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“RULE OF LOVE” – August 20

August 20, 2013

“It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me.”  Jeremiah 27:5

All representative societies have the rule of law as a cornerstone; a compilation of rules to ensure that the weakest of citizens are protected from the powerful.  The powerful are always  tempted to do what is right in their eyes.  Regardless of motivation, the rule of law intends to limit the exercise of power.

In a similar manner, I have a tendency to try and subjugate God to my concept of the rule of law.  I conjure a rule of love by which I seek to constrain the power of the divine into a paradigm that is acceptable to my sensibilities.  My rule of love encompasses all that is lovely and kind and pleasant.  I easily attribute all the byproducts of this rule of love to God.

However, my concept of the rule of love gets me into trouble when I read books like Jeremiah.  The prophecies of Jeremiah crush my feeble boundaries of love.  God’s wrath confronts my sensibilities.  I am tempted to retreat back into my little paradigm of love and turn away from the reality that the wine of God’s wrath has been and will be poured out upon a rebellious people.

Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send to you drink it.  They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.  Jeremiah 25:15-16

Babylonian captivity

Babylonian captivity (Photo credit: jimforest)

The sword that the Lord sent among them was the nation of Babylon.  The creation of the Babylonian empire was a brutal and horrifying saga of conquest.  Love was not the message of the Babylonian armies.  Death, misery, and suffering were the result of resisting the armies of Babylon.  Yet, it seemed right to God to give the Babylonians their empire.

Babylon was neither the first nor the last empire to gobble up vast portions of the earth.  History tells us of the Aztecs, Inca, Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, the dynasties of China, the Mongols, Romans, Byzantines, Ottoman, Nazi, Soviet, British, Japanese, and American; just to name a few.  God has allowed them all.  He was the one who determined it was right for them to rule.

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (Ti...

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (Titus and the Roman legions in 70 CE) – painting by Francesco Hayez (1867) …item 3.. Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish and 97,000 captured. (Photo credit: marsmet543)

Consider all that these conquerors have done to the conquered in the name of empire.  The savagery that humans have done to one another in the name of conquest turns my stomach and confounds all that I understand to be right and wrong, good and bad.

Conquest does not fit into a warm-fuzzy concept of the rule of love.

Many have turned from the God of the Bible when their concept of a loving God will not fit into biblical portrait of God that includes His wrath.  “A loving God would not do that”, is a statement that I have often heard.  Others refuse to look upon those scriptures that teach of God’s wrath.  Still others create theologies that make God respond to the development of empires, the atrocities perpetrated on the conquered, and all other forms of evil in this world.

These are all attempts to subjugate God to a rule of law that we have created; a rule of love that elevates God’s love above His wrath.

We forget the world that we live in.  This earth is not a world of love.  It never has been.  If it were a world of love, then we would not need a Savior.  The evil and sinful acts that happen every day in this world testify to our need of a Savior and remind us that we live in a world facing God’s wrath.

I believe that it is revealing that God’s wrath can be seen in the actions that are most clearly absent of His love.  When God’s love is withdrawn, the evil of man’s rebellious heart can be clearly seen.

It is a terrifying thought to live in a world without the love of God.  It is a fearful thing to face the wrath of God.  Jeremiah was prophesying of God’s impending wrath through the Babylonians so that God’s people would turn back to Him:

Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard.  Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.  Jeremiah 26:12-13

Likewise, it is good for us to behold a world without God’s love that faces only His wrath.  We do a disservice to all who walk in the flesh when we focus only on God’s love and ignore His wrath.  The warnings of God’s wrath are intended to persuade the lost to mend their ways and deeds and obey the voice of God.

All the evil that is perpetrated on this earth should remind us of our need for God’s love.  That is why Christ came to this world.  He did not come to make this world a nicer place.  He came to save sinners from the just wrath of the Father.  God’s most loving act was the sending of His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin to condemn sin in the flesh.  That is how God showed His love to the world.

The full revelation of God’s love is what is necessary to satisfy the final demonstration of God’s wrath.

We either accept all of God’s love through Jesus Christ or we get none of it.

That is the rule of love.

PRAYER: Lord, I fear your wrath.  I fear it for myself and for my enemies.  I fear a world that is absent your love.  Thank you for sending your son to save a sinner like me.  Thank you for showing such great love to this rebellious and sinful world.  Lord, I want all of your love.  Forgive me for those times that I have not valued your love for me as I should.  Forgive me for those times that the joy of my salvation, the joy in your love, does not radiate from my being.  Thank you for reminding my of your wrath and turning once again into the loving arms of your embrace.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

7 comments

  1. Thank you so much for this good writing. It is something we need to keep in mind as we consider the future of those who refuse God’s grace. May God have mercy on them!


  2. Thank you, JD, for a thought-provoking post on a tough subject. The suffering in this world, at the hand of godless tyrants proves that, “When God’s love is withdrawn, the evil of man’s rebellious heart can be clearly seen.” The problem is, we don’t like to look! And many folks want to blame God for the suffering instead of the prince of darkness, who is really the culprit. When man turns his back on God, God’s discipline is not far behind!


  3. We were just talking about this issue yesterday, how God’s mercy must be balanced by judgement. I am humbled to think that I deserve hell, but God, by His mercy, loves us so much that He wants us to be with Him. My mind can’t really grasp it.


  4. Very needed message in our world! I hinted at this in my recent poem, What ever happened to awe.
    http://heavenlyraindrops.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/what-ever-happened-to-awe/


  5. Intense. “The powerful are always tempted to do what is right in their eyes. Regardless of motivation, the rule of law intends to limit the exercise of power.” Limited by … my rules / our rules … Distinction between the law and the Spirit, where there is true power. This morning, my wife ministered to me from Revelations 19 (?) and these words stood out: white horse; wiping out the enemies . . . and on Sunday, a guest speaker talked about the blood that will be spilled when Christ comes back, going up to the bridles of the horses (I don’t know where he got that … I guess I need to go back and explore) … Appreciate your post. Peace, T


    • You may be looking for Revelation 14:20.


  6. An important and needful reminder for us all. I was especially hit hard by your confession, “I am tempted to retreat back into my little paradigm of love and turn away from the reality that the wine of God’s wrath has been and will be poured out upon a rebellious people” because I struggle with that too. He is truly faithful even when we totally miss the mark. So very grateful for His loving mercy!.



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