I have been noticing a common theme through the story of God’s people, the nation of Israel, which is that God’s wrath poured out on evil people. Sometimes this wrath was poured out on the Israelites to discipline them and make them turn back to worshiping God and other times it was poured out on enemies of God’s people. There are many different passages that speak to this issue of God’s wrath. Some passages are clearly prophecy of doom to come and as we read it today the doom has already happened but some passages are written in such a way that it makes me wonder if this is yet to come. Isaiah is one of those passages that Bible scholars say actually has happened already as the nation of Israel was put into captivity in a city named Babylon and was held captive. Other scholars have stated that Babylon is a metaphor for evil and sinful people and means more than the initial captivity. Either way this gives us a word picture of God’s wrath for evil living.
A prophecy against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw: Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath—those who rejoice in my triumph. Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The Lord Almighty is mustering an army for war. They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens—the Lord and the weapons of his wrath—to destroy the whole country. Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. See, the day of the Lord is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger. Isaiah 13:1-13, (New International Version or NIV).
This is pretty graphic and it makes me think that we should never take God for granted or presume upon His grace. It also reminds me of another passage about the wrath of God.
A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. The Lord’s Anger Against Nineveh The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him. Nahum 1:1-6, (NIV).
Nineveh doesn’t exist any longer but we do know that such a city once existed. I think that there is a similarity between these two descriptions of God’s wrath, don’t you? Let’s face it, God is slow to anger but will eventually have enough of evil being done to the innocent and will take care of the problem at the source. There is another one I want to look at.
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:4-17, (NIV).
There is coming a day when God’s wrath will be poured out on the entire world and there will be an end to evil. Period. We all know it if we have been studying the Bible. In the Old Testament there are many warnings of how God deals with evil when He has had enough! There are so many more passages than just the two I presented from the Old Testament. But the New Testament also warns us that a day will come and we need to be on guard and as Christians we need to be prepared. Jesus has the last word on this subject.
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Revelation 22:12-20, (NIV).
Are you ready? Are you ready for the day of the Lord? Are you prepared to meet Jesus at the final judgement of evil? We don’t know when that time will be but it will come, just as the prophecies in the Old Testament came to pass. God is faithful and will put an end to evil when the time is right. Can you say the same as the Holy Spirit, Come!