Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” way back in the 1700’s as a visiting preacher. Historians tell us that he emphasized God’s wrath to such a degree that the members of the congregation were clinging to their wooden pews in the fear that they would fall into hell then and there. It may be that your high school English teacher messed up your reading of Edwards’ sermon. If so, you may read it here.
Modern man, it is said, has turned his sermon into “God in the Hands of Angry Sinners!” “God needs to explain Himself — and all the evil in His world!”, they say. We have lost a sense of God’s anger at sin.
What does the Bible say about the WRATH of God? Here are (more than) a few verses to keep in mind:
Psalm 7:11- God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. (KJV). The NIV says “God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day.”
Num. 16:46- “. . . Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.”
Debt. 9:8- “At Horeb you aroused the Lord’s wrath so that He was angry enough to destroy you.”
The Lord will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven.
In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”
For a fire will be kindled by my wrath, one that burns down to the realm of the dead below. It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains.
When Achan son of Zerah was unfaithful in regard to the devoted things, did not wrath come on the whole community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.’”
1 Samuel 28:18
Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today.
2 Chronicles 19:2
Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is on you.
2 Chronicles 32:25
But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 36:16
But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.
Let their own eyes see their destruction; let them drink the cup of the wrath of the Almighty.
He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath,
Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
When you appear for battle, you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace. The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and his fire will consume them.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath.
He unleashed against them his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility— a band of destroying angels.
Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name;
Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.
How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?
If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
So he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.
The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel, declares: “Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes and avenge myself on my enemies.
[ God’s Judgment on Assyria ] “Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!
They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens— the Lord and the weapons of his wrath— to destroy the whole country.
For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely.
According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due.
“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place—on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the crops of your land—and it will burn and not be quenched.
“‘Cut off your hair and throw it away; take up a lament on the barren heights, for the Lord has rejected and abandoned this generation that is under his wrath.
But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath.
I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath.
[ The Cup of God’s Wrath ] This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.
Perhaps they will bring their petition before the Lord and will each turn from their wicked ways, for the anger and wrath pronounced against this people by the Lord are great.”
The Lord has opened his arsenal and brought out the weapons of his wrath, for the Sovereign Lord Almighty has work to do in the land of the Babylonians.
The Lord has given full vent to his wrath; he has poured out his fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion that consumed her foundations.
“Then my anger will cease and my wrath against them will subside, and I will be avenged. And when I have spent my wrath on them, they will know that I the Lord have spoken in my zeal.
“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury.
I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring on you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger.
“‘But the children rebelled against me: They did not follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws, of which I said, “The person who obeys them will live by them,” and they desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness.
I will pour out my wrath on you and breathe out my fiery anger against you; I will deliver you into the hands of brutal men, men skilled in destruction.
As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted inside her, and you will know that I the Lord have poured out my wrath on you.’”
I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I take vengeance on them.’”
Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.
Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.
So in my anger I gave you a king, and in my wrath I took him away.
[ The Lord’s Anger Against Nineveh ] The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies.
Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
That day will be a day of wrath— a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness—
Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath.” In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.
Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.” But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
[ God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity ] The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
1 Thessalonians 1:10
and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 5:9
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!
For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
If you have read all the above verses, my friend, there is a special place in heaven for you. Here are a few takeaways that I see —
1. God is angry with the wicked every day.
2. God’s anger can be “aroused,” can “burn against” sinners, is described as “fierce,” can be “on” someone, can “flare up in a moment,” is described as “his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility.” His wrath “burns like fire.”
3. We read of the “cup of the wrath of the Almighty.”
4. His anger and wrath ought to terrify us!
5. We read that “the Lord will swallow them up in his wrath.”
6. God’s wrath against mankind “brings [Him] praise”!
7. At times God restrains his anger and does not stir up “his full wrath.”
8. We can pray that His wrath would be poured out on nations that do not acknowledge Him.
9. His wrath is as great as the fear that is His due.
10. The hope of the wicked end only in wrath.
And those conclusions are only through the early references in Isaiah. Aren’t you glad for the Son of God who has turned away God’s wrath from you? (to be continued)