A God of Wrath or a God of Love?
The idea of God as a God of wrath in the Old Testament, but a God of love in the New, is completely false. God’s great love and mercy are the same throughout the Scriptures. His righteousness and just reckoning are also the same in both. The Book of Revelation is the greatest testimony to the consistency of the revelation of God in the Tanakh and in the New Covenant Scriptures.
God’s great commitment to righteousness remains constant, and His righteous anger for those who act in flagrant rebellion against Him and contempt of His ways, is the same. As with the flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah, the human race will come to a place of final judgment and experiencing God’s active indignation against recalcitrant evil and corruption. Yet His offer of mercy before judgment and His offer of love and forgiveness for those who turn to Him remain throughout. Here is a passage noting this:
“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth— to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’” (Revelation 14:6)
Both the warning of God’s judgment and the proclamation of the Good News are announced together in the book of Revelation. And many respond. Revelation 7 describes a multitude that no one could count from every tribe, tongue and people. Revelation 14 is parallel and gives great hope of a great harvest during these times of shaking. All of this displays God’s love and mercy.
The themes of the fullness of human sin, of depravity toward his fellow man, of judgment and of wrath come to an ultimate climax in Revelation 14:17-20. The grapes are gathered into the winepress of God’s wrath. Revelation 19:15 says that Yeshua Himself, “treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God almighty” (see also Acts 10:42, Matthew 23:32, Genesis 15:16).
The Bible shows that God is a God of amazing love, compassion, forbearance, forgiveness and mercy. God desires to act in love, compassion, forgiveness and mercy to every human being and to His whole creation. However, He is also a God of justice. His justice, though compassionate, requires that the law of sowing and reaping eventually brings to fruition the sobering results of our actions. Repentance can bring mitigation—“None of the transgressions he has committed will be remembered against him” (Ezekiel 18:21-23). Beyond this, at a certain point of wickedness, God’s active judgment is engaged and He will act, sometimes in severe wrath, yet always in just compensation.
The fullness of God’s love is seen in Yeshua, the Lamb of God. In His life, ministry, teaching, atoning death, and resurrection; we see the greatness of God’s loving offer of salvation. However, Yeshua reaffirms God’s justice, both in terms of sowing and reaping and ultimately active wrath against wickedness when there is no repentance.
Yeshua teaches an ultimate separation of the righteous and the wicked at the end of this age in a final judgment. The Book of Revelation completely reaffirms all these themes and expresses the dynamic tension among them (Revelation 6:16, Isaiah 2:21) in referring to the “Wrath of the Lamb.”