In looking at some older files in a folder called “Questions that need an answer,” I found this one dated 04/2019, where a friend was having a meltdown about the wrath of God. Although in talking with another acquaintance about eschatology, that brother in Christ angrily said there is no wrath. I quickly understood that his problem was a matter of terminology. Still, it was also evident that this “intelligent” man had never read the Bible (His church background had been Episcopalian, and he had been content to let someone tell him what the Bible said.)
Yet, on the other hand, the person who originated this discussion felt that we all deserved God’s wrath. I had said to him, Is it possible that you have ascribed God’s wrath to Satan based upon verse Revelation chapter twelve, where it says, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath?” As I recall, he did not have a reasonable answer and insisted that we must sustain God’s wrath. I can tell you that this is NOT a true statement, and I will substantiate this with the Word of God.
Search for the word wrath, and you will find, depending upon the translation, that there are about twenty references in the Revelation alone. Each point to God as the owner or originator of that wrath. One of those passages is Revelation 12:12.
Rev 12:12 KJV “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.”
Wrath seems like such a simple word and easy to understand, and that is why NO one bothers to look it up in the Greek. Strong’s concordance tells us that it is the Gk word thumos with a primary meaning of passion (as if breathing hard): – fierceness, indignation. One of the last options is the word wrath.
Webster defines PASSION, n. [L. passio, from patior to suffer.] (1.) The impression or effect of an external agent upon a body; that which is suffered or received. (4.) The feeling of the mind, or the sensible effect of impression; excitement, perturbation or agitation of mind; as desire, fear, hope, joy, grief, love, hatred. The eloquence of the orator is employed to move the passions.
As you can see from the definition of passion, Satan was acting under the premise of #1 and the agitation and hatred of explanation two.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NASB)
To understand this verse, I have to ask, to what point in time is the narrator speaking?
I ask this because Jesus told us, while He walked this earth, that He beheld Satan fall like lightning. It is evident from this statement that this event happened long ago. Since we find Satan in the garden seducing Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, then it is safe to say Satan’s fall occurred at or before the garden creation. (This scenario with Satan’s fall has a wide variety of options and may play into the “Gap Theory” that is seen between Gen 1:1 and 1:2.) (Luke 10:18)
Alright, I went there and mentioned the “Gap Theory,” so let’s pursue this for a few minutes.
Genesis, in most translations, opens in this manner, “In the beginning.” The problem here is that this phrase is wrapped up in one Hebrew word – rê’shı̂yth. It means the first, in place, time, order, or rank.
The passage could easily be read in beginning and still make sense. It was the first thing He did.
What did God do?
We are told that God created the heavens and earth.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
(Genesis 1:1 NASB)
The Hebrew word that was used to express God creating was bārā’. “It is a verb meaning to create. Only God is the subject of this verb. It is used for His creating: heaven and earth.” (Word Study Dictionary)
But it is also indicative of Him creating: humanity (Gen_1:27); the heavenly host (Isa_40:26); the ends of the earth (Isa_40:28); north and south (Psa_89:12 ); righteousness; salvation (Isa_45:8); evil (Isa_45:7).
Did God make any mistakes?
No, and I will prove it to you.
“For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the LORD, and there is none else. “I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land;I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in a waste place’; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, Declaring things that are upright.” (Isaiah 45:18-19 NASB)
Established is the Hebrew word kûn: According to the Word Study Dictionary, it is A verb meaning to set up, to make firm, to establish, to prepare. The primary action of this verb is to cause to stand in an upright position, and thus the word also means fixed or steadfast.
“Waste place” is the Hebrew word tôhû used twice. It means to lie waste; a desolation (of the surface), that is, desert; figuratively a worthless thing; without form.
“He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited.”
And yet, what does Genesis 1:2 say?
“The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”
(Genesis 1:2 NASB)
According to God’s Word, this is NOT what God created. Some might try to tell you that this was a part of the creation process. For example, some believe that the earth and the heavens were formed from some hot spinning mass. By what we see in the scriptures, especially Isaiah 45, that is NOT possible.
Formless, as used in Genesis, is the same Hebrew word we saw in Isaiah, tôhû. Void is the Hebrew word bôhû and means an undistinguishable ruin.
So, according to Isaiah 45, the earth was made in a manner appropriate for life and the life of humanity once that happens.
What does all that mean to you and me?
It means that something horrific happened between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, and it made the earth look like this – formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. There is no reason to see this destruction as anything but Satan being thrown to the earth.
Do you realize that there is NOTHING in scripture that defines how much time lapsed between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. If you hold to the earth, living things, and humanity being created in six, 24-hour days, then you are sadly deceived because #1. This Bible is a Jewish book, and in the majority, even the Jews do NOT see the creation in a six-day, twenty-four-hour format; neither should you.
And #2, since you are trying to hold to six, 24-hour days for the creation, what do you do with the fact that there was no time until the fourth day? (See Genesis 1:19)
The point here is that Satan, at some point, was thrown to earth, and that act created vast and encompassing ruination; and that is quite possibly what we see when we read Revelation 12:12, where it says, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.” So, in his great wrath, Satan trashed the place, which had to be repaired.
Since Job tells us that Satan was already here, walking about the heavens, among the sons of God, –
“Now on a certain day, when the sons of God came to stand before the Lord, Satan also was present among them. And the Lord said to him: Whence comest thou? (The NLT translation reads “Where have you come from?”) And he answered and said: I have gone round about the earth, and walked through it.”
(Job 1:6-7 DRB)
– then, his coming down to the earth predates the fall of humankind in the garden.
So then, this great wrath of Satan, how is it demonstrated?
That wrath is a regular part of the believer’s life.
Jesus told us that we would have tribulation in this world, and we are certainly a part of the world.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 NASB)
A secondary consideration is that we who are followers of Christ are in Christ and therefore look and act like He did.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
(1 Peter 5:8 NASB)
A famous passage that clarifies this wrath comes from Revelation 12.
“And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. (16) But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. (17) So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
(Revelation 12:15-17 NASB)
I believe that the woman is Israel. This identification would be entirely acceptable because of: the time period – a period in which God is pouring out His wrath upon Israel for their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, their unbelief, and their idolatrous ways.
Alright, we now know Satan is on the rampage, but do we know why?
The answer is yes. Initially, Satan is attacking the Jews, the woman’s children, but because God allows those receiving Christ to be grafted into the vine, the drawing accomplished by the Holy Spirit will continue as multitudes come to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Then, they, too, will become targets of the enemy.
The statement that spells out the reason for the attack is “the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.“ We do not know what this overall attack on the tribulation believers will look like, as many will deny the god of the beast (Allah) at the edge of a sword. Perhaps God will understand that at that moment in which to deny Allah is to accept the alternative, Jesus Christ the Son of God, they are giving testimony to Jesus’ power over their lives.
Let’s assume that we have exhausted the wrath of Satan. Now let’s consider God’s wrath for a moment.
If I did not say it earlier, let me mention it now. Several years ago, a brother in Christ who would not read his Bible and was, therefore, content to rely upon what his former Episcopalian priest told him from the pulpit angrily retorted to me; there is no wrath from God! To say something like this demonstrates that all you heard was that God is Love, and He is, but God, like a parent, will correct His children. This is what Israel has done since leaving Egypt, ignoring God’s instructions. God, having warned them, will step up His reproofs to the next level and bring the wrath.
In chapter eight of his book, Ezekiel sees a vision while seated with elders at his house. In the vision, Ezekiel is shown the Son of Man/Jesus, but he is also shown the elders committing abominations with idols in their hidden and secret places. Judgment and wrath are coming because of these practices, and don’t think for a second that they are not still committing abominations because they are; wrath will come because of these things and others.
Since God often uses others to carry out His wrath, we see God in the ninth chapter of Ezekiel saying, “Draw near, O executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.” One group of executioners was the Assyrians. Suppose you jump forward in time to Revelation chapter seven, where we see the seals being opened and God’s wrath and punishment playing out. In that case, some are marked with a protective mark on their foreheads, while others are violently slain – older men, young men, maidens, little children, and women. These same destroyers will defile the temple.
Ezekiel asks, “Are You destroying the whole remnant of Israel by pouring out Your wrath on Jerusalem?” The Jews, during the time of wrath, will be asking this very question. The answer Ezekiel receives goes like this,
“And it came to pass, while they were smiting, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord Jehovah! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy wrath upon Jerusalem?”
Ezekiel 9:8 ASV
The thought continues, only I switched translations because the terminology is more appropriate.
“The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood, and the city is full of perversion; for they say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!‘ “But as for Me, My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads.”
(Ezekiel 9:9-10 NASB)
The identification of the woman as Israel should prompt you to ask, who else is involved in this deadly mire?
The parable of the ten virgins demonstrates an exclusion, but because they were Jewish, it might be hard to understand. We can assume that 50% of the “Church” will have to endure this time of wrath, along with most of those deceived by the cult religions. We understand from scripture that the veil that blinds all who are left (those not caught up in the snatching away of the church) will be lifted, and the number of Jews that will take a stand for Jesus will be remarkable, as Pastor Jack Hibbs likes to say. And then, there will be the nations in general. Included in this number of those giving their allegiance to Jesus Christ will also be the Muslim nations, as they, too, will have the veil lifted from their understanding. The word wrath shows up 183 times in the NASB Bible. 11 of those references are found in the Revelation. Revelation 6:16 tells us that “they” are crying out to the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb.
“Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;” (Revelation 6:15-16 NASB)
Revelation 14:9-10 speaks about those who take the mark of the beast, worship the beast, and worship the image of the beast. We are told that these will drink the wine of the wrath of God.
“… “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”
(Revelation 14:9-10 NASB)
Let’s close this look at wrath with this passage from Deuteronomy.
“Now the generation to come, your sons who rise up after you and the foreigner who comes from a distant land, when they see the plagues of the land and the diseases with which the LORD has afflicted it, will say, ‘All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.’ “All the nations will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land? Why this great outburst of anger?‘ “Then men will say, ‘Because they forsook the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. ‘They went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they have not known and whom He had not allotted to them. ‘Therefore, the anger of the LORD burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book; and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.’” (Deuteronomy 29:22-28 NASB)