The wrath of God
thrust in his sickle into the earth
and gathered the vine of the earth,
and cast it
into the great winepress
of the wrath of God.
The wine press was trodden outside the city
and blood poured out of the winepress
to the height of a horse's bridle
for two hundred miles.
(Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, be merciful to me, a sinner.)
How does one reconcile such terrifying descriptions of "the wrath of God" with the idea that God is love?
The truth is that God is indeed love. That which is depicted in this passage as "the wrath of God" is simply the accumulated result of the evil committed by mankind over the millennia. The words of Lincoln's second Inaugural Address come to mind:
"Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"
God in his love has given us freedom, so that we may freely love him, and although he enables us by his grace to choose love, he does not take back that gift of freedom, even when we choose not to love him and it is this choice - the choice to not love God - that is the essence of all evil.
For a time, God shields us from the full effects of the evil that we and all of mankind have committed. As St. Peter says,
The Lord does not delay his promise,
as some regard "delay,"
but he is patient with you,
not wishing that any should perish
but that all should come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9)
Yet there will come a time when the choice will be behind us, when we will have passed the last fork in the road.
If, by the grace of God, we have chosen to love God and to be faithful to that choice, then we will be purified by that grace and experience the fullness of the grace we have lived in the eternal beatific vision of God in heaven.
If, however, (God forbid) we have chosen to not love God or have made a mockery of loving God, then we will experience the fullness of the evil we ourselves have wrought and have only temporarily eluded.
(May God have mercy upon me and make me walk down the center of the path that leads to Him.)
The images are frightening, but the reality is deadly serious - indeed, it is eternally serious.
God gives us the eternal gift of choice. God wants us to choose to love him. We should not delay. We dare not delay. You and I as individuals must choose God and purge ourselves of evil, embracing his truth and his love in its fullness before it is too late.
Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
(adapted from an earlier post)