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The Wrath of God!
I received several email from a close friend. While vacationing she learned of some startling events that are going on in our country, as well as the rest of the world that caused her a great deal of alarm. In her letters she communicated a fear about the future as it relates to God’s judgment and wrath. She was heavy on God’s wrath but very foggy on the love God has for his people. She believes that I have an escapist point of view. She did not feel that I, and indeed the rest of the protestant church, was being realistic in our belief in the rapture. Because she is a devout Catholic, I find that often she and I do not connect philosophically; however, on this subject we seemed to have fond some common ground.
The following is my response. I am passing it on because in my attempt to calm her fears, I too found encouragement from scripture. I hope that it will do the same for you.
Dear Friend in the Lord:
I was glad to find that you and I agree that God is in control and that ultimately any future national or global destructive event that happens would, indeed, be God's Judgment and a part of his master plan. Now I would like to take a moment and expand that idea and show, from scripture, God's love for his people during times of Judgment. He has not Changed, His character is the same.
In your first email, you reference the rapture. Then in your second email you made mention of Sodom and Gomorrah and then Noah. These are very powerful examples of God's ability to execute judgment through destruction. In addition, they illustrate God's practice of removing His people before He does so. In order to bring balance to my views, I would ask that you also consider the story of the plagues of Egypt prior to the exodus. Although the Exodus story does not directly illustrate God bringing his people out before he executed His judgment. It does illustrate some important truths about what happens to God's people when a nation comes under Judgment.
In the interest of time I will not be retelling these stories, but simply hi-lighting certain parts. I hope you are blessed and encourage by this writing and come away with peace in your heart and mind and your faith in God strengthened.
Genesis 6:5-7 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them." NIV
Eeesh, this passage makes me shiver!
To bring repentance, God will send us prophets and preachers to declare His warning. He will order circumstances and events in our lives. He will do anything and everything he needs to do to turn our rebellious hearts to him. However, there comes a time when God says enough! They will never repent! This is what's happening here in these verses God Comes to and end of his patience. Through a grieving heart, he declares Judgment. In this case, Global destruction
Now just when you think all is lost; then comes Verse 8
But Noah found Grace in the eyes of the LORD. KJV
The word for the moment here is "BUT." In verse 7 God says, I am grieved that I made them. In Verse 8 he is saying- But Wait! Don't forget about Noah.
The next thing we see is God communicating why he is judging humanity, how he intends to execute this judgment, and what His plan is for Noah's Deliverance. Then, Noah in faith begins to builds an Ark. The destruction is delayed until the Ark is finished. Then as promised he sees God's Deliverance. I am amazed and humbled that God took the time to consider one man and his family and planned accordingly.
Sodom and Gomorrah
Gen 18:20 & 21 And the LORD said, because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it,which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a wonderful look into the character of God as it relates to Judgment. Among other things, we learn that God is slow to anger. We discover that He withholds judgment for the sake of the righteous. and that He removes the righteous before he judges. When a society turns its back on God, we know from scripture certain doom is ahead. For those of us who fear God; many questions come to mind. Not the least of witch is-
What about the righteous?
Let’s start with Abraham's conversation with God prior to the destruction. Abraham learns form the Lord his plan to go and check out Sodom and Gomorrah. In the scripture listed above, (Gen 18:20 & 21) the reader realizes that God has not quite made up his mind to destroy the cities. He is still deciding. This implies that it could go either way. I find it interesting that Abrahams seems to go with the idea that the two cities are going to be toast. In his mind there was no question. This illustrates that Man is quick to judge, while God is slow. Thank goodness Man is not the Judge! Next it becomes clear that Abraham is keenly aware of what's at steak. I love his direct and tactful approach to the first thing that would have come to his mind, Lot and his family. In true professional and diplomatic fashion he makes the matter bigger and more important then simply his concern for his own kin. He appeals to God's reputation.
Gen 18:23 And Abraham drew near, and said, wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
I don't think Abraham was just being cleaver. He understood that indiscriminate judgment would be unjust. He needed reassurance that his God would never do such a thing. Further, He wants to know how many "righteous" are needed to turn God's wrath, so he goes on to say the following
Gen 18: 24 & 25 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked,that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
Then patiently, the Lord replies:
Gen 18: 26 And the LORD said, if I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
Did you catch that? I will spare that place for their sakes. I am glad to know that God will withhold judgment for the sake of the righteous. Who is the righteous today? They are the Church. The Bride of Christ. Those who have made Jesus Christ their King and master. Abraham goes back and forth with the Lord several more times until he gets him down to 10 people. At 10, Abraham stops and hopes for the best. Conversation over; time to return your tent.
I have to stop here and point out that in our communities today I hear Christians complaining about how wicked our society has become. Often I hear people wonder why God’ wrath has not already fallen. Like Abraham we have already judged. I can’t help but wonder if the verdict is still out or is he simply delaying the destruction? Either way, it helps me understand how important the church is in our communities. We may be the only thing holding back God’s judgment and wrath
Ok, as you know the Angels make it to Sodom where Lot, Abraham's Nephew lives. You are familiar with all the despicable things that happened and clearly the verdict comes in "Guilty as charged" and Judgment is pronounced. Only Lot, his wife and two daughters are to be saved. "4 righteous” that is 6 less then 10! Not enough to save the city. This illustrates that God does have limits to his patients. Yes he is loving. Yes he is forgiving, and Yes he is patient. However, at some point known only to him, He will judge.
I wish to focus on the conversation that the Angel has with Lot as he was getting them ready to leave. It is the next morning and the Angels are telling them to hurry up! There is a question about where they should go. After a brief discussion, Lot requests a certain place and his request is granted. Now, look with me at Gen 19 verse 22 and listen to what the angel says to Lot.
"But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it."
Or put another way "I can't do anything until you are safe" Here it is again, God delaying his wrath for the sake of the righteous.
Here is what I see. For the sake of 10 God was willing to allow that these two cities to continue on with out being destroyed. However, 10 could not be found only 4. This was not enough to stay the judgment and the wrath of God. But God does not destroy the righteous with the wicked. Instead, He made a way of escape. More importantly, He delayed the judgment until the righteous were safe. This was true for both Noah and Lot and I believe it will be the same for the Church today.
Scripture does speaks of an end times Judgment. Revelations is very clear on this point. I can look through history and see what happens to nations who embrace Godlessness. This is visible and obvious to anyone who wants to take the time to look. However, God's judgment does not usually come in full destruction all at once as in Noah's and Lot's day. Most often it comes in degrees little by little as in Jeremiah's day. God brings judgment by degrees hoping that at some point those under judgment will turn to him. This is where we are today as a Nation. We are already being judged. Like you, I am heart sick and have been praying for our nation for many years. Praying for those who do not know God and will be lost on the day of judgment. But more so, I pray for the righteous. They are my greater burden.
I consider myself a Christian, and as such, I am a part of the Bride of Christ, one of the righteous. However, I live in this nation that is growing more and more hostile to the things of God! In so doing they become hostile towards God's People. It is not the wrath of God that I fear; it is the wrath of Man. But even in this I find peace in my mind through my faith in Christ. Confident that he will stand by me especially in times of persecution. To illustrate this I would ask you now to turn your thoughts over to Pharaoh and his reaction to God's commands as given through Moses
We pick up after Moses delivers God's Word to Pharaoh; he becomes angry and decides to teach Moses and his people a lesson.
Exodus 5:6-9 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people: "You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don't reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our God.' Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies."
Pharaoh reaction to God's Command is one of resentment and wrath. As a result, the people of God begin to suffer even more then before.
Exodus 5:13&14 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, "Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw." The Israelite foremen appointed by Pharaoh's slave drivers were beaten and were asked, "Why didn't you meet your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?"
The Israelite foremen go and make an appeal to Pharaoh. He tells them to quit being lazy and sends them away with a feeling of dread. In the next verse I want you to see the domino effect.
Exodus 5: 20-23 When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them,and they said, "May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us." Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all."
The Israelite foremen were actually beaten. Not because they disobeyed God, but because Pharaoh was disobeying God. They in turn went and complained to Moses. Who, in turn, went to complain to God. There is a difference between Judgment and persecution. Whenever the world feels God's Judgment they turn and persecute God's people. It is in this time of persecution that often God's people are hated, beat, and even killed. All because God was putting pressure on Pharaoh to be obedient to his Word. This persecution in turn pointed God's people back to Him. Forcing them to examine their faith and their relationship with God. A testing with fire of sorts. The result will either be a complete collapse of faith or a stronger or more pure faith.
As the old saying goes, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed bed for faith." So I say bring it on! Brave words said from a man behind a computer. The truth is, I am a coward. I know that I can only face persecution if God strengthens me. I say "Bring it on" because I crave the closeness with God that I feel when persecution is upon me. This is why I said that "even in my fear I find peace in my mind through my faith in Christ." In those times I am closest to Him and my faith is strongest. He will give me the ability to stand when and if my time comes. My confidence is not in my courage but in Gods love for me.
One of the best parts of this story is Chapter 6:1 because here we see God react to Moses' cry for help. Check it out!
Exodus 6: 1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country."
I am encouraged by this passage because it says to me that God will defend his people. God is saying to Moses, “Step aside son; let me take care of this.” It says to me that just as God was bigger than Pharaoh, he is also bigger then the pharaohs of today; whatever form they may take.
There is no doubt in my mind that things are going to get a lot worse before Christ returns. It is my belief that some day soon God's full wrath will fall on America and eventually the rest of the world. However, I am also convinced that before it does Christ will make a way for us to escape that wrath. Be it by the rapture or some other way. I am confident that I will see his deliverance. In the mean time I am able to distinguish between God's wrath and man's. In regards to man's wrath Christ advised us to get used to it. To expect it. Paul tells us to "Count it all joy!" I myself expect to die from it, but live through it. For I must die to myself before I can live for Christ.
You’re Brother in Christ