“They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over those plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.” Revelation 16:9
A lot of people wrestle with the wrath of God. Some would ask how a loving God could pour out His wrath on His own creation, ultimately condemning them to hell. But like the child who tells his disciplining parents that they don’t love him, I think we have to see the whole picture.
Just as clearly as the Scriptures teach that God’s wrath is inescapable, they also teach that God desires to see His rebellious creation lay down their arms and come to Him in repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 1 Timothy 2:4 says, “[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
I think Chris Tomlin captured this thought beautifully in the lyrics of his song White Flag.
The battle rages on
As storms and tempest roar
We cannot win this fight
Inside our rebel hearts
We’re laying down our weapons now
Here on this holy ground
You made a way for peace
Laying your body down
You took our rightful place
This freedom song is marching on
We raise our white flags
We surrender all to you
All for you
We raise our white flag
The war is over
Love has come
Your love has won
God has mercifully exhausted every possible means, by sacrificing His own Son to die, to pay the penalty prescribed for sin. Jesus Christ took our place, facing sin’s wrath and we must understand that when God pours out His wrath it brings grief to His heart. God extends His love and forgiveness to all who will turn from their sin, which has caused this deadly problem, and receive by faith the payment made through His Son’s shed blood. But God will not force His love upon us because He has given us the freedom to choose to embrace that love or to reject it.
Notice our text says, “they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues.” It is the height of stubbornness to look around at the intelligent design of this world and its universe while failing to recognize God’s power to bless obedience and curse rebellion. Stubborn till the end our text says, “They did not repent and give Him glory.”
God’s wrath plays a role in His redemptive purposes and incredibly enough there will be those who refuse His overwhelming mercy revealed in His Son Jesus Christ. This is where the rub comes as it relates to the wrath of God. God who is rich in mercy is also faithful to respond to man’s rebellion and rejection according to His own nature, as well as, His Holy Word giving what the unrepentant have stubbornly insisted on – separation from the One who is the source of everlasting life.
I encourage you today to not be so hung up on the wrath and righteous judgment of a Holy God that you miss your opportunity to repent and fall into the loving embrace of our faithful heavenly Father.