Today’s Reading: Revelation 14-5.
(Context: Chapter 14 speaks of the 144,000 Jews set-apart and saved from death during the Tribulation. Chapter 15 speaks of the final sequence of wrath in the Tribulation, before the 2nd Coming of Christ at Armageddon.)
As I sit here in my house in Camiri, Bolivia, lightning is crashing onto the hot earth and thunder is ripping through the air. Seeing lightning, and listening to the resounding boom of it’s blast is something that conjures up a strange combination of fear and elation, of frailty and glory.
The illustration is fitting when reading Revelation 15, where the final and greatest blow of God’s wrath is in the process of falling on the earth and those who will voluntarily fall under the power of Antichrist. As such terrible wrath and destruction falls upon the earth, see what those in heaven will say:
And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:2-4)
Looking at the context and word choice, the song clearly glorifies God for His wrath, power, and justice.
But why? Why do we glorify God for His wrath? One of the hardest questions is how God can continue being love while sending wrath on the world. The greatest question that coincides with this is: How can a God of love send people to hell?
On a personal level, this is the hardest question for me to answer. There is no clear cut answer, but these are the things I do know:
1. I hate the idea of hell, but hell exists.
2. God is love, and His love is revealed even while He sends the deserving to hell.
3. No one deserves anything but hell. The incarnation and cross of Christ is our only freedom from it.
4. In heaven, we will glorify God for sending the deserving to hell.
These are mind-boggling truths. Jonathan Edwards (the famous preacher of the now-infamous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” of the 1700’s) once expressed how much he expressed the doctrine of hell. He hated it more than any other doctrine, yet he did not stop believing in it. Postmodernism says you can choose what to believe, but the seekers of truth don’t seek what to believe, but they believe what is true. Jonathan Edwards preached about hell, not because he liked it, but because he knew it existed and didn’t want anyone to go there.
Why can’t we understand why God deserves glory for sending people to hell? Why can’t we understand how God will be loving in destroying 50% (or so) of the world’s population during the Tribulation?
Because we are still sinners, and we have an affinity and love for it. We don’t understand sin and the awful destructiveness of it in this world. We have never seen a world without it, therefore we don’t think it’s “that bad”. God rightly doesn’t agree!
One day we will understand and we will glorify God at the top of our lungs for being the God of wrath!