Why would God allow the earth to experience the terrible devastation of a nuclear war in the end times?
Is He not the God of love and compassion? The God of all mercy? Certainly the Bible makes plain that God is all of that. Yet we also learn from the Bible that "Our God is a consuming fire," (Hebrews 12:29) and that He will not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:7).
It is interesting to note the way God judges sin in individuals and nations. We find that He almost never seems to bring immediate judgment for sin. He allows people to lead cruel and wicked lives for years while enjoying prosperity. This is the great stumbling block that has caused many to question either God's love or His involvement in human affairs. Job cried out, "The tents of robbers prosper, and those who provoke God are secure — in what God provides by His hand" (Job 12:6).
We find that sin has an accumulating effect. In the book of Revelation we read about Babylon: "Her sins have reached up unto heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities" (Revelation 18:5). In Genesis, Abraham was told that his descendants would have to wait 400 years before they could take possession of the promised land, for "the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete" (Genesis 15:16). It appears that God lets sin "pile up" for years, or even generations before it provokes Him to act in swift decisive judgment and destruction. In Romans, Paul writes that sinners are "storing up for themselves wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Romans 2:5).
If that is true for nations and individuals, could it not also be true for the entire planet? What if God has been restraining His judgment for thousands of years, while men have filled the earth with blood, hatred, war and immorality? Could it be that the terrible plagues and judgments in the book of Revelation are the accumulation of God's wrath over the history of mankind, stored up for that season of time which would immediately precede the return of the Lord Jesus Christ? This certainly appears to be the thought given in the sixth chapter of Revelation where the world's leaders, along with the rich and the poor of the earth cry out, "The great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Revelation 6:17).
Is there any hope?
Up to this point the picture seems grim and hopeless. And in a certain way it is. There is no hope for this present evil age. It is under a death sentence from Almighty God. The flood of hatred, violence, immorality, abortion, homosexuality, and the mockery of all that is good and holy will finally produce a response from heaven. God has decreed that this present evil age shall pass away in a flame of fire, death, and judgment. No amount of peace talks, goodwill conferences, or think tanks will be able to change that.
Likewise those who refuse to repent and turn to Christ are in a hopeless situation. There is no peace or security for those who determine to live life by their own rules. When God's wrath begins to fall, it will overtake the rich and the poor, the celebrities along with the unknown, the sophisticates with the simpletons. No hiding place on earth, no amount of wealth or prestige, no measure of cleverness or ingenuity will be able to spare people from the wrath to come.
The good news in all of this is that God has always provided a hiding place whenever He poured out His wrath. In Noah's flood, that safety was found in the ark. In the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot was told to flee to the mountains. Rahab found safety from the destruction of her city by staying in her house with a scarlet cord tied to the window.
In these last days God's hiding place will be found, not in a cave in the mountains, not in a mammoth ark, but in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was on His Cross that Jesus took the wrath of God upon Himself, in order that those who would put their trust in Him might be spared. The Scriptures tell us, "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9). For those whose godly lives reveal that they have truly placed their faith in Jesus, He will come and take them unto Himself.