WRATH BRINGS SIN TO AN END
God's wrath may protect and chasten His children, but the main end-time purpose of His wrath is to bring an end to sin. “The Lord is the true God…At His wrath the earth will tremble…The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens” (Jeremiah 10:10,11). “Your hand will find all Your enemies, Your right hand will find those who hate You. You shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger; the Lord shall swallow them up in His wrath and the fire shall devour them” (Psalms 21:8,9).
Since God must bring sin to an end but “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), His wrath is always the last resort after every effort to bring about repentance has failed. The history of the Israelites when they went into exile is a case in point—“The Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:15,16). In fact, God seeks for people to intercede on behalf of sinners so that He will not have to pour out His wrath. “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found no one. Therefore I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath” (Ezekiel 22:30,31).
God calls the destruction of sin and sinners His “strange act” (Isaiah 28:21), strange because He is the source of life and it is His nature to bless. “I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies’ says the Lord” (Ezekiel 18:32). To the contrary, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” because the repentant sinner “has passed from death to life” (Luke 15:10, 1 John 3:14). God’s plea has always been, “Yield yourselves to the Lord...and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you” (2 Chronicles 30:8). “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die?” (Ezekiel 18:31).
The Bible definitely does not teach that God’s wrath is a way of “getting back at” or “getting even with” those who have displeased him. The idea that God would torment people for eternity as a punishment for a life of misbehavior or for rejecting and insulting Him is a complete misrepresentation of God’s character. It is true that words such as punishment, vengeance and retribution are used, but a careful study shows that these words are simply an attempt to describe in human terms the indescribable attitude of God when he is forced to bring sin and sinners to an end.
“God keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them” (Deuteronomy 7:9,10). God destroys “those who hate Him” because they could never be eternally happy living in a universe without sin; in fact they would spoil the sinless universe with their sin addiction. Thus Paul says, “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power when He comes in that Day” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). The phrase “everlasting destruction” does not mean everlasting torment, but rather destruction which lasts forever. Jeremiah put it this way, “For the Lord is the God of recompense, He will surely repay…and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not awake” (Jeremiah 51:56,57). See 20:11-15 The White Throne Judgment for more details.
The seven last plagues in which “the wrath of God is complete” only come after the gospel has gone to the whole world (Matthew 24:14) and everyone has had a chance to repent. Those destroyed by God’s wrath will have stubbornly refused the offers of grace, and God’s wrath, rather than bringing repentance will protect His children who are threatened with death.