Divine Wrath and Discipline: An Old Testament Discussion
WONG Fook Kong

This article deals with the issue of divine discipline tinged with divine wrath in the Old Testament. Divine discipline could be divided into formative and corrective discipline. Corrective discipline could be further divided into corrective speeches and corrective actions. Our impression of an angry God comes mainly from passages about his corrective discipline. These took the form of prophetic corrective speeches and his acts of judgments. They fill up a significant portion of what we read in the Bible, thus giving us the false impression of an angry and violent God. Actually this was not the full picture. In reality, God neither acted nor spoke for most of the biblical period. Also, when he acted and spoke, he was not necessarily angry or violent. There were many positive words and actions in the Old Testament as well. A more accurate picture is a balance between a forgiving, patient God and a severe God. This is encapsulated in passages like Exodus 34:6-7. Nevertheless, there is no easy way to practice corrective discipline, either by God in ancient Israel or in the church today. Innocent people related to the person being disciplined are always affected to a lesser or greater extent. The best we can do as a community is to follow the example of the LORD, who mixed love with severity, mercy with chastisement.