Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Wrath of God

There’s still much debate about the wrath of God and the first six seals of Revelation. And there’s still that mortal tug of war between those who use Dana and Mantey, and Robertson’s Greek grammar rules at Rev 6:17 to argue for a pre 6th seal wrath and those who use the same rules to argue for a post 6th seal wrath.

One of the most telling articles I’ve read was from a non–pretribber who, after making his grammatical defence, ended up stating that some wrongly believe that it is a past tense because it can be found in a past action. He further added that, though it is commonly in past action, it can also be an action in the present, future or even timeless. Ultimately, we are told that context determines when the action occurs. The context for a post 6th seal wrath was not given in that particular article.

My interest in eschatology means that I sometimes pick up on the new theories and arguments that occasionally arise. I’ve noticed that some non–pretibbers have been looking at the feasibility of some of the seals occurring towards the middle of the week. A reasonable question to ask is - if the argument that the wrath of God occurs after the 6th seal is so overwhelmingly compelling and bullet proof, why bother trying to place the seals closer to midweek at all?

Another growing trend is to argue that Rev 6:8 doesn’t actually mean that a quarter of the world’s population dies, but only that Death and Hades have authority and power over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and wild beasts. That’s an interesting theory. If you are told that you are among twenty people that Death and Hades have power over as opposed to eighty others who aren’t affected – where would you rather be? Would you feel better if it was a hundred people; a thousand; a million? And if Death and Hades have been given power over that segment, and do not exert it fully, then what was the point of granting them that authority?

The debate can go back and forth but I’m more interested in the motivation for arguing all the above in the first place. There seems to be a need for some non-pretribulationists to shift the seals towards the middle of the week and to minimise the severity of the seal judgments. Why is this?

A further attempt to refute the claim that God’s wrath occurs pre 6th seal is to argue that believers (eg 5th seal martyrs) aren’t destined for God’s wrath therefore it cannot occur before the rapture which occurs later in the week. One problem with that view is that whatever rapture timing you hold to, there has to be some people who are saved after the rapture to populate the Millennium. Those who are saved after the rapture also become believers who will experience God’s wrath. So, the dynamics are exactly the same as with the pre-trib scenario.

Here are some articles from a pretribulational perspective:


What Do the First Four Seals Reveal About God’s Wrath?

How Will God Express His Wrath Upon the Earth?


I’ve previously pointed out the parallels between the four judgments of Sword, Famine, Wild Beasts and Plagues in Ezekiel 14:21 and Rev 6:8. But someone will protest that God has used plagues, men etc in the past and believers would have been subjected to these events - therefore God’s wrath needs to be expressed supernaturally in the 70th week to be viable for the Church’s exemption.

God has poured His wrath/orge out before and has used several means for doing so (Rom 13:4 etc). Historically, God’s wrath has most often been used to chastise Israel and surrounding Gentile nations. In all those cases it was regional and limited. However, in Daniel’s 70th week, it will be global and Ezekiel 14 matches Rev 6 because it is prophetic of that period. The 70th week is unique because it will incorporate all of the four judgments for the first time AND globally.

But to be honest, this argument really baffles me. Aren’t the events at the 6th seal supernatural? So, hasn’t God’s wrath arrived at least by then? What is the primary objection against this being so other than a predisposition for believing God’s wrath occurs later within one's concept of the day of the Lord? Are not the Two Witnesses supernaturally pouring God’s wrath on the whole world and does this not begin mid-week at the latest? (More likely the beginning of the week)

Whatever instrument God uses, it is still His wrath. He can, and will, use men against men as in the 2nd seal and use “Satan’s wrath” against the world. The claim that the Church isn’t exempt from the expression of God’s wrath unless it is specifically delivered supernaturally needs to be supported by Scripture. Second, I would argue that man’s wrath and Satan’s wrath, as extensions of God’s wrath, are delivered supernaturally because Christ enables the events by opening the seals.

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