Luke 21 reads: “20 When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Here is a classic sense of “wrath” in the Bible:
1. It refers to historical wrath — the working out of God’s judgment in history by horrible consequences for God’s people Israel.
2. Both Mark and Matthew only use the word “tribulation” or “distress” instead of the word “wrath” but I suspect both would see their term as an expression of God’s wrath.
3. This sense of historical wrath is apocalyptic — the end-time act of God against sin.
4. This sense of historical wrath is prophetic — it fulfills what has been predicted time and time again.
If you’d like to read a good, solid, evidentially-based but still readable book on this, I recommend D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares & Pruning Hooks.
The rhetoric of this passage is designed to mark off the people of God from the corrupt leaders; it is designed to warn opponents of the gospel of the tragic consequences that will befall the nation if they do not turn to Jesus as Messiah. I would not see this as evangelistic so much as historical wrath. Could an awakening to faith occur when one realizes what may happen? I would think so.
Wrath is here is the act of God against corruption and corrupt leaders.