Why the Wrath of God?
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
One aspect of the prophetic meaning of the Fall Holy Days that is often overlooked is the Wrath of God. Over the years, many scholars, preachers, and believers have asked the question: “Why the Wrath of God?” They say, “How can a loving God be so wrathful?” These questions are usually made in reference to prophetic books of the Bible, especially the book of Revelation. Admittedly, these are good questions, and in this article, we will help to answer them.
Before we delve into this subject, I think it is important for us to consider how humans have treated each other the last six thousand years. Just in the past one hundred years or so, over 100 million humans have died due to warfare and the consequences from it. We have seen genocide on the greatest level that has probably ever existed. Senseless acts of violence occur daily. The trend appears to be increasing. These callous acts are heartbreaking.
Jesus foretold that these days would come. He compared the end of this age to the days of Noah. “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26, KJV). In Genesis, we learn that the earth was filled with violence during Noah’s lifetime. “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Gen. 6:12-13). At that time, God sent a flood to end the needless bloodshed which filled the earth. We see this same pattern repeating itself in our times.
This subject brings up a good counter question: Is God supposed to allow humanity to continue to hurt, wound, and slay each other forever? Instead of questioning God for the existence of suffering, we should pause and examine ourselves and human nature. Why do we allow ourselves to do these things to each other? Most suffering exists because humans have corrupted their ways – as in the time of Noah. Christians around the world also suffer, so we are not exempt from this plight.
Imagine for a moment a world where everyone worked together, people looked out for their neighbor, and all humans thought about the greater good. Wouldn’t such a world be wonderful? The Bible depicts such a world that is to come (Micah 4:1-4 is a great example).
But why does this world not already exist? Do we have God to blame? Truly, we only have ourselves to blame. We want God to change the world for us, but humanity as a whole does not want to change its ways. As it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one…” (Rom. 3:10). The utopia we all desire to see is coming. The Lord God is coming to establish perfect peace on the earth.
Various prophecies in the Bible foresaw a time where the violence of mankind towards each other would reach a climax. The earth would get so bad that humans would not survive at all unless God intervened. “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold…For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:10-12, 21-22).
During a future period called the Great Tribulation, there will be world war, famine, disease, and suffering such as never been seen in the past or ever again. The Book of Revelation explains how Christians alive at that time will be killed because they refused to compromise the Word of God.
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands… And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9, 14).
Why will God not intervene to stop the slaying of so many believers? God has given humanity free will – a chance to choose between right and wrong. The believers who are martyred at that time are the testimony or witness of His way on earth. Other people will have the opportunity to see that testimony and walk in it. Everyone else will be so jealous and enraged at God’s way that they hurt believers. There are consequences for one’s choice. If God does not intervene in the death of these believers, then what would we expect His response to be towards those who slayed them?
The Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God which follows it are part of God’s plan to bring final judgment during this age. This explains why they happen at the end of it. In the first period, the whole world must decide if it will worship God or the beast power and its mark (Rev. chapter 13).
Those who follow God are martyred, but they will inherit eternal reward. Those who worship the beast and take its mark will choose the way of life that also expresses hate and violence towards others – as in the days of Noah (Cain’s descendants were also marked). They will be severely punished. The Wrath of God is poured out upon those who are still alive after the Great Tribulation because they did harm to those who obeyed God and refused to repent (Rev. 16:5-6).
The worldly attitudes of this age are reflected by breaking the commandments of God. In Matthew 24:12 (quoted above) hatred towards people has increased and will increase because of iniquity. The Greek root word translated as iniquity is anomia, and it means lawlessness.
All of humanity is put through a great test at the end of this age. There will be a separation of those who desire to be in the next age of lawfulness and Godly love from those who cling to this age of lawlessness. The Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God will settle it all. God wants humanity to experience the fullness of His plan and blessing for them. There must be a purge from the old ways of this age because they are so deeply engrained.
The Lord God is the creator of all mankind (Num. 27:16). He has laid out for us a way of life that brings joy to us and everyone around us. It is first described in the first five books of the Bible, called the Torah, and summarized in the Ten Commandments. Depth is added throughout the rest of the Bible. These will guide us in the age to come.
There are more reasons that this wrath is necessary. Presently, Satan is the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4). He has deceived humanity to go the wrong way (Rev. 12:9). He has influenced corruption upon the earth. There are world-wide reminders of his influence such as statutes, idols, images, monuments, books, and inscriptions all over the world. Items such as these create a cord of iniquity between humans and the object (Prov. 5:22). They remind people of sinful lifestyles, other gods, and satan. God asked the Israelites to destroy these items (Ex. 34:10-14, Deut. 7:1-6, 12:1-7). God will destroy them during His wrath (Is. 27:9, Zeph. 2:11). Unfortunately, humans throughout the generations of this age have come into agreement with satan’s schemes through these items. Satan is punished just after the wrath is complete (Rev. 20:1-3).
The objects connected to satan would drag all of humanity back into the sinful mess of this age if not removed. This explains some of the judgments rendered during that time, such as the first trumpet, which destroys part of the earth (Rev. 8:7).
There are also sins which defile the land (Lev. chapter 18 provides one list). Humans are made from the earth, so this connection is logical. Because these sins have been committed world-wide, the entire earth has been defiled. Thus, the wrath is coming upon the whole world (John 3:36, Rom. 1:18, Eph. 5:5-6). Humanity has also perverted the earth, plants, and animal life from God’s original design. This explains some of the judgments upon nature rendered in the Wrath of God; the kosmos is being purged for a better future (Rev. 11:18).
God does not want humanity to perish (2 Peter 3:9). But if God did not intervene with His Wrath, then we would destroy each other and be lost forever. There is a certain Wrath to come. I pray that everyone would repent of their ways and turn to God. There is a way to escape the Wrath through Jesus Christ (I Thess. 5:9).
God wants the best for humanity, but that requires a time of suffering to receive it. This situation is comparable to parents that discipline their children out of love. There is pain but also love.
God will allow humanity to reach the apex of evil and then intervene to alter the destiny of humanity in a way that is for our good. After the wrath is completed, mankind will have a fresh start. Some will survive it and enjoy the wonderful age to come (Zech. 14:16). All generations born in the age to come will know the way of love and truth. Through the Wrath and the resulting obedience because of it, God is going to show humanity that His ways bring us into perfect harmony with Him and each other.
Kelly McDonald, Jr.