OVERVIEW – In Revelation, “wrath” refers to the final judicial sentence of God on His enemies and is not synonymous with “tribulation.”
In Revelation, the “wrath of God” is NOT synonymous with “tribulation,” nor is identical with the individual “plagues” unleashed by the three sevenfold series of “seals,” “trumpets,” or the “bowls of fury.” Despite the devastation of the “plagues,” impenitent men continue to rebel against God until the very last moment. In fact, “wrath” refers to the final judicial sentence of God on His enemies.
“Wrath,” or orgé, occurs six times in the book, and always refers to the final judgment on God’s opponents. The calamities unleashed by the “seals,” “trumpets,” and the “bowls of fury” are never labeled “wrath” or orgé, although “wrath” is manifested at the end of each sevenfold series; for example, after the seventh trumpet sounded, His “wrath came, the time for the dead to be judged” – (Revelation 6:16-17, 11:15-19).
The effect of the “wrath” is everlasting, not temporary. Its ultimate expression is the “lake of fire, the second death,” which occurs at the “Great White Throne of Judgment.” On that day, there will be no escape or reprieve.
In contrast, righteous men and women receive everlasting life in the “New Jerusalem.” What determines whether a person undergoes “wrath” or receives life, is how he or she responds to the “Lamb” – (Revelation 7:9-17, 22:15).
THE SIXTH SEAL. The “fifth seal” revealed the souls of martyrs underneath the altar, where they cried for vindication against their persecutors, “the inhabitants of the earth.” The “sixth seal” is the response from the Throne to their plea. It unleashes the final “wrath” on the “inhabitants of the earth,” the “day of the wrath of the Lamb, and of Him who sits on the Throne” – (Revelation 6:9-17).
What is described is nothing less than the “day of the Lord.” It is accompanied by terrestrial and celestial upheaval, and there is no escape (“Who shall be able TO STAND?”).
SEVENTH TRUMPET. The sounding of the “seventh trumpet” causes the overthrow of the “kingdom of the world.” All powers hostile to the “Lamb” are defeated, the kingdom of God is consummated, and the faithful from every rank of society receive their rewards, “The small and the great” – (Revelation 11:15-19).
The “seventh trumpet” means the arrival of the day of the “wrath” of God, His orgé, the time to “destroy them who were destroying the earth.” It is also the time for Him to reward His saints. Both the righteous and the unrighteous receive their just desserts. The “day of the Lord” means the vindication of the righteous and the everlasting condemnation of the unrighteous.
EVERLASTING GOSPEL ANNOUNCED. “And a third angle followed them, saying with a loud voice, If anyone renders homage to the beast and his image, and receives the mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger” – (Revelation 14:6-11).
The angel announced the time for the final judgment of God, His “wrath.” Everlasting condemnation was pronounced on every man and woman who gave allegiance to the “beast.” Each will partake the undiluted “wrath,” which is everlasting in its effects. Condemned men will “have no rest day or night.” What the angel described was nothing less than the “lake of Fire,” the “second death,” from which there is no reprieve – (Revelation 20:11-15).
SEVENTH BOWL OF FURY. The seven “bowls of fury” are also called the “seven last plagues.” When unleashed, the “fury of God was completed.” The bowls were “full of the fury (thumos) of God”; “fury” translates the Greek noun thumos, which is a different Greek noun than the noun orgé used elsewhere for “wrath.” In the Greek text, these are the seven bowls of “fury” or thumos, not seven “bowls of wrath”- (Revelation 15:1-8, 16:17-21).
The seventh or last “bowl” produced “flashes of lightning, and voices, and claps of thunder, and a great earthquake…and great hail as talents” – The same phenomena that accompanied the sounding of the “seventh trumpet.” The verbal parallels demonstrate that the same final event is in view, the time of God’s “wrath” unleashed at last on the “Day of the Lord” – (Revelation 11:19).
After John saw the “Lamb” standing on Zion, an angel declared that the time had come for “Babylon” to drink of the “cup of the wine of the fury of God’s wrath.” Just as the men and women who took the “mark of the Beast” drank of this cup, so, also, “Babylon” must drink His “wrath” – (Revelation 14:10).
“Every island fled, and mountains were not found.” This clause parallels the “Day of the Lord” unveiled when the “sixth seal” was opened, and “every mountain and island was shaken out of its place.” Again, the same event is in view in both passages.
FINAL BATTLE WITH THE BEAST. “And he is treading the wine-press of the wrath of the fury of God the Almighty.” – (Revelation 19:15-16).
The “rider on a white horse” arrived to judge the nations and to “tread the wine-press of the wrath of God.” This is the same “wine-press” seen previously when the angel announced he “everlasting gospel” – (“Gather the clusters of the vine of the earth and cast them into the great wine-press of the fury of God”).
In chapter 14, the “wine-press” was “trodden outside the city,” where “trodden” translated the Greek verb pateō, the same one used here for the “rider on a white horse” as he “treads” the “wine-press of the wrath of God.” The “rider” does not unleash another in a series of plagues, instead, he ushers in the final “war” between the “Lamb” and the “beast,” which is followed by the judgment and the “wrath of God,” for, at the end of this vision, both the “beast” and the “false prophet” are cast into the “lake of fire” – (Revelation 19:15-21).
Thus, in the book of Revelation, “wrath” does not refer to any series of punitive and temporary judgments or plagues. It is nothing less than the final judgment and punishment of the enemies of God. Consistently, “wrath” refers to His judicial sentence issued on the “day of the Lord,” not to individual plagues or catastrophes. The “saints” are present before the “Lamb” on that day; however, they do not “drink” from this “cup,” but instead, are vindicated and rewarded for their faithfulness.