. . . Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
Do you remember the time you were lost as a child, or slipping over a precipice, or about to drown? Then suddenly you were rescued. You held on for “dear life.” You trembled for what you almost lost. You were happy. O, so happy, and thankful. And you trembled with joy.
That’s the way I feel at the end of the year about my rescue from God’s wrath. All day Christmas we had a fire in the fireplace. Sometimes the coals were so hot that when I stoked it my hand really hurt. I pulled back and shuddered at the horrendous thought of the wrath of God against sin in hell. O how unspeakably horrible that will be!
Christmas afternoon I visited a woman who had been burned over 87 percent of her body. She has been in the hospital since August. My heart broke for her. How wonderful it was to hold out hope to her from God’s word! But I came away not only thinking about her pain in this life, but also about the everlasting pain I have been saved from through Jesus.
Test my experience with me. Is this trembling joy a fitting way to end the year? Paul was glad that the Lord from heaven is “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). He warned that “for those who do not obey the truth there will be wrath and fury” (Romans 2:8). And “because of [fornication, impurity and covetousness] the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6).
Here at the end of the year, I am finishing my trek through the Bible and reading the last book, Revelation. It is a glorious prophecy of the triumph of God, and the everlasting joy of all who “take the water of life without price” (22:17). No more tears, no more pain, no more depression, no more sorrow, no more death (21:4).
But O, the horror of not repenting and holding fast to the testimony of Jesus! The description of the wrath of God by the “apostle of love” (John) is terrifying. Those who spurn God’s love will “drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and [they] shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night” (14:10–11). “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (20:15). Jesus will “tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty” (19:15). And “blood will flow from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle for two hundred miles” (14:20).
I tremble with joy that I am saved! O, the holy wrath of God is a horrible destiny. Flee this, brothers and sisters. Flee this with all your might. And let us save as many as we can! No wonder there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous! (Luke 15:7).