Thursday, 8 April 2021
he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Revelation 14:10
In the previous verse, the third angel began to issue forth the warning concerning worshiping the beast and his image, and of receiving the beast’s identifying mark. The verse now provides details if the warning is not heeded, saying, “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.”
The words are reminiscent of those of Isaiah 51 –
Stand up, O Jerusalem,
You who have drunk at the hand of the Lord
The cup of His fury;
You have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling,
And drained it out.” Isaiah 51:17
The idea is that God is angry at the disobedience of man. The cup symbolizes that state, and the contents are the resulting actions of that wrath. It is a metaphor used by Jeremiah concerning the judgment of the nations –
“Therefore you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Drink, be drunk, and vomit! Fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.”’ 28 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “You shall certainly drink! 29 For behold, I begin to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished, for I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth,” says the Lord of hosts.’” Jeremiah 25:27-29
It is this idea that is being conveyed now in Revelation. To take the mark of the beast is to openly stand in opposition to the Lord and to the gospel of salvation. There can only be one result because of doing so. That person will drink the cup of God’s wrath. This is something that would have been understood by those at John’s time.
In the Greek culture, a condemned person would be handed a mixture of poison and would have to drink it. It was the manner in which Socrates was executed. For those being referred to by the angel, John next says of this cup, “which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.”
This is not unlike the words of Isaiah –
“For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup,
And the wine is red;
It is fully mixed, and He pours it out;
Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth
Drain and drink down.” Psalm 75:8
The Greek words, translated as “full strength,” are literally “mingled unmingled.” In other words, no water would be added to dilute the mixture when it was poured out. It would be full strength, signifying unmitigated punishment. There would be a full measure of the indignation of God (no possibility of leniency) until that person had received his full punishment. With that in mind, the angel’s terrifying words of warning continue, saying, “He shall be tormented.”
The word “torment” refers to torture. This person has made a stand against God, and God will punish him in a manner fitting of his crime, which is “with fire and brimstone.” Brimstone means sulfur. The Greek word is theion, coming from theios, meaning “divine.” Thus, it looks to the fire of heaven coming down in divine judgment with an unstoppable power. Just as sulfur burns without ceasing, so will the fire and brimstone of God be unquenchable.
The thought goes all the way back to Genesis and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah –
“Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” Genesis 19:24, 25
For those who take the mark, the punishment will be without mercy, and God will bring total destruction upon them. Of this punishment, the angel says it will be “in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”
The magnitude and force of these words cannot be diminished. People might say, “Oh, Jesus would never allow this.” But He is the same Lord who brought the destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah, consigning it to its fate. The angels of destruction were not restrained. Instead, they were given their orders, and the fire and brimstone came.
The same thought permeates Scripture. Those who see Jesus as a cosmic pushover who will never punish sin have failed to understand what the cross signifies: “God’s wrath for your sin will be poured out on Me, or it will be poured out on you. The choice is yours.”
Life application: This verse sees the fulfillment of what is deserved for all people of the earth. God is the Creator – perfect and holy, and also infinite. We are finite and, therefore, one sin infinitely separates us from God. It is worthy of eternal punishment.
Although the subject of the cup of God’s wrath is reflected throughout the Bible, the example on which all commentaries must hinge is the cup which Jesus accepted –
“And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:41-44
In the greatest act of love and tenderness toward His creatures, God united with human flesh and dwelt among us – fully God and fully Man. He never sinned and yet He offered His life in exchange for ours. He offered His perfection for our imperfection; His righteousness for our unrighteousness; His sinless state for our sins.
After this eternal act of love, all He has asked for is that we simply, by faith, accept His work and trust in it for our cleansing and restoration. The full cup of God’s wrath was poured out upon Him. It was drained by Jesus on our behalf. But for those who don’t accept Jesus, the only option left is to drink the same cup that He drank. The difference is great though. Because Jesus is sinless, after His suffering He was resurrected to eternal life.
For those who reject this, they must face God’s wrath full strength – an infinite punishment against an infinite God. The wrath has no end because God is endless. What a tragic and horrible thought – that we would stand bare and exposed without the covering of the righteousness of Christ… such is the wrath awaiting all who reject His offer.
Surely, we need to look to God’s offering now. And we must be sure to tell others about this Gift of love as well. The offer stands as the greatest testament to the love of God – an exchange that brings about eternal joy and peace with the Creator. The offering is JESUS.
Heavenly Father, I stand in awe of the love You have displayed in the Gift of the giving of Your Son and the splendor of His cross. I have nothing to offer that is worthy of this great deed, and so I come before You with empty hands and an open heart, receiving the grace and mercy of His work on my behalf. Thank You, O God, for the cross of Jesus. Amen.