The Grimness and the Glory

Alec Motyer

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The day of vengeance . . . the year for my redeeming work. (63:4 NRSV)

Wouldn’t it be nice if it were not so—if there were no wrath, no judgment, no
eternal loss? No hell, only heaven! Wouldn’t it be comfortable if words like vengeance
could disappear from our Bibles? But it cannot be.

Isaiah draws the contrast: for Zion there is the glory of eternal salvation (62:1); for
Edom only the crushing experience of wrath (63:1). On the one hand, Zion is shorthand for
the community of the Lord’s redeemed—the City of God to which all believers have come
and of which we are citizens (Heb. 12:22; Phil. 3:20). On the other hand, Edom is
shorthand for the world in its ceaseless hatred of the things of God, its rejection of the
delights of Zion (cf. Amos 1:11). The return of the Lord Jesus Christ will bring these two
realities to their full and final expression.

He will appear “not to deal with sin, but to save” (Heb. 9:28); he will come “in
flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who . . . do not obey the gospel” (2 Thess.
1:8). These are the brackets within which we live: the more we rejoice in glorious hope,
the more we must shoulder our task of bringing salvation to a lost world. The remission of
their sins awaits the discharge of our responsibility.


May my life and my mouth alike speak of Jesus!