In the Scriptures, we are told that those who follow Christ will be saved from the Wrath of God.
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ 1Thess. 5:9
The above verse clearly states that God’s people will not suffer God’s Wrath, which is often mistaken to mean that believers will not experience the events of the Great Tribulation. Contrary to this idea, the Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God are two, separate events. The Great Tribulation describes the period when wrath of Satan will be poured out on those who maintain their testimony of Jesus, and the Wrath of God describes the period when the judgments of God will be poured out on those who shed the blood of God’s holy people. Accordingly, the fact that God’s people will not suffer the Wrath of God does not mean that they will not have to patiently endure through the Great Tribulation, which will occur first.
The Great Tribulation
In the Scriptures, the Great Tribulation refers to the time when God’s people will be killed for their faith in numbers that cannot be counted.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev. 7-10, 14-15
From the above passages we learn that the Great Tribulation will be a time when the saints will be killed in numbers so great that they cannot be counted, and will come as a result of the wrath of Satan who will wage a war against God’s people.
Then the dragon (Satan) was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war (the Great Tribulation) against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. Rev. 12:17
The war against God’s people will be carried out by the Beast, who is more commonly known as the antichrist, who will be given power to wage Satan’s war against God’s people for forty-two months (3 1/2 years).
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. Rev. 13:5-7
The rise of the Beast will be accompanied by the rise of a False Prophet, who is described as a Second Beast, who will cause anyone who does not worship the Beast to be killed.
The second beast (The False Prophet) was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. Rev. 13:15
In the above verses, the Great Tribulation is clearly described as being a function of the wrath of Satan who will empower the Beast and the False Prophet to conquer God’s people.
The Wrath of God
Following the Great Tribulation, which will come as a result of the wrath of Satan, the Wrath of God will take place that will avenge the shed blood of God’s people. This can be seen by how John was shown the Martyrs of the Great Tribulation, at the Throne of God, before the Wrath of God was poured out.
I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb. Rev. 16:1-3
In the above verses, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image is a description of those who will refuse to take the Mark of the Beast and who will be killed as a result. When John was shown these martyrs in Heaven, before the the Wrath of God was completed, it tells us that the Great Tribulation will take place before the plagues of the Wrath of God are poured out.
The above order of events can be seen in the following verses that also describe how the blood of God’s people will be shed, before the judgments of God are poured out.
The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were; for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets (the Great Tribulation), and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve (the Wrath of God).” Rev. 16:4-6
In these verses, we see how the Wrath of God will be poured out after the blood of God’s people has been shed. In this way, the Wrath of God will avenge the blood of the martyrs who will be killed in the Great Tribulation. Accordingly, God’s people will not suffer the Wrath of God, but they will have to patiently endure through the Great Tribulation.
Whoever has ears, let them hear. “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. Rev. 1:9-10
For a chapter-by-chapter study of the Revelation, click here: Revelation by Chapter-Introduction.
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