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The Gospel From Patmos
Everyday Insights For Living
From The Last Book Of The Bible
Daily Devotional
Sunday, November 19, 2017

            Out of (the rider’s) mouth comes a sharp, two-edged sword, in order that he might strike down the nations with it. He will rule them with a rod of iron, and he will trample the wine press of the furious anger of God Almighty. He has upon his garment and upon his thigh a name written, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Rev 19:15-16.



            The phrase “furious anger” is almost untranslatable. A literal reading would be “trample the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” I’m not sure what the “fury of the wrath of God” is designed to say except that He is “really, really, REALLY mad.”
            The Book of Revelation takes us on a tour of the vocabulary of anger. There are expressions in the original for words like anger, angry, wrath and fury. We are not surprised that the dragon is angry (Rev 12:12, 17) or that prostitute Babylon is full of wrath (Rev 14:8; 18:3). The bad guys in most stories tend to be angry types who can’t control their feelings.
            What does surprise us is how often God is portrayed as angry, furious or wrathful in the book (Rev 11:18 and 14:10, for example). When we are introduced to the seven last plagues, we are told they are the full and final outpouring of God’s wrath (Rev 15:1). We hope that by the time we have gotten to Revelation 19 we are done with this troubling side to God’s personality.
            One way to deal with this is to note that the God of the Old Testament is often portrayed as angry or wrathful. It is as if Jesus and the Old Testament God portray two dueling sides to God’s character. But Revelation does not allow us this illusion. It makes very clear that the Lamb also gets angry (Rev 6:16-17) and that He is approvingly present at the torment of those who accepted the mark of the beast (Rev 14:10). Evidently, anger can be a healthy thing or an unhealthy thing, depending on the circumstances and the motivation.
            The key, I think, is this. The wrath of God is not an emotional thing, it is a judicial one. God isn’t throwing a hissy fit, His wrath is a settled disapproval of anything that disturbs the happiness and tranquillity of the universe. He is the defender of victims and the rescuer of the oppressed. We shouldn’t judge this language on the basis of our own dysfunctional emotions.
            It reminds me of a speeding ticket I got in New Jersey a few decades ago. Written on it were the words, “The people of the state of New Jersey against Jon Paulien.” Boy did I feel rejected! That really hurt! I mean, six million people were mad at me! Then I realized no one was really mad at me, not even the police officer. I had just broken a small piece of the social contract that holds New Jersey together. The “wrath” of New Jersey has been a good motivator ever since.



            Lord, I am thankful to know that You are there wherever injustice occurs. Help me to trust that You will set everything right in Your time.




 
 
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