In Revelation 15 John sees seven angels with the seven bowls of the wrath of God.
Thumos (the Greek word translated “wrath”) is a passionate burst of anger.
If you’ve never felt thumos, you’ve probably never felt love, not even for yourself.
Thumos is a testament to Love.
It’s what a husband feels if someone takes the life of his bride.
It’s what a father feels if someone takes the life of his child.
“The life is in the blood,” says Scripture.
Wrath is a passionate desire for blood.
But what does a husband do if his bride wants to take her own life?
What does the father do, when one of his children attempts to take the life of another one of his children?
In other words, what does God do when we sin; what does He do with all of His wrath?
Most folks don’t trust God for they think He doesn’t get angry enough; they think He’s too tolerant of evil—that’s why we crucified Jesus. These folks like to advertise that God will change: one day His mercy will come to an end, He will be angry without end, and torture the people He has made forever without end, for His wrath will never end.
If it’s “good news” to them, it’s not Good News to God. Endless wrath means endless restlessness, endless failure, and an endless inability to “destroy the works of the devil.”
Many don’t trust God because they think He doesn’t get angry enough.
Many don’t trust God because they’ve heard that He will be endlessly angry.
All of us are angry because we don’t trust God’s anger.
John sees seven angels with seven plagues (literally “wounds,” or “stripes”).
“Which are the last (eschatos). With these, the wrath of God is finished (from teleo or telos).” We already read that Jesus is “the last” and we will read that Jesus is “the end (telos).”
On the cross, He cried, “It is finished; it is ended; it is perfected.” Not only does the wrath of God come to an end, it comes to perfection; it accomplishes that for which it was sent.
What is John looking at?
He just witnessed the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God.
He then sees a sea of glass mingled with fire and those who appear to have passed through, but now stand and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. He also sees seven messengers (“angels”) that look like Jesus and the High Priest. They come from the temple in heaven, that is Christ’s Body and us, His people.
They are given the seven bowls of the wrath of God.
They pour the bowls upon the earth and the wounds from the temple in heaven become wounds upon the earth, as if Christ was crucified from the foundation of the earth and we now participate in the fellowship of His sufferings, as if we must die with Christ and rise with Christ to pass through the sea and enter the land.
John must be looking at the cross of Christ.
And so what is in these bowls of wrath . . . blood that’s wine and wine that’s blood?
What could it be other than the blood of the Lamb?
Why do we come to worship each week?
Don’t we come to drink the blood of the Lamb?
We come to see that the Life we have taken is, and always was, given.
We have taken blood, and His vengeance is to give blood—a river of blood that fills the land to the depths of a warhorse’s bridle.
The Judgment of God is Mercy.
Absolute and eternal Mercy applied to temporal sin is the wrath of God.
The Grace of God burns the human ego.
It will burn you right down to a child at play in His Father’s Garden.
But when it does you will know something you didn’t know before; you will know the Good, which is the Judgment of your Father.
The wrath of God comes to an end, for our sin comes to an end at the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord.
But it doesn’t only come to an end; it comes to a perfection, which is you in the image of God.
The wrath of God is Perfect, so entrust vengeance to God.
Never repay evil with evil, but overcome evil with Good.
In other words, forgive.
When you forgive, you bleed the wrath of God and are used by Him to destroy the work of the devil and make all things new.
*Sermon discussion questions are available here: Discussion Questions “The Gospel of Perfect Wrath”