I mentioned today as we were looking at Revelation 8 and 9 that I would email you the psalm that I was trying to think of on judgement, and that is actually was Psalm 97.
While looking for my notes on Psalm 97 I realized that a recent message from John MacArthur covered in a powerful way this very topic of God’s wrath. I’ve copied a portion of the message titled “We Will Not Bow” that deals with God’s coming wrath, below.
The message from John MacArthur was given to his church congregation after the recent SCOTUS decision on unnatural marriage unions and you can also view the entire message here: https://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-425/we-will-not-bow?Term=Marriage%20scotus.
We Will Not Bow
by John MacArthur
“…1 Thessalonians, chapter 1 verse 10, it says, as believers we “wait for His Son from heaven.” We wait for His Son from heaven. He will come from heaven.
He will come with His mighty angels, the angels—literally—the angels of His power. He will come back with ten thousand times ten thousand angels. The whole world will see that event—those that are alive at that time.
He will come in flaming fire. That could be what Peter talks about—the elements melting with fervent heat, the implosion of the whole universe as it goes out of existence. But it probably refers, rather than that, to the explosion of glory. You know that the Bible says that the stars go out, the moon goes out, all the lights in heaven go dark. The universe is pitch black, and then comes the blazing, fiery return of Christ.
It’s the fire of judgment. Psalm 50. Psalm 97. The Lord comes and fire goes before Him. The Lord comes and fire goes before Him. That scene in Revelation, chapter 6 is about as dramatic as you can imagine. Verse 12, “I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it’s rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Then the kings of the earth and great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’”
There are two words here in this passage that define the characteristics of His coming. One is retribution, the other is relief. One is retribution, verse 8. The other is relief, verse 7. For the believer, this is relief. For the unbeliever, this is retribution.
Look at verse 8 for just a moment. When He comes from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire—verse 8—“dealing out retribution.” What does that mean? Punishment. Full vengeance. Isaiah 59:17, “He puts on clothing of vengeance.” Ezekiel 25, “I will lay My vengeance down according to My wrath and My anger.” Deuteronomy 32, “To Me belongs vengeance.” Romans 12:19, “‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Vengeance. Vengeance on who? Those who do not know God, and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Folks, we have to warn this generation, don’t we? We have to warn this generation. It’s enough to know you’re going to die, and seal forever your eternity in hell if you don’t believe. But one day, Christ Himself will come to bring retribution across this entire globe. And they will suffer punishment. They will pay the penalty. They will pay the penalty.
What is the penalty? Verse 9, they “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” And by the way, verse 6 says, “It is only,” what’s the next word? “just.” It is only right. It is not unloving of God to do that. It is just of Him to do that. It is righteous.
They will pay the penalty. From the Psalms we read things like this, “The righteous will rejoice when he sees vengeance. He will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.” “God will shatter the heads of His enemies.” “Add to them punishment upon punishment.” “Return seven-fold into the bosom of our neighbors the taunts with which they taunted you, O God.” “Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any pity to his children.” “Do not I hate them that hate You, O Lord?” “Do not I loathe them that rise up against you? I hate them with a perfect hatred,” says the psalmist.
The godly in the Old Testament understood the justice of God’s wrath. When God reveals to Jeremiah that some are plotting his death. Jeremiah prays, “O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tries the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I’ve committed my cause.” And God replied to Jeremiah. “I will punish them. The young men will die by the sword, the sons and daughters will die by famine, and none of them will be left.”
Later, we find an even more terrible prayer, “Give heed to me, O Lord, and hearken to my plea. Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. Remember how I stood before You to speak good for them, to turn away Your wrath from them. Therefore, deliver up their children to famine; give them over to the power of the sword; let their wives become childless and widowed. May their men meet death by pestilence, and their youth be slain by the sword in battle. . . . Blot out their sin from Your sight.” God responded to Jeremiah. “I’m bringing such evil on this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. . . . because they have filled this place with the blood of innocence and built the high places of Baal.
The Bible is very clear on judgment. You say, “Well that’s the Old Testament. What about Jesus?” I wrote a book called, The Jesus You Can’t Ignore. Some of you remember it. It is the Jesus that seems to be the one who is ignored. Jesus was a judgment preacher. He said far more about hell that he did about heaven. Started with John the Baptist. John the Baptist announced to the leaders of Israel that judgement was going to come with an unquenchable fire and consume them all.
Jesus told a story in Luke, chapter 20, about divine judgement that would take the unfaithful and shatter them into pieces. Jesus announced in John, chapter 5, that He would come in the end, and that there would be a resurrection unto damnation. The apostle Paul said, if you don’t love the Lord Jesus Christ, you’ll be damned, 1 Corinthians 16:22.
When Jesus described His own part in the judgement day, He said, “Depart from Me into eternal fire.” Into eternal fire. He said, “Woe to you, Chorazin.” “Woe to you, Bethsaida.” “Woe to you, Pharisees.” “Woe to you, lawyers.” “Woe to the one who has betrayed Me.” He preached judgment all through His ministry. That’s loving. That’s compassionate. That’s necessary.
So, I’m just getting you ready. We’re not going to do some kind of dance into marginal realms where we don’t say anything. We will preach the gospel with loving hearts to a nation of sinners, a world of sinners. But at the same time, we will preach judgment. We will proclaim judgment.
Jesus is coming, and He is coming to repay, with affliction that is everlasting, those who have afflicted His people. It’s not vindictive. It’s right; it’s just.
Beyond that, just to conclude, when our Lord comes, it’s not just retribution, it’s also relief. And this is so hopeful for us. Verse 7, “To give relief to you who are afflicted, to us as well”—meaning the apostles. Paul was afflicted, wasn’t he? And those who traveled with him—and all those early believers were afflicted. And they were looking for relief.
Those who don’t know God, those who reject the gospel, will be afflicted, everlastingly. They will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, and forever they will be away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power. They will know neither His person nor His power. They will live eternally in a realm without God’s presence and without God’s power. Totally dominated by all that is “God-less.”
But that same event brings us relief, relief. Verse 6, “It is only just for God to repay with affliction.” And implied, it is only just for God to give relief. He will give relief to His own. Affliction will end. Persecution will end. Suffering will end. That’s His promise. And it will end for those that belong to Him—those who have been afflicted by a God-rejecting, Christ-rejecting world.
And what does that relief look like? Verse 10, we’ll be glorified with Him on that day, “to be marveled at among all who have believed.” I love to think of that. We’re going to look at each other and say, “Whoa, did you turn out amazing! I never could have imagined.” I’ve told you before, I know there are many of you, that when we get to heaven, I won’t recognize. Perfection with obliterate any memory of what you used to be.
We’re just passing through, aren’t we? We’re just passing through. He’s going to be glorified in His saints; His saints glorified in Him. This is how we have to live, people. We live above the world. We’re in the world; we’re not of the world. We’re in the world—we love the world with a gospel love. We’re in the world, and we love them enough not only to preach grace and the gospel, we love them enough to tell them about eternal judgment—hell, fire.
That’s not what you’re going to see happening in the evangelical world. Already, I’m seeing all kinds of responses that we need to be sympathetic to people who are going through gender transition, which doesn’t exist. It’s a perversion. It’s a corruption. It’s a deviation. It’s a blasphemy.
Yeah, our hearts break that they have no power to resist that temptation. Our hearts break that now it’s everywhere. I saw the other day, some parents of a three year old, saying they were so happy that this three year old was making a gender transition. Tragic.
Let me give you a little hint. If you’ve got boys, you better be sure they become men. If you’ve got girls, you better be sure they become women. Don’t let them be tempted to this deviation and corruption. You never thought you’d have to fight that, did you? That’s where we are.
Our Lord is coming.”