With this teaching we’re going to spend a significant amount of time talking about judgement and wrath, specifically, God’s judgement and wrath. We’ll be continuing our study in Revelation, covering chapters 15-16. It’s not very often that an entire message finds judgement as its focal point, but this is the nature of the two chapters we’ll be reading and we wouldn’t be treating the text honestly nor honorably if we were to skim past it. So buckle up because we’re going to look squarely at this subject…and believe it or not, I think it may prove to be encouraging.
God’s judgement is one of those unfortunate concepts that falls into two extremes in the history of church doctrine. Some elements of the church get so focused on judgement and wrath that a caricature is created of God, one that resembles pagan concepts more than biblical ones. On the other hand, some in the church are so concerned that talk of God judging might undermine the message of his grace that they also create a caricature of God; one of a doting old grandparent who just winks and smiles in the face of all that’s wrong.
But what are we to make of wrath and judgement ascribed to God, not only in the Old Testament, but also in the New, as in the chapters we’ll be reading this Sunday?
I believe without reservation that God is not mad at humanity. I believe the message of the Gospel, that God so LOVED the world he sent Jesus, his son, as an atoning sacrifice. I also believe what the bible says about God’s wrath. The main issue is the focus of that wrath. This is something we’ll talk about at length.
For now, just consider this: what comes to mind when you hear the word “wrath”? When you think of judgment, what do you envision? In what ways could God’s judgement be a positive thing that compels the nations to worship God, as is described in chapter 15:4?
Don’t get nervous – I think it’s important to talk about these ideas and do our best to grapple with them. If we observe this rightly, it’s very possible to come away from a teaching like this with a whole new sense of hope.