Pastor Michael Brigmond 

Apostolic Lighthouse Church, Kissimmee, FL

View From the Lighthouse

 Volume 11, Issue 4, Oct 2005

Reprinted by permission  

 “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:9)

One of the most common statements used in defense of the pre-tribulation rapture is, “We are not appointed to God’s wrath.” While this statement is true, it does nothing in defending the doctrine of a “rapture” before the tribulation. Post-tribulation believers also believe that “We are not appointed to God’s wrath.”

1 Thessalonians 5:9 plainly states, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Evidently the word “wrath” produces an image of fury, torment, destruction, mutilation and even death. One may envision someone so enraged that his facial expression becomes distorted, nostrils flaring, eyes blazing, a deep reddening of the skin, teeth exposed in a fierce snarl and guttural sounds emanating as if from the depths of hell itself. All in all, not a pretty picture; we really don’t want to be on the receiving end of anyone’s wrath, especially God’s! 

With man there is a fine line between anger and rage. While anger may be contained and even controlled, rage is completely out of control, and wrath far exceeds both. Murders have been committed in the heat of jealousy. One pushed beyond one’s personal limit may burst out in rage and do great harm, beyond what would have been believed of that person. Anger may grow hot enough to melt one’s self-restraint, pushing an otherwise rational individual to a fierce outburst of passion; quivering and shaking uncontrollably; vexed with an emotional poison until rage turns to wrath. The outcome of wrath is mostly unpredictable, even unimaginable, and far too often unpreventable.

So, what was Paul conveying to the Thessalonians? Simply that God has appointed a time of wrath upon this world that will reach every unsaved, ungodly, un-repented sinner, but that wrath is not intended for His bride, the church. While it is not a defense for, or a proof of, a pre-tribulation rapture, it is a comforting promise to the church. While the vials of wrath are being poured out upon the earth, they will not be poured upon the saints; even though the saints of God will still be here on earth at that time.

There is no hope for anyone who is appointed to God’s wrath. Rest assured that all who are appointed to His wrath will be present and accounted for. They may come trembling, screaming, cursing, crying, clawing, spitting and sputtering, but they will all show up and receive what God has promised. God cannot lie and He will fulfill all of His promises, even when those promises concern meting out justice to the ungodly. Just as God will make sure that all who are appointed to his wrath receive it, he will also make sure that none receive it that are not appointed to it.

In an attempt to defend the pre-trib rapture, some say, “We (the church) are not appointed to God’s wrath,” but it is not a defense at all, only an acknowledgement of a lack of Scriptural understanding. Ezra understood the plan of God quite well. It’s a shame theologians today are so baffled.

“For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him." (Ezra 8:22) 

We have many Old Testament instances where the Lord’s wrath was kindled against his disobedient people, Israel.

“And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched.” (Numbers 11:1-2) 

We see fire from the Lord reach out to those who complained, but did not destroy everyone, only those for whom it was sent. Then we read of those who were not satisfied with the manna God supplied, but lusted for meat.

And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague. And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted. (Numbers 11:33-34)

Notice, the plague was not for everyone, even though they were all present, but only for whom it was sent, those who, “lusted.” Five chapters later a rebellion was underway; with Korah leading a band of 250 of Israel’s finest rebels against the authority of Moses. Before God’s judgment was executed upon the rebels, the Lord instructed Moses to warn those with Korah, and all those close by, to separate themselves from that rebellious group lest they be destroyed. Though separated, all of the people were present. They all witnessed the event, but only the rebellious ones for whom the judgment was sent were swallowed up when the ground beneath them opened. Those who heeded the warning were present, but safe.

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