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02 March 2019

Wrath of God in Revelation

7th Plague of Egypt

The book of Revelation refers to the “wrath” of God several times. This “wrath” is often interpreted as God’s punitive actions against rebellious humanity, especially, His “wrath” manifested in the sevenfold series of seals, trumpets, and bowls; however, despite their devastation humanity continues to rebel against God until the arrival of Christ brings events to a sudden end.
The term “wrath” or orgé occurs only six times in the book of Revelation and always in reference to the final judgment. The calamities unleashed by the seals, trumpets and bowls are never labeled “wrath,” though God’s “wrath” is manifested at the end of each series. For example, after the seventh trumpet sounds, His “wrath is come, the time of the dead to be judged” (Revelation 6:16, 6:17, 11:18, 14:10, 16:19, 19:15).
The effect of “wrath” is eternal, not temporary. Its ultimate expression is the “Lake of Fire, the Second Death.” That day will change the entire cosmos and, for the ungodly, there will be no escape (Revelation 6:12-17).
In contrast, the righteous receive everlasting life in the New Creation. What determines whether a person undergoes “wrath” or receives life is how he or she responds to the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-17, 22:15).
(Revelation 6:12-17) – “And I saw when he opened the sixth seal, that a great earthquake took place, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the full moon became as blood, and the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig-tree sheddeth her winter figs when by a great wind it is shaken, and the heaven was withdrawn as a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island out of their places were shaken. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rulers of thousands, and the rich, and the mighty, and every bondman and freeman, hid themselves within the caves and within the rocks of the mountains, and they say unto the mountains and unto the rocks—Fall upon us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the anger of the Lamb, Because the great day of their anger is come, and who is able to stand?” [The Emphasized Bible]
The fifth seal revealed the souls of martyred saints under the altar (Revelation 6:9-11). They cried for vindication and vengeance upon their persecutors, “the inhabitants of the earth.” The sixth seal is the Divine response to their plea; it unleashes final “wrath” upon the “inhabitants of the earth,” regardless of rank or status. This seal produces the “day of the Lord”, it affects the entire created order.
The opening of the sixth seal results in “a great earthquake…the sun became black as sackcloth of hair and the full moon as blood.” The language is derived from Old Testament passages about the “day of Yahweh.”  Note the verbal parallels:
 (Joel 2:30-32) – “The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awful Day of Yahweh”.
(Isaiah 34:1-5) – “Then shall be dissolved all the host of the heavens, and the heavens shall roll up as a scroll, Yea, all their host shall fade like the fading and falling of a leaf from a vine, and like what fades and falls from a fig-tree”.
(Isaiah 2:10-22) – “Enter into the rock or hide thee in the dust because of the terribleness of Yahweh and for his majestic splendor…For a day of Yahweh of hosts shall be upon everyone who is high and lofty, and upon everyone who is lifted up, and he shall be brought low…In that day shall the son of earth cast his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which had been made for him to worship, into the hole of the mice and to the bats, that he may enter into the clefts of the rocks and into the fissures of the crags, because of the terribleness of Yahweh and for his majestic splendor, when he arises to shake terribly the earth.”
(Joel 2:11) – “And Yahweh has uttered his voice before his host for great indeed is his camp, for bold is he who executes his word, for great is the day of Yahweh and awful exceedingly, Who then shall endure it?”
Such passages do not describe a tribulation period of any length but a specific moment when God inflicts His wrath to destroy His enemies. It is accompanied by terrestrial and celestial upheaval and there is no escape. This is the final judgment; “Who shall be able to stand?
This question is answered in Revelation 7:9-17. The innumerable multitude of saints from every nation are seen “coming out of the Great Tribulation” and “standing” before the Throne and the Lamb. They “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Rather than “wrath,” the Lamb leads them “to life’s fountains of waters.”
(Revelation 11:15-19) – “And the seventh messenger sounded, and there came to be loud voices in heaven, saying—The kingdom of the world hath become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign unto the ages of ages…And the nations were angered, and thine anger came and the fit time of the dead to be vindicated, and to give their reward unto thy servants the prophets, and unto the saints, and unto them who revere thy name—the small and the great, and to despoil them who were despoiling the earth. And the sanctuary of God which is in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant in his sanctuary appeared, and there came to be lightning and voices and thunderings and an earthquake and great hail.”
The seventh trumpet results in the overthrow of the “kingdom of the world.” All powers hostile to God and the Lamb are defeated and God’s kingdom is consummated. In contrast to sinful humanity, the seventh trumpet announces rewards for the faithful from all ranks of society (“the small and the great”).
The arrival of God in judgment means the day of His “wrath” or orgé, the time to “destroy them who were destroying the earth.” It also is the time when He rewards the saints; both the righteous and the unrighteous receive their just desserts on that day.
(Revelation 14:6-11) – “…And another, a third messenger, followed them, saying with a loud voice—If anyone doeth homage unto the beast and his image, and receives a mark upon his forehead or upon his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone before holy messengers and before the Lamb, And, the smoke of their torment unto ages of ages ascendeth, And they have no rest day or night, who do homage unto the beast and his image, or if anyone receives the mark of his name.”
This passage describes the final judgment. An angel pronounces everlasting condemnation on all who gave allegiance to the Beast; they partake of God’s undiluted wrath. This “wrath” is everlasting in its results; condemned men “have no rest day or night.” This is the Lake of Fire, the “second death” (Revelation 20:10).
(Revelation 16:17-21) – “And the seventh poured out his bowl upon the air.—And there came forth a loud voice out of the sanctuary from the throne, saying—Accomplished! And there came to be lightning and voices and thunders, and a great earthquake took place—such as had never taken place since men came to be on the earth—such a mighty earthquake, so great, and the great city became divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and Babylon the Great was brought into remembrance before God to give unto her the cup of the wine of the wrath of his anger, and every island fled, and mountains were not found. And great hail as talents cometh down out of heaven upon mankind, and men blasphemed God by reason of the plague of hail—because the plague thereof was exceeding great.”
The seven bowls are also called the “seven last plagues”, when they are unleashed, “the fierceness of God is completed.”. The bowls are “full of the fierceness (thumos) of God” - “fierceness” translates thumos or “fury,” a  different Greek noun than orgé or “wrath” (Revelation 15:1-8).
The seventh bowl produces “flashes of lightning, and voices, and claps of thunder, and a great earthquake…and great hail as talents,” the same phenomena seen with the seventh trumpet. The parallels demonstrate that the same event is in view, the time of God’s “wrath” (Revelation 11:19).
After the Lamb is seen standing on “Zion,” an angel declares that the time had come for Babylon to drink of the “cup of the wine of the fierceness of God’s wrath,” just as the men and women who took the mark of the Beast drank of this same cup, Babylon must drink the same “wrath” or final judgment  (Revelation 14:10).
Every island to flee and mountains are not found.” This parallels the day of the Lord in the sixth seal when “every mountain and island was shaken out of its place.” The same judgment is in view.
(Revelation 19:15-16) – “And he treadeth the wine-press of the wrath of the anger of God the Almighty. And he hath upon his mantle and upon his thigh a name written—King of kings and Lord of lords.”
The Lamb arrives to judge the nations and to tread the wine-press of the wrath of God, the “winepress” seen previously in Revelation 14:17-20 (“gather the clusters of the vine of the earth and cast them into the great wine-press of the fierceness of God”). The winepress was “trodden outside the city”, “trodden” translates the Greek verb pateō, the same one now used in Revelation 19:15, another verbal link. This is not another in a series of plagues but the final “conflict” between the Lamb and the forces of Satan. The final judgment is at hand and all accounts are about to be settled.
The next paragraph demonstrates that the final battle is about to commence (Revelation 19:17-21). Imagery from Ezekiel’s “Gog and Magog” is used. It is not a “literal” war between conventional armies, but one between the Lamb and his enemies: The Beast, the False Prophet, and the kings of the earth. No actual battle is described. The Beast and the False Prophet are simply taken and cast “alive into the Lake of Fire that burns with brimstone.”
This is the same “battle” seen in the sixth bowl, the “great day of the battle of the Lord God Almighty” (Revelation 16:12-16), a passage that also borrows language from the image of “Gog and Magog.” The result is the casting of God’s enemies into the Lake of Fire, for they have drunk from the “cup of His wrath.”
“Wrath” in the book of Revelation is not one in a series of punitive and temporal judgments; it is nothing less than God’s final punishment of the wicked and His cosmic enemies, the Dragon, the Beast, the False Prophet, and Babylon. “Wrath” consistently refers not to individual plagues and catastrophes, but to God’s final “wrath” unleashed on the day of the Lord. The saints are present before the Lamb at that event, but they do not “drink” from this cup. Instead, God vindicates and rewards them.
Finally, although Revelation mentions the “great tribulation,” at no point does it refer to that event as “wrath.”

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