The ‘Wrath of God’ is like throwing a hammer … straight up – Brad Jersak

Brad and Dougie – Hammer throwing finals 1971 (re-enactment)
Note: the following parable is a teaser for my forthcoming
book, A More Christlike God, to be released May 2015.
The ‘wrath of God’ is like the hammer-throwing contest my
father warned me against as a child. ‘Do not,’ he said, ‘throw hammers in the
air.’ Apparently he saw this as a good warning in fatherly love. I saw it as a
challenge and a rule to be broken. My neighbour Dougie and I (perhaps 7 years
old at the time), each took our father’s hammers and had a contest to see who
could throw his hammer higher. Straight up. Perhaps I won. Certainly Dougie
lost. For my hammer soared skyward, then descended directly onto poor Dougie’s
skull. Blood everywhere. Screaming followed. Then I found myself running home,
locking all the doors and hiding in my room. Shortly, the phone rang (Dougie’s
mom) and we were flying to the hospital where doctors were already stitching up
Dougie’s head without the possibility of anesthesia. More screaming.
It did not escape me that the wrath intrinsic to my sin
caused both Dougie and I a great deal of suffering, even though my father’s
response was only love and comfort. The wrath did not involve or require any
active punishment. I did not imagine that my father had struck Dougie with the
hammer for participating in my rebellion. Nor even that when Doug’s father held
him down while the surgeon applied sutures that this was somehow an act of vengeance.
The wrath of our fathers was a self-inflicted experience of rejecting and
receiving their loving care.
It seems to me that taking me to the hospital where I could
hear the screams was a torment worse than retribution, in that I had to see the
pain I had caused and I wasn’t allowed to allow me to cower in my room in a
sort of self-loathing denial. It was also the most important element in moving
forward to owning my rebellion (far more effective than a spank) but also
reconciliation with my victim. I wonder if this might be close to the truth of
the ‘great and terrible day’ of the Lord’s final judgment.
* * * * *
P.S. Hammers in the Bible [some not
to be taken literally]:
Judges 4:21 – Then Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg
and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into
his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary.
So he died.
Jeremiah 23:29 – “Is not my word like fire,”
declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”
Jeremiah 50:23 – How the hammer of the whole
earth has been cut apart and broken! How Babylon has become a desolation among
the nations!
Jeremiah 51:20-23 (MSG) – 20 God says, “You,
Babylon, are my hammer, my weapon of war. I’ll use you to smash godless
nations, use you to knock kingdoms to bits. 21 I’ll use you to smash
horse and rider, use you to smash chariot and driver. 22 I’ll use you
to smash man and woman, use you to smash the old man and the boy. I’ll use you
to smash the young man and young woman, 23 use you to smash shepherd
and sheep. I’ll use you to smash farmer and yoked oxen, use you to smash
governors and senators.
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