The End of Wrath
“Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was hurriedly brought out of the dungeon. When he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile; and seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. Then seven other cows came up after them, poor, very ugly, and thin. Never had I seen such ugly ones in all the land of Egypt. The thin and ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows, but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had done so, for they were still as ugly as before. Then I awoke. I fell asleep a second time and I saw in my dream seven ears of grain, full and good, growing on one stalk, and seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouting after them; and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. But when I told it to the magicians, there was no one who could explain it to me.”
Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind. They are seven years of famine. It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. After them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; the famine will consume the land. The plenty will no longer be known in the land because of the famine that will follow, for it will be very grievous. And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”
The Angels with the Seven Last Plagues
Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.
And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations!
Lord, who will not fear
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your judgments have been revealed.”
Wrath is like a boiling pot. It generally starts completely unnoticeable. Then you start to hear a low hissing of bubbles. Steam begins to hover around it. Then the pot starts to shake (especially if the stove is not perfectly level) Finally, it starts spewing boiling water out. This process becomes even more dramatic if there is a lid tightly sealed on the pot. It becomes explosive.
The purpose of wrath is tied closely with our sense of justice. It is like an itch that lets us know that something is wrong, that we are being bitten, or that we have been touched by something poisonous to us. Justice demands action and it is wrath that propels us into that action.
We have to be very careful how we approach wrath though, because in many cases it leads us into sin. When we strive to take justice into our own hands, we do so without the temperament of mercy and the guidance of wisdom. Following wrath alone is like cutting off an arm because it itches. When punishment becomes an end into itself, we have missed the greater goal of redemption.
We see this most clearly in God’s promises of judgment and visions or wrath. In every instance we see two aspects bubbling up out of the devastation. God leaves room for repentance. Even in the midst of the judgment itself, God often notes that the people still refuse to repent, which means that there is still hope if only they would choose to surrender to Him. Secondly, God makes the point that this wrath is simply an instrument to move the world to repentance so that – every person, of every nation, would come and worship Him. This worship is a return to our source of life and turning away from our own death and destruction we find apart from God. God’s wrath is an instrument of love that brings us home to Him when His wooing no longer works.
Where have you experienced God’s wrath?
How did that wrath change you?