From Wrath to Mercy

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God’s holiness demands that he be angry at sin, but he loves mercy. Now the blood of Jesus has satisfied God’s justice so that he can come out to us through the torn veil, showing mercy and grace.

The Old Testament includes a powerful foreshadowing of our merciful High Priest. In Numbers 16, we see the whole congregation of Israel rising up and murmuring against Moses and Aaron. God had destroyed two hundred and fifty princes because they had rebelled against him, and the people were mad at Moses and Aaron over their deaths. “On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘You have killed the people of the Lord.’” (Numbers 16:41, NKJV).

God appeared in a cloud, telling Moses and Aaron to stand apart from the rest. “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment” (Numbers 16:45).

Suddenly, a horrible plague broke out among the people. Terrified, Moses told Aaron, the high priest, “Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the Lord. The plague has begun. …And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped” (Numbers 16:46, 48).

Aaron is a type of Christ here, and the incense represents Jesus’s prayers for a rebellious people. What an incredible picture of God showing mercy through the prayers of the high priest. We see an image of Jesus running among rebellious sinners, sending up prayers to the Father on their behalf. With each person, he cries, “Father, have mercy!”

An advocate is one who tells the court what is legal, what is right and should be done. Jesus says, “I have fulfilled the law. I have paid the price to fully satisfy God’s justice. The devil can never accuse God of being unjust.” 

Although 14,700 Israelites died of the plague, two or three million others should have fallen. However, God showed mercy! Likewise, you and I should have died long ago because of our sin. The Father, through Jesus’s prayers, has mercifully kept us by his power.