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The Seven Final Plagues (Revelation Sermon 30 of 49)

The Seven Final Plagues (Revelation Sermon 30 of 49)

January 07, 2018 | Andy Davis
Revelation 16:1-21
End Times, Judgment

sermon transcript


God’s Great Patience Finally Runs Out

The End of the World

A common phrase, meant to comfort one experiencing affliction, but in effect demonstrating a shallow and flippant lack of compassion, is, “It’s not the end of the world.” Today we will study a prophecy of the end of the world which reveals the truth behind the opposite of that phrase. It is a weighty thing. We see and experience the world around us — blue skies, cold temperatures, the cycle of seasons, the shore and the ocean, mountains and islands. It is difficult to grasp in our minds that some day the ocean will be murdered by human sin and the mountains and islands will flee away. They are not permanent but temporary. Let it settle in your heart and affect the way you see all aspects of life — your education, your job, your marriage, your parenting — all that you do. We are aliens and strangers in this temporary world that will be destroyed by the wrath of God because of human sin. That is the impact of Revelation 16.

Worse Than We Can Imagine

The end of the world will be worse than we can imagine. It is hard to imagine as we read these prophecies to understand their weightiness. It will be worse than any film can show. It is a prediction, a prophecy of the future.

Revelation 17, 18, and the first part of Revelation 19 provide a parenthetical descriptive insight into the wickedness of the world in which we live, called Babylon the Great, which is the reason for the destruction poured out from the bowls. She is described as a whore riding on a beast and as a big city with commerce and trading. Revelation 19 celebrates Babylon’s destruction, then depicts the Second Coming of Christ. The bowl judgments are the last events on earth right before the Second Coming. In Revelation 16, we come to the end of God’s patience waiting for sinners to repent.

God’s Matchless Patience Described

His patience is immeasurable and matchless but not endless. A day is coming in which God will judge the earth for its sins. Verse 14 says they will go out and gather the kings of the whole world for battle “on the great day of God Almighty” (other Scriptures call it the “day of the Lord”). Why is God patient with us? We must not misunderstand his patience; it is not because he does not care about sin or because he is not holy, or because he is impotent. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. …  Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation.”

He is waiting for sinners to repent and be saved. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 2, that God’s goodness, kindness, patience, and tolerance are meant to lead us to repentance. God was patient with Paul as he was punishing the church, hardening his own heart, dragging off Christian brothers and sisters, throwing them in prison, breaking up homes, seeing that people were executed for faith in Christ.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15-16 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the worst [not was]. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

In Romans 9, Paul writes of the astonishing level of patience God shows to vessels of wrath who will never repent, even in the end. Romans 9:22 says, “What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath — prepared for destruction?” What if he did this to make the riches of His glory known to us, the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory? God is patient with objects of vessels of wrath to teach us how gracious he was to us in Christ. God is an amazingly patient God. The Scripture reveals this again and again.

In Genesis 6, in the days when Noah was building the ark, God waited patiently for sinners to repent even though every thought and inclination of the hearts of humans at that time were only evil all the time. God still waited patiently.

He waited 400 years for the sin of the Amorites and the Promised Land to reach its full measure. During that same 400 years he waited for the Egyptians to stop enslaving and beating His chosen people. After the Jews took the Promised Land and started following the ways of the Canaanite nations around them, God waited patiently for them to repent. He sent many prophets, calling them to turn away from following the Canaanite ways. He is a very patient God, every day of human history showing patience towards sinners. Every day is a display of His unlimited patience, because human history is filled with a river of sin we cannot calculate. Every one of us underestimates it. It is a wicked world that we live in, and that wickedness is pouring out from human hearts. 

Paul describes it plainly in Romans 1:29-32, “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” That is the world we live in.

God’s Patience Ends

As we come to Revelation 16, we should not be at a loss to understand why God would pour his wrath on the planet. The angels know exactly why God is doing it. His matchless patience will come to an end. The great day of the Lord God Almighty is coming.  2 Peter 3:10 says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” There will be no further announcements. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the Earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Context in Revelation

The Book of Revelation has several purposes. It is a revelation of the future as it states in both the very first verse, 1:1, and the last chapter, 22: “to show his servants what must soon take place.”

It is also a revelation of Almighty God seated on His throne ruling the universe (Revelation 4). Everything circles around Him. It is a revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 5), the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, a Lamb looking as if it had been slain. He takes a scroll, perhaps representing the title deed of ownership of the earth, from the right hand of Almighty God, the one seated on the throne. The scroll is sealed with seven seals, which the Lamb breaks open, initiating the flow of judgments from Heaven to earth. Thus, it is also a revelation of judgments on earth, the final process of God’s wrath (Revelation 6).

It is a revelation of the point of redemptive history (Revelation 7), showing a multitude greater than anyone could count from every tribe and language and people and nation standing before the throne, wearing white robes, waving palm branches, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” They are a great multitude of the redeemed, the glory of God.

It is a revelation of the final seven-year period of history (Revelation 8 and 9). It begins with the seven trumpet judgments, overt punishments and wrath never before witnessed or experienced in history. It is not an analogy or metaphor for something in church history, but a vision of the future. A third of the trees and all green growing things and all of the green grass burn up; a third the sea turns to blood, so a third of the living creatures in the sea die. A third of the fresh water turns to poison. A third of the celestial bodies — the sun, the moon, and the stars — is struck in some way, or their light is reduced by a third. A demonic assault ensues as demons come blowing up out of a furnace, afflicting people with stings as of scorpions. A demonic army appears, killing a third of the population of the earth.

Judgment continues in Revelation 16 with the seven bowls. On the surface they appear to be a reiteration of the trumpets; however, some significant differences between the trumpets and the bowls indicate that they are a new set of judgments.

First, the seven trumpets have a limited effect on the earth, destroying one-third, leaving two-thirds untouched, demonstrating God’s restraint at that point (He still shows restraint with the seven bowls but less so). Second, the seven trumpets do not end human life on the same scale or scope as the bowls. The trumpets seem to provide a final opportunity for repentance, and some do repent, but the text emphasizes through repetition that no one repents following the bowls. Third, there are details — for example, the fourth bowl which intensifies the sun’s power, the fifth bowl which plunges the world into darkness — that have no parallel in the seven trumpets or anything we know in human history. Fourth, the bowls are identified specifically as the last judgments: “These are the last, because with them God’s judgment is finished on the earth.”

God finally ends the day of salvation because the time has come; the last elect person has come to faith in Christ. The rest of the world is hardened in their sin. The wickedness has reached such a level it is time to end human history. Revelation 9:20-21 says, “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent to the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood — idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.”

It is a revelation of the dragon Satan (Revelation 12) and the Beast from the Sea, the Antichrist (Revelation 13). The beast is a world ruler who is directly influenced by Satan himself, given power over the entire world. He also becomes a religious figure, worshiped as a god. He becomes the final government and the final religion. The power of the government is overwhelming — the mark of the beast is required to buy or sell anything. Everyone who is not a believer in Christ, sustained and protected by the sovereign grace of God, bows down to this man, receives the mark of the beast, and worships him as God. They go along to get along and so are involved in that system.

It is a revelation of incredibly courageous, bold witnessing in this final phase of human history (Revelation 11, 12, 14). It begins with two witnesses with supernatural power, boldness and courage to stand before this wicked ruler. They clearly proclaim the Gospel until he finally kills them. God raises them up three days later and they ascend to heaven. Many other witnesses, servants of God, do not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. They overcome Satan by the word of the Lamb and by their blood; they boldly proclaim the testimony of Jesus. A specific group of men do not defile themselves with women but follow the Lamb wherever he goes. No lie is in their mouths, and they boldly give themselves fully — metaphorically making themselves eunuchs for the kingdom in order to be witnesses. An angel flying in midair, proclaims the Gospel, “Fear God who created the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. Fear God and give him the glory.”

All these are witnessing. It will have effect; there are converts during that final phase of human history, but with the bowls, God will wait no longer. The last elect person, chosen before the creation of the world, has been brought to faith in Christ. The rest are hardened and the time has come for judgment.

A Command

Revelation 16:1 begins the bowl judgments with a command from God: “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth.’” These seven angels are identified in Revelation 15:5-7. They come out of Heaven, receiving from the living creatures these seven bowls of the most toxic spiritual substance ever seen, the wrath of God that will be poured out on the earth. Many evangelical commentators see this as a literary technique of symbolic language, which is not a safe way to approach Revelation. Some link the bowls to the plagues in Exodus. One says that because so much human commerce relies on oceans and seas, the judgment on the ocean is really a judgment on the economy of the world.

God will judge the economy of the world, but this is judgment on the ecology of the world and will literally happen as described. From the Garden of Eden, God has linked the planet we walk on and the sin of man through Adam. Adam’s curse was a curse on the ground. Meditate on that. God said to Adam, our father, “Cursed is the ground because of you, because of your sin. It will produce thorns and thistles for you.” That has unfolded since then.

Psalm 8:5-8 says, “You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.” The earth is judged because of human sin. This makes perfect sense. God is very consistent about this. Romans 8:19-22 says, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” At that time, the world will be resurrected as we will be, but now it is groaning. There is a definite link and it makes sense theologically.

The Seven Bowls

The First Bowl

Revelation 16:2: “The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.” The angel does not hesitate as he pours this poisonous bowl on the land, resulting in a direct assault on human bodies. One translation says “… loathsome and malignant sores.” The Greek word is tied to the English word for ulcer — disgusting, ulcerating, bleeding, running sores on the skin, bleeding, like Job had when he scraped his skin with pottery.

Who is judged? Everyone who receives the mark of the beast and worships his image. The saints — those who believe — are excluded. They do not experience the sores. 2 Peter 2:9 says, “…the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.” God rescued Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah; he rescued Noah from the flood; he is able to make a distinction between the wicked and the redeemed.

The Second Bowl

Revelation 16:3: “The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.” The sea is turned into blood — a red substance,  sticky, oozing, thick, dark, coagulated, like the blood of a man who is gunned down, bleeding out on the floor. Some commentators link it to red tide, but that trivializes it. This is far worse than any red tide ever seen, in that every single living creature in the sea dies. That is absolutely mind-boggling.

We have no idea how many living creatures are in the sea. Billions? Trillions? Think of all the krill and plankton; the Great Barrier Reef, said to be the largest single living entity, if it is indeed single; all the beautiful tropical fish that swim in schools through the clear water of the Caribbean; all the stingrays and sharks and orcas. Biologists estimate 50% to 80% of all living creatures live in the sea — that is a wide range. How could they possibly give a more precise percentage? We do not know what is in the depths of the sea, but they will all die because of human sin. Let me intensify, because of our sin, they will die. It is incalculable and unimaginable.

They did not die in the flood; in fact, they prospered. But at the end of history, they are the first creatures to die. After the sea dies, we die. This must be the end of human history. There is no way to survive if the ocean is dead. From the sea we get 70% of our oxygen and 83% of our rain water. Billions of people cannot survive long without that level of oxygen and rain water. Given the fact that God will soon pollute all the fresh water, we will have no water to drink, no rain, nothing. The end will come quickly.

The Third Bowl

Revelation 16:4: “The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.” This is an expansion of the third trumpet judgment, which polluted a third of the fresh water and turned it into wormwood. This bowl affects all fresh water — all rivers and springs of fresh water in the world are turned to blood. John MacArthur said, “The destruction of what is left of the earth’s fresh water will cause unthinkable hardship and suffering. There will be no water to drink; no clean water to wash the oozing sores caused by the first bowl judgment; no water to bring cooling relief from the scorching heat that the fourth bowl judgment is about to bring. The scene will be so unimaginably horrible that people will wonder how a God of compassion, mercy, and grace could send such a judgment.”

An angel speaks in God’s defense in Revelation 16:5-6: “Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: ‘You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”

These devastating judgments are displays of God’s perfect wisdom, justice and righteousness. Note how angels think. As Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How is God’s will done in Heaven? These angels display how immediately and with great zeal the will of the king is executed in Heaven. There is no hesitation, no squeamishness, just vindication of God. The angel does not shrink back or question; he celebrates what God is doing. “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One…”

The process of vindicating God is called theodicy. Both reasons given by the angel are important for vindicating and justifying God. First, everything He does is right, because he does it. He is the standard of justice and righteousness. If a measuring stick is off even by a little, it is not the Bureau of Standards and Measurements that is in error. Our measuring stick is off — we are messed up; we are unjust. How could we judge God who is perfectly just? His character proves the justice of His action. There is no standard of righteousness or holiness above God that He obeys. When Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, he said in Genesis 18:25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The judge of all the earth is right, and everything He does is right.

Second, God created angels and humans alike with minds and hearts to evaluate God’s actions and our own. We can see a rightness in what is happening. It lines up. He is just, “…for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” This is appropriate for these blood-thirsty killers. The ground will disclose, as Jesus said [Matthew 23:35], “… all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” These blood-thirsty killers will be given blood to drink; it is what they deserve. Proverbs 26:27 says, “If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.” There is a rightness to it, like when Haman was made to hang on the gallows he made for Mordecai.

Verse 7 says, “… I heard the altar respond: ‘Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.’” The altar is where the martyred saints from the fifth seal are, crying out. Revelation 6:10-11 says, “They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.” That is complete now. The full number of martyrs is in, and it is time for judgment.

The Fourth Bowl

Revelation 16:8-9: “The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.”

The bowl is poured on the sun. The sun is in the hand of God, and He can do whatever He wants with it. The sun has served the earth since the fourth day of creation. It gives us light and heat, which we need for living. All life depends on sunlight because of photosynthesis. Every second the sun puts off the same amount of energy that our human race would consume in 500 million years. The surface of the sun, the outer corona, is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The core is estimated to be 27 million degrees. NASA is attempting to send a probe to the core of the sun to send a radio signal to find out exactly how hot it is.

The sun is 93 million miles from the earth, positioned exactly where it needs to be to sustain our fragile life and our fragile ecosystem. Imagine a scale model of the relationship between the sun and the earth, with the earth here at the podium and the sun at the back. The North Pole was at -24 degrees Fahrenheit this week. Quito, Ecuador was at 66 degrees Fahrenheit. That is a 90 degree difference. The difference overall, percentage-wise from the North Pole to the edge of the Equator at the scale of our model is the thickness of a dime. In other words, a step forward the thickness of a dime will create a difference of 90 degrees. Do you see the precision with which God has set up our world? He will not turn it way up or we would instantly die. The surface of Venus, a third closer to the sun, is 864 degrees Fahrenheit. A minute adjustment will create a searing heat, made more miserable because of lack of drinking water. That will genuinely be global warming. The ice caps will melt and the oceans will rise, meaning the death contained in the seas will flood the coastal cities, bringing unimaginable disease and suffering.

The Fifth Bowl

Revelation 16:10-11: “The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.” God plunges the world into darkness. Light and darkness are metaphors for good and evil, but we also know that God declared light itself good. When He takes light away, it is a tremendous judgment on us, lining up with our spiritually dark hearts. John 3:19 says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” It makes sense that the bowl is poured out on the throne of the beast, plunging this dark kingdom of Antichrist into darkness. The people are powerless to stop it; there is nothing they can do.

It reminds us of the 10 plagues in Egypt. The 9th plague, right before the final plague on the first born, is a plague of darkness. Exodus 10:21-23 says, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt— darkness that can be felt.’ So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.” God makes a distinction between the righteous and the wicked. He also sets limits. The darkness does not continue forever, because history does not unfold in total darkness. The kings of the earth that are coming for the battle of Armageddon must have light to see. Though it is short-lived, it will be like Hell on earth. Matthew 8:12 says that the wicked “will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The world is in total darkness and people are seared with the heat of the sun, crying out in anger and rage, not repenting of their sins.

The Sixth Bowl

Revelation 16:12-16: “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. Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. ‘Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.’ Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”

This bowl is preparatory. The Euphrates River was the northern boundary of the promised land. Jeremiah saw these invasions referenced in Jeremiah 1, like a boiling pot tipped over from the north and flowing across the Euphrates. The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks all come pouring down into Israel by this path. The river is a barrier or a boundary that, given the global warming, the kings of these nations cannot remove nor cross to come to Armageddon. They need help.

The night the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, the powerful Egyptian army aimed to slaughter and wipe out the Jews. They streamed after the fleeing nation of Israel but were stopped by a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud, which stood between the Israelites and the Egyptians. The Israelites cried out to God, hemmed in between the army and the Red Sea, when God opened a way through the Red Sea. When the time came for them to go, the pillar moved around to the front and led them through. Pharaoh and his army started into the bed of the Red Sea; the wheels of the chariot became mired and stuck. Only then, even after the ten plagues, did they realize, “the God of the Jews is fighting for them.”

The same thing will happen right before the Second Coming of Christ, only much bigger. The kings of the earth under Antichrist will gather together to wipe the believing Jews from the face of the earth. They will come to this place called Armageddon, and they will be gathered, passive voice, for the day of battle. Why are they there? To die. It will not be much of a fight, but they will be gathered. These demonic frog-like spirits go out performing signs and wonders to get them to come, and the Antichrist and all the armies will be there. Joel 3 details how they will be gathered to the valley of Jehoshaphat (“the Lord judges”). He will judge the nations on every side, multitudes in the valley of decision. When they are gathered there, God will pour His wrath out on them.

He gives Christians a final warning: “‘Behold, I come like a thief!’ Blessed is he who stays awake [we are not like those who sleep; believers have been forewarned, so be alert] and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed [when Jesus returns].” That is about personal holiness, personal faith in Christ. We are to be like the five wise virgins who have oil for their lamps to keep them burning, to be ready for the Lord to return. We are to be aware of what time is about and how much God hates sin. It is because of such things as sexual immorality and lying and covetousness, and all manner of wickedness described plainly in the Bible that the wrath of God is coming. We are not to violate our conscience. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5 that this day is no secret to us. We know it is coming so we are not to be like those who sleep but rather to be awake and sober.

The Seventh Bowl

Revelation 16:17-21: “The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘It is finished!’ [Just as Jesus cried out the same phrase from the cross, there is power in this declaration — this is the finish of God’s wrath on the earth.] Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.”

The seven bowls are poured out onto the land and the sea, the rivers and springs, the sun, the throne of the beast, the River Euphrates, and into the air. All the realms are covered; everything is touched. God is judging the universe — the end has come.

The seventh bowl sets the stage for the Second Coming of Christ. The kings and their armies are all gathered, but not all people, so around the world there will be judgements. A terrifying divine storm rages,  with flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. The massive earthquake, the likes of which has never occurred, is a judgment on all the great cities of the world. Every city on earth, especially Babylon the Great, will split apart and fall. My family and I experienced an earthquake on January 17th, 1995. Even a smaller scale earthquake is terrifying — there is no escape from it — but this one will shake the whole earth. In addition to the earthquake, 100-pound hailstones fall from the sky. Even small hailstones the size of a marble can cause damage, but these massive ones are killing people.

The Cumulative Effect

The Worst Part

Physically, the worst part of these plagues is that they are cumulative. Spiritually, the worst part is they do not produce repentance. God’s word says again and again that the fear of the Lord is a servant to us as sinners to bring us to Christ. Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” John Newton said, “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.”

The people affected by the judgments do no fear God — they are angry at Him. Revelation 16:9, 11: “They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. … and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.” This is a foretaste of Hell. When they have been there 10,000 years in total darkness, they will be no closer to repenting and giving God glory than the first day they were there. If anything, the bitterness in their hearts will continue to develop. They will not justify God or acknowledge that they deserve their punishment.

Revelation 16:21: “…they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.” Do you realize, oh saints, brothers and sisters in Christ, that God has granted you repentance? If you know that you are a sinner, if you have cried out to Jesus to forgive you of your sins and received the gift of forgiveness, and received the gift of the Holy Spirit in your heart testifying that you are a child of God, you have been given an immeasurable gift. He opened his hand through the Spirit and granted to you repentance unto life. None of these judgments will do that for these vessels of wrath.

Behold, therefore, in conclusion, the goodness and severity of God — goodness to you, patience to you, and severity to those who will not repent. As we depart, the world will look like it always has. You have to believe by faith that these things will come, or it will be nothing to you, and you will continue in your life as you always have. If you know that you are not a Christian, how much longer will you wait? Today is the day of salvation. Repent of your sins and trust in Christ. Faith comes by hearing. See the wisdom of God in moderately tweaking His judgments — instead of giving us 946 degrees Fahrenheit, he increases his sun just a little bit. God is so wise, even in cursing the earth. He is meticulous and precise. See His holiness and how much He hates sin. Look at your heart, how have you violated your conscience over the last week. Do you yearn to stop violating your conscience over this upcoming year? Will you put sin to death by coming to faith in Christ by the power of the Spirit? In this way, be holy, as God commands.

For believers, warn lost people that these days are coming, though they do not think so. You may have an opportunity at work to share what we have studied today. My kids said, “This is a hard, bad story,” I replied, “No, it is a good story.” There is so much glory that comes after all this suffering.” Imagine if Jesus had died in the middle of the night and risen by morning, and he told his disciples, “I died last night, but I am alive again.” He was crucified for our sins; they watched him die, and great was their joy when he came alive. The suffering makes the joy infinitely greater. We will live in a new world that will be perfect. We will remember all this, and we will hate sin as God does and delight in the New Heaven and New Earth that He will make. 

Closing Prayer

Lord, thank you for the things that we have learned in Revelation 16, an intense, long and difficult chapter. Thank you for giving us patience to sit under it and learn from it, and now Lord, give us grace to live according to it. Help us to be holy, to put sin to death, to have garments of holiness, imputed righteousness from Christ around us, help us to love one another, help us to share the Gospel and be bold to warn other sinners of the end that is most certainly coming, and coming soon. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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