You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve. Revelation 16:5-6

As I pondered this verse it occurred to me that we greatly underestimate three things: God’s holiness, God’s justice and God’s patience.

The outcomes of God’s judgments as portrayed in Revelation are horrendous to our modern minds. However, it’s because we underestimate the enormity of sin in the presence of a holy God. We are surprised by the sudden death experiences of people like Uzzah, Nadab, Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira yet they are reminders that every sin warrants the death penalty. The cross was an enormous price for God to pay in order to forgive us but was completely necessary, such is his holiness.

This verse also tells us God’s judgments are just. We may find them extreme but it’s because we underestimate God’s justice. Evil deserves all the punishments that God will pour out. Currently, God’s justice is postponed but it doesn’t mean it’s cancelled. The day is coming when he will act and all will acknowledge that God is entirely just.

Furthermore, this verse suggests that currently, we live in the time of God’s patience. Throughout the outpouring of God’s judgments, we find references to people having the opportunity to repent. Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise … He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

While we may struggle with some of the imagery in the book of Revelation, let’s remember God’s awesome holiness, his righteous justice, and his incredible patience with us.