Not the Great Tribulation 

Whether the word "wrath" in the Bible refers to a yet-future 3–1/2 or 7 year great tribulation with its rapture and 1,000 year millennium. My view: no great tribulation, no rapture, no millennium.

The Bible is clear: the word "wrath" refers to God's judgment against sin upon the wicked and unbelieving.

Uses of the word "wrath"...

  1. Final Judgment on the unbelieving, the God-rejecting, the wicked. This occurs immediately after the second coming of Christ at the great white throne judgment.
  2. God's Punishment in General — God's righteous judgment against a nation and/or individuals for wickedness; this including Israel.
  3. Punishment by Rulers for rebelliousness against the state (assumes a righteous government).
  4. Life's Trials and Difficulties — God is in control of everything and even our trials and difficulties are examples of God's wrath.

Final Judgment

The word "wrath" is often used for final judgment on the unbelieving, God-rejecting, wicked. This finally occurs after the second coming of Christ.

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

Notice the two options: (1) salvation, vs (2) wrath.

To wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

Some claim Paul here refers to Christians in the far future (from the time he wrote it) who are waiting for the rapture to save them from the great tribulation which happens soon after.

This would not encourage the Thessalonians in the least unless they believed the rapture would happen in their lifetimes. But it didn't; why would Paul lie to them?

Christ's coming to redeem the faithful in his first coming is an act of judgment for the unbelieving wicked.

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 5:5-6)

Paul mentions the two final conclusions...

  1. The redeemed inherit the kingdom of Christ
  2. The unbelieving wicked experience God's wrath

But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. (Isaiah 26:19-20)

The righteous will not be judged at the final judgment (God's "wrath") but the wicked will be judged.

What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath — prepared for destruction? (Romans 9:22)

Who are the objects of God's wrath? When does this wrath take place? This verse does not refer to the great tribulation but rather the final judgment.


God's Punishment in General

The word "wrath" is often used for God's righteous judgment against a nation and/or individuals for wickedness. This includes judgment against the nation of Israel.

A few verses in which God pours out his wrath against his chosen nation Israel...

I will pour out my wrath upon you and breathe out my fiery anger against you; I will hand you over to brutal men, men skilled in destruction. (Ezekiel 21:31)

So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. (Ezekiel 36:18)

Judah's leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water. (Hosea 5:10)

But the children rebelled against me: They did not follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws — although the man who obeys them will live by them — and they desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in the desert. (Ezekiel 20:21)

So in my anger I gave you a king, and in my wrath I took him away. (Hosea 13:11)

In this verse God directs his wrath on a king of Israel.

Edom may say, "Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins". But this is what the LORD Almighty says: "They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD". (Malachi 1:4)

In this verse God directs his wrath on Edom.

How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. (Luke 21:23)

Notice that this wrath is directed against Israel and the Jews. Therefore, this passage is not referring to the great tribulation of the premillennialists since that event affects the entire world.

They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens — the LORD and the weapons of his wrath — to destroy the whole country. (Isaiah 13:5)

God even uses ungodly nations as instruments of his wrath. The book of Habakkuk deals with this as a main theme.

See, the day of the LORD is coming — a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. (Isaiah 13:9)

This prophecy refers to the overthrow of the Babylonian empire.

The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. (Daniel 11:36)

The "king" is probably King Herod and the "Time of wrath" is probably the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in the Jewish War of 67-70 A.D.


Punishment by Rulers

The word "wrath" can refer to the punishment on God's behalf by political rulers for rebelliousness against the state (the assumption being, the government is at least partially righteous).

Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:2-4)

God uses the political rulers he has appointed to maintain order in society. We are to obey them as long as they don't demand that we disobey God.


Life's Trials and Difficulties

God is in control of all things; even our trials and difficulties are examples of his wrath...

Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. (Psalms 88:16)

The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God's terrors are marshaled against me. (Job 6:4)

For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears because of your great wrath, for you have taken me up and thrown me aside. (Psalms 102:9-10)