This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

The Measure of God's Wrath

Many churches today want to give people a good experience. They want visitors to feel at home. The music is catchy and the sermon upbeat. This is understandable—we want visitors to return and members to stay involved. But if this is all we care about, we will rarely talk about God’s wrath.

Today’s text offers a glimpse of the measure of God’s wrath. Seven angels appear with the last seven plagues that precede the coming of Christ. This is the judgment of the seventh trumpet and the culmination of the seventh seal. It may help to think of the relationship between the seventh seal, the seven trumpets, and the seven plagues as nested. Like Russian dolls, the seventh seal contains the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet contains the angels with the seven bowls of wrath.

The appearance of the seven angels prompts those who have gained victory over the beast by following the Lamb to the point of death to break into song. Notice that those who are protected by the blood of Christ are not horrified at the thought that God’s wrath is about to be completed.

The plagues contained in the seven bowls are more extensive versions of those from the seven trumpets. (They also echo the plagues visited on Egypt in the Exodus.) The beast counters with warfare led by three demonic spirits who perform signs to persuade the kings of the earth to take up arms against the Messiah.

When they gather together at Armageddon, the stage is set for the final war against the Lamb. It will not last long: it involves a shout, an earthquake, and a plague of 100-pound hailstones (vv. 17–21). Instead of repenting, those afflicted by this last judgment will curse God.

Apply the Word

The Bible makes no apologies for God’s wrath (see 16:7). It is the just and holy response to those who oppose His outpouring of grace and mercy and choose instead to follow the lies of Satan. Notice how the angels and martyrs praise God even in the midst of His judgment, for He remains holy, just, and true (16:5–7).

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

Browse Devotions by Date