Home » God’s Wrath and Judgment: What Is It All About?

God’s Wrath and Judgment: What Is It All About?

by Dr. Eitan Bar
7 minutes read

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5:9)

Reading my other articles, you might be wondering: “If not on Jesus, then where is God’s wrath and judgment poured? Are we not compromising something about God’s justice here?” I hear you. I mean, I also shout ‘penalty!!!’ at the TV screen when the opposing team has a foul on the striker, hoping that the referee will make a fair and just decision. And biblically speaking, did God not declare that he is “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6) and that he “visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:7)? In opposite with hyper-grace, God is not soft on sin as he demands penalty for sin: “He will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7). At first glance, the principle appears clear and simple, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20) because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Since every living thing eventually dies, Christians included, these Scriptures are true.

But what about life after death? The fact that some are raised to experience life everlasting means that they had faith, and due to their faith, they had their sins atoned for, their slate has been wiped clean, and they have not merely been forgiven but have been declared and made righteous (Romans 3:21–26). This can be reflected through several different kinds of sacrifices. Sinners are forgiven and made righteous, not by their ability, effort, or works, but through the atoning work of the incarnate Son of God (Ephesians 2:8–10). So, ultimately, the guilty do not receive the wrath, judgment, or death they deserve. Instead, by grace through faith, sinners will be resurrected. Sinners become righteous in the eyes of God and receive the “free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:23). Jesus died and was resurrected, so we will too.

Regarding judgment, the wrath of God will indeed be poured out on Judgment Day. According to the book of Revelation, God will pour not one but seven bowls of wrath on those who choose to worship the devil. The wrath and judgment will occur around the time of the second coming of Jesus,[1] and the one executing it will be Jesus himself.[2] Then, the wrath of God will be poured out once and for all, not on the righteous, nor on Jesus, but on the wicked during the Day of Judgment (Revelation 14:10; 16:19). There will be no point in God pouring his wrath again on judgment day if he supposedly already did that with Jesus on the cross. His wrath is still stored and will be poured once and for all.

However, the point of judgment day is not simply to have revenge. Even though there are so many bowls of wrath, there is time for people to repent and believe. It’s not one single strike and game over. Still, in his judgment, God prolongs it, so people have time to rethink their stand. Those left at the very end, so stubborn, worshiping the devil and still refusing to repent, will suffer wrath.[3] For those “who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Romans 2:5–8).

God never pours his wrath on the innocent and righteous. From Sodom and Gomorrah, we can learn that God is even willing to spare evildoers if only some righteous ones are found between them:

Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” (Genesis 18:23-26)

Abraham continued to negotiate with persistence, lowering God all the way to only ten righteous people (verse 32). But then Abraham retires. I believe that if Abraham continued to persist, he would find out that God was willing to go all the way down to one single righteous person. I mean, is not that exactly what the gospel is all about? The life of one righteous to spare the lives of endless transgressors. 

Wrath is not about vengeance and hatred. When we consider the plagues of Egypt (which are in some parallel to those in Revelation), we usually imagine a Marvel Studios-style vengeance. However, God’s wrath poured in the plagues of Egypt was first and foremost to bring about repentance. It’s easy to focus on the children of Israel in the Passover story, but let’s not forget the multitudes of Egyptians (Exodus 12:38) joining Israel by faith while abandoning their house and false idols behind, following the God of Israel. The plagues were what brought them into saving faith. The wrath of God was a call to believe and be saved. When you consider the great judgment and tribulation, think not of vindication but of mercy, a call for the final harvest to believe. Even the most chaotic time in human history will be a time when God extends salvation.

God’s Vengeance

When people judge others harshly, it often stems from a desire to feel better about themselves, driven by various psychological and social factors. By highlighting others’ perceived flaws, individuals elevate their self-perception and maintain a sense of superiority. Harsh judgment can also serve as a defense mechanism, helping cope with insecurities or self-doubt. Societal norms and expectations contribute to this tendency, as people seek belonging and validation by conforming to standards and scrutinizing those who deviate. However, this behavior perpetuates negativity and division instead of fostering empathy, understanding, and personal growth. Recognizing the motivations for harsh judgment is crucial for promoting self-awareness and cultivating a more compassionate and inclusive worldview.

A good judge, however, embodies the principles of fairness, compassion, and wisdom, recognizing that their role extends beyond mere punishment. Rather than seeking to destroy the convict, they strive to restore them to society by focusing on rehabilitation and reintegration. Through a thoughtful approach to sentencing, a good judge carefully considers the unique circumstances of each case, balancing the interests of justice with opportunities for personal growth and redemption. By fostering a system that encourages convicts to learn from their mistakes and become better individuals, a good judge ultimately contributes to a safer and more compassionate society.

When we contemplate the concept of God’s vengeance, it is easy for our minds to drift towards sensationalized images of destruction and chaos, as depicted in Hollywood Armageddon movies with excessive bloodshed. This portrayal can create a misleading illusion that taking revenge and inflicting pain upon others is somehow an inherently god-like act. However, it is important to challenge this perception and recognize that the true essence of divinity often lies in empathy, understanding, and forgiveness. In Romans 12:19, the Apostle Paul reminds us that God is the one responsible for exacting revenge, and therefore, we should refrain from seeking it ourselves:

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.

Paul teaches that God’s vengeance is expressed through His wrath. But what purpose does God’s wrath serve in regards to revenge? Isaiah 1:24-26 sheds light on this matter:

Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel, declares: ‘Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes and avenge myself on my enemies. I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your leaders as in days of old, your rulers as at the beginning. Afterward, you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.’

When God executes vengeance and unleashes His wrath, He does not seek to crush, annihilate, or devastate but rather restores and purifies. The intention behind God’s wrath and vengeance is to guide people on the right path, not to condemn them. This is why we should resist the urge to seek revenge ourselves and instead trust God to handle it. Human revenge is often fuelled by emotional rage, whereas divine vengeance aims to restore the transgressor.

God’s ultimate purpose in bringing transgressions to light is not to encourage others to exact wrathful judgment upon the guilty but rather to inspire us to contribute to their healing and wholeness through His grace. As Christians, we are called to reflect the love and mercy of our Heavenly Father. In situations where we feel wronged or hurt, it is essential to remember that God’s wisdom and justice far surpass our own. By relinquishing our desire for revenge, we open ourselves to the transformative power of God’s grace and allow His healing to work in our lives and the lives of those who have caused us pain. If we retaliate, they will retaliate back in an endless circle of revenge. But if we don’t, God can activate His justice and also work through their consciousness to help them understand where they acted wrong.

However, it is hard not to retaliate. It takes a lot of mental and emotional strength to forgive and also trust God’s plan for justice. As we practice forgiveness, we enable God’s grace to work within us, freeing us from the burden of resentment and bitterness. In doing so, we not only become more like Christ but also participate in the divine process of restoration and healing- of ourselves and of others.

God’s judgment, when understood through the lens of mercy, is a transformative force that combines justice with compassion. Divine mercy offers hope, redemption, and forgiveness, allowing us to learn from our mistakes and grow spiritually. By viewing God’s judgment as an opportunity for spiritual growth, we can better appreciate the nurturing aspect of divine judgment and strive to become more compassionate and spiritually attuned individuals. God’s judgment is not about hurting you, but about exposing the truth so the issue can be treated and you can be cured. The purpose of God’s judgement is to correct people, not to condemn them. (Isaiah 1:24-26)

As you journey through life, remember that God’s vengeance serves a much higher purpose than human revenge – one of purification and redemption. Trust in his divine plan and embrace the transformative power of his grace to bring healing, wholeness, and hope to even the most broken people and situations.  This is what to love your enemy is all about.

This article is based on my new book, ‘The “Gospel” of Divine Abuse,’ available on this Amazon page.
free sample is available here.

[1] There are several theological views regarding when Christ will return and in accordance with that, when will the judgment occur. 

[2] Matt. 25:31-46, John 5:22, Romans 2:5-16, 1st Corinthians 4:5, Hebrews 9:27, Rev. 20

[3] It’s not hard for me to imagine how evils such as child-sacrifice will become present again in these days.

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Dr. Eitan Bar
Author, Theologian, Activist