Sermon: Satan Bound at Christ’s First Coming: Revelation 20:1-3

New Testament Reading: Revelation 20:1-10

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:1–10, ESV)

Sermon

I am well aware of the fact that Revelation 20 verses 1 through 6 is perhaps the most hotly debated text in the book of Revelation.

The question before us today is, when will the things that are described in this passage happen in relation to the second coming of Christ? More specifically, when will the “the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, [be] bound?”  Continue reading

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Sermon: Christ Our Champion: Revelation 19:11-21

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 63:1–6

The Lord’s Day of Vengeance: “Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? ‘It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.’ Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? ‘I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.’” (Isaiah 63:1–6, ESV)

Sermon Text: Revelation 19:11-21

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” (Revelation 19:11–21, ESV)

Sermon

Brothers and sisters, you notice that we are rapidly approaching the end of our study of the book of Revelation. I have mixed emotions about this. I do look forward to what’s next (a carefully study of the book of Genesis), but I’ve grown to love this book that, at one time, seemed intimidating and impractical to me. Now when I think of the book of Revelation I think of a book that is relatively clear, and immensely helpful to the people of God. The thought of the book of Revelation warms my heart and encourages my soul. That is something that I could not say five years ago. Continue reading

Hallelujah!

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 148

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 148, ESV)

Sermon Text: Revelation 19:1-10

“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’ Once more they cried out, ‘Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’ And from the throne came a voice saying, ‘Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.’ Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.’ For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:1–10, ESV)

Introduction 

The thing that differentiates the people of God from those who are of the world is that those who belong to God worship God, whereas those who belong to the world worship the things of this world.

All people worship. Even the most devout atheist worships. The atheist, though he may deny the existence of God, has a god of his own. Someone or something owns his heart. He lives for something. He finds his pleasure and satisfaction somewhere. He has some source of hope. Even the atheist worships as he looks to this thing or that, saying, “this is of ultimate worth.”

The questions is not, “do we worship?”, for all do. Instead the question is, do we worship aright. Do we worship that which is truly worthy of worship? And do we worship that one aright?

You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that the book of Revelation is all about worship. When we began the study of this book over a year ago you probably assumed that the book was about the future. What we have found is that, although the book does reveal some things about the future, it is really a book about worship. It reveals what it reveals in order to urge the reader to worship aright – to worship, not the things of this world, but God who made the world, and the Christ, who is the God-man, and our redeemer.

Really, those are our two options. Either we worship the things of this world, or we worship the God who made the world and all things therein. That we will worship is unavoidable! To worship is to be human, and to be human is to worship! The question is, will we rightly worship our Creator, or will we wrongly give worship to something in his creation?

One way for us to talk about the fall of man and the entrance of sin into the world is to describe it as worship gone wrong. The first sin, and indeed all sin, can be described as worship misdirected, or worship bent out of shape. To sin is to transgress God’s holy law. And the summary of God’s holy law is to, first, love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and second, to love our neighbor as ourself. Every sin that we commit is committed because we have, in some way, failed to love God supremely and as we should. We have looked to some other thing in God’s creation and have loved it more than God. To sin is, therefore, to fail in worship.

Some worship their possessions. Some worship their entertainment. Some worship their food, others their drink. Some worship other people and the relationships that they have with them. Some worship sex. Some money, power and fame. Some worship demons. And some worship god’s that they have made for themselves, either god’s carved out of wood and stone, or ideas about God that come, not from him, but from themselves, based, not upon divine revelation, but upon human reason.

Those who belong to God worship God as he has revealed himself to us in history, through his Son, and by his word. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1–2, ESV). It is the wholehearted and faithful worship of this God that the book of Revelation is urging. We are to worship this God, the one true God who created the heavens and the earth. He is the God who speaks. He has given us his word. He has graciously disclosed himself to us. We are to worship this God, the one true God, through faith in Jesus the Christ, who, because of our sin and our alienation from God, has been graciously given as the only “mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5, ESV).

What do you worship?

Whom do you worship?

To whom or what do you look to and say, “that is of ultimate worth and is worthy of my devotion, my trust, my heart, indeed my very life?”

Notice three things about Revelation 19:1-10.

We Are Seven Times In This Passage Urged To Give Worship To God

First of all, notice how we are seven times in this passage urged to give worship to God.

The word “hallelujah” appears four times in this passage. In verse 1“a great multitude in heaven” is heard by John “crying out, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God” (Revelation 19:1, ESV). In verse 3 they again cry out, saying, “hallelujah!” In verse 4 it is “the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures [who fall] down and [worship] God who was seated on the throne, saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’” (Revelation 19:4, ESV). And in verse 6 John again hears the voice of a great multitude “like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns’” (Revelation 19:6, ESV).

The word “hallelujah” here is a Greek transliteration of a Hebrew compound word which means, “praise YHWH”, or, put all in English, “praise the LORD”. So when you say “hallelujah” you are in fact speaking Hebrew. You are urging the praise of YHWH! “Praise the LORD”, is what it means.

It was appropriate for us to read Psalm 148 at the beginning of this sermon for the first and last words of that Psalm are, in Hebrew, “הַ֥לְלוּ יָ֨הּ”. And the throughout the repeated refrain is, “praise the Lord!”

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.” (Psalm 148:1–5, ESV)

PsaLm 148 and Revelation 19:1-10 share this in common: both urge the praise of YHWH using the word “hallelujah”.

The praise of God is urged also in Revelation 19:5 where we read, “And from the throne came a voice saying, ‘Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great’” (Revelation 19:5, ESV). Also, we should consider verse 7 where the multitude says, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory…” (Revelation 19:7, ESV). And then seventhly, and lastly, in verse 10 we read John’s words, “Then I fell down at his [the angel’s] feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God” (Revelation 19:10, ESV).

Do you see, then, that the objective of this passage from beginning to end is to urge the worship of the one true God, YHWH, the Creator of heaven and earth, Lord Most High. And do you see how easy it is for our worship to be misdirected. Even John the Apostle, being perhaps overwhelmed with the vision that he saw, did bow down before an angel, bring upon himself a swift and firm rebuke: “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.”

You see God is the only one who is worthy to receive worship. Nothing in all of creation – not even holy and righteous angels – are worthy to receive praise, for they are creatures, and not the Creator. Angels and men, though a different species, share much in common. Both are volitional creatures made for the service of God. Not even they, holy as they may be, are to be worshiped, but God only. So the distinction is not between things holy and things sinful, nor is the distinction between things spiritual and physical, but it is the distinction between Creator and creature that is useful in determining who is worthy to receive worship. It is the Creator only who is worthy to receive worship from his creation.

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.” (Psalm 148:1–5, ESV)

If you are alive today you owe God worship for he is your Maker. And to refrain from giving him the worship he so rightly deserves – worse yet, to take the worship that he deserves and to give it another –  is a most terrible thing. I have a hard time finding the words, to be honest.

The comparison that comes to mind is that of a child, who having been brought into this world by his parents, and having been nurtured by them – sheltered, clothed, fed, loved, disciplined and protected – he goes on only to dishonor them. He cares little for them. When he does speak to them, he speaks rudely. He calls only when he wants something. His love he will not give to them, but he will gladly give to those who are unworthy. He responds to his parents love with hatred, but those who have not true love for him, those he loved. The son, having been shown love, responds by spitting in his parents face. There are hardly words to describe just how terrible this is.

But it is far worse for a creature to do this do the Creator. And yet this is what all men do in their natural state and apart from the saving grace of God. They, in one way or another, spit in the face of their Creator. They repay his goodness with hatred, his kindness with contempt, his faithfulness with faithlessness, his patience with stubborn pride.

Friends, if you are a worshipper of God today do not forget that this is how you once were, but God has been merciful to you. He determined from before creation to bring you to himself. And though you were a child of wrath, he has made you a beloved son. This he did through the shed blood of Christ who paid for the sins of his people. This he did by calling you to faith by his word and by his Spirit. When God’s word called out to you to trust in Jesus – when God’s word called put to you saying, hallelujah! Praise the Lord! – you responded to that call with a “yes” and “amen”, not because you were by nature one who was a worshipper of God, but because God has been gracious to you. Seven times in this passage we are urged to give worship to God. It is those predestined, called and justified who have, do, and will.

This Passage Stands In Contrast To The Preceding One

Secondly, notice how this passage stands in contrast to the preceding one.

Chapter 18 and verses 1-10 of chapter 19 share this in common: they both describe responses to the judgement of Babylon.

Remember the way that the earth dwellers responded. They wept and mourned over her. “They threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out, ‘Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste’” (Revelation 18:19, ESV).

But even in chapter 18 we heard a call for a different response. In verse 20 we read, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!” (Revelation 18:20, ESV).

This is precisely what we have in 19:1-10. Here heaven responds to the call of 18:20 and rejoices, saying, “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants” (Revelation 19:1–2, ESV).

The two responses to the judgement of Babylon could not be more different. But this only further shows how different the kingdom of God is from the kingdoms of this world. These two kingdoms stand in stark contrast to one other. The citizens of these kingdoms value entirely different things, so that what causes one to weep and mourn, causes the other to shout for joy and to give glory to God.

Babylon will be destroyed, friends. And if this is where your treasure is, you will be found weeping in the end. But the kingdom of heaven is eternal. God is everlasting and unchanging. If your treasure is stored up with him, in the end there will be rejoicing.

Notice the Reasons Given For The Worship Of God

Thirdly, notice the reasons given for the worship of God.

God will be worshiped in the end for the glory of his righteous judgments.

Verse 1: “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants” (Revelation 19:1–2, ESV).

God will be worshiped in the end for the glory of his salvation.

Verse 6: “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” (Revelation 19:6–8, ESV)

The bride of Christ is the church.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:25–32, ESV).

Christ shed his blood, not for the world, but for his church. He gave himself up for her. He died for his bride, that is to say all of the elect, so that “he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Here in Revelation 19 we have symbolized the consummation of these things where Christ and his bride do enjoy their wedding feast. This will happen at the end of time when the Lord returns for his betrothed and judges her enemies.

When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth he spoke this way, saying, “I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:1–2, ESV). When Paul preached the gospel and saw men and women come to faith in Christ he saw them as betrothed to Christ. His objective in teaching the church was to prepare the church for her wedding day, so that he might present the church to Christ as a pure virgin.

Notice that two different perspectives are presented side by side concerning the churches preparation to meet Christ.

First we are told at the end of verse 7 that “his Bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7, ESV). This emphasizes the responsibility that we have to persevere in the faith, to contribute to our sanctification, and to work our our salvation with fear and trembling.

But to protect us from thinking that we can, in any way save ourselves, or to prepare ourselves for salvation, we are told in verse 8 that “it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Revelation 19:8, ESV).

Indeed, we come to faith in Christ because God has granted it. We persevere in Christ because God has granted it. We will be able to stand before God and Christ on that last day “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing”, not because we have provided this clothing for ourselves, but because God has provided for us in Christ Jesus. Indeed we do receive the fogginess of sin and Christ’s righteousness by faith. But has been granted by our God by his grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9, ESV).

Conclusion 

Brothers and sisters, what should we do in response to the things that we have heard?

Let us worship God!

Individually

May he have your heart.

Trust in him.

Hope in him.

Find your pleasure in him.

Give him glory with your tongue.

Pray to him.

Give thanks always.

Testify to his goodness.

Obey him in all that you do.

Do not do that which he has forbidden.

Do that which he has commanded.

Have his word as the lamp which illuminates your path and directs your steps.

In Families

Corporately with the Church

Keep the Lord’s Day Sabbath; rest.

Do not neglect the assembling of yourselves.

Engage in the means of grace from the heart.

Let us worship him through faith in Jesus the Christ, for there is no other way.

Sermon: The Harlot Introduced: Revelation 17:1-6

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 50:1–20

“The word that the Lord spoke concerning Babylon, concerning the land of the Chaldeans, by Jeremiah the prophet: ‘Declare among the nations and proclaim, set up a banner and proclaim, conceal it not, and say: ‘Babylon is taken, Bel is put to shame, Merodach is dismayed. Her images are put to shame, her idols are dismayed.’ For out of the north a nation has come up against her, which shall make her land a desolation, and none shall dwell in it; both man and beast shall flee away. ‘In those days and in that time’, declares the Lord, ‘the people of Israel and the people of Judah shall come together, weeping as they come, and they shall seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with faces turned toward it, saying, ‘Come, let us join ourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will never be forgotten.’ My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold. All who found them have devoured them, and their enemies have said, ‘We are not guilty, for they have sinned against the Lord, their habitation of righteousness, the Lord, the hope of their fathers.’ Flee from the midst of Babylon, and go out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as male goats before the flock. For behold, I am stirring up and bringing against Babylon a gathering of great nations, from the north country. And they shall array themselves against her. From there she shall be taken. Their arrows are like a skilled warrior who does not return empty-handed. Chaldea shall be plundered; all who plunder her shall be sated, declares the Lord. Though you rejoice, though you exult, O plunderers of my heritage, though you frolic like a heifer in the pasture, and neigh like stallions, your mother shall be utterly shamed, and she who bore you shall be disgraced. Behold, she shall be the last of the nations, a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert. Because of the wrath of the Lord she shall not be inhabited but shall be an utter desolation; everyone who passes by Babylon shall be appalled, and hiss because of all her wounds. Set yourselves in array against Babylon all around, all you who bend the bow; shoot at her, spare no arrows, for she has sinned against the Lord. Raise a shout against her all around; she has surrendered; her bulwarks have fallen; her walls are thrown down. For this is the vengeance of the Lord: take vengeance on her; do to her as she has done. Cut off from Babylon the sower, and the one who handles the sickle in time of harvest; because of the sword of the oppressor, every one shall turn to his own people, and every one shall flee to his own land. Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured him, and now at last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has gnawed his bones. Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing punishment on the king of Babylon and his land, as I punished the king of Assyria. I will restore Israel to his pasture, and he shall feed on Carmel and in Bashan, and his desire shall be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and in Gilead. In those days and in that time, declares the Lord, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none, and sin in Judah, and none shall be found, for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.” (Jeremiah 50:1–20, ESV)

Sermon Text: Revelation 17:1-6

“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: ‘Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.’ And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” (Revelation 17:1-6, ESV)

Introduction

Brothers and sisters, as we journey deeper into the book of Revelation it is important for us to remember that this book was originally written, not to us, but to seven churches in Asia Minor in the first century A.D. Specifically Revelation was addressed to the church in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. These churches, being seven in number, do represent all churches (their struggles being common to all), but we must remember that these were actual churches, and that the book of Revelation was given first to them.  Continue reading

Sermon: The Seven Bowls Of God’s Wrath Poured Out: Revelation 16

Sermon Text: Revelation 16

“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. 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. 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.” (Revelation 16, ESV)

Introduction

I decided to devote two sermons to Revelation chapter 16. In the first sermon we considered the bowl judgements broadly, giving special attention to the things that John heard in this vision, and four observations were made: One, a reminder was given that it would be an error to interpret this passage in a literal fashion as if John were shown video footage of the last days ahead of time. No, here we have truth communicated through symbolism. Two, we recognized that the key to the symbolism of the bowl judgments is found in the Old Testament, particularly the ten plagues of Exodus 7 and following, and Leviticus 26. Three, we learned that the bowl judgements reveal something of the final judgment, particularly the outpouring of the wrath of God upon the ungodly alive upon the earth on the last day. And four, we did see that the heavenly opinion concerning the judgments of God is that they are perfectly right. This point was drawn from what John heard the angel and the alter say in verses 4-7. Finally, and in conclusion, we did look at the words of Christ in verse 15 where he warns,  “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!” Indeed, this is what the thought of the return of Christ and the wrath of God poured out should do within us – it should move us to live with a sense of expectation, and to be always prepared, having put away our sin stained garments through repentance, and being properly clothed with the righteousness of Christ received by faith.

Today I wish to look at each of the bowl judgments themselves and to show how their symbolism, one, draws from the plagues of the Exodus, two, advances what was revealed earlier in the book of Revelation, and three, does, in some instances, prepare for things to be revealed later in this book.  The end result is that we have, here in the bowl judgements, a symbolic description of the wrath of God poured out on immediately preceding and leading up to the the return of Christ upon the kingdom of the beast, and all who are in it (all who have received his mark) who, evidently, at the end of time will be hell bent on overrunning the people of God (those sealed by him). God will, on the last day, rescue those who belong to him and pour out his fierce wrath open his enemies. As it was with the Egyptians at the Exodus, so will it be with the kingdoms of this world on the last day. As is was for Israel at the Exodus, so will it be for all who in Christ on the last day, the great and awesome day of the Lord.  Continue reading