Sunday Sermon: ‘The Wrath That is to Come’



1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

One of the signs of true salvation is an eager expectation of the return of Jesus Christ. The way Paul wrote this indicates that their waiting for Christ’s return impacted the way they lived. They did not just believe that Christ would return some day. They believed that Christ could return this very day and therefore they sought live for Him each and every day.

Their anticipation of Christ’s soon return affected their lives in at least three ways:

1) It caused them to live separated lives

2) It motivated them to serve God

3) It encouraged them when times were bad

As we continue our study in End Time Events, I want to direct our attention this morning to what Paul described as ‘the wrath that is to come.’

I. The Wrath That is to Come

For years many have declared that “their God” (as though each of us could have our own version of God), is too loving to ever punish someone or send someone to hell.

They are correct to recognize that God is loving and that it is never His desire to send someone to hell. Peter writes – “God is not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) What they fail to realize is that God has made a way for us to be delivered from this terrible punishment. Jesus said – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36) It’s all about our relationship with Jesus Christ.

A. Who is God and What is He Like?

Someone who knew God very well was the man called Moses. The Bible says that God spoke to Moses “as a man speaks to his friend.” (see Exodus 33:11) On one occasion Moses made a very special request of God. “Show me your glory.” In other words, “I love you so much that I want to know more about You. I want to see who You really are.”

What would you expect to see if God revealed to you His glory? Lightning? Thunder? A brilliant light? Obviously something that is incredibly awesome. Consider how God responded to Moses’ request.

Exodus 33:18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.19 And He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee…”

God said – “I will reveal to you My glory by allowing you to see My goodness.”

Exodus 34:5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty…”

God revealed to Moses two very important aspects of His nature:

1) God desires to show us mercy and grace

2) God demands justice  (What is right or correct)

God offers mercy and grace to those who will come to Him for His salvation. But He also promises divine punishment for those who won’t.

B. The Wrath That is to Come

Paul speaks of ‘the wrath that is to come.’ Is there a day of wrath and judgment coming?

The Bible refers to this future wrath as ‘the Day of the Lord.’ The Day of the Lord is not a single day, but rather a time period that stretches from the beginning of the Tribulation Period until after God’s Great White Throne Judgment. You might say that it’s the longest ‘day’ in history. It extends over 1,000 years! What is the Day of the Lord? It’s the time period when God makes things right in this sinful world.

A major part of the Day of the Lord is the time period known as the Tribulation. Listen to how Jesus describes the Tribulation Period.

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars…For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places… the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven… All these are only the beginning of sorrows… For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh could survive… (Matthew 24 author’s translation)

This will be the worst time in the history of the world. The word ‘tribulation’ means: means: {anguish, trouble, or affliction}. The Tribulation Period is a time of great trouble and anguish for a world that continues to rebel against God and refuses to receive His salvation and forgiveness.

1. A Day of Goriness

What will this day of wrath be like? Let’s do a quick survey of some of the major events of the Tribulation Period?

a. A Time of Silence 

Revelation 8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Most Sunday mornings this sanctuary is filled with talk and laughter just before the service begins. There will be a million different conversations going on at the same time. But often, when you see me walk up to the platform, you suddenly become silent. Why do you become silent? It’s not because I’m someone special. It’s because you are anticipating the beginning of the service.

At some point near the middle of the Tribulation Period, there will be silence in heaven. Perhaps since God first created the angels there has never been total silence in heaven. The Bible teaches us that there are angels who continuously cry out worship to God concerning His majesty and holiness. But at this moment, even these worshiping angels will become silent in anticipation of what is about to happen.

b. The Prayers of the Saints

Revelation 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

Every time you and I have prayed – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”, God has heard that prayer and He intends to answer it. When will God answer it? During the Day of the Lord? How will God answer it? By punishing those who have rejected His love and by rewarding those who have accepted it.

c. Bowls of Wrath and Trumpets of Judgment

Revelation 8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. 8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

It will seem like the world is coming apart and it is. In addition, notice what else is going to happen.

Revelation 15:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

It is the wrath part of the Tribulation Period that troubles people. The Bible says that it will be a time period filled up with the wrath of God. Why will God be so wrathful? Consider what Paul tells us in the book of Romans.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20 NIV)

This is not God having a bad hair day. This is not God waking up on the wrong side of the bed. This is God dealing with those who have willfully rejected His love.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:21, 32 NIV)

What will these bowls of wrath contain? Scripture tells us that they will contain things such as the oceans being turned into blood and stars falling from the sky. Scripture also teaches us that it will involve the releasing of an army of demons that will be as thick as smoke and who will have the power to sting men like scorpions and cause them to suffer greatly.

2. A Day of Grace

In the midst of all of this horribleness is hope. Scripture teaches us that God will have evangelists who will be going throughout the world, preaching the gospel and calling men to receive God’s salvation.

Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.  

a. Millions will be saved during the Tribulation

b. Millions won’t

Revelation 9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

For many, God’s judgment will only make their hearts harder. The Bible says that rather than turning to God and receiving His forgiveness, they will cry for the rocks to hide them from His wrath. (see Rev 6:15-17)

 II. God’s Deliverance From the Wrath That is to Come

A. Will There Be a Day of Judgment?

Some scoff at the notion of a day of judgment. Consider what Peter wrote-

2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

The word ‘scoff’ means to mock or to make little of something. It means to ‘trifle with the truth.’ It may sound strange, but the closer we come to the day of judgment, the more people are going to turn away from God’s mercy and grace. The Bible says that in the last days, men’s hearts will become harder.

Yet God will continue right up to the very end to offer them His forgiveness and salvation.

8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God is delaying His judgment for one reason – He is giving men an opportunity to be saved before it’s too late. Yet judgment will eventually come.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Peter tells us three important truths about the wrath that is to come:

1. It Will Come Surely

2. It Will Come Suddenly

3. It Will Come Severely

B. The Promise of Deliverance

I conclude with the same passage I used to begin.

1 Thessalonians 10:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

God has made a way for us to be delivered from the wrath that is to come. That deliverance is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus said-

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God sent His Son to this earth to become a man so that as a man He could die for the sins of mankind. When Jesus died on the cross, He received the wrath that you and I deserve.

Peter reminds us of another day when God judged the world. The Bible says that centuries ago there was a time when all men thought about was something that was evil. Though God tried to warn them of what was coming, they mocked Him. Yet there was one man named Noah whom the Bible says was righteous and sought to live blameless before God. God told Noah to build a great boat called an ark. God’s purpose for the ark was to preserve a male and female of every specie upon the earth. In addition, God’s purpose for the ark was to protect Noah and his family from the destruction that was to come.

That ark was a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just like Noah entered the ark and was protected from the storm, so all those who trust in Jesus Christ will be protected from the storm of God’s judgment and wrath.

Are you in the ark of God’s salvation? Have you ever received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? The storm is coming my friend and only those who are in the will be safe.

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