The Apostle Paul had this to say to the Corinthians regarding events of the Old Testament:
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10: 11
In the immediate context of the passage, Paul was pointing the Corinthians to accounts of unbelief and sin which were punished by God. Here is what he said leading up to the verse just quoted:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea…Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10: 1 – 2, 5 – 10
Those examples of God’s wrath on Israel are minor in comparison to the great wrath to come upon the whole world. Of this wrath the prophet Obadiah writes, and his words can be of great instruction to us.
For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head. Because just as you drank on My holy mountain, all the nations will drink continually. They will drink and swallow and become as if they had never existed. Obadiah 15 – 16
The wrath of God here is pictured as a cup being poured out; the people are drinking God’s wrath. This prophetic imagery is also used by Jeremiah:
For thus the LORD, the God of Israel, says to me, “Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it…” Jeremiah 25: 15
The notion of God’s wrath being poured out on the nations is an awful thing. It is not awful in that it is bad, but it is awful in that it is full of awe and wonder. The pure justice of God being poured out on deserving sinners, like never before – not even did Noah’s days see such things – this is truly an awful sight to behold.
Who then can be saved? Who will not reap wrath for the sin they have sown? Who will not be forced to drink the cup of the wine of wrath? Simply, amazingly, wondrously – the only people who will not have to drink of the cup will be those who put their trust in the One who drank the cup for them.
And who drank the cup? Jesus of Nazareth.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”…He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26: 36 – 39, 42
The author of Hebrews comments on the account of Christ crying out to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane, saying this:
In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety…And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation… Hebrews 5: 7, 9
Shortly after His words in the garden, Jesus was arrested. And then he was mocked and flogged and crucified unto death. On that cross the wrath of God the Father was poured out upon His Son.
How interesting it is, that before Jesus drank of the wrath of God on Calvary, He shared a cup of wine with His disciples. It was not a cup of wrath, but a cup of forgiveness – of covenant forgiveness – of a forgiveness that God promises on oath to all in Christ, and He will never revoke it.
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26: 26 – 28
So it is that in the end of days, all people will be given a cup to drink. Many will receive a cup of wrath, fulfilling the words of Obadiah. But there are those who will be given a cup, and a seat, at the banquet table of the Messiah; at the marriage supper of the Lamb. And they will drink of the Lord’s forgiveness forever.