What happened to Jerusalem in 70 A.D. was well deserved, in early Christian interpretation. God’s mercy for a people well acquainted, by that time, with His own completely non-violent part in the debacle of 30 A.D.—His own profoundly satisfying methods of peacemaking and conciliation—had run out, finally. Their cup of unrepentance and prolonged viciousness was full and running over! The time had come to trample the grapes of wrath and wipe them off the face of the map. “Israel” would be no more, as a national entity, her God had turned His attention and beneficence to all, from any nation, who would trust His proclamation of peace, pardon, and graciousness. The ethnic children of Israel would henceforth find their own salvation among the nationalities of the world, not in their ancient land. [4/22/06] The modern attempt to revive their ancient nationality is a counter-messianic move, and can only have evil consequences for their salvation. [10/20/07] Not to mention the welfare of their neighbors who should happen to get in the way of their self-aggrandizing ways.
They’re my enemies, so I must bless them and pray for them (…not, however, ask God to call down coals of fire and brimstone on their heads!). This all suddenly makes perfect sense in the illuminating glow of Messiah’s own behavior on the cross! He nullified all his rightful prerogatives as “King of the Jews,” refusing to call his celestial troops (as God’s only-born Son), and instead modeled exemplary, in fact flawless, non-resistance to his future faithful followers.
But it was at his resurrection from the dead that the real action started! That’s where positive, proactive graciousness landed on planet earth. This is the “penal substitute” for the devastation that might have been…that according to any lesser justice “should have” ensued. You want a “penal substitute”? There you have it!
God “shoulda” meted out death and desolation to Messiah’s foes; but to the contrary He dealt Messiah a LIFE SENTENCE! How fair is that! [4/22/06]
“…[T]the mystery is that God simultaneously was turned against the human race in wrath (Rom. 1:18) and turned towards it in love (Rom. 5:8). The day we fathom that mystery will be the day we understand Paul’s atonement theology.” — N. T. Wright, “Redemption from the New Perspective? Towards a Multi-Layered Pauline Theology of the Cross,” in The Redemption: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on Christ As Redeemer, edited by Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, SJ, Gerald O’Collins, SJ (Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 92 (emphases added).
Of course, we must hasten to readjust matters ever so slightly. As we have seen, God’s “turnings” in wrath and love were by no stretch of the imagination “simultaneous“! Wright has concocted a “mystery” where there is none…no, nor a paradox either. [4/22/06]