THE WRATH OF GOD
“The seven last plagues, for in them is filled up the wrath of God” (Revelation 15:1).
The wrath of God is mentioned several times in Revelation. It is part of the "third woe," it is poured out upon those who worship the beast, it is compared to a harvest of grapes which are trampled, it is manifested in the seven ast plagues and it destroys Babylon, the beast, and his followers at the Second Coming of Christ (Revelation 11:14-18, 14:1,19, 15:7, 16:1,19, 19:15-21). a distorted view of God's wrath has been used for centuries to try to terrify sinners into repenting.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> But whatever God’s wrath is, it must be consistent with love. “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16),<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> which means that all He does is an expression of love. God does not hate His enemies when he pours the seven last plagues upon them, but somehow love demands that Ηe do this.
Throughout the scriptures “the wrath of God” is a phrase used to describe the destructive actions which God must take against human beings. For example, in response to the sin of the children of Israel God warned them, “My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows and your children fatherless” (Exodus 22:24). We should not assume from this that God is interested in having widows and orphans, or that he somehow loses control of His temper. It simply says that because of certain types of behavior (in this case the previous verses mention sorcery, bestiality, sacrifices to idols, and oppression of strangers, widows and orphans) God will “kill you with the sword.” Since God himself does not wield a physical sword, the practical outworking is that someone will intend to kill them, and God will either not protect them or perhaps will even facilitate their death.
Another example from the wilderness wandering of the Children of Israel is found in Numbers 11. God had miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt and performed a miracle every day providing food for them (manna), but they were not satisfied, complaining, “Who will give us meat to eat?…Our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes” (Numbers 11:4-6). Their complaints were such a burden to Moses that he was ready to die (vs. 14,15). God provided meat for the people, bringing in a huge flock of quail, “but while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague…There they buried the people who had yielded to craving” (vs. 33,34).
These kinds of stories have led many to conclude that the God of the Old Testament is somehow different, more stern and vindictive, than Jesus or the Father in the New Testament. However, God is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The “wrath of the Lamb” [Jesus] includes the fearsome seven last plagues. A few basic observations will help to to put God's wrath into perspective.
First of all, for God to allow or even cause death should not seem so unusual in a world of sin where everyone dies. In certain circumstances most people consider death to be a blessing, such as a terminal illness with terrible suffering. And there is no illness more terminal than sin, which causes pain and suffering both to the victim and to those around him. Considering that sinners increase their measure of guilt, condemnation and judgment the longer they continue living in sin, the best thing for those who will never repent is to die as soon as possible. Jesus Himself taught this in Luke 17:1,2: "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." These verses teach that it would be "better" for God to pt incorrigible sinners out of their misery, but in general God does not do that. He bears patiently with sinners, giving them every opportunity to repent, and considering how those who reject Him provoke, mock and misrepresent Him, the many scriptures that emphasize His longsuffering (patience)<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> are the ultimate understatement. When God finally does pour out His wrath, He has good reasons.
Continue to next section: WHY WRATH?
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]> For example, the Great Awakening of the 18th century was largely a result of preaching such as that of Jonathan Edwards, who said in his sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," "All you that were never born again...are in the hands of an angry God...His wrath towards you burns like fire; He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; He is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in His sight...God is dreadfully provoked, His anger is as great towards [you] as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of His wrath in hell...He will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disporoportionate to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom, He will have no compassion upon you, He will not forbear the executions of His wrath, or in the least lighten His hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy...Now God stands ready to pity you; this is the day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God. Therefore, let everyone that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come." This famous and influential sermon can be found in its entirety on many sites online.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]> Love is not just one among the many attributes of God, it is His very essence. The attributes (God is just, merciful, kind, etc.) are all adjectives, in other words, descriptive words, but in the phrase “God is love” (not “God is loving”), love is a noun, which shows that this is a definition rather than a description.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]> For example, Numbers 14:18, Psalms 86:15, Romans 2:4, 9:22, 1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 3:9,15.