What is the Cup of God’s Wrath And Who Ultimately Drank It? #214

Hello friends and family and happy Wednesday to you! Today we are talking about a topic that should make us shudder (at first) and then make us celebrate. Our readings for the day are less than normal, because on Sunday night, I read one chapter ahead in Judges, which leaves us Jeremiah 25, Acts 16, and Mark 11 to read on today’s episode. Our focus passage is Jeremiah 25 and it is a hard and not very hopeful passage viewed in and of itself. Viewed from our perspective, post crucifixion and resurrection, however, it is a most beautiful and sobering passage. In this passage we hear about the terrifying cup of God’s wrath. Normally we aren’t terribly afraid of cups, but this is a metaphorical cup, and it is filled with the righteous anger of God against all of humanity’s sins. Because God is fully just and fully holy – ALL SIN must be accounted for. Nothing can be overlooked, and we read in Psalms 75:

God is the Judge:
He brings down one and exalts another.
For there is a cup in the Lord’s hand,
full of wine blended with spices, and he pours from it.
All the wicked of the earth will drink,
draining it to the dregs.

Psalms 75:7-8

 

Let’s go read our passage and ponder the terrifying idea that God sees all sins and that all sins must be punished by a holy and perfect God.

So – not the most hopeful passage in the world, right? It’s downright terrifying. In fact, it is so terrifying that the mightiest and most awesome being that ever walked the face of this earth was brought to tears of blood just thinking about how terrible drinking the cup of the wrath of God to its dregs was going to be:

41 Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. 44 Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief. 

Luke 22:41-45

Isn’t it a strange expression that Jesus prays in vs. 42 – ‘take this cup’ away? As far as I know, this was not a metaphoric phrase that was used in the first century to refer to a difficult time. For instance, to my knowledge, we have nobody who was facing something horrible – (a big test, a battle against a superior army, a surgery without anesthesia) that compared that bad thing to a ‘cup.’ The cup here doesn’t refer to simply a generic trial or difficulty – it refers to a very specific cup. The cup of Jeremiah 25 and Psalms 75 – it refers to the cup of the wrath of God – or the punishment that was due all of humanity for all of its sins. This is what Isaiah spoke of in chapter 53 – the good news of Jesus – that HE HIMSELF took upon our punishment so that we could be righteous in the eyes of God:

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
he was despised, and we didn’t value him. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains;but we in turn regarded him stricken,struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds.We all went astray like sheep;we all have turned to our own way;  and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all.He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers,he did not open his mouth He was taken away because of oppression and judgment, and who considered his fate? For he was cut off from the land of the living; he was struck because of my people’s rebellion. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but he was with a rich man at his death, because he had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully. 10 Yet the Lord was pleased to crush him severely. When you make him a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. 11 After his anguish, he will see light and be satisfied. By his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many,and he will carry their iniquities.12 Therefore I will give him the many as a portion, and he will receive the mighty as spoil, because he willingly submitted to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet he bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.

Isaiah 53

There is an old hymn found in the hymnbook used by Charles Spurgeon’s church. I’ve never sang it before, but I love the words:

The Cup of Wrath. C. M.

1 ONCE it was mine, the cup of wrath,
But Jesus drank it dry;
When on the cursèd tree transfix’d,
He breathed th’ expiring sigh.

2 No tongue can tell the wrath He bore,
The wrath so due to me;
Sin’s just desert; He bore it all,
To set the sinner free!

3 Now not a single drop remains;
“’Tis finish’d,” was His cry;
By one effectual draught, He drank
The cup of wrath quite dry.

C. H. Spurgeon, Our Own Hymn Book: A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for Public, Social and Private Worship (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).

And here is another one – also in Spurgeon’s hymn book. In fact, one is struck by how many hymns in the Metropolitan Tabernacle’s book refer to Jesus drinking the cup of the wrath of God for us, and how so few modern hymns and songs sing of this glorious truth:

For me.

1 THE Son of God, in mighty love,
Came down to Bethlehem for me,
Forsook His throne of light above,
An infant upon earth to be.

2 In love, the Father’s sinless child
Sojourn’d at Nazareth for me;
With sinners dwelt the Undefiled,
The Holy One in Galilee.

3 Jesus whom angel hosts adore,
Became a man of griefs for me;
In love, though rich, becoming poor,
That I, through Him, enrich’d might be.

4 Though Lord of all, above, below,
He went to Olivet for me;
He drank my cup of wrath and woe,
And bled in dark Gethsemane.

5 The ever-blessèd Son of God
Went up to Calvary for me;
There paid my debt, there bore my load
In His own body on the tree.

6 Jesus, whose dwelling is the skies,
Went down into the grave for me;
There overcame my enemies,
There won the glorious victory.

C. H. Spurgeon, Our Own Hymn Book: A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for Public, Social and Private Worship (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).

 

Speaking of Spurgeon, let us close with some encouraging and powerful words of his to celebrate the drinking of this awful cup of wrath by the beautiful Son of God:

Jesus is led forth to Calvary. He is nailed to the cross by cruel and wicked hands. The rude rabble jeer at his sufferings. Within his soul, there is an agony such as we cannot fathom. Above, there are the swelling waves of Almighty wrath against our sins, covering all his soul. Hark! that dreadful soul-piercing cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ It seems to be the gathering up of all his griefs, sorrows, and sufferings into one expression. Like some enormous lake, which receives the torrents of a thousand rivers, and holds all within its banks, so does that sentence seem to grasp all his woes, and express them all, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’
At last, he bows his head, and yields up his spirit! At one tremendous draught of love, the Lord hath drained destruction dry for all his people. He has ‘suffered’ all that they ought to have suffered. He hath given to the justice of God a full recompense for all their sins. He has on their behalf presented a complete atonement,—

‘And, to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er his people owed.’

What joy it is, believer, to think that thou hast such a perfect atonement to rest upon! If there were one sin Christ did not suffer for on the cross, or one evil thought of one of his people that he did not bear, we could not be saved. But he has ‘finished’ the whole of his people’s transgression, he has made an end of all their sins, he has obeyed all the jots and the tittles, as well as the great and weighty things, of the law of God, he has magnified it, and made it honourable. He has gone to ‘the end of the law for righteousness’—not half-way, but all the way; not near to its boundary, but even to its very end. He has not merely sipped from the cup of wrath, not merely tasted a portion of its bitter draught, but he has drained it to the very dregs. Ere he died, he turned the cup of wrath bottom upwards, for he had taken all it contained; and when he saw that there was not a single black drop trembling on its brim, he exclaimed, with the loud voice of triumph, ‘It is finished!’ He had drunk the whole. Glory in this, ye living people of the living Christ! He hath offered for you a complete sacrifice, acceptable unto his Father. Glory in this, ye chosen people of the living God, that ‘Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.’

Preached by a young Spurgeon in 1859 at New Park Street Church. Terence Peter Crosby, “Introduction,” in C H Spurgeon’s Forgotten Early Sermons: A Companion to the New Park Street Pulpit: Twenty-Eight Sermons Compiled from the Sword and the Trowel, ed. Terence Peter Crosby (Leominster: Day One, 2010), 82–83.

He drank the cup for you and me. Savor that sweet truth, dear friends and rejoice in it!


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