A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
NOTE: This Popular Post From The Past is a response to numerous questions I’ve received lately from people who have become confused about the timing and duration of God’s Wrath.
They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17).
I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed (Rev. 15:1).
For 20 centuries various forms of the phrase “Wrath of God” brought one image to mind and that was the period of end times judgments that immediately precede the 2nd Coming. But lately it has begun to mean different things to different people. At the same time phrases like the Wrath of the Lamb, the Wrath of Man, and the Wrath of Satan have also crept into the discussion. In addition, some have begun speaking of a period of judgment they call the Wrath of God which is not mentioned in the Bible. They say it comes right after the 2nd Coming. Others have even said the Wrath of God refers to the eternal punishment that follows the Millennium.
So What Is The Wrath Of God?
From the Revelation quotes above we can see that it’s a period of judgment that begins during the seal judgments of Rev. 6 and ends with the bowl judgments of Rev. 16-18. When some form of this phrase appears in the New Testament it’s almost always in reference to the end time judgments.
If that’s the case what are these other so-called periods of wrath we hear about?
The Wrath of the Lamb comes from Rev. 6:16. The very next verse, Rev. 6:17, tells us it’s also God’s Wrath which makes sense because in John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”
The Wrath of Man is a phrase that doesn’t appear in the Bible, but some commentators have used it to describe what has traditionally been called the first four Seal Judgments of Rev. 6, also known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Again, this is part of God’s wrath. The four horsemen symbolize the initial appearance of the anti-Christ and his efforts to gain control of the world through conquest (Rev. 6:2).
The Wrath of Satan comes from the King James version of Rev. 12:12 where Satan is described as having great wrath because he’s been kicked out of heaven and knows he has only a short period of time to accomplish his goal of conquering Earth. His expulsion from heaven will happen at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, shortly before the Bowl judgments that complete God’s Wrath are unleashed against him and his followers. So you see, Satan is not the author of this final series of judgments but is their target. The Greek word used of Satan’s wrath is “thymos” and while it sometimes refers to God’s wrath as well, “orge” is the word normally used in connection with God’s Wrath. The difference between the two words as they’re used here is that God’s wrath is the origin of judgment while Satan’s wrath is the reaction to judgment. Simply put, people who use the term “Satan’s wrath” are really talking about the Great Tribulation.
The judgments that immediately follow the 2nd coming are described in Matt. 24:45-25:46. They will determine who among the survivors of the Great Tribulation will be welcomed into the Millennial Kingdom on Earth. All unbelieving survivors will be taken off the planet at that time. The 2nd Coming, the judgments of Matt. 24-25 and preparations for the Kingdom Age will be completed in the first 75 days from the end of the Great Tribulation (Daniel 12:12). No portion of this time is ever referred to in the Bible as the time of God’s Wrath. It’s only done by pre-wrath rapture advocates.
The same is true of the Great White Throne judgment of Rev. 20:11-15. At the end of the Millennium the unbelieving dead from all ages will be gathered for their final judgment. Anyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire for eternal punishment. The Great White throne judgment is never referred to as God’s Wrath in the Bible. Some people who don’t believe in the pre-trib rapture this in an effort to deny Paul’s promises in Romans 5:9, 1 Thes. 1:10, and 1 Thes. 5:9 that the Church would not be present for the time of God’s wrath.
From these and other passages we can safely conclude that New Testament references to God’s Wrath overwhelmingly describe a specific period of judgment upon the post rapture world, beginning early in Daniel’s 70th Week and ending just before the 2nd Coming. His Wrath consists of three named sets of judgments and and possibly an additional one that God has kept secret.
Three Sets Of Judgments
The first set of named judgments is called the Seal judgments because they occur as Jesus opens seven seals on a scroll the Father will hand Him. They’re described in Rev. 6 as a period of time beginning with the perception that peace has come to Earth and ending with the realization that God’s Wrath has begun. In writing about this time Paul said, “When people are saying ‘peace and safety’ destruction will come upon them suddenly, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thes. 5:3). The first six Seal Judgments will bring war, famine, plague and death to 1/4th of the world along with massive martyring of post rapture believers.
The seventh Seal is not a judgment in and of itself but introduces the second named series, called the Trumpet Judgments (Rev. 8:4-9:21). As seven angels blow their trumpets in turn, the sound of each trumpet will introduce another judgment. This series of judgments will combine natural with supernatural attacks upon humanity and by the time they’re finished a third of the earth’s forests and fields will be ablaze, a third of the sea creatures will have died, a third of Earth’s water supply will have been contaminated, and a third of the people who survived the seal judgments will have died.
After the sixth Trumpet judgment an unnamed event will be visited upon the Earth. At a signal from a mighty angel seven thunders will speak, and although John was forbidden from telling us what they will say, scholars speculate that it might be an unannounced judgment of some kind (Rev. 10:1-4). This is the secret God has kept that I mentioned above.
The blowing of the 7th Trumpet will announce the commencement of the Lord’s reign over Planet Earth (Rev. 11:15-18). War in Heaven will result in the permanent expulsion of Satan and his angels (Rev. 12:7-12). Having been confined to Earth, Satan will indwell his man, the anti-Christ, and will cause him to announce from the Temple in Israel that he is God (2 Thes. 2:4). Jesus said this will kick off the Great Tribulation, the worst disaster the world ever has or ever will suffer. He warned the Jewish people who will be living in Israel at the time to immediately flee for their lives (Matt. 24:15-21).
This will take place in the middle of Daniel’s 70th Week and at this point the full force of God’s wrath will be loosed upon Satan and his followers in the final series of judgments (Rev. 16-18). They’re called the Bowl judgments because they’re symbolized by angels pouring out seven bowls of God’s Wrath upon the Earth. The power of these judgments and the devastation they cause is beyond description. Jesus was correct in saying that if He didn’t stop them at the appointed time, not a single human being would survive (Matt. 24:22).
I believe one effect of these judgments will be to complete the demolition phase of the Earth’s restoration, which Jesus spoke of in Matt. 19:28, Peter confirmed in Acts 3:21 and John described in Rev. 21:1. For example Revelation 16:16-21 speaks of the worst earthquake the world has ever experienced causing every mountain to fall down, islands to disappear, and the cities of the nations to be destroyed, while 100 lb. hailstones bombard the Earth. Believe me when I say you wouldn’t wish this on your worst enemy.
Much of the world’s remaining population will die during this time, but because of it the Earth will be ready for restoration to the condition it was in when Adam was created. This will happen at the time of the 2nd Coming (Acts 3:21).
What About Us?
Paul made it clear that the Church will not be present on Earth during any of this time of judgment. In Romans 5:9 Paul said, “Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s Wrath through it?” In 1 Thes. 1:10 he wrote that Jesus will rescue us from the coming wrath. (The Greek word translated from in both these verses refers to both the time and place of the coming wrath, so we won’t be present when it happens and we won’t be present where it happens.) He will do this because God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes. 5:9).
If you believe you’re a sinner, but that God sent His Son to die for your sins, and if you’ve accepted His death as having paid their full penalty, then you won’t have to face any of these judgments. One day soon, you’ll disappear with the rest of us and will be in Heaven with the Lord while all this is happening on Earth.
You’ll see that your decision to believe in what the Lord did for you was the defining moment of your life and you will understand that it made you into one of the world’s ultimate winners. You’ll realize this is what God always intended for you to do and you’ll know why the Heavenly Host is erupting into joyous celebration as you come into the presence of the Lord. If you listen carefully you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 09-28-13