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Homer Dewayne Shappley
Why is there so much “wrath of God” in Revelation?
Esteemed reader, with regard to “Revelation,” the last book of the Bible, is it possible you would say “Amen” to the following expressions that sum up, more or less, what a significant number of people feel who have read a part or all of that book authored by God and recorded by the apostle John?
“I don’t like Revelation! Once I tried to read and understand it, but no way! So much wrath of God, so much violence and blood, greatly offends and depresses me. I am no longer interested in reading articles or commentaries on Revelation, nor do I care to watch videos about it. All that would be a waste of my time.”
Well, to tell the truth, this matter is also profoundly disquieting to me. To the extreme that, though I have read and studied Revelation many, many times, I decided to read through it once more and make a list of all the verses where the exact phrase “wrath of God” appears, as well as all the rest where his “wrath” is manifested in one way or another.
I discovered that, in my opinion, there is not so very, very much DIVINE WRATH as there might appear to be at a summary reading. By no means are flames of wrath shooting out from every chapter and verse of the book as if the whole were on fire. On the contrary, manifestations of the “wrath of God” are limited to 125 of the 404 verses that Revelation has. That is, to approximately 31% of the book.
Now then, to form an even more complete and objective perspective of the “wrath” that God himself openly affirms to keenly feel in certain situations and times defined by him in the book of Revelation (of which he is the original author, according to Revelation 1:1), I also made a list of all the verses that merit being categorized as “positive, encouraging, inspiring, that fill the open mind and soul with a healthy, pure hope of a “coming world” infinitely better than this one (Hebrews 2:3), that assure the eventual definitive, eternal triumph of the GOOD and JUST over the EVIL and UNJUST, of RIGHT over WRONG, of TRUTH over UNTRUTH.”
I found they number 197 verses, that is, 49% of the 404 that Revelation has. Which is 75 more verses than the 125 that name and describe the “wrath of God.”
Above, left. This artistic creation is interpreted as an abstract representation, not to be taken literally at all, of the emerging vast, perfect, eternal, exceedingly beautiful “new heavens and a new earth” that figure both in Revelation (chapters 21 and 22) and other texts of the New Testament such as 2 Peter 3:10-13. Counterpoint to the present material earth and heavens, which, though with a beauty that greatly impresses perhaps most human beings, have their “dark side” on every level of existence. For example, natural dangers and disasters. For human beings and other physical life forms: Sicknesses, accidents, and death.
Following is a LIST of the 125 verses of Revelation
that name and describe “the wrath of God.”
First, nine verses where the phrase “wrath of God,” or very similar ones, are found.
14:9-11. “Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, ‘Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, they will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
14:19-20. “So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and he threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about two hundred miles.”
15:1; 15:5-8; 16:1. “Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.”
16:19. “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. God remembered great Babylon and gave her the wine cup of the fury of his wrath.”
19:15. “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.”
Then, the remaining 116 verses where actions and impacts attributable to “the wrath of God” are found.
1:7. Lamentation of the tribes of the
earth at the Second Coming of
2:20-23. The Son of God says he will
strike dead the spiritual children
of “that woman Jezebel.”
8:5. The Seventh Seal
8:7. The First Trumpet
8:8-9. The Second Trumpet
8:10-11. The Third Trumpet
8:12. The Fourth Trumpet
9:1-21. The Fifth Trumpet
The First Woe
11:5-6. Powers of the Two Witnesses
11:13. A great earthquake
11:18-19. The Seventh Trumpet
12:7-9. War in heaven
16:2-21. The Seven Cups of the wrath
18:1-24. The wrath of God against Babylon the Great
19:1-3. Judgments and vengeance against the Great Whore
19:11-21. The armies of heaven battle the deceived nations, the beast, and the false prophet.
20:7-10. The battle of nations once again deceived by Satan against the Camp of the saints.
20:11-15. The White Throne judgment
22:18-19. Plagues for any who would add to or take from the words of Revelation.
Following is a LIST of 197 verses of Revelation that are “positive, encouraging, inspiring, that fill the receptive mind and soul with healthy, pure hope, that assure the eventual definitive, eternal triumph of the GOOD and JUST over the EVIL and UNJUST, of RIGHT over WRONG. The content of the verses is not identified.
1:1-3, 4-6, 8-20
2:2-3, 6-7, 8-9, 11-13, 17-24, 29
3:4-6, 7-14, 19-22
Additional questions and answers about “the wrath of God” in Revelation may be explored. For example:
To what categories of human beings is the wrath of God directed?
When and where is the fulminating power of the wrath of God manifested?
If God is a totally perfect Being, why does he allow himself to become angry to the extreme of pouring his wrath “unmixed into the cup of his anger,” as wine “into the great winepress of the wrath of God,” so much so that blood flows from the winepress “as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about two hundred miles?” Does he not repeatedly censure anger in the human beings he created as a weakness and serious character defect?
Text and document composition by Homer Dewayne Shappley
Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment. Revelation for the 21st Century. Extensive, original commentary by Homer Dewayne Shappley. List, with links, of the components available.
Prophecies of the Bible in addition to Revelation