18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. And Unrighteousness suppresses the truth. The truth is evident, plain, and yet the enemy and those under his spell actively suppress the truth.
And yet God has left behind some indelible marks, Divine Breadcrumbs, so that any who may begin to consider them may find Him.
This really gets quickly to the place of election, predestination, and concepts in which many heavyweights of the past have become hopelessly mired down. I’m going to by-pass that whole bog hole.
But the nature of God, His divine attributes, power, majesty and beauty have all been put on display by the Creation. The created world testifys to the Creator. And this part gives me pause. The same attributes of God which we intuit from the Creation, His beauty, power, and majesty, are the very same which reveal His wrath from heaven against ungodliness. The same sunset which causes lovers to draw together in awe, is also condemning ungodliness, is revealing His wrath from heaven. This is telling me several things. First, that God is truly beautiful, majestic, and good. The Creation displays it. And we can plainly see it. And that His wrath, when it comes, is a reluctant, patient, ever hopeful one which is restrained in the hope that everyone will see Him as He is, in the sunset. Recognize His heart, be moved, and saved.
In Psalm 19;
1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
If you miss the imagery here, and the allusions to Christ, you’ve really missed something. The Heavens, the moon, sun, and stars, all declare the Glory of God. They are exquisite, delicate, unfathomable, spell binding. And these are some of the attributes of God that they are telling us about. This is the Creation that displays His Glory, and yet also reveals His wrath against ungodliness. This is like the Jailer walking in on a man bound on death row, and setting down a heaping plate of food, and placing the keys to the jail on a nicely folded napkin next to the plate. God is not a cosmic killjoy, He is not an austere Father. We often see the Jailer, but don’t realize He’s at once handing us the keys. His wrath is revealed in a sunset? What does that tell you of His character, how much He really desires to punish? His Son became a curse, that we might be set free, “who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”.
The Sun is like a Bridegroom leaving his chamber. A Bridegroom? What a strange analogy. Yet if I think back on the excitement, the hopes, the pomp and ceremony of THAT day in my life, and then see Jesus as “The Bridegroom”, I see a few things here. It is a Messianic passage, going so far as to tell us something unique about Jesus. And He used this imagery in his parables, to draw us back here, to tell us something about himself. He ran his course for the joy set before Him. A Bridegroom leaves his chamber in the morning, knowing that on that day NOTHING can come before him that will make him lose heart, and stop short of being united with his Bride. On that day he is THE strongman. His only thought is to finish the day. And when he has, to finally lay in the arms of his lover, whispering sweetly together with her, burying his face in her hair. And the Sun runs it’s course with joy, like a strong man, like a Bridegroom. I’ll never look at the sun in the same way. And it definitely explains something of why sunsets are so romantic!
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. The words of Jesus in the various accounts of the Last Supper have him saying “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. ” From what I know, what he said that night is not quite so dry, so flat or monotone. This is NOT QUITE what he said. The words he used were επιθυμια επεθυμησα. He’s saying, unequivocally, that he has passionately desired, lusted or longed, to eat this Passover with them before he died. He ran his course, like a strong man, a Bridegroom, longing to fulfill His great Desire at the end of His day. It is hard to understand how passionate Jesus was to fulfill this for His Father. The only way he could convey how strongly He felt about this was to compare himself to a Bridegroom who longed to be with his Bride at the end of their wedding day. Perhaps that’s why the Ancients referred to Jesus determination to walk the Via Dolorosa as “His Passion.” They remembered much of what was said here, that we have gradually lost. Some may be offended, but I’m sure that this imagery falls far short of what he actually felt, but it was the best analogy he could make that we would understand. That is running the race with Joy! Jesus desired to obey the Father with this kind of visceral drive, he was obsessed with fulfilling the Law, so that He might bring many Sons into Glory. He ran His race like a Strongman or an Athlete, like a Bridegroom, like the Sun determined to make it to Sunset. His love for us is beyond our comprehension.
In Psalm 67:5 in the Septuagint, there is another clue. God knows that the sun doesn’t really set. But yet he chose to tell us that He rides in the sunset. What this means to me is that in one of the most beautiful, and regular, occurrences in nature, the setting of the sun, God has chosen to be present. To make a spectacular, glorious, and heart stopping display of His glory. In that moment, lovers hold one another, people everywhere stop in awe, and simply stare. I’ve seen many sunsets, but am still moved each time by the beauty of it. And the reason is that in that moment the Creation is testifying of the beauty, glory and majesty of the Creator.
People the world over can stop and read a sunset, it speaks volumes to them about God, whether they’ve ever held a bible, or heard even one word read from it. Or fully understand it. They may not be able to say it like I just did, but it is communicated to their heart just like this. They KNOW they’ve seen something beautiful beyond all reason, breath taking. We all speak this one common language, beauty, and that is the language God has used throughout time to tell us about Himself.
And I have to ask myself, if this is how He’s chosen to speak, and tell us about how much He longs to restore us along with the Creation, what does that tell me about His heart?