As I read our passage for today I’m reminded of a sermon by Puritan preacher, Jonathan Edwards: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. This sermon is one of the major messages associated with the First Great Awakening. In Enfield, Connecticut, July 8th, 1741, Edwards preached this message to a crowd that had grown apathetic to spiritual things. Upon hearing about hell and the consequences of sin, the whaling became so loud, Edwards couldn’t even finish the message.
There is a point that I’ve always associated with this message: we must love a God who punishes sin. Let that thought sink deep. God’s judgment will be poured upon all those who do not receive Christ. This Wrathful Judge is also our Good Father—one and the same.
It is a difficult thought that sin deserves everlasting punishment. It is even more difficult to think that those who experience the terrible, awfulness that we read about in the Tribulation will then go on to spend eternity in Hell. But that, according to God, is the consequence for sin.
As we read about the pouring out of the bowls, this is God’s wrath against the beast and all who follow him. “It seems more likely that the bowls constitute the seventh trumpet, as the trumpets constitute the seventh seal. This would make the bowls the last plagues to come on the earth at the end of the Great Tribulation (15:1).” (Constable’s Notes)
However, I want to consider the words of the third angel, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” And in response, the altar said, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!”
We discuss God’s compassion because Christ has paid the debt of sin and offers that debt-cancellation service for free. That is an amazing demonstration of love and so we are tempted to only think of God as love. When we preach Christ, we are preaching the demonstration of God’s love (Romans 5:8). However, God is not only love. God is also just. And justice has a price. That price was paid by Christ, but only for those who accept it. If a person does not accept God’s grace, they will receive God’s wrath—sinners in the hands of an angry God.
Have you ever struggled to connect God as fully loving and fully wrathful, not only in your minds, but hearts as well?
How does this passage shape your view of God?
In the comments tell us: what has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned through the book of Revelation?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate