s appraisal, we would ignorantly trample priceless pearls in pursuit of worthless trinkets. Nowhere is this disparity between our estimation of beauty and God’s more clearly seen than in the person of Jesus Christ. “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him; and no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2) He was “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious. (1 Peter 2:4)
The preaching of the cross amplifies this disparity. The gilded cross is beautiful to the world, but it finds the bloody cross to be hideous. You only find beauty in Calvary’s cross if you accept its premises:
- God’s holy wrath cannot be placated by our polluted acts of obedience.
- A sinless substitute of immeasurable worth must bear the fury of immeasurable anger.
- We dare not contribute anything to the enterprise; God, alone, must have ‘skin in the game.’
- Grace can only announce salvation if Justice first crushes the Savior!
These truths are ugly and foolish to our natural minds. But it is the power and wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:22-24) Even the feet of its messengers are to be regarded as beautiful. (Romans 10:15)
This natural aversion to the gospel of avenged wrath is a supernatural obstacle. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:4) If you do see the beauty of Christ and the power and wisdom of the cross, give thanks to God, for it is nothing short of miraculous! “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)