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God Displays Wrath for Sin, Part 3
Characteristics of God, God is Judge
Why Don’t We See God’s Wrath Today?
As we saw in Parts 1 and 2, God’s wrath is prevalent in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, and his wrath caused immediate and decisive destruction and death for those who rejected him or disobeyed his commands. So why don’t we see this same wrath poured out today? The Bible gives us a couple reasons.
God is Waiting for Jesus’ Return
In the New Testament, we are under a new covenant brought about by Jesus’ death on the cross. The time of the new covenant will culminate when Jesus returns to take his own to be with him. But 2 Peter 3:3-4 tells us that those who are evil make fun of God and challenge him because Jesus has not yet returned to earth:
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
2 Peter 3:9 clearly tells us the reason for this delay:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
While God waits, he allows people to choose to repent or to follow their own evil desires. Sadly, many people reject God and follow their own way. Romans 1:28-32 shows us this decision by God:
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
When you look at the broken state of the world around us and how it seems to become more depraved with each passing year, you are seeing God’s patience at work. He’s holding back his wrath so that people have the time and opportunity to repent. Many won’t. Will you? As we learned in the Ezekiel 18 study, anyone who repents and turns back to God will gain eternal life, not death at the hand of God’s wrath.
God’s Wrath Will Be Poured Out In the Last Days
In the last days when Jesus returns, God will finally pour out his final judgment on the earth. Anyone who does not follow God and worships the beast (i.e., a representative of Satan) will receive the full fury of God’s wrath, as shown in Revelation 14:9-11:
9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
Not only those who follow the beast will be doomed to eternal torment, but the beast himself will also be destroyed by God’s wrath, as shown in Revelation 19:19-21:
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
In this passage, the rider of the horse is identified as the “King of kings and Lord of lords” in Revelation 19:16. We know this to be Jesus himself. He is the one who “treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty” (Revelation 19:15).
God Gives Us a Way to Avoid His Wrath
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be on the receiving end of God’s final wrath! How can we avoid this fate? The path is spelled out for us in Ephesians 2:1-9:
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the only way. Romans 5:9 tells us that this is how we can be saved from God’s wrath:
Since we have now been justified by his [Jesus’] blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
If we repent and turn back to God, not only will God’s wrath be turned away, he will also restore us, as we saw in the God is a Warrior lesson. But God’s restoration is a lesson for another day.
I’m so glad that this lesson on God’s wrath and destruction can have a happy ending. Will you accept the gift of God’s grace? Will you decide to follow Jesus? If so, you will be saved from God’s wrath.
Each individual characteristic of God study will come with two resources: a word search just for fun (including an answer key), and a list of verses for if you want to investigate that individual characteristic of God more completely.
You can access these resources by clicking here: God Displays Wrath Resources