Will you be “delivered from the wrath to come” ?
Americans have grown accustomed to sitting in our TV easy chairs and watching wars, famines, violence unrest, etc., in far away countries. We turn on the big screen TV and watch the world in chaos and suffering, and then click over to the ball game.
What a shocker, then, when our safe haven of the continental United States joins the rest of the world in experiencing first-hand the onset of GLOBAL plague, lawlessness, moral decadence, border-less globalism, human trafficking, and a whole host of End Time Signs. Rather than turning to our foundational principal of "One Nation Under God", we cave in to the twin precepts of "Cancel God-Cancel Foundational America".
Suddenly, the U.S. is not immune to the traumas seen in the rest of the world. And for many people, including Christians, the reaction—to what is surely warning calls from God— is the sudden fearful realization that this country is vulnerable!
The wrath of God, in fact, is coming upon the whole world in far greater intensity. But in His abounding grace, He promised that there would be those who will be “delivered from the wrath to come.”
What has occurred thus far is only a foretaste of the final outpouring of God’s wrath upon a God-forsaking world. There is a future, final “wrath” to come. The Bible calls that period the Great Tribulation.
But for those who are born again in Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 reveals a divine rescue of Christians from that period. Will you be among them? We read,
For they themselves report ... how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
When we read carefully the description of the Great Tribulation in Revelation chapters 6-19, we see that the outpouring of the judgments of that 7-year end-of-the-age period are referred to as God’s “wrath.” There are three sets of divine judgments upon the earth which each come in series of seven. The seven seal judgments, the seven trumpet judgments and the seven bowl judgments run in approximate consecutive order from the beginning to the end of the 7-year tribulation (though the 7 Seals "umbrella" the entire 7-year Tribulation). The seventh seal retro-actively unleashes the first trumpet. The seventh trumpet unleashes the first bowl, and the seventh bowl results in the return of Christ amid a final outpouring of God’s wrath. In the graphic below, notice that each of these judgment groups—7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls— are referred to as God’s “wrath.” The beginning, the first 4 Seals, are to be correlated with God's "Wrath [of] four severe judgments" in Ezekiel 14:19-21.The bowl judgments confirm the terminal point of God’s wrath when they are called the “seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished.” (Rev. 15:1). The 7-year Tribulation, then, is framed by a beginning and ending timeline of "WRATH".
It is clear that “the wrath to come” in 1 Thes. 1:10 refers to the future 7-year Tribulation.
The “Wrath to Come” is Future
Messianic Christian-Jew scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes regarding 1 Thessalonians 1:10:
The word “wrath” is used of God’s general wrath against sin as in Romans 1:18 and also of the wrath of the Great Tribulation as in Revelation 6:17, 14:10,19, 15:1,7, 16:1, etc. The word is never used of either hell of the Lake of Fire. The wrath of God here is future, and, hence, cannot refer to the general wrath of God against sin which is a present reality. This wrath is future.
While hell and the Lake of Fire are also future, they cannot be what this passage is referring to. By virtue of his salvation, the believer is already redeemed from hell. Christ is not returning for the purpose of delivering the church from hell of the Lake of Fire, for this has already been done at the cross. Thus, the wrath that the church is being delivered from is the wrath of the Great Tribulation. Christ is coming for the specific purpose of delivering the church from “the wrath to come,” namely, the tribulation period.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps Of The Messiah, Ariel Ministries Press, 1983, p.103.
Jesus spoke twice of the time when the Church (true, born again believers) would be “delivered from the wrath to come”.
1. The first time is found in John 14:1-3, where He said,
"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
He is going to come again to take believers to the Father’s house (heaven).
2. The second mention of this event by Jesus is found in Revelation 3:10 in His message to the church of Philadelphia.
'Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
Notice that this promise says Christians will be
1) kept from,
2) a time (“hour”) of testing,
3) that will be worldwide,
4) which includes God’s wrath because it will test unbelievers (“those who dwell upon the earth”)
5) and that this promise is given to all true churches (“hear what the Spirit says to the churches”, Rev. 3:22),
Bible scholar Charles Ryrie explains,
The church is also promised deliverance from the hour of trial which shall come upon all the world. The word [testing is equivalent] for “tribulation” (cf. Luke 8:13 with Mat. 13:21 and Mark 4:17). The verse indicates that this does not refer to the normal trials of Christians but to a special hour of trial which will be worldwide. Even the persecutions which believers have and are suffering today at the hands of particular nations do not fulfill this verse since they are not worldwide. The promise of the Lord is that the church will be kept from that hour. It is well known that the phrase “keep from” is used only twice in the New Testament—here and in John 17:15. In the latter reference the Lord prayed that believers would be kept from the evil one, which prayer is answered by delivering us from the power of darkness, transferring us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13). In this passage believers are promised to be kept from that hour.
The most natural meaning of the promise includes transferring us to heaven from the earth where the hour of [testing] will be going on. It is possible to conceive of the church’s being protected from the judgments of the tribulation period while remaining on the earth, but we know that God’s saints on the earth during that time will not be exempt from the judgments or from death (Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9-14; 14:1-3; 15:1-3;). One might be kept from the tribulation without a pretribulation rapture, but how can one be kept from the hour without being raptured? If the church will not be raptured before the hour begins, then the promise will not be fulfilled because many saints simply will not be preserved but will suffer and die. Charles Ryrie, Revelation, Moody Press, 1968, pp. 29-30
Jesus told of a future
deliverance from a
From the lips of Jesus Himself, when we consider John 14:1-3 and Rev. 3:10 together, we learn that
1. Jesus will come again, to...
2. keep us from a period of time on the earth
3. when there will be a worldwide testing
4. by taking us to the Fathers house in heaven.
This is the deliverance “from the wrath to come” as promised in 1 Thes. 1:10.
The Lord Knows How To Rescue The Godly
Peter writes of 3 past judgments when God condemned wicked angels, the wicked generation of Noah’s day, and the sinful societies of Sodom and Gomorrah. He mentions that in the ancient world God “preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others [Noah’s family], when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:5). Peter further reminds us that when, centuries later, God “condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter” that He “rescued righteous Lot” who is called a “righteous man.” Peter then makes his point that, in light of these two examples, we can be assured that, “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation [trial or tribulation], and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, (2 Peter 2:6-9)
Passages like this shine additional light on our 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 promise that Jesus “delivers us from the wrath to come.” Peter’s reminder of these two great deliverances (rescues) of the past recalls what Paul had written in Romans 15:4,
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
ABOVE: Noah & his family RESCUED; Gen 7:23.
BELOW: Lot & his daughters RESCUED; Gen 19:29.
The Ultimate Deliverance
The Bible is full of promises of deliverance for God’s people from dangers, afflictions and troubles. But what about those who are not delivered? There is no record in the Bible or in history of a believer who was not delivered, simply because of the Ultimate Deliverance. Paul mentions this in regards to himself.
In 2 Timothy chapter 4 Paul mentions that he expects that his time of “departure” (the departure of his soul to be with Christ at the time of his bodily death) is near. Then in verse 17 he tells of being delivered “out of the lion’s mouth”, which probably refers to being spared execution during his imprisonment. Then he makes this statement,
The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 2 Timothy 4:18
Here Paul is saying that he will be delivered from all of the evils of this present world and life—through death—when the Lord brings him “safely to His heavenly kingdom” into eternal life. Every believer who ever lived has experienced, or will experience, this ultimate deliverance (of course the final generation living will not experience death since they will be "caught up" in the Rapture).
Why God brings some of His children into this ultimate deliverance before they live out a normal life span, only He knows.
But it is still the Ultimate Deliverance!