Revelation 6: The Wrath of the Lamb

In Revelation Articles

When my son Caleb was just beginning to talk, he toddled after me to watch as I sawed and hammered together some raised garden beds. The loud hammering scared him just a little so he watched from a distance and closed his eyes every time the hammer pounded a nail. “BAM! BAM! BAM!” went the hammer against the nail until suddenly the sound changed to the dull “thud” of a hammer smashing a finger. As I jumped to my feet, holding my finger in pain, Caleb came out of hiding from behind the tree. Running up to me with scorn on his face he hit my arm and said, “Daddy, say ouch! Daddy, say ouch!” He was scolding me for not saying the word “ouch” that in his short life he had come to associate with sudden and severe pain.

Children learn language mainly by hearing words as they are used in context. We never sat Caleb down as a toddler and formally explained the meaning of the word “ouch.” He learned to understand the meaning of this word by associating it with the painful response to a pricked finger or a stubbed toe. And, on this occasion, even though my finger throbbed with pain, I couldn’t help but laugh at his insistence and said, “Yes, Caleb – ‘ouch!’”

When we seek to understand the meaning of a concept or word in the bible, one of the most helpful methods of interpretation is to see how that concept or word is used in context throughout the entirety of scripture. In other words, if we really believe that the bible consists of more than a random collection of 66 writings of “good literature” that just happened to be compiled together as one book, we should use the bible as a whole to define and interpret key concepts.

 

God’s Wrath in Revelation

The subject of “God’s wrath” is a good example of the need to use this approach. To illustrate this point, let’s imagine that our “bible” consisted only of the book of Revelation and that everything we know about God in written form was found only in those 22 chapters.

The book of Revelation has two main non-human actors, symbolically represented by a Lamb and a beast. Both the Lamb and the beast exhibit a form of wrath. For example, the people call “to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb’” (Rev 6:16 NRSV). And, in response to “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 sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” (Rev 14:9-10 NRSV). And finally, there is a description of a final outpouring of God’s wrath as the command goes out to seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” (Rev 16:1 NRSV)

But the beast also has wrath. After the beast (dragon) was thrown from heaven to the earth (Rev 12:9) the warning is given, “woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Rev 12:12 NRSV)

How are we to understand what the word “wrath” means in these examples? Is the wrath of the Lamb any different than the wrath of the beast? Should we consult the dictionary? According to dictionary.com, wrath means:

  1. strong, stern or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation; ire.
  2. vengeance or punishment as the consequence of anger.

If the dictionary is as far as we are willing to go in our search to understand the essence of God’s wrath, we will arrive at a very sad conclusion. Look once again at the words that this approach will lead us to associate with a dimension of God’s character: stern, fierce, deeply resentful indignation, ire, and vengeance or punishment as the consequence of anger. Did Jesus reveal God to be this way?

Yet, even if we only had the context of the book of Revelation, there are strong hints that the Lamb’s wrath does not fit the description that is given in dictionary.com. First of all, are lambs known for having a type of “wrath” that we can identify with? This description might work for other ferocious beasts, but a cute little lamb having wrath? I can imagine that a scary movie might have the title, “The Wrath of the Killer Crocodile” but somehow I don’t think that Hollywood will ever produce a movie about the fierce vengeance of a lamb. The imagery just doesn’t fit.

We could go even further than that, however, for the Lamb in Revelation is not merely a Lamb, but a “slaughtered Lamb” (Rev 5:6, 9, 12; 13:8). Is the designation “slaughtered Lamb” merely so that we can make the proper identification (“Oh, this symbol refers to Jesus”) or is this also meant to reveal something about the character of the One who is symbolized as a Lamb? For many, there is a deep significance to the term “slaughtered Lamb” that is meant to suggest something about the character of God and that “Its having been slaughtered is an essential part of its identity” (1)

“God, the ruler of the universe, has functionally defined his rule with this act in Jesus. Revelation’s Christology, like New Testament Christology generally, is not a response to the question, ‘Who is Jesus?’ but ‘Who is God?’ Jesus does not replace God here or anywhere else in Revelation. God rules, but God had definitively manifested his rule in Jesus, who turned out not to be the Lion who devoured our enemies but [rather] the Lamb who was slain.” (2)

The fact that the Lamb is slaughtered also reveals God’s methods and “the way God rules the world.” (3) “Christ and the saints conquer by dying; Satan and the powers of evil by physical force.” (4) God as a slaughtered Lamb means that God’s “…omnipotence is not to be understood as the power of unlimited coercion, but as the power of infinite persuasion, the invincible power of self-negating, self-sacrificial love.” (5) Thus, even within the pages of Revelation we are led to consider that the wrath of a Lamb that would allow Itself to be violently slaughtered must be different than that of the beast.

Revelation also goes to great lengths to describe the distinguishing features of the contending powers. The Lamb is characterized as “Faithful and True” (Rev 19:11 NRSV) and as One who non-coercively says, “I am standing at the door, knocking” (Rev 3:20 NRSV). The Lamb is the Groom in Revelation who comes to marry His bride (Rev 21:2) and to wipe away all her tears (Rev 7:17).

The beast, on the other hand, is painted in the darkest terms possible. The beast is given the ominous titles, “Death and Hades”, “The great dragon”, “that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil (diabolos) and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev 6:8, 12:9 NRSV). Sigve Tonstad has noted that “the unpretentious word ‘mudslinger’ is a faithful translation of the Greek ‘diabolos’ and an apt description of the character.” (6) The beast does not knock; he forcibly breaks the door down. “It forced the earth and all who live on it to worship the first beast…The beast forced all the people…to have a mark placed on their right hands or on their forehead” (Rev 13:12, 16 GNB). Even for his loyal subjects, the beast wipes no tears but rather sends locusts that torture (Rev 9:5).

If we had only the book of Revelation to understand the difference between God’s wrath and Satan’s wrath, there are strong clues that should suggest to us that their wrath is of a very different nature. But fortunately, our bible consists not of one book, but 66. To really come to understand the true nature of God’s wrath, we need to consider every example that is given to us about what this wrath looks like in action and then to construct a model that incorporates all of the evidence.

 

God’s Wrath in the Books of Moses

There is an expression that runs through the entire Old Testament that is again and again associated with God’s wrath or anger. This expression reaches its climax in the dying words of Jesus, which was a quote from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Psalm 22:1 GNB) There are many variations or translations of this that have essentially the same meaning. Why have you forsaken me? Why have you given me up? Why have you handed me over?

There are dozens of times that these expressions are used in the Old Testament in the context of God’s wrath or anger. It is pervasive, redundant and begins in the books of Moses:

“My anger will flame up like fire and burn everything on earth. It will reach to the world below and consume the roots of the mountains. I will bring on them endless disasters and use all my arrows against them…They fail to see why they were defeated; they cannot understand what happened. Why were a thousand defeated by one, and ten thousand by only two? The Lord, their God, had abandonedthem; their mighty God had given them up” (Deuteronomy 32:22, 23, 29, 30 GNB).

“When that happens, I will become angry with them; I will abandon them, and they will be destroyed. Many terrible disasters will come upon them, and then they will realize that these things are happening to them because I, their God, am no longer with them.” (Deuteronomy 31:17 GNB)

The description is clear and concise, “I will become angry with them,” and the result is that “I will abandon them” and “I…am no longer with them.”

But what does this really mean? Superficially, this description might not convey the picture of a loving God. What kind of a father gets angry and then abandons his children? We need specific illustrations to see what this looks like. Thankfully, the bible provides these for us in great numbers.

 

The Philistine capture of the covenant box

During the time of the Judges of Israel, God’s people continually abandoned Him and suffered the horrible consequences of slavery at the hands of other nations. During the early years of the judge Samuel, the evil sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, plotted with the people to bring the Ark of the Covenant to battle against the Philistines. This was not an act of faith in God to take care of them, but rather they used the Covenant Box as a good luck charm. God was not with them and the Covenant Box was captured by the Philistines. When this story is told in Psalm 78, God is described as “angry”, but notice very carefully what God actually did:

“They angered him with their heathen places of worship, and with their idols they made him furious. God was angry when he saw it, so he rejected his people completely. He abandoned his tent in Shiloh, the home where he had lived among us. He allowed our enemies to capture the Covenant Box, the symbol of his power and glory.” (Psalm 78:58-61 GNB)

In this example we see that God’s anger was manifested as “abandoning” His people and “allowing” the Philistines to conquer them and to capture the Covenant Box.

 

God’s Wrath and the Assyrian Captivity

During the time of Solomon, Israel was a nation that was greatly admired. World leaders such as the Queen of Sheba traveled a great distance to experience Solomon’s wisdom and to see the riches of Israel. But then everything fell apart. Solomon began to worship other gods and when his son Rehoboam became king, the nation split. Israel now consisted of 10 northern tribes led first by Jeroboam and then by a succession of kings, all bad – some very bad. Meanwhile, Judah and the smaller tribe Benjamin joined together in the south led by Rehoboam and then by a succession of kings that were sometimes loyal to God, but frequently disloyal.

In the two hundred years from Rehoboam to the Assyrian captivity, God sent prophet after prophet to Israel. For the most part, this message was rejected, but yet God’s efforts to reach them seemed to intensify through the messages of Isaiah and Hosea. Finally, in order to make the startling point that God still loved his rebellious people, even in their unfaithfulness, God asked Hosea to marry a woman who would be unfaithful. He then asked Hosea to pursue her, even in her prostitution, “You must love her just as I still love the people of Israel” (Hos 3:1 GNB).

It’s remarkable to consider that God, through the prophet Hosea, is essentially kneeling to plead with his prostitute wife to come home again. But these were hardened rebels that God was trying to reach and so He had no choice but to also speak loudly and in a language they could understand. We might be offended at some of God’s violent words we are about to read in Hosea, but sometimes scary words are the only things that can reach a scary people, “The people of Israel are as stubborn as mules. How can I feed them like lambs in a meadow?” (Hos 4:16 GNB)

And so, God comes not only as a lover in Hosea, but also as an angry Lion that comes to attack:

“I will attack the people of Israel and Judah like a lion. I myself will tear them to pieces and then leave them. When I drag them off, no one will be able to save them. I will abandon my people until they have suffered enough for their sins and come looking for me. Perhaps in their suffering they will try to find me” (Hos 5:14, 15 GNB).

Does God really attack his people and tear them apart like an angry lion? That description was to get the attention of all the stubborn mules. If we take this passage as a whole, we see that God is warning His people that they are about to be abandoned and to suffer unspeakable consequences, “When I abandon these people, terrible things will happen to them” (Hos 9:12 GNB). God is hoping that “perhaps in their suffering” and separation from Him that they will see how foolish it was to leave His side and then return to Him.

But of course, the 10 northern tribes were taken into captivity, lost forever and never to return.  It is difficult not to hear the tears in God’s voice as he watches his children abandon him:

“They insist on turning away from me. They will cry out because of the yoke that is on them, but not one will lift it from them. How can I give you up, Israel? How can I abandon you?” (Hos 11:7, 8 GNB)

In this sad story, we see the wrath of God in action, but at the same time, we are allowed to glimpse the face of God. Is God’s face “stern or fierce” as He pours out His wrath? Hosea paints the picture of a God with tears on His face saying, “How can I give you up, Israel? How can I abandon you?” The Message Bible concludes this passage, “I can’t bear to even think such thoughts. My insides churn in protest” (Hos 11:8).

 

Babylonian captivity

Less than two hundred years later, the people of Judah progressively rebelled, just as Israel had. Once again, God sent prophet after prophet to turn them back. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, lived during this awful time leading up to the captivity and he described the complete rebellion and distrust that the people had for their Creator. Jeremiah makes the strong case that the reason for their pain and suffering is not that God is directly punishing them, but that they have abandoned Him and are reaping the consequences:

“You have brought this on yourself by abandoning the LORD your God when he led you on his way… Your own wickedness will correct you, and your unfaithful ways will punish you. You should know and see how evil and bitter it is for you if you abandon the LORD your God…” (Jer 2:17-19 GNB).

“Judah, you have brought this on yourself by the way you have lived and by the things you have done. Your sin has caused this suffering; it has stabbed you through the heart” (Jer 4:18 GNB).

Living apart from God has deadly consequences. Sin is inherently destructive.

God’s methods of love and discipline had failed to keep these people from leaving His side. What is God to do? His people have told him to take a hike. Get lost. And so His choice is really one of two things. He can either become the puppet master and say, “You were free to rebel to a certain point, but now I am taking control. You are no longer free. I am going to control your life and you will obey.” Or, God can grant freedom to his people – freedom even to completely leave His side. What is the more loving thing to do?

“The LORD says, ‘I have abandoned Israel; I have rejected my chosen nation. I have given the people I love into the power of their enemies’” (Jer 12:7 GNB).

The essence of God’s wrath is that He gives people the freedom to leave his side. God refuses to become the puppet master. But is this really the most loving thing for a God of love to do?

Let’s say that someone wants to defy the law of gravity and jump off a cliff. Should God say, “No, you’re not free to experience that; I’ll suspend the law of gravity for you and you’ll have a soft landing.”?

Or what about an individual who slowly begins to drink more alcohol? On his way to becoming an alcoholic, should God intervene by forcibly restricting his freedom to drink? Or at least, should God take away his freedom to drive? Or, if God allows him to drive should He ensure that if the man does have an accident, that no one will be hurt? Or, should God make sure that only “bad people” will be hurt when he drives under the influence? Do we prefer a God who would micromanage and manipulate the world in this way?

Let’s imagine God as He watches one of his children develop a warped picture that “god” is a severe and angry tyrant. God intervenes by every means possible in that person’s life – He pulls out all the stops, as He always does – but should He over-ride that mans free will in order to prevent him from developing a satanic picture of God?

What if that man decided to act on it, and actually came to the conclusion that his god would be very pleased if he flew a plane loaded with passengers into one of the trade towers in New York? Should God limit his freedom and prevent him from acting on his warped picture of God? Or should God intervene and make sure that only bad people got on those planes on that day?

This is the dilemma that God is faced with every day. If God is really a God of freedom, He must give His children the possibility to reject Him and to make bad choices. To respect free will, God has no choice but to allow the natural consequences of leaving His side to occur – consequences which are devastating to everyone around them, even those who are loyal to God.

As the people of Judah rejected the final message from God, the book of Jeremiah contains some of the clearest description of God’s wrath in the entire Old Testament.

“I will fight against you with all my might, my anger, my wrath, and my fury. I will kill everyone living in this city; people and animals alike will die of a terrible disease…. Anyone who stays in the city will be killed in war or by starvation or disease…It will be given over to the king of Babylonia, and he will burn it to the ground. I, the LORD, have spoken.” (Jer 21:5, 6, 10 GNB)

Although God thunders that in His wrath He will personally “kill everyone living in this city,” He then clarifies that “It will be given over” and that it is the king of Babylonia that will burn the city to the ground, not God.

The relationship between God’s anger and His abandoning the people cannot be overlooked in Jeremiah, “The LORD has abandoned his people like a lion that leaves its cave. The horrors of war and the LORD’s fierce anger have turned the country into a desert” (Jer 25:38 GNB).

God’s fierce anger is his sadly abandoning his children when they tell him to get lost. Although God said very clearly that in his anger He would punish and that He would burn the city down, the reality is that, “I, the LORD, will hand this city over to the king of Babylonia, and he will burn it down (Jer 34:2 GNB).

In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah writes:

“The Lord in his anger has covered Zion with darkness. Its heavenly splendor he has turned into ruins. On the day of his anger he abandoned even his temple…Why have you abandoned us so long? Will you ever remember us again? Bring us back to you, LORD! Bring us back! Restore our ancient glory. Or have you rejected us forever? Is there no limit to your anger?” (Lam 2:1, 5:20-22 GNB)

God’s wrath is intimately linked to human freedom and His refusal to manipulatively control those who reject Him. What we see in example after example in the history of Israel, is God exhausting every resource to reach His people until finally He could do no more than to grant their wish to follow other gods and to suffer the consequences, “Very well, then, I will give you freedom: the freedom to die by war, disease, and starvation” (Jer 34:17 GNB).

Ezekiel also lived at the same time as Jeremiah and had the same message of warning to Jerusalem:

“You will feel my anger when I turn it loose on you like a blazing fire…And I will hand you over to brutal men, experts at destruction” (Eze 21:31 GNB).

We won’t read so much of the evidence about this in Ezekiel, but in this book God even warned that in his anger he would kindle the fire and stoke the flames that burned Jerusalem down (Eze 22). But once again, what actually happened? Did God really stoke the fire? Ezekiel goes on to clarify the true meaning of God’s anger which is removal of protection from those who want God to leave them alone, “I will hand you over to other nations who will rob you and plunder you” (Eze 25:7 GNB).

The historical record shows that God did not lay a hand on his people. God respected the free-will choice of His rebellious children and allowed them to suffer the consequences. The Babylonians burned down Jerusalem, not God, “The king killed the young men of Judah even in the Temple. He had no mercy on anyone, young or old, man or woman, sick or healthy. God handed them all over to him” (2 Chron 36:17 GNB).

 

God’s Wrath in the Writings of Paul

Just as the Old Testament prophets linked God’s wrath with the most devastating events of Israel’s history such as the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, Paul would also associate God’s wrath with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet because he cried over the refusal of his people to turn to God. Likewise, Paul also wept over his people:

“I am speaking the truth; I belong to Christ and I do not lie. My conscience, ruled by the Holy Spirit, also assures me that I am not lying when I say how great is my sorrow, how endless the pain in my heart for my people, my own flesh and blood! For their sake I could wish that I myself were under God’s curse and separated from Christ” (Rom 9:1-4 GNB).

But Paul wasn’t the only one that wept over the Jews. We considered how God, in the book of Hosea, wept over his people as they went into the Assyrian captivity, “How can I give you up, Israel? How can I abandon you?” (Hosea 11:8 GNB) But it’s almost as if we have a difficult time believing that the Almighty One is the kind of Person that would cry over His lost children. And so, God put skin on and wept:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!” (Mat 23:37 GNB)

God’s people has so hardened their hearts against Him that they could even look Him in the eyes and accuse Him of being on the devil’s side (Mat 12:24). God could do no more for them and so, in His “anger,” He handed them over. Paul would describe it this way, “In this way they have brought to completion all the sins they have always committed. And now God’s anger has at last come down on them!” (1 Thess 2:14-16 GNB). Once again though, we need to ask the question, “What actually happened?” Who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD? The Romans burned down Jerusalem, not God, but yet it is described as an act of God’s anger.

I suppose that one could argue, “How do you know that this is what Paul had in mind when he spoke of God’s anger?” Paul opens the book of Romans by summarizing all of the Old Testament descriptions of God’s wrath that we have just considered, “God’s anger is revealed from heaven against all the sin and evil of the people whose evil ways prevent the truth from being known. God punishes them, because what can be known about God is plain to them, for God himself made it plain” (Rom 1:18, 19 GNB).

The subject of Romans 1 is God’s anger and the way in which God punishes. So that we don’t miss the point, three times Paul repeats the familiar Old Testament echoes on this subject:

“They say they are wise, but they are fools; instead of worshiping the immortal God, they worship images made to look like mortals or birds or animals or reptiles. And so God has given those peopleover to do the filthy things their hearts desire, and they do shameful things with each other. They exchange the truth about God for a lie; they worship and serve what God has created instead of the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever! Amen. Because they do this, God has given them over to shameful passions….Because those people refuse to keep in mind the true knowledge about God, he has given them over to corrupted minds, so that they do the things that they should not do” (Romans 1:22-26,28 GNB).

Paul is referring to all of the Old Testament descriptions that associate God’s anger with “giving them over.”

 

The Wrath of the Lamb

We have seen that the bible includes specific example after example that defines God’s wrath as handing over His children to the consequences of their foolish choice. Yet despite all of this, we still have a hard time viewing sin as the destroyer and punisher, God as the protector and healer. Certainly the vast majority of Christians view God as the destroyer and punisher in the final events of human history. On this subject, the Cross of Christ provides the clearest answer.

We often say thing such as “Jesus took the punishment that should have been ours.” “Jesus took our sins upon Himself.” “Jesus suffered the wrath of God so that I don’t have to.” If these words reflect some aspect of reality, shouldn’t the death of Jesus provide us with the clearest evidence about how God is involved in the final death of sin and sinners? What really happened at the Cross and how was the Father involved in Jesus’ death?

The prophet Isaiah describes that sin punished Jesus, not the Father:

“He was hated and rejected; his life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering. No one wanted to look at him. We despised him and said, ‘He is a nobody!’ He suffered and endured great pain for us, but we thought his suffering was punishment from God. He was wounded and crushed because of our sins; by taking our punishment, he made us completely well.” (Isaiah 53:1-5 CEV)

“We thought that his suffering was punishment from God.” Many have understood that the Father punished His Son on the Cross, just as He will punish those in the end who will not listen to His voice. The reality is that sin is what punished Jesus, not God. Sin, by its very nature, causes separation between us and God – not because God leaves, but because we leave.

Sin, which is a rebellious and distrustful attitude toward God, separates us from His loving and protecting arms and is intrinsically destructive. Sin pays the wage, not God. The anguish and sorrow of Jesus, which began really in the garden of Gethsemane, culminated with the words, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46 GW)

“Why have you given me up? Why have you handed me over? Why have you abandoned me?”

These are the very same words we have associated again and again with the separation of God from his rebellious children. The Father did not kill his Son at the Cross. At the cross we see the full result of separation that sin causes between us and our God. It’s true that the wages of sin is death – but sin is ultimately what pays the wage. The Cross proves this to be true. Jesus Christ, who lived every moment in loving harmony with His Father, experienced the sense of withdrawal from His Father’s love, acceptance and protection. Evil humans and satanic forces ravaged the Son of God.

We could correctly say that the wrath of God fell upon Christ if we understand that the biblical concept of God’s wrath is not to be punished by God, but rather to be forsaken, abandoned, and given up. Paul would concisely describe Jesus’ death in this way, “Because of our sins he was given over to die…” (Romans 4:25 GNB)

One description of the cross can actually make us afraid of the Father (the “real” God) who killed his Son. No! The One on the Cross was God in human form showing us the horrifying nature of the sin problem. The Cross should make us afraid of sin, not God, for at Cross we not only see the goodness of our God, we also see the cancer that is sin.

 

Another Look at God’s Wrath in Revelation

Although the description of God’s wrath as “handing over,” “giving up,” “abandoning” and “forsaking” is so redundant in the bible, this view is not widely accepted today. Because of this, when most Christians read about the “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:16 NRSV) and the last plagues in Revelation which are “the final expression of God’s anger” (Rev 15:1 GNB), they understand this to mean that the final events in human history involve God actively inflicting punishments on the world. If we use the bible as a whole on this subject, however, and if we keep fresh in our minds every description of God’s wrath in the bible, we are now prepared to understand the final events of human history in a different light.

Revelation describes a sad but recurring theme in the bible where virtually everyone turns away from God, “Everyone worshiped the dragon…” (Rev 13:4 GNB). Moses, David, Jeremiah, Hosea, Ezekiel, and Paul have all given us countless specific examples of what this looks like. How foolish if we don’t use the rest of the bible to understand the book of Revelation. And, we have the vivid demonstration of Jesus’ death and dying words.

It is worth noting that there is at least one significant difference between the final end of sin and sinners and the death of Jesus on the Cross. Jesus longed to see His Father’s face as He cried, “Why have you abandoned me?” In contrast to this, the people who die in the end will not long to see God’s face. Their wish dying wish is to avoid God’s face, “hide us from the eyes of the one who sits on the throne…” (Rev 6:16 GNB). These precious children of God die, pleading not to see His face. At that very moment, what do you imagine God’s face would look like? For me personally, I see the anguished face of Jesus as He died on the cross, and I hear the crying words of a Father losing his child, “How can I give you up? How can I abandon you?” (Hos 11:7, 8 GNB)

God’s anger, when seen in this way, is perfect love. God is perfect love – a perfect love that casts out all fear. Is there still fear? If there is, it should be directed to the devastating consequences of cutting ourselves off from our loving Father. There is no reason to be afraid of God.

– Written by Dr. Brad Cole 


Footnotes:

  1. Loren L. Johns, “The Lamb in the Rhetorical Program of the Apocalypse of John,” SBL Seminar
  2. Papers 37 (1998), 2:780.
  3. Eugene Boring, “The Theology of Revelation” pg. 266
  4. Richard Bauckham, “Revelation”, pg 64
  5. Anthony Hanson, “The Wrath of the Lamb”, pg 165
  6. C.B. Caird, “Revelation”, pg 75
  7. Sigve Tonstad, “Saving God’s Reputation”, pg 72