Reward or Wrath: Revelation’s Insights into God’s Rule

Amos makes a striking declaration about God’s willingness to reveal his plans.

Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets (Amos 3.7).

Both Daniel and Zechariah spoke of God’s plans that were further considered in Revelation.

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people.

It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever (Daniel 2:44).

And the Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one (Zechariah 14:9).

Paul spoke prophetically in his letter to the church in Corinth.

When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

The vision God gave John summarized what is yet to take place.

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord
and of his Messiah,
and he will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11.15)

The revelation is that the dominion and rule of this world will be transferred to God and his Christ.

The current situation of the world resembles the first verses of Psalm 2.

Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed.
(Psalm 2.1-2)

Revelation’s vision of the ultimate victory completes the message of the second Psalm.

I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have begotten you.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage
and the ends of the earth your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
(Psalm 2.7-9).

The most reasonable response to the truths of prophecy from the Psalms, the prophets, and Revelation is stated at the end of Psalm 2.

Happy are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2.12).

Response to the Vision

The heavenly host responds to the fulfillment of God’s kingship with actions that resemble the last verses of Psalm 2.

Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, singing,

“We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty,
who are and who were,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign. (Revelation 11.16-17)

God’s rule is viewed by the host of heaven as already having taken place. They know the end of the story and act accordingly.

Humans on earth live in a time that is “already, but not yet” realized. Jesus has already won the victory, but the end has not yet been consummated.

Faithful devotion to Jesus is required of Jesus’ followers until we reign with him in his Father’s kingdom.

Reward and Wrath

How humans respond to the fact of God’s rule will determine their future. Like Psalm 2, the raging nations will face God’s wrath.

People who live in the fear of the Lord will receive a reward.

“The nations raged,
but your wrath has come,
and the time for judging the dead,

For rewarding your servants, the prophets
and saints and all who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11.18)

God’s rule involves divine wrath against a defiant world.

The earlier picture of the twenty-four elders placing their crowns at the feet of Jesus demonstrates the truth that all of our rewards are the result of God’s grace through Jesus and the Spirit.

For Our Consideration . . .

John’s vision reminds us to have faith in God’s ultimate plan for the world and to live our lives in devotion to Jesus.

It also encourages us to strive for a life of righteousness and to be mindful of the consequences of our actions, as we will face either reward or wrath depending on how we respond to God’s rule.

We are invited to take refuge in God and to trust in His sovereignty over all things.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube. It is on the Bob Spradling channel.

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