In looking at some older posts 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.
Sometime later, in talking with an 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.)
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 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?” 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 at least eleven references in Revelation alone. Most point to God as the owner or originator of that wrath, but one of those passages is directly attributable to Satan alone.
“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.” Rev 12:12 KJV
Wrath seems like such a simple word and easy to understand, and that is why few bother to look it up in Greek. The 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 as the impression or effect of an external agent upon a body; it is also that which is suffered or received. 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 suffering or receiving a wounding from God; and the agitation and hatred that brings.
“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 which 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 notable between Gen 1:1 and 1:2.) (Luke 10:18)
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.
A famous passage demonstrating the wrath coming from the dragon (one of Satan’s names) can be found in 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 firmly 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.
We should have figured out by now that Satan is on the rampage – dishing out his own version of wrath, but do we know why?
The answer is yes. Initially, Satan is attacking the Jews, the woman’s children. This fight was initiated in the Garden shortly after the fall.
“And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
(Genesis 3:15 NLT)
Hostility between Satan’s offspring and the woman’s. Who these outstanding citizens are, I will leave it for you to figure out.
However, because God allows those receiving Christ to be grafted into the vine, the draw effected by the Holy Spirit will continue up to the “great white throne” as multitudes will sincerely acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Prior to the millennial reign, they, too, will become targets of Satan’s followers. The statement that spells out the reason for the attack in Revelation 12:16,17.
“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. 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 12:16-17 NAS95)
We do not know the methods or how extensive this attack on the tribulation believers will look like; what we do know, according to Revelation 6:8, is that one-quarter of the earth’s population will die. Although we do not have the false prophet in his full role because of chronological timing, the pressure against followers of Christ is most likely increasing. I said we don’t know what this organized killing of “Christians” will look like because Revelation 6 indicates that many will deny the god of the beast (Allah). Since the scriptures DO NOT spell out the method of death or the speed at which that must be done, these people may not have time to prepare elaborate statements in which they profess their newfound love of God over Allah.
Perhaps God will understand the heart of the individual at that moment, where the denial of Allah will be taken as the alternative, acceptance of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We have the “thief on the cross” as an example. We assert and assume that this thief just became aware of Jesus, but read the entire story, and you will come to understand that there was much more going on in the man’s heart, and Jesus saw that and said, “this day you will be with Me in paradise.”
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. At about the same time that my friend was trying to convince me that we must endure God’s wrath, a brother in Christ who would not read his Bible was content to rely upon what his former Episcopalian priest had told him, and angrily retorted to me, there is no wrath from God!
To say something like this demonstrates that all you heard from your priest was, God is Love, and He is, but if that priest said God, like a parent, will correct His children; and, as Israel has done since leaving Egypt, repeatedly ignoring God’s instruction, then God will move His reproofs to the next level and bring the wrath, you did not or could not hear that. In chapter eight of his book, Ezekiel – the prophet, 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.
This One will be our peace. When the Assyrian invades our land, When he tramples on our citadels, Then we will raise against him Seven shepherds and eight leaders of men. They will shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, The land of Nimrod at its entrances; And He will deliver us from the Assyrian When he attacks our land And when he tramples our territory. (Micah 5:5-6 NAS95)
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, 144,000 Jewish young men 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 mire called God’s wrath, we call the tribulation?
We see Israel as the woman in Revelation 12:16,17. Like many of you, I assumed that the parable of the ten virgins was indicative of the church. I was convinced of this because, for years, I sat next to many of them. They may have brought one of their many Bibles to church that day – they make a handy seat saver, but they never open the thing. The ten virgins show us that half the virgins (a significant reference) are unprepared.
Does that mean they did not really care?
We are not given a direct answer to that question; and so we assume that fifty percent of the “Church” will miss the moment when the Church is called to the wedding and, therefore, have to endure this time of wrath, along with many of those deceived by the cult religions.
I might be completely wrong in this assumption, and here is why.
First, since this Bible, we esteem, is a Jewish book, we may need to throw out this assumption because we are Gentiles. If it applies to us, it is because we have been adopted.
Secondly, Jesus told the disciples and, therefore, us that He and the Father would never let us out of His hand.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29 NAS95)
If you have given yourself to Him, then you are His, and He is NOT letting go of you, and this is one of the basics that feed into the idea of eternal salvation (I am becoming more convinced of this daily.) If you insist on scoffing at the possibility of eternal salvation, it is because scoffers see this like grace and those who think they can live promiscuous lives without repercussions. Those repercussions are actual and come while we are here on the earth. But if you believe that “cheaters” will be burned up at the Bema seat of Christ, you are wrong, for Christ took all the wrath upon His own body so that we don’t have to.
“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. …”
(Colossians 3:3-4 NAS95)
In a Biblical world, where there must be at least two witnesses, this is a taste of the immense amount of evidence substantiating eternal security. By the way, my security is in Jesus and His ability to carry out His promises.
The third group I see included in the time of wrath is the nation of Israel and, by extension, the Jews in general.
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. But, unfortunately, if you are left on the playing field, where they bring out the mowers, turn on the sprinklers, and turn out the lights, you will suffer – including being slain because you choose to hold on to Jesus Christ as your Lord.
And lastly, there will be the nations in general. Included in this number are those giving their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Many will be from Muslim countries as they, along with people from every nation and religion, will have the veil lifted from their understanding. I have already read testimonies where Jesus has come to many in a dream or a vision. In one case, Jesus repeatedly returned to a Muslim man until the man finished writing out the Gospel of John. One of these people interacted with me, of all places, at a Halloween parade, and this man told me how Jesus had come to him in Iran, which, in time, he had to flee from. Eventually landing in France, a man begins to share with him, in Aramaic, the exact scriptures that Jesus had told him about in the visions. From that point, his life changed.
Since the subject is the wrath of God, even though some deny that there is any wrath. Let’s get back to that.
The word wrath appears 183 times in the NASB Bible; 11 references are found in Revelation.
“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)
Surprisingly, these atheists comprehend that it is the wrath of God.
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)
So, God’s anger is a real and documented thing. Telling me, “it is NOT!” only demonstrates your foolishness. Rejecting Jesus will cause you to be thrown into a time of wrath, where you will be overthrown and killed if you do not follow after Him. But since the time of grace will be over, it appears that being killed because you are a follower of Christ is your only other option.
My suggestion, grown a backbone now.