One of the key problems that entangles straightforward exegesis of New Testament texts concerning God’s and the Lord Jesus Christ’s roles as judge and avenger of the evils done to Their people is precisely whether such “violence” will actually be done at all. Some theologians deny that “wrath” is a part of God’s “essential nature.”
The destruction of Jerusalem and Herod’s temple should have put this issue to rest decisively. This is exactly the sort of condemnation anticipated by Romans 1-3. Accordingly, the question is not “if,” but only “when.”
Regrettably, out of seeming overreaction, many of those who deny the existence of divine wrath or violence at the Cross (an entirely correct intuition) proceed to deny any wrath, avenging, or “violence” on the divine agenda. Their attempt to be “consistent” has been a snare to clear exegesis of the rather more nuanced and authentic apostolic representation of the facts. [3/23/09]
If the sacrificial system established by divine fiat through Moses was costly in the expenditure—indeed, a seeming “waste”—of perfectly good cattle, sheep, goats, and other animals, what shall we say of Israel’s wantonly WASTING THEIR OWN PERFECTLY GOOD MESSIAH? [3/23/09] The one is the prophetic ritual foreshadowing of the other. But, moreover, the Gospel reveals how God super-compensated such a waste! [11/29/16]
So-called “Good Friday” was good only because God did not show up in righteous indignation with legions of angels to avenge the viciousness of those who murdered His beloved Son. It was good because the Judge did not utter a celestial command of condemnation to consign to death all those who deserved it for their successfully consummated treasonous plot against His commissioned Messiah and official mouthpiece. By this act of “inaction” God was playing His first hand in a series of hands that publicly exhibited His conciliatory disposition toward a hostile humanity.
Furthermore, He was courteously silent also on the holy Sabbath that followed. He was not in haste to “make an example” of the treacherous offenders so as to “restore His own honor” at their deserved expense.
It was not until the third day that He played His most delightfully unprecedented and shockingly magnanimous hand. From His poker-faced visage all Friday and Saturday, no one guessed the kind of trump that awaited…that was even possible “under the Law [of Moses].” When the “trump of the Lord” was played, the condemned arose triumphant from his officially executed condemnation—alive from his grave! He was back, and he was not mad.
This kind of divine righteousness, unprecedented though it was, nevertheless was “attested by the Law and the Prophets,” (Romans 3:21) which stipulated and illustrated the rightful restoration of lost fortunes in lesser cases. So although the actual reversal of a wrongful death had never occurred in human history, IT IS YET THE EXACT JUSTICE ACTUALLY CALLED FOR. Any other solution would only be a makeshift one—including capital punishment for the murderers, which, indeed, was only demanded because restoration from death was entirely beyond the resources of murderers to achieve, so the Law dictated their death in exchange for wrongfully taking something as valuable and irreplaceable as another human life. [3/24/09]