I embarked on a Precept Bible study of Revelation last fall. There are 4 “semesters” of this particular study, which means I’ll be reading it and thinking about it for nearly two years by the time we’re done. In the first semester we focused exclusively on the first three chapters and the messages to the churches, and in this semester we’re focused on in-depth observation of the rest of the book. Which means that I’ve now read the book of Revelation from beginning to end more times than I have any other book of the Bible. Kind of crazy, right?
Each week I gather with a handful of other women at the end of our study time to discuss a question relevant to that week’s study. A few weeks ago, as we were sharing what impact reading through the book so many times has had on us, my friend Angela shared that she was humbled reading through the description of God’s wrath because she recognized that it’s this wrath that Jesus bore for us.
And that fact has stuck with me for the last few weeks, especially as we move toward Easter. Each time I’ve read Revelation 16 since I’ve marveled at the enormity of what Jesus’ death accomplished on my behalf. Because, as sinful men and women, without Jesus, we are bound for wrath:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:2-3
But wrath is not what God desires for us. He offers us Jesus:
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
Romans 3:24-25 says that God offers us, “redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom [God] put forward as a propitiation by [Jesus’] blood, to be received by faith.”
Do you know what that word “propitiation” means? It means, “relating to appeasing or expiating, having placating or expiating force, expiatory.” So what does “expiating” mean? To expiate is to “atone for, make amends for, make up for, do penance for, pay for, redress, redeem, offset, make good.” It means that Jesus’ blood pays for the guilt of our sin. He, in essence, absorbs the wrath of God in our place. Because in order for someone to “make amends”, some sort of payment has to be made. It may not be by the guilty party, but someone has to pay… it doesn’t just go away. The penalty for our sin cannot be overlooked because God is perfectly just. So Jesus pays for us. He makes amends on our behalf. He bears our penalty. He absorbs the wrath of God.
The second verse of “In Christ Alone” has been running through my mind, too:
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.
The wrath of God was satisfied—the wrath of a holy, just God! Revelation 16 gives us a terrifying description of the wrath of God:
“So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea. The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. . . The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. . .
And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.” Revelation 16:1-4, 8-12, 16-21
If you are a follower of Jesus, this is what Jesus has rescued you from! This is the Good News of the gospel! That sinners who deserved wrath can be redeemed and rescued. May we be reminded of the great price that has been paid for our freedom this Easter, and the wrath we will escape because of Jesus.
Or maybe you’re reading this and you’re not a follower of Jesus… have you considered the wrath you’ll face without Him?
Oh friends, let’s celebrate the kindness of God to us in Jesus this Easter season!