This time of year always reminds me of the Memorial Day Weekend tornado that hit my Northeast Indiana hometown when I was a kid. Spring and summer brought severe weather to the area from time to time. I remember this tornado because it was one of the only tornado warnings that led us to go to our basement for cover. We were often warned about tornadoes in the springtime, but rarely did those warnings result in an actual tornado on the ground anywhere near our house. This one, however, touched down on one of the major thoroughfares in our small city, about five miles away from my house. It was for real, and the sky was as black as I have ever seen it. I remember looking out my front door toward the direction of the tornado before we shuffled down into the basement.
Tornadoes always make me think of the wrath of God. We don’t see any explicit examples of God using tornadoes in the Bible as a demonstration of His wrath, but we see plenty of examples of Him demonstrating His lordship over creation by how He pours out His wrath on the rebellious. Revelation 15–16 gives us some of the clearest biblical examples this.
In chapter 15, John describes a vision in which he sees a group of seven angels with the last seven plagues, through which the wrath of God will be completed (v.1). In addition to those angels, John sees “those who had won the victory over the beast… standing on the sea of glass with harps from God” (v.2). They sang a song to God, telling of His holiness and declaring that all nations will one day come and worship Him. Then out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues in seven bowls, representing the ways God would pour out His wrath on the wicked for a final time.
The message of chapter 16 is clear: those who worship anyone but Yahweh will experience the wrath of God. One day, when His wrath is complete, “all the nations will come and worship before [Him]” when His righteous acts are revealed (v.4).
God’s righteous wrath displays His majesty and power, and He justly pours it out on all who have rebelled against Him in their worship of other gods. Inherent in each one of us is the desire to worship, but we are too easily satisfied by worshiping something or someone other than God. This sin separates us from the Lord, and it condemns us to experience His wrath instead.
But the story doesn’t end there.
God’s majesty is also on display in the tremendous sacrificial love He has shown us in the sacrifice of His Son. By sending His Son to live the perfect life we couldn’t live, die the death we deserve to die, and rise from the dead, God’s majesty is displayed in His gracious deliverance of His people. When we trust God and believe that our salvation relies completely on the finished work of Christ and not our future obedience, we are rescued from the wrath of God and freed to live in His presence. Thanks be to God!
Written by Chris Martin