Only he who knows the greatness of wrath will be mastered by the greatness of mercy. — Gustav Stahlin
Without the big picture view of human history, we can lose perspective on some of the most important elements of the Great Story. If you've ever walked into the middle of a movie, you know what I mean. It's hard to make sense of the middle and end of the story if you don't know how it began.
It's like that with our Christian faith as well. If we don't understand what life was like before Christ and before the cross, we don't get the full picture of God's character and don't get an appreciation of who we are in Christ.
The problem is, of course, that we don't view sin the way God does. In fact, some of us, if we were really honest, would say, “I'm not even sure that God is a ‘wrathful' God. I think He is a God of love, I think He will be nice to everyone in the end.” Many of us don't really believe in God's righteous wrath and only see Him as our “buddy pal.”
The Old Testament prophets knew better.
The prophet Isaiah was blown away when he was given a vision of the glory of God. How did he respond?
"Woe to me!” I cried. “ I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5)
We lose that perspective if we don't look at sin the way God does. A biblical view of depravity gives us a much greater appreciation for the love of God and the cleansing forgiveness that we have in Christ. (By the way, it's well worth it to read all of Isaiah 6 to get more of that perspective.) Can God be fully loving and fully wrathful at the same time? Absolutely. But if we lose perspective on either of these aspects of His character, we miss the big picture of the Great Story.
Holy Father, apart from what You did through Christ on the cross, I would still be a person of unclean lips, ruined, living among unclean people. Thank You, thank You that I am now in Christ—forgiven, cleansed by His blood, accepted by You as an heir and a child! What can I do except raise my voice in praise to You for what You have done for me?