by Robert Brow   (web site - www.brow.on.ca)


There is not one case in the Bible where wrath involves eternal damnation. Wrath is the ordinary word for the assigning of bad consequences in this life. There is the wrath of a lion when it is provoked. An individual is full of wrath when he or she is crossed. A king exercises wrath against unruly subjects. In his reign the Son of God (who later took birth in our world as Jesus of Nazareth) also assigns wrath consequences for unacceptable behavior among nations or individuals.

The ten commandments given by Moses (Exodus 20:1-17) give us the main categories of human behavior that will inevitably have bad consequences. Viewing some person or deity, other than the Son of God, as the supreme authority in one’s life is always disastrous. Idolatry is replacing the worship of the Creator with devotion to an image or statue, and it has long term consequences in a family. "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God punishing children for the iniquity of parents to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me." .

Anther cause of divine wrath is misusing the name of the LORD to support deceit. Working seven days a week, and making others work without a day of rest, is a cause of much sickness. Even though parents may not be perfect, it is important for children to submit to them till they can fly on their own. Murder, adultery, stealing and bearing false witness in a court of law, can all be seen to harm individuals and the society they live in. And the last of the ten commandments warns of the wrath consequences of struggling to grab what others are given to enjoy.

There are also forms of behavior in a nation that are obnoxious to the Son of God. He is particularly angry when widows, orphans, aliens, and poor people are badly treated. "You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan  If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn" (Exodus 22:23; 23:6,9; Deuteronomy 10:17-19, as reiterated again and again in the Old Testament prophets, see Psalm 82:1-4; 94:5-7). Any attempt to enslave other nations and bring them under our control will eventually be judged and punished.

The opposite of wrath is blessing. When people are upright and care for others, many blessings are promised (see the article on God’s Ecology). In the New Testament love, joy, peace, and other beautiful fruits are promised when we turn from attempts to perfect ourselves by our own efforts to be transformed by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25, see Romans 8:4-14).

Finally we note that wrath and blessing are the consequences of certain kinds of behavior in this life. Their purpose is to help us to turn and welcome the love of God. That is why it is possible for a person whose heart is looking forward to being finally perfected in God’s heaven to suffer the LORD’s wrath in this life. Some of the bad consequences are the result of wrong behavior in our nation. Others are caused by alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual immorality, greed, rejecting a day of rest, irresponsible behavior, and rejecting the wisdom and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Such persons may suffer terrible wrath consequences in this life while their heart is indeed looking to the Son of God.

In any case the solution is first to set our heart direction firmly in the direction of the love of God. Secondly we should seek to understand the causes of the wrath that is ruining our life. As we see the causes of what is going wrong, we then turn to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and transformation in the direction of blessing.

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