by Doy Moyer
To be saved from the wrath of God is generally equated in Scripture with being saved from judgment. It is set opposite of eternal life. For example, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). God’s wrath means judgment, giving people over to the consequences of sins (Romans 1:18ff; 3:5-6). The only reason we would suffer such wrath (judgment) is due to our own “hard and impenitent heart” (Romans 2:5). But in Christ, we are saved from the wrath of God (judgment) because in Him there is no condemnation (Romans 5:6-11; 8:1-2). Any possibility of escaping judgment is due to God’s love and grace, not our own perfection. Jesus makes this possible.
This is a different picture of wrath than what is sometimes imagined. The Lord is not a malevolent, vindictive god waiting for us to mess up so He can vaporize us into oblivion. His sending Jesus should forever dispel such unworthy notions (see Romans 8:31-39). And with respect to Jesus’ death, it’s not a picture of God angrily killing Him. God’s wrath (judgment) upon sin is death, and Jesus suffered that voluntarily because He had a larger purpose to fulfill.
The “chastisement that brought us peace” (Isaiah 53:5) is seen, I believe, in that Jesus partook of flesh and blood “that through death [the chastisement] he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery [the peace]” (Hebrews 2:14-15). He suffered the wages of sin (death), though not guilty, in order to bring about life through resurrection. In other words, He suffered what sin brought into this world to bring reconciliation and peace with God. That could only happen by defeating death, and this means resurrection. His sacrifice more than suffices to accomplish the goal of life and peace because it was more than just death.
The last line of Isaiah 53 shows us this: “he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” In death, He bore sin because sin brings death, but the second part requires resurrection, for now, “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). It’s a complete package. Without the shedding of His blood, there would be no forgiveness, but without the resurrection, there would be no peace.
God be praised for His precious gift of salvation through Jesus!