It is always instructive, it is always enlightening, it is sometimes literally scintillating to turn to the pages of God and see what it has to say and how relevantly it speaks to our time and to our lives. That will be true tonight as we turn in our Bibles to the first chapter of Romans. Romans chapter 1 and we’re going to be looking at a somewhat familiar portion of Scripture to anyone who is a student of the Bible. Romans chapter 1, beginning in verse 18 and running through the end of this chapter.
I’m going to read just the first verse to set the stage for the unfolding of this profound truth.Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
This section is about the wrath of God. Admittedly not a popular subject, certainly not a popular subject in the world and not even a popular subject in the church. But an absolutely critical and central subject to any understanding of the gospel, the wrath of God.
Now there are a number of different aspects to the wrath of God. There is what we could call eternal wrath because it is the punishment that God brings upon unbelieving sinners forever in hell…that’s eternal wrath. And the Bible speaks often of that. There is also eschatological wrath, that is the wrath of God that is released at the end of the world described by some of the Old Testament prophets, described by Jesus Christ Himself in the Olivet Discourse and clearly laid out for us in the book of Revelation. Eschatological wrath, that aspect of God’s wrath that is released at the end of the world.
There is also what we could call cataclysmic wrath, like a tsunami, a volcano, a hurricane, an earthquake, a plane flying in to the Twin Towers resulting in thousands of death…cataclysms happen in this world. And they are a reflection of the judgment of God. There is also what you could call consequential wrath. Consequential wrath is the sowing and reaping wrath, you live a certain kind of life and you set in motion certain forces that will produce judgment.
But there is one other kind of wrath and that is the wrath that is presented in this passage and it is the wrath of abandonment. It is the wrath of abandonment. It is that wrath exhibited by God when He turns His back on a society. One of the most tragic scenes on the pages of Scripture would provide a good illustration of it. It is a scene that involves the strongest man who ever lived, the mighty Samson. He is the original Superman, and a real one. According to Judges 16verses 18 to 21 we read this, “When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines saying, “Come up once more for he has told me all that was in his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands and she made him sleep on her knees and looked for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Then she began to inflict him and his strength left him and she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson.” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” And then this, “But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. And then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains and he was a grinder in the prison, a job for a mule.” Because of his sin, the Lord left him. The judgment of abandonment.