Revelation The Seven Angels and the Seven Plagues

July 23, 2017

Revelation 5: The seven angels and the seven plagues

Revelation 15:1-16:21

 

Revelation 15-16New International Version (NIV)

Seven Angels With Seven Plagues

15 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. 2 And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God 3 and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:

“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
    Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
    King of the nations.[a]

Who will not fear you, Lord,
    and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
    and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”[b]

5 After this I looked, and I saw in heaven the temple—that is, the tabernacle of the covenant law—and it was opened. 6 Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests. 7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

The Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

16 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.”

2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.

4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:

“You are just in these judgments, O Holy One,
    you who are and who were;

for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets,
    and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”

7 And I heard the altar respond:

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

8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 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.

10 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 agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

12 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. 13 Then I saw three impure 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. 14 They are demonic spirits that perform 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.

15 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

17 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 done!” 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 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. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds,[c] fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

 

We have come through a vision of great beasts and in opposition to this is the image of the Lamb and His army. The Beasts were terrible displays of man’s empires that work in opposition to God and become terrors that destroy humanity and God’s good world.

 

The Lamb and His army stand in opposition of the beast without a sword; rather we see them as following their leader in the way of perseverance unto death.

 

 

Last week we saw how the gospel comes into the world with a declaration of judgement; how Babylon will fall - justice will be done! and tonight John builds on that image to show on some level the justice of that punishment.

 

Tonight we look at John’s forth depiction of the terrible day of the Lord; a reference from the Old Testament depicting when God will come back to judge his earth!

 

but starting this message we are taken back to an image of the saints. These saints have overcome.

 

The word used here is again the word conquered. they have conquered the beast and his image.

 

 

1.Those who have conquered

John takes the readers back to the most famous Old Testament image of the people of God overcoming an evil empire by the power and salvation of their God. John takes his readers back to the exodus narrative, where the people of God overcome the evil empire of Egypt through the power of God.

 

This passage is dripping with images taken from the Exodus. the seas, the songs, the moving toward the tabernacle.

 

The image is showing us to trust in the salvation of our God: To rest in the fact that God is our salvation and that we overcome through Him and Him alone!

 

Now just as God overcame Pharaoh so God overcomes the beast and the dragon. Not by Human effort but by His own power.

 

And just like the Exodus story we see the army of the Lamb spring into a song of salvation; that is what it is meant by the song of Moses; Just as Moses lead the people in Song after deliverance from Egypt so the Lamb’s army sings their song of Salvation; and read it; it is a song of God’s rule and justice!

This is our Hope church; God is a just God and He is bringing his justice to the whole world!

 

This justice comes from the tabernacle; in fact calls this the tabernacle of testimony; literally meaning the testimony of God’s presence.

 

In other words; the justice of God comes from his very presence. It is who He is and it it flows directly from him!

 

John divides the justice of God’s wrath into two parts; firstly…

 

2.The first four bowls

 

As John moves into his depiction of judgments we lean again on the Exodus story, and we see the Plagues described here are plagues that come from the abuse of creation itself. NT Wright says;

 

The point at issue in these first four plagues is fairly simple. God will allow natural elements themselves (earth, sea, rivers and sun) to pass judgment on the human beings who have so grievously abused their position as God’s image-bearers within creation. They are supposed to be looking after God’s world, and caring for one another as fellow humans. But God will call the natural elements themselves to turn on them and judge them for their wickedness.

 

The message is this (again); evil does not work; in fact the laws of the creation itself will be our judgment. And more-so that in John’s age are we seeing that the creation is groaning at our going against God and the abuse of His good world.

 

Elon Musk the famous entrepreneur said that man has engaged in the dumbest experiment in human history, “lets see how much carbon we can pump into the atmosphere before there is a catastrophic and permanent change.”

 

This is but one example; the reality is church that our sins and our raging against God will find their own consequences  in this life!

 

People think that their sins will not come to anything; this simply cannot be. On a personal level; as we dive away from God and into sin; so we corrupt ourselves and destroy our very humanity; this can be seen in perversion, in the crippling reality of idolatry; when we make a good thing our ultimate thing. And it can be seen on how when man is left to God his own way we destroy rather that care.

 

Now this is the consequence of the fall; we were made in a good word; in the image of God to be the caretakers of God’s good world. And when we stepped out of that role and went on our own so we destroyed our role as caretaker and took on the role of abuser of God’s world.

 

Empire seems to be the macro expression of this; as man builds nations so they they become beasts and so they degrade God’s world with their beastly action.

 

John declares God’s righteous judgment is coming; the creation itself will and is revolting against our sins and will and is an action of our judgment for going our own way.

 

But this is only the first part of the judgment; next we see…

 

3.It is done!

 

The next, part of John’s judgment move to the heart of the empire and it is almost as if God is directly stepping onto the stage to call time out!

 

John starts with darkness struck at the heart of the Empire; the throne of the beast; again a reference back to Exodus.  God moves through the Empire itself, destabilizing all the falsehoods that it claimed to have.

 

This is why John makes reference to the the Euphrates river being dried up. This was a natural boundary wall between Rome and the empires of the east. it acted as an easy to defend boundary; and John declares God can dry this up in a second; the Pax Romana - or peace of Rome was an illusion.

 

Stripped of its lies; the dragon draws the nations into a hopeless battle; and this seems to be a depiction that finds itself throughout scripture of Kings and rulers and nations being drawn (by lying spirits) into hopeless confrontations. Essentially the empire is crumbling from within!

 

We saw this in the rise of the Nazis, how foolishly and against all reason; Hitler through his own pride was drawn into a war with Russia creating an impossible situation for the German army to win.

 

This attack on the empire from within continues and ends with the seventh angel declaring; “it is done!”

 

It’s over; time out! God is calling all evil and abuse of His good world to an end; and we see almost every depiction of the Terrible day of the Lord come into the picture.

 

Now; John is not done with the picture of judgment and infant he develops this theme over and over from this passage until chapter 20 of Revelation.

 

But almost snuck into the heart of this passage is this declaration in 16:15

 

 

15 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

And here is the lesson; judgment must come! God will be vindicated as the true and righteous judge of the earth; stay clothed or stay prepared and awake. Or stay in Christ; don't let what is happening around you to distract you; keep on in the faith and follow After the lamb, no matter the cost; because; and this is the important thing, He comes like a thief.

 

We don’t know the hour, or the time, and so the lesson is be constantly prepared. The danger of times of crisis (like John is building here) such as political turmoil or the lead up to war; is to lose heart and to be drawn into the chaos and fear mongering and to lose sight of the end; to lose sight of God, to miss the fact that we are called, no matter what to patience endurance!

 

So stay awake! walk after Jesus; when He is ready to bring His justice He will and He will vindicate the fact that He is the righteous true judge of the whole world.

 

Let’s pray… 

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