As we look at the wisdom of including negative messages in teaching - and not just trying to accentuate the positive at all times - these verses almost slap us in the face. That is because what they say to us about God seem to contradict much of what is taught about Him. They definitely do not fit the normal way that people want to think of God. Yet, these verses are part of God's revelation of Himself to us in Scripture. We would do well to read such verses - and allow ourselves to be instructed by them.
God says to those who reject His counsel and His reproof that He will laugh at their calamity and mock them when their dread comes upon them. As I said at the outset of these verses, they do not seem to fit very well with the average person's view of God. Yet, these are accurate verses that describe the God that we serve. God is not a pushover, and He is not One who sits in a corner crying and grieving when He is rejected or ignored. He remains the Lord of the universe Whose power and majesty cause men to cower in fear and terror. He is also a God Who, according to the book of Psalms, is angry every day with the wicked. So it should not shock us to learn that when He is ignored and mocked by the wicked - that He too mocks at their calamity when their wicked behavior comes upon their own head. This is not the only place such language is used of God. In Psalm 2:4 we read, "He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them." We read in Psalm 37:13 that, "The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming."
There will be a day when God's vengeance will fall upon the wicked in humanity. There will be a day when His perfect justice and righteousness will be dealt out with absolute purity. That is a day about which the wicked should tremble - for there will no longer be any mercy - but judgment will fall and it will be passed out with shocking accuracy. Those who think God will never act with vengeance should only have to look to the cross of Christ to know that God will judge those who are guilty of sin. The joy for those of us who know His grace is that what Jesus paid upon the cross pays for our judgment in full.
God also knows that the longer one remains in rebellion - the more judgment will be coming like a storm. God warns in these verses of a dread that will come like a storm - of calamity that will come like a whirlwind. Mankind will be promising peace and good fortune to each other - yet they canont stop the hand of God that is gong to fully act in justice and judgment.
Four words are used to describe what it will be like when God's judgment falls upon those who persist in their rebellion. The first word dread. This meant a terror or trembling that would come upon men as they were being prepared to come in to the very presence of the Lord. Next is calamityshich speaks of a time of disaster or trouble. Then there is distress and anguish. These two are put together. Distress speaks of a specific episode of trouble and anguish. This trouble is a kind that man cannot rescue someone from though the power of mankind. One needs God in this incident - and without Him, there will be no deliverance. How poignently this speaks of our spiritual situation before God. How perfectly represented is our sinful state before a Holy God and the corresponding reality that we need a Savior Who is far more than just a man.
Man may mock now - but there will be a day when the tables are turned upon the mockers and those who now laugh at the Lord. This is not a day that I look forward to or treasure in any way. It is a day that should seriously sober every one of us and make us realize the absolute necessity of knowing that our sins are taken away because of what Jesus Christ has done for us at the cross. May God give us the wisdom to tremble before a holy God - rather than to take the position of fools who mock at Someone Whose power they cannot even begin to grasp.