The Wrath of God: Myth or Reality? (Part 2 of 3)
By Dr. David Reagan
The Unchangeable God
Despite the Bible’s clear teaching that our Creator is a God of both love and wrath, I never cease to be amazed at the number of pastors I run across who argue that the God of wrath is the Old Testament God and not the God of the New Testament. In the process they ignore another clear teaching of the Bible that is found in Malachi 3:6 where God, speaking of Himself, says, “I, the LORD do not change…”
The New Testament confirms this important point in Hebrews 13:8 where it says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.”
Nonetheless, Jesus seems always to be presented in sermons as the meek and gentle Savior who is full of grace and forgiveness. That statement is true, but it is not the full picture. Jesus castigated the Pharisees, calling them “hypocrites,” “serpents” and a “brood of vipers.”
Likewise, in His letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor, Jesus condemned the church at Thyatira for tolerating a false prophetess. He called upon the church to repent, and then He warned that if they refused to repent of their immorality, He would cast the offenders “upon a bed of sickness,” killing them with pestilence (Revelation 2:22-23).
Types of Wrath
The Bible reveals several different aspects of the wrath of God:
1. Consequential Wrath — This is what might be called “sowing and reaping wrath.” It is the wrath we bring upon ourselves when we reap what we sow through sinful living.
2. Cataclysmic Wrath — As evidenced in disasters, either natural or man-made, like the 9/11 attacks. God allows these as a way of calling people and nations to repentance.
3. Abandonment Wrath — The wrath exhibited by God when He turns His back on a person or a society, allowing self-destruction.
4. Eschatological Wrath — The wrath God will unleash on all the world during the Great Tribulation.
5. Eternal Wrath — The ultimate punishment God will inflict upon those who are consigned to Hell.
God’s wrath of abandonment is what our nation is experiencing today. Again, this type of wrath can fall on an individual as well as a society.
A biblical example of it in the life of an individual can be found in the story of Samson. Although he was mightily anointed by God to protect Israel from the Philistines, he persisted in sexual sin to the point that the Scriptures say that “the Lord departed from him” (Judges 16:20). As a result, he was captured by the Philistines and ended up committing suicide.
In Romans chapter one, the Apostle Paul strongly warns of God’s wrath of abandonment concerning nations. He asserts that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…” (Romans 1:18). He then proceeds to tell how God does this when dealing with a nation that is in rebellion against Him.
First, God steps back and lowers the hedge of protection around the nation, allowing evil to multiply. The result is an outbreak of sexual sin (Romans 1:24-25), which is what happened in the nation in the 1960s.
If the nation refuses to repent, God takes a second step back and lowers the hedge even further (Romans 1:26-27), producing a plague of homosexuality. Again, this nation has experienced this second phase ever since the 1990s, but it gained momentum in 2003 when our Supreme Court struck down all sodomy laws.
If the nation persists in its rebellion, God will take a third step back and abandon the nation to “a depraved mind” (Romans 1:28). This depravity was manifested in this nation when our Supreme Court sanctioned same-sex marriage in June of 2015, and our President celebrated the decision by having the White House lit up in the rainbow colors of the Sexual Perversion Movement.
The Coming Wrath
God’s eschatological wrath will fall on all the world when Jesus returns (Jude 1:14-15). The passage in Revelation which pictures the return of Jesus says that He will return in righteousness to “judge and wage war” (Revelation 19:11).
The first time Jesus came, He came in loving compassion with eyes filled with tears. But when He returns, He will come in vengeance (Revelation 6:12-17), with eyes like a flame of fire (Revelation 19:12). He will come to destroy the enemies of God (Revelation 19: 11).
The presidents and kings and prime ministers of the world will get on their knees and cry out for the rocks and mountains to fall upon them, so great will be the terror of the Lord (Revelation 6:15-17). The unrighteous will stumble about like blind men, and their blood will be poured out like dust (Zephaniah 1:17).
In the third and final part of this exploration into the character of God, we will search the Scriptures to learn if the Redeemed have to fear the wrath of God coming upon them.