The Wrath of God
Among the visions seen by John was God’s judgment on his enemies. “And they say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of their wrath is come; and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17).
The wrath of Jehovah is mentioned throughout the Bible, yet it is rarely heard in the pulpits of modern churches. Sinful man has convinced himself that God’s sole attribute is his love. To sustain that view, they ignore all the verses that speak of his wrath and seek to keep them from those who look to them for religious information.
Wrath is defined as rage, indignation, fierce, hot anger. As in humanity, the capacity to be angry is an integral part of God’s personality. Human anger is often irrational, misplaced and frequently sinful. In God, his anger is righteous, just and reasonable. Because he is omniscient, God knows all the facts of each case. He is never mistaken in his anger. Because he is omnipotent, his wrath can never be nullified or defeated. Because he is omnipresent no sinner can hide from or escape from his wrath (Ps. 139::7-12).
God’s wrath is seen in his punitive acts against men and nations who defy him and violate his law. His wrath is always justified and he cannot be blamed for the penalties He inflicts on sinners (Rev. 19:2).
God’s wrath is exercised both in time and eternity. Even a casual reading of the Scripture reveals that from the beginning God has dealt severely with those who defied him. Think of the world of Noah’s Day that perished in the Flood and the wicked citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah. The wicked shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God…he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…and the smoke of their torment goeth up forever and ever…” (Rev. 14:10-11).
God’s wrath on humanity, this side of Judgment Day, is designed to turn men from their sin and draw them back to God. Isaiah wrote, “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (Is. 26:9).
A man or a nation, by genuinely repenting and turning to God, can avert the wrath of God. The Master said, “I tell you…except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish” (Luke 13:3). The men of Nineveh repented and thus God spared them from his wrath (Jonah 3:10). In eternity, the one purpose of His wrath is punitive justice. The impenitent wicked will receive the penalty they have earned by their wicked behavior (Rom. 6:23).
God’s wrath is not arbitrary. It is only displayed against those who refuse to recognize and submit to his sovereignty. Paul tells us it is because of the sins of wicked men that “the wrath of God (comes) upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6). To the Romans he wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…” (Rom. 1:18).
The wrath of God is described as a fierce fire. “A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his adversaries round about” (Ps. 97:3). It is like a cup of poison which the victim must consume. “Let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty” (Job 21:20). It is like a fierce destructive storm. “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my wrath…” (Ezek. 13:13). His wrath is likened to a destructive flood.. “Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one; . . . a destroying storm, as a tempest of mighty waters overflowing will he cast down to the earth with the hand…” (Is. 28:2).
He used a flood in Noah’s day. He used fire to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. He has used plagues upon the wicked “for there is wrath gone out from Jehovah; the plague is begun” (Num 16:46).
A study of God’s wrath is not complete unless we also consider his great love for mankind. So great was his love He gave his only begotten Son for us (John 3:16). Christ died that we could “be saved from the wrath of God through him” (Rom. 5:9). Thus we wait patiently for our Lord’s return who will “deliver us from the wrath to come” (I Thess. 1:10).
The most pitiful of all creatures is the sinner upon whom “the wrath of God abideth” (John 3:36). When the great day of his wrath comes, the material universe will be destroyed (II Pet. 3:10-12). The wicked will be cast into the lake of fire along with the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). Their fiery punishment will be eternal in nature (Matt. 18:8).
Because we often fall into sin, we must maintain a penitent heart willing to confess every sin (I John 1:9). Our daily prayer should be, “O Jehovah, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure” (Ps. 6:1).
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