When I look up wrath on my phone’s dictionary app, it is defined as “strong, or fierce anger: deeply resentful indignation, ire, vengeance or punishment as the consequence of anger.” Anger is defined as “a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.” What it does not tell me is that wrath is an attribute of God.
In chapter 15 of Revelation John writes, “ I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, … “ (Rev. 15:1). The rest of the chapter is this incredible scene from the sanctuary of heaven.
Out from the sanctuary in the midst of all the worship and display of God’s glory come seven angels, and they are given seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God. Observe the words of the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb sung to worship God: “Great and amazing are your deeds, … Just and true are your ways, … For you alone are holy” (Rev. 15: 3-4). The wrath of God elicits worship.
Next John writes, “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God’” (Rev. 16:1). Go and pour out my fierce anger, my indignation, and my punishment because of my displeasure that has been aroused. The wrath of God elicits action; each angel proceeds to pour out his bowl of wrath.
This is the same God whose property is always to have mercy?
Note that in his wrath God is just and holy. His judgments are true and just, and it is he who brings them and has power over them.
Four times it is mentioned that God’s wrath is poured out on people. The result is harmful and painful sores, scorching by the fierce heat of the sun, darkness, and finally, severe destruction and death caused by one-hundred-pound hailstones. And why? “It is what they deserve!” (Rev. 16:6); “They did not repent and give him glory” (16:9); “People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds” (16:11), either before his wrath was poured out or after; they continued in unbelief.
Deliverance from this sure and certain wrath of God comes from the words in today’s reading in Proverbs 28:13-14: “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”
It is by faith in Jesus Christ, believing that by his death, resurrection, and ascension, payment was made that restores favor with God and delivers us from the wrath to come. Thanks be to God. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9).