THE WRATH OF GOD
V.A. Proposch Australia
THE phrase "The Wrath of God" is seldom referred to by the ordinary Christian, who normally thinks of the Love of God as His sole characteristic. They will quote 2 Peter 3:9:
"The Lord is not slack conceming his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. "
and take no notice of the following verses (10-17),
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,. in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be bumed up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day o fGod, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved,
seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. "
Assuredly, God is a God of Perfect Love. Of this there is no doubt whatsoever. His Love for Israel and for all humanity is beyond human comprehension. This is
evident from John 3:16-21:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God"
There is a condition expressed in this statement. It is that of belief in Him. This statement is not absolute. What then is the alternative? It is condemnation! Let us therefore do as did the men and women of Berea, who "were more noble than those in Thessalonika, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily,whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11).We search the Scriptures, for therein is the authority for all truth.
The first reference to the phrase, "the wrath of God", appears in Exodus 15:4-8:
"Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble."
The Hebrew word translated wrath is CH-R-W-H, which by gematria totals 219, or 3 times 73, which being the 21st prime number imports the values of 3 and
seven. The number 3 looks to the fulness of the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, while 7 is spiritual perfection. The Hebrew letters imply that the wrath of
God pertains to the righteousness of God, who hates sin and evil. His additional attribute of mercy is manifest in His sending of His Son, the Lord Jesus. The Son,
Himself, is therefore the lamb of God, sacrificed from the foundation of the world. He is the one true pure and perfect sacrifice for sin. This was God's Plan and
Purpose from the beginning. He foresaw the rebellion of the created archangel Lucifer, and the consequent disruption of the perfection of the initial created universe. For as the Lord Jesus said "He was a murderer from the beginning". (John 8:44) This statement by our Lord is a clear indication that the devil or Satan was
the one who attempted to destroy the creation in his ambition to supplant his creator. Satan, of course, rebelled before the formation of Adam, and he was able therefore to tempt Adam and Eve, to their own eventual death in consequence of their disobedience. Yet Adam was called a Son of God, and his descendants
were thereafter referred to as sons of God.
The Adamic civilisation was destroyed by flood, but Noah and his family survived by the grace of God, for Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations. From Noah, we pass on to the Promise to Abraham, then to Israel, to her Covenants, to David and to great David's greater Son, the Lord Jesus, who is of David's
line in the flesh through Mary His mother.
All is a continuing progression of fulfilment from the beginning. Israel's destiny is clearly defined. Israel is to inherit the Kingdom of God, not as a dominating worldly power, but as citizens and servants under the King, the Lord Jesus Christ. The general multitude of the men and women of Israel is not the Church. Nor is the Church identified with Israel.The church, being the spiritual body of believers, has its own special place, for these are the Body of Christ, and these believers are to be rulers with Him in His Kingdom. The inheritance of the believers is glorious, for these are of the first resurrection. And they come from all nations. The inheritance of All-Israel is great. It is wonderful. She inherits the restored Kingdom of God, fulfilling her position as servants of the LORD God.
In relation to the believers, John 3:36 states clearly:
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. "
This is a true saying, and as it stands it appears to be absolute.
The abiding of the wrath of God in the unbeliever may be averted by repentance. Other Scriptures, show this. For example, there are references such as in Psalm 76: 10:
"Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain."
In Numbers 25:11-14 we have
"Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest hath tumed my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: and he shall have it and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel."
Similarly, in 2 Chronicles 12:12-13, we have this recorded about Rehoboam:
"And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD tumed from him, that he would not destroy him altogether and also in Judah things went well So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem, and reigned... for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there."
These two examples demonstrate the great mercies of the LORD, even when human actions are to be condemned. The second and third quotes show God's Grace in his mercy to national Israel flowing from the repentance or of the action of one person. In the case of Phinehas, there was indeed punishment imposed upon Israel.
A similar theme is expressed in Psalm 78:38-41, referring to Israel's experiences in the post exodus wanderings of Israel:
"But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. How oft did they provoke him in the wildemess, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel."
These mercies of the LORD applied then to Israel: there is no reason for us to think that God is no longer merciful to Israel in her separation from her ancient homeland, even in this time of the end of her chastisement. For the Promise to Abraham was without conditions, and Paul was aware of this, when he wrote in Galatians 3:16-18:
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds; as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise."
Israel therefore with all her present failings remains a viable nation in accord with this Promise. Jeremiah shows that she is to suffer punishment, however, for he wrote these words:
"Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel:for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished." Jeremiah 30:10-11.
Is there something more as to the wrath of God? Certainly there is! The world powers (apart from Israel) have authority to rule for a limited period. This period is generally classified as "times of the Gentiles." Jesus Himself used this term in relation to Jerusalem, in His fmal discourse on the Mount of Olives, (Luke 21:20-24), when He spoke of the Jewish-Roman War beginning in 66 AD, which reached its climax in Jerusalem in the year 70, when at Passover the Roman armies
surrounded Jerusalem, inexplicably lifting the siege for a few days enabling many to .escape. He said:
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
Rome was, as we know, the successor of Babylon, and was the fourth part of the great image seen in Nebuchadnezzars's dream. To this day, Rome and her
successive rulers were and are still part of the Babylonian image, and are therefore called by that name, Babylon, in the Book of Revelation. In this Book we discover the final days of Babylon, which is still existing as the successor of Rome.
The term "wrath" occurs 13 times in this book, thrice in relation to the wrath of those opposed to God, and ten times in regard to the wrath of God or of the Lamb
of God. Dealing first with the wrath of man and of Satan, we examine the two occurrences dealing with man, and the one in relation to Satan.
First, we have this reference:
"And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." (Revelation 14:8).
This is repeated in Revelation 18:2-5:
"And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her; and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her; my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. "
The repetition is emphatic. They operate as two witnesses to Babylon's fornication - where in Scripture the word fornication means false religion, and worship of idols.
The reference to Satan is found in Revelation 12:10-12:
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."
This wrath of the devil is causing great distress and severe apostasy among men, particularly within Israel. The devil is detemined to frustrate God's Plan and Purpose, for by causing Israel to sin and to disobey God, he seems to believe that the righteousness of God will cause Him to reject His People. He knows that the
Promise of God will be performed regardless of all that he can do in his opposition, but he still seeks to destroy many in Israel, and still seeks to destroy faith among
those in all nations who have accepted the Lord Jesus as Saviour.
The judgment against Babylon and all her entities is severe.
"Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath." Revelation 16:15-19
This time may be that of Zechariah 14:1-5:
"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west and there shall be a very
great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee."
This earthquake will be exceedingly severe, more severe than the largest yet seen in living memory or in recorded history. The prophet Haggai (2:6-7) also foresaw this earthquake, in relation to the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land, and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts."
The doom of Babylon is reiterated in Revelation 18:2-8:
"And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her; my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorifed herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sonow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her."
The word "wrath" actually appears 198 times in the Scriptures,while the phrase "Wrath of God" itself is seen 10 times. The number 198 is twice 99, indicating a
doubled measure of judgment. While the number ten is that of numerical perfection.
Of the usage of the word wrath, some apply to wrath or anger of men, while others look towards the wrath of God or of Christ Jesus. The wrath of the Lamb is
seen in Revelation 6:9-17 in this manner:
"And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were
given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood, and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a figtree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and 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 his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?"
All is tied to the First Resurrection, spoken of by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18:
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep In Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. "
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