The Wrath of God (4)

So how do we understand Christ in this context? Well, how do Christians describe him? We say things like: Jesus is Lord, Jesus is the Son of the Most High God, “He is a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.” These are titles for the High Priests in the first temple. They were not created from scratch in order to respond to Jesus himself. There was an existing theological vocabulary which was then applied to Christ and this is what Jesus is carrying through: Jesus is accomplishing the Day of Atonement once and for all. We often think of atonement as something that ‘covers over’ sin or ‘puts away’ our sin with regard to God. That is not the way in which it was understood in the first temple period. Atonement rather was mending something that was broken, or repairing something that was torn, it is something being fixed.

Atonement is all about renewing the creation. If we keep to God’s commands then he will allow the land to flourish. God structured the world and it has certain characteristics and principles reflecting his creating of it. If we keep to those principles, if we abide by those strictures and rules then we will be in harmony with God’s creation, we will be in harmony with the creator and there will be righteousness and peace. There will be Shalom. Shalom comes from being in right relationship with God, and that gives right relationships with the world and the world flourishes. Shalom is not simply the absence of people fighting, it is a concept with much broader, richer sense, it is the whole creation flourishing.

Then what was Jesus doing? God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God – Jesus is the one enacting the atonement, this reconciliation between humanity and God, healing the creation and bringing an environment, a society, which is in disorder, corrupted by idolatry, back into the right relationship with God. Jesus is the answer to idolatry. Jesus is the image of the invisible God, so in him we see what these orders and strictures and laws and rules are all about, they are all tending and pointing towards Jesus, they are all teaching us about what it is to be human. This is what life is focused on, all things were created through him, so there is nothing in creation where Jesus is not present, where Jesus is not that which will heal and put creation right. And how do we do this? to be concluded

One thought on “The Wrath of God (4)

  1. I think that the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”) is a useful one for Christians too. The gospel is not jut about individual salvation but is far more encompassing than that. Some might say this is “another gospel”, but they just haven’t read Paul or the Gospels properly.

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