The Wrath of God and the Comfort of the Believer
Read Revelation 22:1-15
“Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book”
The book of Revelation is perhaps the most terrifying and foreboding book in all of scripture. Some argue that the picture of God in the Old Testament is a God of wrath and judgment, while the God of the New Testament (particularly seen in the person of Christ) is a God of love and compassion who accepts all people. However, the book of Revelation dispels this theory, for it presents the 2nd coming of Christ as a time of the final outpouring of God’s wrath and judgment upon sin. In a crescendo of judgements that are both frightening in its severity and universal in its scope, the appearance of Christ brings final judgment upon Satan, his demons, and all those who reject the salvation of Christ when he casts them into the eternal lake of fire (20:13-15).
With such a dark mood throughout the book, it is surprising that we find that the purpose of the book is to be a source of blessing for God’s people. How can the greatest display of God’s wrath in all of Scripture be a blessing? To understand this, we must place God’s wrath in the context of his justice.
Justice demands retribution against sin. There is a righteous anger that is aroused when we see businesses closed because the owner strives to follow biblical principles, when there is a blatant abuse of power when racism continues to be rampant, when the murder of infants remains unchecked and immorality is promoted even to children. My mother said many years ago that we live in an Alice in Wonderland world, where wrong has become right and right has become wrong. She would be shocked to see how prophetic her words were today. If our anger is not aroused when we see unrighteousness prevail and realize the damage it causes, then there is something wrong, for to be angry over sin is an expression of God’s righteousness. Psalm 7:11 states, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day.”
But this is what is the source of our blessing. Certainly, we do not find joy in the eternal judgment of sinners, for even though God will judge the Bible states that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but desires all people to repent and receive salvation (Ezekiel 33:11). The source of blessing is found in the restoration of all that is just and right and holy and the final removal of evil and those that promote it.
This is why the message of Revelation is a blessing, for it is the assurance that no matter how much injustice may prevail, no matter how much sin may increase, there will come a time when God will establish true justice and bring judgment upon wickedness. While it may seem that sin and evil are winning the day, God, in his righteous wrath, will bring an end to the prevalence of sin that began in the Garden of Eden. It was this message that gave Henry Wadsworth Longfellow hope in the dark days of the Civil War and he penned the refrain, “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men” (Poem, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day). As the world continues to descend into moral chaos and lawlessness, our hope is not found in the politicians or movements, but in a God who will execute righteous judgment and bring justice to an unjust world.