Revelation is a gripping book.
There are heights and there are depths. It shows you the glory of God and the the depths of human sin. It’s a book of blessing and of judgment, and a word that frequently occurs is ‘wrath’ or more specifically the wrath of God, unveiled in the seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls, in increasing measures.
The word is mentioned 11 times and sometimes qualified as ‘great wrath’ or ‘the fury of his wrath’ – hardly words we like to hear.
To be frank it’s not a subject we warm to, it is much easier to talk about the love of God. But…. if we cannot talk about the love and wrath of God in the same breath are we really talking about the right thing when it comes to either?
Love for many today is no more than an insipid, sentimental feeling. It’s gushy and slushy, and when it’s not there, it’s not there. It’s also seen as ‘tolerance’ (of the politically correct form), where, ‘if it makes them happy let them do it,’ is the standard. ‘I mean, whose to judge? They’ve gotta work these things out for themselves,’ as they say!
The problem is when we put our modern day interpretations of love on to God we find it just doesn’t fit, and rather than asking whether we’ve got it right, we say God’s got it wrong – as if we should tell God what he should be like!
That’s where we need to go back and read our Bibles. There we discover that God is not on our level – never was, never will be. He is holy, holy, holy – we certainly are not, and the fact of the matter is that a holy, loving, and just God has every right to be angry – we have rebelled against him, we have messed up our own lives and those of others too, and spoiled and soiled the world he created and declared was very good.
A BIG ‘BUT’
BUT, like a good father (for that is what he is), he cannot simply ignore rebellion, and allow it to go on, turn a blind eye to it and hope it will rectify itself, or go away – it doesn’t. It usually gets worse.
It is in this context that the good news comes in and makes sense, the good news that God has done just that in Jesus, who willingly came and took all our sin, and bore it’s judgment on the cross – the holy wrath of a just God. “You were dead…. under wrath…. But God who is rich in mercy, because of his great love…” (Eph 2:1-4) – wonderful words!
As an aside it never ceases to amaze me how many who deny God want justice. The logic is in an evolutionary world there can be no such thing as justice.
When you know the holiness of God and the depth of our sin, that line of Stuart Townends, In Christ Alone, is so soul stirring, and heart warming, “Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied….”
No wonder Charles Wesley could write, “No condemnation now I dread, Jesus, and all in him, is mine; alive in him, my living head, and clothed with righteousness divine. Bold I approach the eternal throne….”
Yes Revelation speaks of the wrath of God, but it also has a parallel message of the gospel, providing the opportunity to repent in the face of such judgments. Sadly they all to frequently would not repent and turned on God and blasphemed his name, even preferrring to lose their lives than turn to God (6:16, 17; 9:20, 21; 16:9, 11).
Humanities rebellion runs deep, but God’s love runs deeper still. All the while the earth remains the words of Paul apply, “Now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2). What will you do? Will you repent and believe the good news of Jesus Christ and be saved from the wrath to come?
You can listen to Wesleys grand hymn here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQeIGbKqiw8