Responding to Wrath

Revelation 16:4-7 – 4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,
“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
for you brought these judgments.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!”
7 And I heard the altar saying,
“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!”

How do you respond to the concept of the judgment of God? What is a godly way to respond to the Lord’s judgments? This is a bit complicated for us, as we are human, guilty of sin, and full of emotion. But we must always begin and end with our understanding that the Lord defines perfection and always does what is right.

In Revelation 16, we see the bowls of the wrath of God rapidly poured out on a rebellious earth. As we watch, we see the third bowl judgment poured out over the waters from which people would drink. This judgment is horrifying. And we see a pair of responses.

In verses 5-6, we see that an angel who is over the waters declares this judgment of God’s to be just. The people of the world have killed God’s saints. They have shed the blood of the innocent. And thus the Lord giving them blood to drink is, in the angelic opinion, right. In verse 7, we hear another voice, that of the altar. Back in chapter 6, we saw that the altar has under it the souls of martyrs. They too declare that God’s judgments are true and just.

At the same time, we know that the Lord does not delight in these just judgments. In Ezekiel 18:23, the Lord declares, “’Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?’” god is not cruel. He does not dance a jig at the destruction of the wicked.

What then do we do with the judgment of God and our emotion? WE see two things. On the one hand, there is sorrow. There is always sorrow when evil men refuse to repent. There is sorrow when men who were created in the image of God fall under the judgment of God.

But, and this is vital for our minds to grasp, the judgment of god is both just and good. The Lord has never once punished anyone wrongly. When the Lord pours out his wrath, his wrath is holy, good, right, pure, and perfect in every way.

OK, actually, let me amend my thoughts here. There is one time. Once in human history, the Lord poured out his wrath on one who did not deserve it. This, of course, is the time the Lord poured out his wrath on Jesus, God the Son, who died to bear away our guilt so that God might welcome the saved into his family.

Christians, weep over and affirm the wrath of God. Weep, because the death of any human being is sad. Affirm, because the wrath of God is always, absolutely always, perfect and right. The wrath of God is never wrong. It is never too far. It is not a thing to be ashamed of. But, as we see in the voice of the angel and the altar, God’s ways are just and right.