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Facing God’s Wrath

Jesus faced God’s wrath on the cross to declare you completely justified and blameless so you don't have to face His wrath.

 

Revelation 16:1-21 1 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.”

 

So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

 

The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.

 

The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,

 

“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,    for you brought these judgments.For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,    and you have given them blood to drink.It is what they deserve!”

 

And I heard the altar saying,

 

“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,    true and just are your judgments!”

 

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

 

10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

 

12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) 16 And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

 

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. 21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.

 

What is God’s wrath? Put simply, it is God’s response to evil. Recently I read a post where the author said, “Imagine having a dad who knew everything you’d do in your life, knew every mistake you’d make and had every single capability of not letting you make that mistake and guiding you but instead he let you fail, knows you would fail and then punishes you for eternity for it, never forgiving you and says it’s all your fault. That’s not a loving, merciful father worth love.” The author closed by cursing God for being an abuser.

 

The problem is that people who are angry at God curse God because they neither understand God’s love nor His wrath nor their responsibility in provoking Him. They need to know that unless they turn away from their evil ways, they will face God’s wrath.

 

In Revelation 15, which was a prelude to Revelation 16, we saw the seven angels with seven plagues in seven bowls getting ready to execute God’s wrath against the Christ-less, God-hating, grace-rejecting world.

 

In Revelation 16, God was provoked because rather than turning away from their evil ways people cursed God, and thus they faced God’s wrath. 

 

The big idea is that if we don’t want to face God’s wrath, we shouldn’t provoke Him by not turning away from evil ways. We need to understand God’s love and wrath. We learn three truths: God’s wrath is prepared against evil for the vindication of God, God’s wrath is preserved against evil for the veneration of God, and God’s wrath is provoked against evil for the validation of God.

 

God’s Wrath is Prepared Against Evil for the Vindication of God (Revelation 16:1-7)

 

People who are angry at God see God's wrath as evil. They measure God’s wrath with human unfiltered self-centered, petty, and unpredictable anger that they have experienced. When something bad happens, they quickly blame God for it. God’s wrath is nothing like human anger. Measured by His love, goodness, and justice, it is the righteous response of His holiness toward evil. Verses 1-7 shows us three reasons that vindicate God of any injustice or evil.

 

God is not vindictive. In verse 1, the command to the seven angels says “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” The seven seals in Revelation 5 led to the seven trumpet judgment after which came the seven bowls judgment. Why is God dragging it out so long? One word out of God’s mouth would have ended the world. It is because God is not vindictive. Chance after chance given to turn away from wickedness vindicate God of any evil or injustice. He does not want anyone to perish but to be saved from His righteous wrath. The delay in executing His perfect well-deserving wrath on earth proves God is not vindictive.

 

God is not violent. Evil targets everybody but God does not. Verse 2 reads “harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.” The target of God’s wrath is a select group who worships Satan and does evil. In verse 3, the sea was targeted and in verse 4, fresh water was targeted. In Revelation 8, it was a third but here it is all of it. Each successive plague intensifies, yet wicked people refuse to turn away from their evil ways. God is not violent or else He would have annihilated everything at once.

 

God is not the villain. In Revelation 16:5-6, the angel says, “5 Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. 6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” Not only did the angels, who have been watching evil on earth ever since man disobeyed God, praise God, but also the human victims of injustice and evil.

 

Verse 7 continues, “And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” ”

 

In Revelation 6:9-11, these were voices of the martyrs under the altar who were told in Revelation 6:11 “to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.” God’s wrath is neither vindictive nor violent because He is not the villain. His wrath is His just response to the pleas of the victims of evil.

 

In New York, I met the author of the book, Son of Hamas, who himself was a terrorist until Jesus changed his heart. Recently, I saw him on TV. He was angry with the narrative he sees in American universities where the terrorist organization, Hamas, is praised as the global hero and Israel is condemned as the villain.

 

You have seen the videos of American college students saying “I am Hamas.” Today, the world is cursing Israel in the Israel and Hamas War which Hamas started. Still, to date, they are unwilling to return the remaining Israeli hostages because it is about portraying the Jewish people as evil monsters. This is how Nazi Germany turned the masses against Jewish people. As the darkness thickens, Satan will turn the world against God and His people to curse God openly. They will face God’s wrath.

 

The application is that we must tell others that God is not vindictive nor violent because He is not the villain in this cosmic drama. We must believe and tell others that God’s wrath is prepared for the wicked and God wants the wicked to turn away from their evil ways by trusting in Jesus’ atoning work for them.

 

God’s Wrath is Preserved Against Evil for the Veneration of God (Revelation 16:8-16)

 

In Revelation 16:8-9, “8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.”

 

In verse 10, when God directly targeted the throne of the beast and its kingdom, verse 11 says, they “cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.” I do not believe their repentance would matter at this point in history because in the last verse of Revelation 15, the doors in heaven were closed until the wrath of God was fully satisfied.

 

People have only two options: either accept Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross where God’s wrath was fully satisfied or face the wrath of God until it is fully satisfied.

 

The world population in Revelation 16 rejected Christ and accepted the antichrist so under God’s orders, verse 12 says, “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east.” God prepared the way for the kings from the east to pour His wrath on nations until it is done. 

 

Today, all nations of the east are either Muslims, Hindu, or Buddhists except for Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Cyprus. Verses 13-14 show the unholy trinity, that is, Satan, the false prophet, and the beast, will influence these nations to fight against God and His people Israel.

 

Revelation 16:16 reads, “And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” We will learn more about the battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19. For now, know that this is the only mention of the word, Armageddon, in the entire Bible. There are references to it but the name Armageddon appears only here, which is the valley of Megiddo.

 

A few of weeks ago, I shared with my small group that Napoleon considered the valley of Megiddo to be the greatest battlefield he had ever seen. More battles were fought there than anywhere else on Earth. The final battle between God and the forces of evil will take place there. 

 

You may have noticed that I skipped Revelation 16:15. This is where we find the application. Right in the middle of Revelation 16, Jesus speaks to the believers in verse 15 and says, “(“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)” Jesus does not want us to be caught off guard. He does not want us to be distracted by the end-time events. He warns us to be vigilant for His return. He wants us to be ready like the five wise virgins in Matthew 25 who took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

 

God’s Wrath is Provoked Against Evil for the Validation of God (Revelation 16:17-21)

 

God does not need our validation. However, His works do prove Him to be a God of love, compassion, full of mercy, and slow to anger. Verse 17 ends with, “The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!

 

I believe this is the voice of God. Finally, after waiting for thousands of years, the victims of evil and injustice received justice, but so did the evildoers, when God's wrath was satisfied as His judgment was completed. Revelation 16 ends with, “18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19  The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. Chapter 16 closes with people still cursing God, 21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.”

 

They cursed God again. In Job 2:9, when Job’s wife told him to curse God and die, he rebuked her. The interesting part of the story is that Satan targeted Job but it was his wife who gave up and wanted her husband to give up also. She probably believed that God is unjust and evil and wanted Job to believe that also. 

 

The application is, if you do not want to provoke God’s wrath then do not fall for Satan’s tricks. Satan wants to deceive us to believe that God could have stopped our suffering and since He didn’t, He must be unjust and evil. All the gory details in Revelation 16 are the proof of God's love for us because none of these things have happened yet. Out of His love and compassion, God wants us to know that His wrath is prepared, preserved, and provoked against evil so turn away from evil or else face God’s wrath. The choice is yours.

 

Recently in our church during another Bible study, we talked about anger. Christian counselors report that 50 percent of people who go for counseling deal with anger. When we think about wrath and anger, we think of our experiences. Usually, human anger is self-centered, unpredictable, and disproportionate because the source of their anger is sin. God is Holy. He has no sin in Him, so God’s wrath, His anger, is nothing like human anger. God’s wrath is a just, righteous, and holy anger prepared, preserved, and provoked against evil only.

 

The action step is, if you don’t want to face God’s wrath, then simply turn away from your evil ways because God’s wrath is God’s just and righteous response towards evil that is prepared, preserved, and provoked against evil only. 

 

My appeal to you is don’t provoke God. Heed His Word in Ezekiel 33:11. God told Israel and today He tells us, “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” The life God wants us to live, is found only in His Son, Jesus. If you haven't accepted Jesus, God's wrath stands against you. However, if you invite Jesus in your life today and walk with Him, then you have no reason to fear the wrath of God. For God's wrath was fully satisfied in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus faced God’s wrath on the cross to declare you completely justified and blameless.

  

Study Questions

 

1.       List the seven plagues of the seven bowls in Revelation 16 and contrast them with the plagues in Revelation 8 and the ten plagues of Egypt in Exodus 7:14-11:10.

 

2.       In Revelation 16:13, why were the unclean spirits portrayed as frogs? Why did they come out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet?

 

3.       Why were God’s judgments in Revelation 16:5-6 declared righteous?

 

4.       In Revelation 16:12, the sixth bowl was poured out on the Euphrates and its water dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the east. Why would God make a way for them?

 

Deeper Study Questions

 

1.       Why do you think Revelation 16:15 is inserted in preparation for Armageddon? 

 

2.       What do you learn from Revelation 16:15? How are you staying awake and keeping your garments?

 

3.       How would you share with someone about God's wrath?


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