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Fire and Brimstone - The Result of the Wrath of God - Part 4

Fire and brimstone will torment the lost. That is what scripture tells us. But Revelation, especially, uses highly-symbolic language and we also need to ask "what does it mean?" This message follows that of the second angel which will warn humanity against partaking of Babylon's false doctrines.

"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:" (Rev 14:9-10)

The word "third" here confirms the understanding that the previous two angels (and messages) were the first and second. The first and third messages involve a "loud" voice. They ask people to do something. The second is more a statement of fact although it is repeated in chapter 18 (verse 2) "with a strong voice." "Strong" is the same original word translated as "loud" in Revelation 14:7 and 9.

Whose Wrath is Worse?
We have established, in chapter 13, that the beast is the papal system. The beast's image is an image or copy of the system of the first beast that the second beast deceived those dwelling on the earth into setting up (Rev 13:14).

It seems that both God and Babylon have their own "wine of wrath:"

  1. the wine of the wrath of her fornication (v8)
  2. the wine of the wrath of God (v10)

Depending on our choice, we get to experience one or the other. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! Here are the choices and their consequences:

End Result
Relevant Scripture
Obey God receive Babylon's wrath, perhaps death eternal life "... be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev 2:10)
Obey Babylon receive God's wrath eternal death "For the wages of sin is (eternal) death ..." (Rom 6:23)

While a Christian can look at this and appreciate the promise of eternal life, someone who is not a friend of God might look at it and wonder which is more to be feared of the two systems; who has the nastiest "wrath?" It may seem that God's threat is worse and, for those who (incorrectly) believe that the end result of disobeying God is an eternity in hell along with fire and brimstone, He seems like the greater enemy.

The doctrine that even most of Christianity teaches - that unrepentant sinners will burn forever - has contributed to a great number of people rejecting Him. It's not that they want to choose eternal death - who would understandingly choose that? - they just can't resolve, in their minds, a God who would do such a thing with the loving God that Christianity seems to present to them. It just seems (and logically so) totally unfair to torture someone forever for the sins of say 70 years of life when they didn't even choose to be born. It is too difficult to resolve and they end up not making a decision at all. What is needed is a true understanding of the concept of

Timing of the Undiluted Wrath
We need here to look at the timing of this wine of the wrath of God "which is poured out without mixture." This drinking of the wrath occurs "in the presence of the Lamb." Many people who worship the beast; essentially, who accept Satan's lies will do so and die many months before the Second Coming and not experience any wrath at that point. The experience of verses 10-11 will only happen at the end of the millennium when they will encounter the final judgment.

Elsewhere on this site the wrath of God is explained as the withdrawal of His presence. When God, the source of life, completely separates from a person, they will die, because, as God honors their choice to be entirely independent of Him, He ceases to sustain them:
"For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." (Acts 17:28)
"And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." (Rev 14:11)

The "for ever and ever" of verse 11 indicates finality. Like Sodom and Gomorrah ("... suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" - but not still burning today; Jude 7) the results of their choices will be eternal - eternal life or eternal death.

"No rest" does not mean that when someone bows to worship the beast he never sleeps again in this life. It is referring to the great white throne scene which may well be continual torment of mind night and day for the short time that takes at the end of the millennium.

The "without mixture" (or dilution or mercy) also indicates that this is God's final act of "wrath." While the worship of the beast etc happens in an end-time setting, verse 10 is describing events that will happen a thousand years later at the end of the millennium. It is only at this point that God finally and totally (even in a life-supporting role) leaves the unrepentant to their chosen fate.

Dwelling in the Fire
Let's consider another way of looking at this final fire or wrath. Here is a clue suggesting there is a difference between two forms of or, we could say, two sources of wrath:

"For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." (Jam 1:20)

Doesn't that suggest a difference in the function or effect of the wrath of God compared to that of the wrath of man? Here is a very interesting passage:

"The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isa 33:14)

The next verse gives us the surprising answer to those questions:

"He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;" (Isa 33:15)

The truth is that it is the righteous who dwell with everlasting fire - not the wicked. Satan has twisted it around so that most people understand it backwards. Think of fire and God's presence. Do the two go together? Ever? When you start thinking of it, there are many examples of fire associated with God's presence - fire that is not destructive; fire that is not at all like how we imagine fire and brimstone.

For a continuation of this study go to part 5  

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The Greek has multiple words for forgiveness? God forgives (charizomai) whether we ask or not. Receiving forgiveness (apheimi) is by our choice.
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