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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wrath and Justice?

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God's wrath came and went, and the writer of Psalm 85 is asking God to "restore us again" in the aftermath.

So... what's the point of "wrath"? And how does it relate to justice?

One view says that God was punishing his people for worshiping other gods. Which is bad because that's the wrong religion. It's a sin against God, and his wrath builds up, but he graciously waits and gives them chances to repent. But finally enough is enough and he punishes his people by sending an invading army or something. And then the survivors repent and get back to being the right religion and it's all good, kinda.

And all of that fits well with this psalm.

Except I don't believe that anymore. I don't think it's just to punish and kill people for believing the "wrong" religion. They're not hurting anyone, they just have some misconceptions about spiritual things. (We all do, so what does it matter?)

And now I think that God was angry about the "worshiping other gods" thing because those religions involved bad stuff like human sacrifice and forced prostitution. And also the rich weren't so nice to the poor. God's not angry about what they believe, but what they do to other people. So yes, absolutely, put that stuff to a stop!

But, umm... the whole "God, in his mercy, waits and keeps giving his people chances to repent"? In other words, God lets the human rights violations continue, he lets the powerful take advantage of the weak, in the hope that the bad people will change their ways and he won't have to punish them?

Well, that's not very feminist.

And in Psalm 85, okay, God's wrath has punished his people. (All the people? Weren't there some innocent victims in this?) The psalmist prays for restoration, but I can't help wondering if anything had changed. Would the powerful still take advantage of the weak? Would there still be human sacrifices and other horrible stuff?

What was the point of God's wrath? Was it just "God has 500 units of anger, so he's going to throw down 500 units of punishment on his people, and then all will be right with the world"? Does he care who exactly sinned against whom? Does he care about protecting those who are powerless, or is it just "this whole society has gone bad- BURN IT!!!!!!!!"

Where is the justice? Is God's wrath about justice or not?

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This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 85. To read other people's posts, click here: Sometimes The Bible is Enough.

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