Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God Meaning

What does Jonathan Edwards' sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" mean? What is he trying to say about the Israelites?

Expert Answers
pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jonathon Edwards was a Puritan minister who preached hellfire and brimstone during a period in history known as The Great Awakening. 

During this time, there was a waning interest in religion and Edwards took a part in making his congregation understand that all mankind stands at the mouth of hell.  He was particularly known for his references to hell and how each day, every person must fight the battle to keep his soul from being drawn into temptation, and from the mouth of hell itself. 

"His sermons were intended as a wake-up call for those who underplayed the majesty of a holy God and overemphasized their own worthiness as decent, hard-working, successful citizens."

"He begins his sermon by pointing out four features of walking on a slippery slope: The threat of destruction is constant, that destruction is imminent and it is self-generated, and the delay of that destruction is due to God’s restraining hand. He is clearly establishing here the foolhardiness of those who choose to walk in such slippery places and that a fatal slide into the yawning abyss is an inescapable certainty."

He emphasizes that the day of repentance is at hand, seek forgiveness now, the time has come, you do not want to be caught after the opportunity for God's mercy has past.  He injects a great urgency into his appeal, feeling like he had to save his flock from damnation.

He believes that Christianity is the one true religion.  Therefore your salvation depends on your belief in Jesus Christ as your savior.

"For the unconverted, therefore, and for the unredeemed sinner and those who have not embraced Christ as savior, perdition is but a breath away.  Only faith in Christ will bear them up. That may not save their life, for they are mortal still, but it will save their soul."

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At a glance, Edwards describes humanity's pitiful state in the hands of an angry and vengeful God over the fiery pit of Hell.  People wrongly think that forces other than God's will--such as their own bodily well-being--keep them from Hell. Edwards depicts God as an archer aiming an arrow at each human.  Christians--even religious ones--must undergo a "great change" in order to find salvation.  Edwards says that God's purity makes Him view sinners as loathesome serpents.  He tells the congregation that some of them may die and face God's judgment soon.  He reminds his listeners of their opportunity for salvation in Christ's mercy.  Edwards calls for those who are "out of Christ" to awake before it is too late.

I imagine if the majority of our preachers today were this emotional and terrifying, there would be very empty churches on Sunday mornings!

trevon1993 | Student


On the statements of Edward; the threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites. My thoughts are Edward is really going deep on the beginning of this article saying that people who are unbelieving or specific Israelites who are God’s chosen people will suffer if they Israelites don’t believe. I think Edward is demonstrating something that is of God to save mankind a message that can revive our nation from their prideful and sinful lives.

Again he let out a statement that merely I can understand saying; “Their foot shall slide in Due time” then he said what this means relating to the punishment and destruction to which wicked Israelites. This sermon I think was pointing to those of unbelieving faith in Christ saying that if you do not believe in God you well suffer in hell. And then he mentioned that what will happen to people who are exposed to destruction, which they will fall in the Day of Judgment with saying that he implied that these people were already exposed before they even know anything about what the Judgment or what he said the unexpected destruction. The theosophy that Edward proclaims is one of saving grace. I think Edward is also saying men are trying to be God instead of trusting God “Men hands cannot be strong when God rises up”. I think he is saying that men cannot do anything to match the vas power of God because they are sinners and he saying God is angry towards sinners so men cannot be strong because of their sins. In conclusion to the explanation of what Edward is mainly saying is believe and you well not be exposed to destruction.


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Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

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