Three Angels Messages Part 72

Thanks joining us as we continue to study the Three Angel’s Messages! We’ve been studying what constitutes God’s “wrath,” since the angel warns that if anyone receives the mark of the beast he “shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” Last time we saw that God’s wrath is not at all like human wrath. God’s wrath is when, after patient forbearance, He allows the sinner to reap the consequences of his or her own choices. This is His “wrath,” “anger” or “fury,” as clearly described in the Scriptures.

The angel speaks of God’s wrath being poured out into the “cup of His indignation.” What is the significance of that phrase? The word “indignation” deserves a moment of attention, as it seems to have special relevance to the outpouring of God’s judgments culminating in the seven last plagues.

The Lord set forth the principles of His kingdom within the relationships that He sustained with the nations of the past, including Israel and Judah when they suffered the assaults of Assyria and Babylon. They experienced in a limited way the “day of the Lord,” as God removed His protective hand and allowed the enemy to conquer. We find that His dealings with the kingdoms back then were a type, an illustration, though it might have been a partial one, of His dealing with the whole world as the story of Planet Earth comes to its climactic end at the return of Christ.

In this sense God’s “indignation,” was poured out upon the empires of ancient times. They experienced, in a limited way, the “Day of the Lord.” Through the wisdom of providence, these accounts serve as examples of what will take place at the close of earth’s history, when the ultimate “Day of the Lord” comes to pass, when the “indignation” of the Lord’s “wrath” will be poured from the cup of His fury unmixed with mercy.

Let’s look at some Bible references that help us understand this. Before they entered Canaan, Moses laid out clearly to Israel the consequences of rebelling against the Lord and bowing before false gods. “Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book. And the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land.” Deuteronomy 29:28.

In one of his “imprecatory psalms,” David prayed, “Pour out Your indignation upon them, and let Your wrathful anger take hold of them.” Psalm 69:24. In another psalm, notice how the word “indignation” is used in connection with the ten plagues that fell on Egypt, an obvious type of the seven last plagues. The poet Asaph wrote, “He cast on them (inhabitants of Egypt) the fierceness of His anger, wrath, indignation, and trouble, by sending angels of destruction among them. He made a path for His anger; He did not spare their soul from death, but gave their life over to the plague, and destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt.” Psalm 78:49-51.

In reading the following passages, keep in mind how Revelation describes the circumstances that accompany Christ’s return, including the assault of great hailstones and violent earthquakes causing the rocks to fall. These are the “weapons of His armory,” which will be brought forth at the coming of Christ. “The LORD will cause His glorious voice to be heard, and show the descent of His arm, with the indignation of His anger and the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, tempest, and hailstones.” Isaiah 30:30.

“For the indignation of the LORD is against all nations, and His fury against all their armies.” Isaiah 34:2. “The LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to abide His indignation.” Jeremiah 10:10. “The LORD has opened His armory, and has brought out the weapons of His indignation.” Jeremiah 50:25. “Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him. The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble.” Nahum 1:6, 7.

Yet, the Lord speaks kindly to His people, inviting them to trust in Him during the tempest of the plagues, when the cup of His fury is poured out. “For yet a very little while and the indignation will cease, as will My anger in their destruction.” Isaiah 10:25. May we be sheltered in Christ when that day comes! May we experience what God spoke of when he said, “Come, My people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. For the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.” Isaiah 26:20, 27. See also Isaiah 30:27; Ezekiel 21:31; 22:31; Zephaniah 3:8.

The book of Revelation tells us that Babylon will indeed drink of the “cup” someday. “Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix for her double. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.” Revelation 18:6; 16:19.

To review briefly: what does it mean when it says that the one who receives the mark of the beast will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation? These solemn words affirm that there is accountability; there is responsibility. God has given to all of freedom to choose and will force no one. If one chooses to reject God, His protecting grace will be removed, and unsheltered, that person will reap the consequences of their choice. By separating himself from the Source of life, the inevitable result coming on the sinner will be death.

Today the “wrath of God” is revealed in a limited way, as God withdraws and allows unrepentant sinners to receive the results of their choices. But today this judgment is mixed with mercy. Human beings do not feel the “full measure” of guilt today, for if they did, they would be crushed to death by its weight. In mercy, God allows our consciences to provoke us when we stray from the path of righteousness, to convict us of our sins. But we do not experience the full strength of what guilt involves. It is tempered with mercy.

However, if a person persists in the path of perversity, there will come a day when God will step aside and leave that person to be on his own, a subject of Satan’s cruel and despotic domination. More than that, during the falling of the seven last plagues, this person will not receive the protection afforded to those who have put their trust in God and obeyed His commandments, but will experience God’s “wrath” as His “indignation” is poured out. Finally at the last judgment, they will be let go into eternal oblivion. They will be cut off, removed from God’s presence and destroyed by the second death forever and ever. No one would wish to drink of that cup! How important to make sure of our salvation and follow the clear teachings of God’s sacred Word!

Revelation 14 contains strong and stern language. Some might wonder if these paragraphs can be reconciled with the revelation of the God of love that the Scripture portrays. Is it possible to see God’s love in the teaching of His wrath? Yes! The revelation of God’s character demonstrates that, though He is Sovereign of the universe, He allows each person to choose for themselves. This is love. Though He knows what is best, He never forces. This is love. One who clings to sin would find the purity and holiness of heaven to be intolerable. God will not compel one who loves sin to endure the agony he or she would feel in God’s righteous kingdom. This is love. Though we have sinned and deserve the just punishment of death, yes, the full measure of God’s wrath, He came here Himself to take upon Himself our punishment so that we could live. He took the curse that we deserved and gave us the life that He deserves. This also is love. Is this not the plain teaching of the Bible?
This mysterious “cup” containing the wine of the wrath of God was held in the hand of our dear Savior that Thursday evening. It was undiluted; it was full measure, unmixed with mercy. His human nature recoiled from feeling the consciousness of guilt and sin. It wasn’t just a physical cross that He bore up the hill to Golgotha; it was the burden of our guilt, our sins. “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Isaiah 53:4. The purity of His divine nature was repulsed by the malignity of the iniquity being placed on His untainted shoulders as He, “Who knew no sin was made to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians 5:21. He sought relief from the feeling of His Father’s rejection, but was willing to go through the ordeal for our sakes. He drank the cup of sorrow and drained it to the bottom.

Behold the spotless Son of God fallen prostrate on Gethsemane’s carpet saying, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” Then with anguish we’ll never know He cried out, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:38, 39. The amazing truth is that Jesus drank the “cup” of God’s wrath in our behalf. He felt the woe and dejection that the lost sinner will experience on that last day. On the cross, weighed by the sins of the whole world, feeling the rejection of God to the fullest measure, He cried out, “‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” Matthew 27:46.

Paul affirmed the beauty of this truth when he wrote, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32. The verb “delivered up” is the same Greek word paradidomi, which Paul used earlier in this same letter to describe God’s wrath in giving up lost sinners.

The amazing truth is that Jesus took every curse mentioned in Eden’s indictment upon Himself as our Savior and sin-bearer. He sweat drops of blood to fashion the bread of life. He experienced pain of travail in giving birth to salvation. He wore as a crown the thorns of the curse. He drank the cup of woe, and gave to us the “cup of blessing” of which we partake in the Lord’s supper, a reminder of His great sacrifice. I Corinthians 10:16; 11:23-26. He drank the cup of wrath but gave to us the “cup of salvation.” Psalm 116:13. Yes, even in a study of God’s wrath, His love shines through.

Some time ago we did some shopping. When I came up to the cash register, I pulled from my wallet a card that said “American Express” on it. Actually, it said more than that. It said, “American Express Pre-paid Gift Card.” It was given to me by my church family as a birthday present. A very nice gift!

But let’s say, just for sake of illustration, that I was confused about this card and what it entailed and, thinking that I was pulling out my American Express credit card, I pull this one out, not realizing exactly what it is. When the cashier rings up the final purchase, I swipe the card and insist on paying for my purchases. The cashier tries to explain that I don’t have to pay for them; the credit has already been applied on the card and it is “free” to me. It’s a “pre-paid gift card.” It was given to me. But let’s say that I don’t understand all this, and refuse to accept it. I insist that I must pay. You should pay for your groceries when you go shopping.

She tries again to explain to me that there is credit on this special card and I don’t have to pay. It’s been paid for already and the credit is “on deposit.” By now the people behind me have strange expressions on their faces and their weight is shifting from one foot to the other. Totally discombobulated and frustrated, I refuse to believe what she has said. Leaving my basket there with all its contents, I walk out empty-handed with my mind spinning.

Let me ask you a question. Do you think that what I’ve just told you would happen in real life? Do you think that one person in 100 would refuse a pre-paid gift card? Would one in 1,000? One in a million? Would anyone in the entire world do what I’ve just described in this hypothetical situation? And yet Jesus has given us something more valuable, more lasting than anything you buy at a store.

Let’s see; that day that I went shopping I bought salad and bananas, among other things. They’re long gone. What Jesus has given us will last for eternity! Yet how many people don’t value the Gift! How many refuse to believe it’s genuine. How many are standing figuratively at the cashier’s counter arguing whether it’s really true that the Gift means we don’t pay. How many are trying to somehow pay for their sins when they’ve already been paid for. How many don’t realize that Jesus drank the cup for us, and that if we believe and follow Him, we won’t have to? Thank God that Jesus drank the cup of woe and gives to us the cup of salvation!