Fait Accompli [8-28-22]

Make no mistake. The Bible is full of great messages of comfort and joy. Two generations ago, Robert Schuller built a ministry on reading the Bible through the power of positive thinking. He simply applied a Christian overlay to Norman Vincent Peale's secular philosophy of positivity. And it wasn't a hard thing to do. Because there is so much that is affirming in the Bible. There's help for marriages and advice for money management and hope for the downtrodden and encouragement for the depressed and so many other avenues for meeting people's emotional needs. It's all there.


Yet that is only half the story. There's always the flip side of the coin:

  • We understand love because we understand hate.

  • We understand truth because we understand lies.

  • We understand goodness because we understand wickedness.

  • We understand reward because we understand punishment.

God cannot love righteousness and faith unless He hates sin and unbelief. 

God cannot love goodness unless He hates wickedness. And on and on. You get the point.


Remember, as we said two weeks ago, Jesus said more about hell than anybody else. In fact, here's a helpful thing to remember:

WHILE THE BIBLE IS A BOOK OF HOPE, IT IS ALSO A BOOK OF JUDGMENT.


Let's start with Revelation 16:1-11:

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.

The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,

“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,    for you brought these judgments.For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,    and you have given them blood to drink.It is what they deserve!”

And I heard the altar saying,

“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,    true and just are your judgments!”

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.


As we move through chapter sixteen, there's a principle we need to understand that's at work here. Throughout chapter sixteen, the wrath of God is a reasonable, rational narrative. It spells out what is and what is to come. It is not to be understood emotionally, for it is not presented emotionally in any way, shape, or form.


Verse one signifies an impressive start to the final destruction. Normally, in Greek grammar, the adjective goes after the noun. That is especially true of all of John's writing. Verse one would normally read, "a voice of loudness." But chapter sixteen is so momentous, he grabs our attention with a loud voice. The Greek is transliterated, "megalḕs phonḕs." We are about to hear of God's absolute destruction of sinners.


Here's the breakdown of the first three bowls of God's wrath.


In the first, plague is the fitting word for those who once bore the mark of the beast…meaning their utter rebellion against God…who are now visited by the marks of God's wrath. Plague. It reminds us of Job 2:

  • "So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape 

himself while he sat in the ashes." {Verse 7-8}

  • "And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great." {Verse 13}

This is absolutely horrific. And there's no relief in sight.


Next, the sea becomes like the blood of a dead person…coagulated and rotting. Everything in the sea dies. Remember, in earlier chapters, portions of things were destroyed, leaving something if people repented. But no longer. Everything putrefies.


Then the third angel. Fresh water turning to blood is the end of the end. How long can life survive without fresh water? Now, with the third bowl of God's wrath, some people might pause and wonder, "How can a God of compassion and a God of mercy and a God of grace do this?" What's the childish cry of every person who doesn't get his or her own way? "It isn't fair!"


I thought God was a God of love, love, love? This can't be fair! My God 

wouldn't do something like that! And just like that, verse five anticipates the objection. Let's hear it again:

“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,    for you brought these judgments.For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,    and you have given them blood to drink.It is what they deserve!”

Who are we to question the righteousness of God? Who are we to question the holiness of God? Who are we to question the virtue of God? Once we start something like that, we've created god in our own image. We end up worshiping ourselves rather than the Savior who died for us on the cross.


God's judgment is right. God's judgment is just. While His wrath is terrifying to the wicked, it is right and deserved. Does not the murderer deserve the punishment meted out by the magistrate? I love how R.C. Sproul put it:

"A GOD WHO IS ALL LOVE, ALL GRACE, ALL MERCY, NO SOVEREIGNTY, NO JUSTICE, NO HOLINESS, AND NO WRATH IS 

AN IDOL."

Remember, what happens in these first eleven verses indicates a corner has been turned. The time for repentance has ended. As Charles Spurgeon observed, "God's time must be our time, or it will come to pass that, when time closes, we shall look in vain for space for repentance." Which is merely a commentary on Hebrews 10:26-27:

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

Woe to those who persevere in evil. But blessed are those who persevere in faithfulness.


Now, let's look at verses twelve through sixteen:

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.


Frogs are divisive. People either love them or they hate them. Every civilization, in every part of the world where frogs and toads are found, from the beginning of recorded history, are generally creeped out by frogs. They are an almost universal symbol for what is loathsome and disgusting.

  • Show picture of frog.

  • Show picture of Demodex.

  • Show cute frog painting.

Everybody's got their own hang-up. The point here is frogs represent the secular propaganda spewed out by governments and institutions everywhere. These are the false spiritual powers vying for the devotion of unbelievers. Here's something else you might want to write down:

THEY ARE LEADING PEOPLE TO AN UNCONDITIONAL COMMITMENT TO THE CAUSE OF EVIL.

We see and hear examples of that every day. Evil rises up out of the muck and the mire and the slime. It is detestable. And it is heading for a showdown. You heard the location of the showdown where verse sixteen ended. It's been in movie titles and dystopian literature. Armageddon. And just as I might have let some of you down with the less-than-sensational explanation of "666," I'm sorry to say it's going to happen here, as well. While there are countless explanations and theories of the Armageddon reference, geographically, there is no singularly clear understanding. Here is the best I can do:

Wherever it takes place, Armageddon is symbolic of the final overthrow of all the forces of evil by the might and power of God.


We now move from Armageddon to the last five verses:

The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.


The seven plagues have run their course. And so the voice of God cries out, "It is done!" Do you remember what Jesus cried out from the cross? "It is finished." Those whose names have been written in the Lamb's Book of Life…those who have persevered…they have been saved from sin and death. And rightfully so, as if bookended, the wicked are lost forever. Horribleness, for them, has reached its zenith.


But our eyes remain on what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. When verse seventeen says, "It is done!" it means the punishment of the wicked is irreversible. That's where the unsaved world is going. It is inescapable. But to paraphrase the promise Paul writes about in 1 Thessalonians 1:10,  "We wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."


How wonderful is that? How grateful we are that our sins were judged in 

the Body of Jesus Christ on the cross. Amen?


Think of it like this. In light of the coming wrath of God, here's what we know:

  1. OUR GOD IS SOVEREIGN.

  2. OUR SAVIOR IS ALIVE.

  3. OUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN.

  4. OUR HOPE IS SECURED.

  5. OUR LORD IS RETURNING.

THEREFORE, BELIEVERS SHOULD BE THE MOST JOYFUL PEOPLE ON EARTH.


SOLI DEO GLORIA…

To the Glory of God Alone



 


4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

As we launch into this disruptive chapter, we need to remember two ways to read apocalyptic narrative: PREDICTIVE - Using information to determine precisely what will happen in the future. DESCRIPTIVE