Well, tonight we return to our study in the book of the Revelation.
We've been away from it for some weeks, so let me try and bring a brief review of where we are here in chapter 14. We started, at the last time we were together, we looked at Revelation chapter 14, verses 6 and 7. You know, the Scriptures predict a period of unparalleled distress and persecution for the people of God. And that is going to be intensified as the Second Coming draws closer and closer.
Paul told the Thessalonica church in his second letter, let no one deceive you by any means, for that day, meaning speaking of the Second Coming of Christ, that day will not come unless the falling away comes first and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition. The word tribulation that we find in our text for this evening, numbers of times, we find it 45 times in the New Testament. That Greek word, it's translated tribulation, persecution, wrath, one place. In fact, that one place that the word tribulation is translated wrath is in Romans. Let me read that one verse. It's Romans chapter 2 and verse 5 because it is pertinent to the subject at hand, Romans 2 verse 5.
Again, this is the only place that that Greek word that's translated tribulation is translated wrath. And it's here in Revelation 2 verse 5. Let me read the verses prior to. Therefore, you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge for and whatever you judge another, you condemn yourself for you who judge practice the same things. For we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.
And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? And now this verse. But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart, you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds. The rest of those occurrences of tribulation refer to primarily mostly the suffering that's experienced by believers. Paul and Barnabas were warning the new converts in Lystra and Iconium and Antioch, those churches or those cities in the southern part of Asia Minor, of tribulation that would come.
And listen to what they said as they wrote to these people. This is in Acts chapter 13. It says, Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga and Pamphylia, and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch and Pisidia and went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. And after reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. Then Paul stood and motioning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and you who fear God.
Am I in the right place? I don't think I am. That doesn't at all sound familiar to me. Well, it's that passage that says that through many tribulations we will enter the kingdom of God. In other words, don't be surprised. They exhorted, they instructed these new converts in these cities not to be put off, not to be upset by persecutions that would come, tribulations that would come.
I've got to find that for you. Well, here it is, chapter 14. I was in the wrong chapter. Chapter 14, verse 21, and when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying, We must, through many tribulations, enter the kingdom of God. Jesus summarizes that for us in John chapter 16 and verse 33, where he said, In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world. So as we look at this passage in Revelation chapter 14, I want to set the context because I think it's very important. We're going to concentrate on verses 8 through 13, but I read verses 14 through 20. And what we have in chapter 14 and verse 14 is a reference to the second coming of Christ. The fourth time in this book that John has drawn attention to the second coming of Christ. And when Christ returns, you heard me read it, coming on a white cloud, he sees one like the Son of Man, having on his head a golden crown and in his hand a sharp sickle. So when Christ comes, he's coming for a harvest.
That's the context there. And so what we have before that is warnings, warnings of judgment, warnings of certain judgment, and how good and kind of God to warn unbelieving people, give them opportunity to see their sinfulness and repent of their sins and bow the knee to King Jesus before that day of reckoning and of harvest and of judgment. So we see that and then when you get into chapter 15, I didn't read into chapter 15, but what chapter 15, my Bible has this heading, prelude to the bold judgments or the vile judgments. Those are the final judgments that come after the second coming of Christ, where Christ will judge his enemies.
So that's the context here. And what I want you to follow with me tonight is the subject of judgment. Number one, the certainty of judgment.
And then we will look at some other aspects of judgment, but that's the first thing. So let's begin in verse eight. There are three angels that have been dispatched by Almighty God to bring messages. The first we looked at there in verse six and seven. Then the second follows.
They're connected. And another angel followed saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. What I want you to see in this verse is the certainty of judgment.
Those words, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, is repetitive on purpose. It's to draw attention to the certainty of God's judgment. It's taken from Isaiah chapter 21.
And if you'll turn there for a minute, we'll look at that. It's a direct quote. Isaiah 21 and verse nine. It says, Look, here comes a chariot of men with a pair of horsemen. Then he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen. This is that empire, the Babylonian empire. It is fallen.
And what results in its judgment? It's fallen. Notice, and all the carved images of her gods he has broken to the ground. All the carved images of her gods he has broken to the ground. Now, this is a reference to Nebuchadnezzar's reference to Babylon, the great. And how he boasted of Babylon, you recall. And what John is telling us here is that there was no Babylonian empire in John's day.
Rome was the empire, but he was speaking metaphorically. He was speaking of Rome's judgment, and he says it's as certain as Babylonian empire was certain of its judgment. God is going to judge. And when we're studying through the book of Revelation, we have to keep in mind, I think, a couple of things. One in particular is that what John is saying has an immediate application to his hearers. He's writing to churches that are under siege, that are suffering persecution.
And he's writing to strengthen the faith and to exhort them. So there's an immediate application because Rome is functioning in John's day like Babylon was functioning in Israel's day. Israel was under the subjugation of the Babylonian empire. They were enslaved.
They were forced to imbibe the culture. And John is saying the same thing is going on in the life of the church in his day. Rome has come and destroyed the temple and the city and has brought subjugation.
So here's the certainty of judgment. Another angel followed, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Now, my Bible has the word fornication. Your Bible may have the word idolatry.
The words are closely connected. To fail to worship God, God views that as idolatry, unfaithfulness. And my Bible has the word fornication.
Again, your Bible might have the word idolatry. The certainty of judgment. So again, here we are. We're not under the Roman Empire. That's not a direct application to us.
But what is the application for us? Well, there is a world system that is wanting to subjugate us, to control us, to cause us to drink of its wine. And God is saying to the church in our day, there is a day when he's going to judge this world. He's going to judge it in righteousness. And we can have faith and confidence in that day, the certainty of judgment.
What else do we want to see here? Verse 9 says, Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of his indignation. That's sobering, isn't it? If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the vine of the wrath of God. And that is those who willingly, voluntarily put themselves under the authority and the ways of this world and are in defiance of God and his rightful rule. Those who are in that category are going to face the judgment of God, the wrath of God. And the subject of the wrath of God is not something we hear much of in our day. People are almost ashamed of it, apologetic for it. But it's part of the character of God.
It's who God has revealed himself to be. And we would be derelict in our responsibility if we ignored the wrath of God, the judgment of God. It brings me no great delight or pleasure to speak of it, but one who's committed to the authority of Scripture, I can't do anything but.
I can't skip over this. I can't dismiss it. So it's here for a righteous purpose. It reveals the full character of God. What about this wrath of God? He himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of his indignation. You remember I read back there in Romans chapter 2, their emphasis of adding to the wrath of God that is due upon them by their continual sin.
In John's day, it was not uncommon for people to mix wine with water to dilute it, but if people wanted to get drunk on wine, they drank it undiluted. And we have a reference here that God's wrath is going to be poured out full strength into the cup of his indignation. Those who refuse to repent, those who refuse to bow the knee to King Jesus are going to suffer his wrath.
Notice what he says. He shall be tormented. The judgment of God, the wrath of God is a torment.
God has reserved fire for judgment. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. I'm not sure what to draw out of that, but in that judgment, it seems to me, in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb, there will be a reluctant admission and acknowledgement of his rightful rule.
That's what I read into that. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Verse 11. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever. And they have no rest, day or night, who worship the beast and his image and whoever receives the mark of his name. Again, this is those who have aligned themselves with the world system, the world that is opposed to Christ and his authority and his rightful rule and reign. Those who align themselves in opposition to God will suffer his wrath and his judgment.
And notice what he says. The smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever. Twelve times in the book of the Revelation, we find that phrase forever and ever. And you know what that phrase means?
It speaks of eternal, eternity, forever and ever, without end. And they have no rest, day or night. Restlessness.
Day and night. Ongoing restlessness. And who is that reserved for? Those who worship the beast and his image and whoever receives the mark of his name. There is a lying heresy that is not new to our day, but there have been some prominent men who have drifted away from orthodox teaching and have embraced the doctrine of annihilation. In other words, that when you die, your soul does not continue to exist.
You are just annihilated. There is no conscious existence after death. Well, that's not what the Bible teaches.
The Bible teaches a continual conscious awareness after death. And you stop and wonder, well, why would a theologian gravitate to a heresy and a lie like that? Well, they're taking very, very seriously the wrath of God and the nature of that wrath. And sentiment drives them to violate their conscience because the Bible clearly teaches not annihilation, but continual conscious existence.
And for some, they emotionally cannot deal with that reality. It's similar to those who have created the doctrine of the carnal Christian. I know people who have made professions of faith. They've shown no evidence of being a Christian. They've not walked with the Lord. They've followed the Lord.
But I know they're a Christian because they once made a profession of faith. They once decided. They once did this. They once did that.
Why is that popular? For the same reason. People cannot process, embrace the thought of someone they know, some loved one, dying outside of Christ and separated from God for all eternity. Well, we create a lie in order to salve our conscience. But you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. Not a lie.
Lies don't help. So what's being taught here is continual existence, conscious existence, after death for those who die outside of Christ. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever. And they have no rest, day or night, who worship the beast and his image and whoever receives the mark of his name. That's a warning.
A very sober warning. And I thought about the depravity of the human heart, how in the face of such warning, how a person who is outside of Christ, who is not repented, who is in rebellion toward God, who is stiff-necked, who is unwilling to follow the Lord, how a person can dismiss the warning. The Bible says the preaching of the cross is what? Foolishness to those who refuse to believe. It's foolishness to them.
They discard it. But what would you think of a man who was standing in the middle of a highway and there was an 18-wheeler coming at him and he refused to move, despite people hollering at him, there's danger, there's danger, move, move, move, and he just stands there. And we say, no, unless somebody is on drugs or something like that, no person is foolish enough to stand in the middle of the road. Most people, the vast majority of people, have regard for their physical life in the face of danger. The warning will be heeded and they will move to safety. But what is going on spiritually when someone can hear a message about the wrath of God, the judgment of God, they're outside of Christ and they're unmoved by that message? Their response is a testimony to the depravity of the human heart.
Apart from God convicting that person, moving upon that person, that person will stay in that state of unregenerateness. So, here is exhortation for believers. So that's a warning for unbelievers up through verse 11. But verse 12, we have these words, here is the patience of the saints. So now, believers, the saints are being addressed.
Well, how should we respond to this message? Here is the patience of the saints. Here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Now, your Bible may have the word endurance in the place of patience. Here is the endurance of the saints or the perseverance of the saints or the patience of the saints. And not only is there an exhortation here to persevere in the faith, to endure whatever persecution comes, whatever difficulty comes, or to be patient in the face of whatever God brings into our lives. But here is how the Bible defines perseverance, how the Bible defines endurance.
What is it? By keeping the commandments of God. That's how we persevere in the faith. We don't disregard the word of God.
We continue to obey the commandments of God. And the faith of Jesus. Keeping faith is a euphemism that I think is warranted here. Keep the faith. Continue to persevere.
Continue to trust in Jesus. And then verse 13, John says, Then I heard a voice from heaven, a voice from heaven, not an angel speaking now, but a voice from heaven, God himself speaking. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write, write, similar instructions that John received from the Lord in regards to the messages to the churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.
There are a number of beatitudes in the book of the Revelation and this is the first one that we encounter here in chapter 14 and verse 13. Blessed, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works follow them. I want to draw your attention to that emphasis on that they rest from their labors.
Remember the judgment of the wrath of God that's mentioned there in verse 11? They have no rest day or night, those who refuse to repent. No rest day or night, but for the saint who dies in the Lord, they may rest from their labors and their works follow them. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.
How we need the Scriptures to inform our minds. And even though we know that, even though that is our hope, we sorrow not as those who have no hope. Even though that's our hope, we need to continually remind ourselves because it seems to me I have not come across too many examples of people who are on death's door who are longing and anticipating and looking for what awaits them.
There's usually dread and reluctance and you know what I'm saying? Not the presence of joy. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works follow them. So our consolation as saints, it should not give us any joy in the just judgment of sinners because apart from the grace of God, that's where we would be. We would be under the just condemnation and wrath of God. So we find no joy in God executing wrath and judgment on those who are unbelieving and unrepentant. But what we do find joy in is that God is vindicating himself. God will glorify himself.
His justice will be served in his executing of his wrath and judgment on those who fail to believe. And our consolation is as we serve the Lord in this life that our works do matter. That they may rest from their labors and their works follow them. What we do in service to King Jesus matters. Jesus said a cup of cold water given in his name will receive reward.
Not that we're motivated by reward solely, but I think that's encouraging to know that how we live our lives in this world not only matters in terms of where we're going to spend eternity, but there's going to be rewards for that, for faithfulness. So again, what's the application? John's writing to churches who are under Roman persecution. They're suffering. John's writing to them to encourage them. To do what? Keep the commandments of God. Keep the faith.
Keep on keeping on. Keep on trusting that God is a just God and he will judge his enemies one day. It's as certain as his second coming. And that how we live our lives in this world really do matter. God takes notice. Now it's God who gives us grace to stand up in the face of persecution. We're not left to ourselves. We're not left to find some inner strength. God will help us. He will give us grace to stand in those difficult times. And I think it's not new news to you that we should be expecting, anticipating more and more difficult times in our day in this country. What this country has experienced is an anomaly. Christendom across the centuries have not enjoyed the peace that we have known.
But those days are waning. We will pay a price for identifying ourselves as a follower of Jesus Christ. Persecution will come in various forms and we see it in our day. And how we need to pray that God will give us grace to stand in this evil day. And if you are here tonight and you are outside of Christ, my prayer is that the Spirit of God will arrest your attention and convict you of your sin and your waywardness and give you grace to come to Christ. You don't want to be the object of God's wrath.
This is serious business and it's spelled out for us in very sobering terms. Let us bow and pray. Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for this reminder of your just wrath that is reserved for those who fail to repent and yield their life to you. Thank you for your grace that has arrested us, that has subdued our stubborn wills and given us a new heart and a new desire to follow you. Lord, would you do that for any who are here tonight who are outside of Christ. Help us as saints of God to take heed to the warnings here, to look forward to the coming of our Savior, for indeed our redemption draweth nigh. Help us to persevere. Help us to keep the commandments and help us to keep the faith in Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-11 12:58:22 / 2022-11-11 13:09:06 / 11