The Wrath of the Lamb
I am now preparing for the sermon on Sunday.
I am particularly drawn to Paul's statement in 1 Thessalonians 5:
'While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly ...'
Those who know their classical history will know what this is a reference to. As fortune would have it, I am listening at the moment to a dramatisation of Robert Graves' book, I, Claudius, by the BBC. It details some of the struggles of the Roman Empire - and Emperors - in the time of the New Testament.
It was Rome's precise boast, or, more especially that of the Emperor Augustus, that he had brought 'peace and safety'.
However, the Empire of God always challenges the Empires, and Emperors, of this world.
I love the way this verse from the Book of Revelation challenges are present day prejudices and conceptions:
'And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?' (Revelation 6:10)
For most Christians, this is just so not where they are. They forget the Wrath of the Lamb who over-turned the tables in the Temple and talked of people being banished to outer darkness.
As Paul says, 'Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' (Romans 12:19)
Christians have interpreted this to mean that there will be no vengeance, no Day of Wrath. That is not what the New Testament says. It tells us simply to leave Wrath to him who alone can judge the motives and hearts of all. But the certainty that vengeance will come is a given in the Bible and we should prepare for it - as our Lord consistently warns us in the Gospel.
This is the message of the season of Advent that we are now approaching.