Acts 5:1-6:7, Psalm 27
Many times our Old Testament readings showcased the relentless grace of God towards Israel in spite of her many rebellions. Often I would emphasize God’s grace in the Old Testament to reject the centuries old habit of pretending the Old Testament and its description of God necessarily conveys a different God than what we see in the New Testament. Many have said things like, God in the Old Testament is angry and blood-thirsty, while in the New Testament God is portrayed as loving and kind. So when we read about the swift wrath of God against Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11, we see that God isn’t portrayed as some cosmic teddy bear in the book of Acts. Even in the Gospels, Jesus certainly didn’t talk about a God without wrath, either (Matthew 8:12, Matthew 22:23). In today’s narrative, Ananias and Sapphira pay the ultimate price for trying to deceive the apostles by presenting a partial gift for the sell of their home as if it were all of their proceeds. Though we can dispense of notions that in the New Testament God lacks wrath against sin, just like we know God in the Old doesn’t lack grace, that still doesn’t prevent us from asking: why is God so harsh in this situation? God is doing something beautiful for the world in building and empower the early church. In that day, the Holy Spirit is moving in power in ways that supersede even the works of God’s tabernacling presence in ark and temple in the Old Testament. The Spirit’s presence is exciting, but it is also dangerous, just like the Shekinah glory was powerful and fatal if taken for granted. God loves this work of making a new people. Such miraculous works and the SPirit’s demonstrable presence must be protected against perversion or confusion. For love necessitates wrath against anything that would destroy the good and true. It is better to say in the New Testament, that God’s love conquers the power of human evil by the blood of Jesus. But that doesn’t immediately end the need for God to destroy all wickedness. No, in fact, God still will do more to punish evil once and for all(Revelation 19:11-21).