Specific Reasons for God’s Anger and Wrath Part Three
The two previous articles presented specific reasons for God’s wrath against Israel. Now we will focus on specific reasons for God’s wrath against other nations.
A Significant Statement Regarding All Nations
Because all nations fail to acknowledge God perfectly and submit to the rule of the personal, sovereign Creator of the universe revealed in the Bible, God tells them, “Come near, you nations, to hear; and heed, you people! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world and all things that come forth from it. For the indignation of the Lᴏʀᴅ is against all nations, and His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to the slaughter” (Isa. 34:1–2). All nations are subject to God’s wrath.
An Israelite Prayer
History has demonstrated that nations that abuse God’s uniquely chosen nation of Israel, which He has appointed to play a key role in fulfilling His purpose for history, are uniquely subject to His divine wrath. Consequently, the following Israelite prayer is significant: “Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know You, and on the kingdoms that do not call on Your name. For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place” (Ps. 79:6–7).
God’s Wrath Against Specific Nations
Egypt. God devastated Egypt for worshiping false gods and enslaving His people Israel:
He worked His signs in Egypt, and His wonders in the field of Zoan; turned their rivers into blood, and their streams, that they could not drink. He sent swarms of flies among them, which devoured them, and frogs, which destroyed them. He also gave their crops to the caterpillar, and their labor to the locust. He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore trees with frost. He also gave up their cattle to the hail, and their flocks to fiery lightning. He cast on them the fierceness of His anger, wrath, indignation, and trouble, by sending angels of destruction among them. He made a path for His anger; He did not spare their soul from death, but gave their life over to the plague, and destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt, the first of their strength in the tents of Ham (Ps. 78:43–51).
Assyria. Assyria devastated the northern kingdom of Israel, greatly damaged the southern kingdom of Judah, and threatened Jerusalem (2 Ki. 18:11–35). Because of the king of Assyria’s attitude, God declared,
Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.” For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent; also I have removed the boundaries of the people, and have robbed their treasuries; so I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man” (Isa. 10:12–13).
God said He would “stretch out His hand against the north, destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation, as dry as the wilderness” (Zeph. 2:13).
Through the prophet Nahum, he pronounced judgment on Assyria, vowing to destroy its capital city, Nineveh:
The burden against Nineveh….God is jealous, and the Lᴏʀᴅ avenges; the Lᴏʀᴅ avenges and is furious. The Lᴏʀᴅ will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies. Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him. The Lᴏʀᴅ has given a command concerning you: Your name shall be perpetuated no longer. Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the molded image. I will dig your grave, for you are vile.“Behold, I am against you,” says the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts, “I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall be heard no more. It shall come to pass that all who look upon you will flee from you, and say, ‘Nineveh is laid waste! Who will bemoan her?’ Where shall I seek comforters for you?”(Nah. 1:1–2, 6, 14; 2:13; 3:7).
The Medes and Babylonians crushed Assyria as a power by destroying Nineveh in 609 B.C.
Babylon. Babylon was idolatrous, proud, violent, and covetous of what other nations possessed (Hab. 1:11; 2:5, 8–9; Jer. 50:2). It devastated Judah, destroyed Jerusalem and Israel’s first Temple, killed many Jewish people, and deported most of the surviving ones to Babylon in 586 B.C.
So the prophet Jeremiah delivered the following message from God: “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria’” (Jer. 50:18). That divine punishment would involve “the fierce anger of the Lᴏʀᴅ” (51:45).
The Medes and Persians jointly conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.
Moab. The Moabites were descendants of Lot. Thus they were related to the Israelites. But God promised them His “awesome” judgment because, in their pride, He said, “They have reproached My people, and made arrogant threats against their borders” (Zeph. 2:8). As “the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts, the God of Israel,” He declared, “Surely Moab shall be like Sodom,…overrun with weeds and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation. The residue of My people shall plunder them, and the remnant of My people shall possess them” (v. 9).
Ammon. The Ammonites also were descendants of Lot. Although they, too, were related to Israel by ancestry, they were hostile and sometimes brutal to Israel, ripping open pregnant Jewish women (Amos 1:13).
Consequently, God gave the following commandment to the prophet Ezekiel:
And you, son of man, prophesy and say, “Thus says the Lord Gᴏᴅ concerning the Ammonites and concerning their reproach,…‘I will judge you in the place where you were created, in the land of your nativity. I will pour out My indignation on you; I will blow against you with the fire of My wrath, and deliver you into the hands of brutal men who are skillful to destroy. You shall be fuel for the fire; your blood shall be in the midst of the land. You shall not be remembered, for I the Lᴏʀᴅ have spoken’” (Ezek. 21:28, 30–32).
Elam. Elam, east of Babylon, became part of Persia (Dan. 8:2). Scripture does not reveal the specific reason for the following expression of God’s wrath against that nation:
The word of the Lᴏʀᴅ that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts: ‘Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the foremost of their might. Against Elam I will bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and scatter them toward all those winds; there shall be no nations where the outcasts of Elam will not go. For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies and before those who seek their life. I will bring disaster upon them, My fierce anger’ says the Lᴏʀᴅ; ‘and I will send the sword after them until I have consumed them. I will set My throne in Elam, and will destroy from there the king and the princes’” (Jer. 49:34–38).
Philistia: In a context that emphasizes fierce anger and wrath, God declared, “Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites! The word of the Lᴏʀᴅ is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines: ‘I will destroy you; so there shall be no inhabitant.’ The seacoast shall be pastures, with shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks. The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah” (Zeph. 2:5–7).
Iran, Sudan, Libya, Turkey, and Russia. Ezekiel 38 reveals a massive, future military invasion of Israel by a multinational force. Five of those nations are identified in Ezekiel 38:5–6. The first nation, Persia, is today Iran. The second nation listed is Ethiopia. But, according to the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, “The designation Ethiopia is misleading, for it did not refer to the modern state of Ethiopia or Abyssinia.”1 The word translated “Ethiopia” is Cush. Biblical Cush bordered Egypt on the south and today is known as Sudan.2
The third nation, Libya, continues today as the western neighbor of Egypt.
In Ezekiel’s time the fourth and fifth nations, Gomer and Togarmah, existed in the central and eastern parts of modern Turkey.3, 4
These nations will be led by a sixth nation, Gog, of the land of Magog (38:2). Ancient writers said Magog was located near the Black and Caspian Seas north of the Caucasus Mountains, in the southern part of 20th-century Russia.5 The Hebrew language indicates Gog will attack Israel from the “extreme or uttermost parts” of the north (v. 15; 39:2).6 Russia is the nation located in the extreme, or uttermost parts, directly north of Israel.
God’s attitude toward these invaders will be characterized by fury, jealousy, and fiery wrath (38:18–19). He will actively intervene to destroy the massive invading force with a fierce earthquake, landslides, self-destructive panic, pestilence, excessive rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone (vv. 19–22).
God’s Wrath Against All Nations
God declared, “My determination is to gather the nations to My assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all my fierce anger” (Zeph. 3:8; cf. Joel 3:9–16). Again He stated, “I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem….Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:2–3). This destruction of leaders and armies of all nations will take place at the Second Coming of Christ, when His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives after the seven-year Tribulation (v. 4; cf. Rev. 19:11–21).
- Philip C. Johnson, “Cush,” Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Charles F. Pfeiffer, Howard F. Vos, John Rea (Chicago: Moody Press, 1975), 1:411.
- J. Reeve and Roland K. Harrison, “Gomer,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Fully Revised, ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982), 2:524.
- J. Hemer, “Togarmah,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1988), 4:868, and “Cappadocia” (1979), 1:611.
- R. Millard, “Scythians,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1988), 4:365.
- John E. Hartley, “yarka,” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 1:408.