“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” Romans 1:18-19
In our last study in Romans we looked at the concept of God revealing His wrath from Heaven “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” In this study we will look at the history of God’s wrath revealed from Heaven.
The first large-scale example of God revealing His wrath from Heaven is found in the early part of the Book of Genesis –
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:5-7
This is the culmination of what began with the first man and woman sinning against their Creator in the Garden of Eden. God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden after promising that the woman’s “Seed” would crush Satan.
Cain, their firstborn son, murdered his brother Abel and fled from the presence of God and his parents. Cain started his own family and built a city. Genesis 4 lists the descendants of Cain and the contempt they had for God (Genesis 4:23-24),
Eve conceived and gave birth to another son, Seth, and said of him – “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed” (Genesis 4:25). Seth later had a son and named him Enosh. It was at that time that men began calling on the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26). The 5th chapter of Genesis contains the descendants of Seth from Enosh to Noah.
It was during Noah’s lifetime that God revealed His wrath from Heaven “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Why? Because the “earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:11-12).
God certainly had the right to “destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air,” because He was the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all things in it. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” The Bible says Noah “was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). God chose to continue His relationship with humanity through Noah and his family.
Noah found “grace” in the eyes of the Lord, but what happened to those not in Noah’s family? That is where we learn how God’s grace and justice co-exist –
“And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.” Genesis 6:13-14
God demonstrated grace to Noah even as He carried out His plan for divine justice –
“Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.” Genesis 7:17-24
God promised Noah and his descendants that He would continue to rule the earth with grace and justice, but said He would never destroy the earth with water again (Genesis 9).
It’s important to remember that God revealing His wrath is not the same as a man losing his temper. God’s “wrath” is linked to His personal “glory.” When Moses asked God to show him His glory, God told Moses He would make all His goodness pass before him (Exodus 33:19). Here’s what God showed Moses (what He called His “goodness”) –
- abounding in goodness and truth
- keeping mercy for thousands
- forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin
The Hebrew words translated “longsuffering” in Exodus 34:6 are ’ereḵ ’appayim and mean “slow to anger.” God has an absolute right to be angry about ungodliness and unrighteousness and express His anger toward those who live ungodly and unrighteously in the world He created, but part of God’s “goodness” is His being “slow to anger.” That is beneficial to humans because God gives them (us) time to repent of ungodliness and unrighteousness. God is a merciful, gracious, longsuffering God who “abounds” in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving their sins.
The Old Testament lists many times that God revealed His wrath from heaven against the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Keep in mind that it followed a lengthy time of God “suffering” with the sins of people. The length of time between the beginning of the sin and the punishment of the sin is an example of God’s goodness.
Some of the following are examples of God personally revealing His wrath. God also revealed His wrath through angels, His people, and through enemies of His people. Be sure to look at each reference and note the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” that preceded the outpouring of God’s wrath and keep in mind how long God had suffered with their iniquity, transgression and sin –
- Confusing Languages at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11)
- Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19)
- Plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7 – 12)
- Drowning the Egyptian Army (Exodus 14)
- Destruction of Israelites for worshipping golden calf (Exodus 32)
- Death Sentence for those who rebelled against God (Numbers 14)
- Destruction of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Numbers 16)
- Destruction of Israelites who had committed harlotry with the women of Moab (Numbers 25)
- Conquering of cities, armies and kings in Canaan (Joshua 6 – 11)
- Defeat of Goliath and the Philistines (1 Samuel 17)
- Destruction of the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)
- Conquering of Israel by Assyria (2 Kings 17)
- Conquering of Judah by Babylon (2 Kings 24)
- Destruction of Jerusalem prophesied by Jesus (Matthew 23-24; Luke 21)
The Old and New Testaments also include prophecies of God’s future wrath against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Here are some examples –
- Isaiah 9
- Daniel 9 & 12
- Micah 5
- Matthew 24
- Mark 13
- Luke 21
- 2 Thessalonians 2
- Revelation 6 – 20
As we read through the history of humanity in the record of the Bible we see how ungodly and unrighteous people suppressed the truth in unrighteousness generation after generation. We’ll look at that in-depth in our next study.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”