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What John Saw and Heard - 40

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
January 23, 2023 1:00 am

What John Saw and Heard - 40

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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January 23, 2023 1:00 am

Pastor Mike Karns continues his expositional series in Revelation.

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Well, it's been a while, but we're back to Revelation 15 tonight. We stopped at a good place, I think, a good stopping place in our study, and barring any unforeseen interruptions, it is my purpose to continually make our way from this point on through the end of the book. But we're in Revelation chapter 15 this evening, and John, the Revelator, is making known the revelation that he received through vision, and has been the pattern a good bit of the way.

He reveals a good portion of that in symbolic language. Chapter 15 and chapter 16 are tied together. Chapter 15 is a prelude to chapter 16, a bit of an introduction to chapter 16. And it's going to introduce the bold judgments or the vile judgments that are contained in chapter 16. But our purpose tonight is to look at chapter 15 and then verse 1 of chapter 16. John is going to tell us both what he saw and what he heard.

What he saw and what he heard. In fact, the verb that is translated, I saw, you see it there in verse 1, then I saw another sign in heaven, verse 2, and I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire. Verse 5, after these things, I looked and behold, the temple of the tabernacle. So three times in three different verses, he's using that Greek word that is translated twice. I saw and another time behold. It's interesting that there are 42 uses of that verb in the book of the Revelation. Notice not just those verses, but verses 6 and 7 convey additionally what he saw. Out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen and having their chests girded with golden bands. He saw that. Verse 7, then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. He saw that.

And then in verse 8, the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. Again, he saw that. So tonight we're looking at what he saw, but there's also emphasis on what he heard and what did he hear. Notice verse three and verse four. He heard the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the lamb.

He heard it being sung. And that hymn is penned there for us in verses three and four. I pointed this out to you in the past, and I think it's helpful to see it again this evening. And whenever this literary device is used, it's used for emphasis. It's used to alert us that here is a unit, here is a central truth.

And the truth that's under consideration tonight is the wrath of God. Notice how that in that literary device is called an inclusio. It's, I think, best understood as bookends. On one end of this portion, however long it might be, is an emphasis. And then at the end of that is the other bookend, and there's that emphasis again.

And let me show it to you. Verse one. Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues. For in them, the wrath of God is complete. Verse one.

Notice verse eight. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. So this emphasis on the wrath of God being completed or being finished is that inclusio. Tonight, let's begin to walk through this passage together and consider number one, the finality of God's wrath. The finality of God's wrath. Seven plagues, seven angels having the seven last plagues. Well, those seven plagues are the seven bold judgments, or perhaps your translation refers to them as vile judgments. So regardless of whether we're talking about plagues or bold or vile, we're talking about the same thing. These seven plagues, they will be executed or they will be dispensed by seven angels. Again, notice that in verse one. Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues. For in them, the wrath of God is complete.

This is a bit instructive here at the very beginning. We don't gravitate to portions of scripture that emphasize and draw attention to the wrath of God. And when we are looking at that, it brings a soberness to us. And I'm not saying that it shouldn't be that way, but did you notice the angelic perspective of this subject?

It's a bit arresting. Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, great and marvelous. So those two adjectives that come to your mind in thinking about the wrath of God, great and marvelous.

What's great and marvelous? Seven angels having the seven last plagues. For in them, the wrath of God is complete. Well, what is great and marvelous about the wrath of God in its finality that's going to come on an unbelieving world? Well, God is going to be glorified in the salvation of his elect, but God is also going to be glorified in the just condemnation and wrath of the wicked.

And that's great. And that's marvelous because it vindicates God and manifests his justice. The emphasis on seven, seven angels, seven plagues. You're familiar with the understanding of scripture that the number seven speaks of completeness.

And that's underscored in the very language here. For in them, the wrath of God is complete. The verse ends.

So as the wrath of God is poured out on an unbelieving world, they will complete or finish or usher in the end of God's wrathful judgment. Some of you are sitting there with the English standard version, and I like the way it renders these two verses, verse one and verse eight. So let me give those to you from the ESV and notice again the emphasis. The word the ESV changes the word complete and uses the word finish or finished.

ESV. Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last. For with them, the wrath of God is finished. And then verse eight. And the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. I want you to see that there has been a progression in the unfolding of God's wrath as John has given it to us, as we've moved through these first 14 chapters, a progression.

What do I mean by that? Well, you remember that this book is constructed around seven seals. In fact, when you get to the seventh seal, it ushers us into the seven trumpet judgments. As you walk through those judgments, you get to the seventh trumpet judgment. It ushers us into the seven bold judgments or the vile judgments, and there is this progression. The seven seals are discussed in chapter six through chapter eight and verse six. And then the seven trumpet judgments are given to us from verse seven of chapter eight through chapter 11. But this is what I want you to see in the seal judgments that again, that are from chapter six, seven and the first part of chapter eight. Those judgments are going to fall upon and consume one fourth of the inhabitants of the earth. I want you to see that in verse eight.

This is the fourth seal. John says, So I looked and behold, a pale horse in the name of him who sat on it was death. And Hades followed with him and power was given to them over a fourth of the earth to kill, with sword, with hunger, with death and by the beasts of the earth. Not full and final and complete judgment, but partial judgment and significant judgment, one fourth of the earth consumed by the seal judgments. And then when we get to chapter eight, we see the trumpet judgments. They begin at verse seven and move on down. But notice with me, we're not talking now about a fourth of the inhabitants. Now the language is a third, an increase, not a fourth, but a third.

Now listen to the repeated emphasis of that. Verse seven, The first angel sounded and hail and fire followed, mingled with blood. And there were thrown to the earth and a third of the trees were burned up and all green grass was burned up. Verse eight, Then the second angel sounded and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea. And a third of the sea became blood. Verse nine, And a third of the living creatures in the sea died and a third of the ships were destroyed. Verse 10, Then the third angel sounded and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch. And it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. Verse 12, Then the fourth angel sounded and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon and a third of the star, so that a third of them were darkened.

A third of the day did not shine and likewise the night. So partial judgment, a fourth through the seal judgments, a third in the trumpet judgments. And what do we make of that? Because we are now at a place where there is the full manifestation of the wrath of God.

It will be finished, it will be completed. Well, earlier in the chapters there was wrath, but in wrath God was showing mercy. He was giving men ample opportunity and warning to repent. But when we come to chapter 15, the long suffering of God is exhausted. The opportunity to repent has passed and the extent of God's mercy has reached its limit.

So we see this progression. The wrath of God is not a threat, not an empty threat. The wrath of God is coming in full measure. And I add that in full measure because Romans tells us that the wrath of God is being revealed against all unrighteousness. It's not that it will be, it's not that it's something future, there's an aspect of the wrath of God that's present.

But there will be an increasing dimension of it as we move on to the final end of history as God has determined it. Not a fraction, not a portion, but now in chapter 15, the wrath of God comes to its fullness, to its completeness. The wrath of God is finished as the ESV renders it. So we are looking, number one here tonight, at the finality of God's wrath. Before it was partial destruction, a fourth, then a third, but with the seventh angel. When the seventh angel has poured out his last bowl, notice chapter 16, my Bible has headings, first bowl, second bowl, third bowl, seventh bowl. When the seventh angel has poured out his bowl, a loud voice from God's throne says in verse 17, then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven from the throne saying, it is done, it is done.

Oh, what that must look like, what manifestation of the wrath of God in that day. So the three cycles of seals and trumpets and bowls are expressed with increasing severity. And the last one features finality. One additional notable observation before we move on.

What is that? Well, every time John speaks about God's judgment on the unbelieving world, he gives us a picture of the victorious saints. Now, I want to show you that pattern. After the six seals in chapter six, he shows us the saints in chapter seven. And again, notice my Bible has these headings. Chapter six, the first seal, then the second, then the third, then the fourth, all the way down to the end of chapter six, the sixth seal.

And then when you get to chapter seven, there's this picture. Notice what he says in verse nine, after these things, I looked and behold, a great multitude which no one could number of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues standing before the throne and before the lamb clothed with white robes with palm branches in their hands and crying out with a loud voice saying, salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb. Similarly, following the seven trumpet judgments in chapters 10 and 11. He says this.

Let me see. I think I lost my reference. That'll be 12 verse. Yes, chapter 11, verse 15. Then the seventh angel sounded and there was loud voices again in heaven, saying, the kingdom of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. And the twenty four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God.

So this this pattern. And the same is true here, back to chapter 15. Again, John saw what he saw angels prepared to dispense judgment in verse one, but he sees in verse two the saints of God victorious over the beast and over his image and over his mark and over his number, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of gold, singing the song of Moses and the song of the lamb. So first thing we see here is John sees the messengers of the finality of God's wrath.

The messengers, the angels. But the second thing he sees is the glorified saints in victory and conquest, worshipping and singing. What are they singing? They're singing the song of God or the song of Moses and the song of the lamb. Again, verse two. And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses.

I'm reminded of the hymn we sang this morning of our friend Reggie Kimbrough. Dial the God who changes never. Wrath is a reality. And wrath will be meted out. Sin will be paid for. But listen to the third stanza or part of it. He says, Thine own works of laws perfection.

This obedience counts for me. Thine own suffering, condemnation, that God's wrath I ne'er would see. When we come to the subject of the wrath of God, we must not forget the wrath that was due to us, that was paid by our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Wrath was due us, but Jesus stood in our place and took the just wrath of God that was due us because of our sin. That's one reason why it's great and marvelous, because there is the display of the glory of God's grace and mercy in that, in a way that it's hard to see otherwise. The glorified saints here being depicted in verse 2. John's vision shows the people of God.

And what are they doing? They're standing on a transparent ocean, a glass-like pavement that is intermixed with burning fire. This is symbolic language. And what does this mean? Again, look with me at this symbolic language, what he saw. I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire. And those who have the victory over the beast, over his image, and over his mark, and over his number, the number of his name, they're standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. And they're singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.

Well, as is usually John's custom, he's recording what he sees without commentary. And he's telling us what he saw in this symbolic language. And we're left to try and understand, well, what does this mean? What does this mean?

Here's what I think it means. Here's a picture of the saints in glory who have passed through fiery trials and times of tumult. But they are now standing, having overcome. They stand there victorious, free from danger, free from Satan's assaults, and they're there in glory where there are no more storms and no more fiery trials. And if we can sing on this earth the glories of God and of His gospel, what is it going to be like when we're in that place free from the assaults, free from storms, free from trials? I want to be in that company, don't you?

I want to join my voice in that choir. What a day that will be. All has come in glory.

The raging sea of earth has given way to not even a wave. The ocean, the sea, it's like a sea of glass. That's what John saw. Now, what did he hear? He heard the saints singing, singing in victorious worship. And what were they singing? Well, he says they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. Well, what's interesting is we have nothing in the scriptures that is designated the song of the Lamb. There's nowhere where we can turn and find similarity of these words anywhere else given.

So we're kind of left to wonder. Commentators are mixed on this matter. Some say that there are two songs being referred to. There's the song of Moses being referred to and then an additional song, the song of the Lamb. But more commentators than not say, no, there's one song here being referred to and it's being referred to in two different ways. The song of Moses is the song of the Lamb.

And I'm inclined to agree with that. But when you turn back to Exodus chapter 15 and you find the song of Moses that was written, and it's a long hymn, it was written for the people of God to sing to God in worship of the miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea. And the themes there are God's salvation. Listen to what Moses penned in chapter 15 verse 2.

The Lord is my strength and song and He has become my salvation. It's helpful here, I think, to see the continuity between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Exodus story is God's deliverance of His people through the Red Sea. It's a picture, it's typological language, a picture of what Christ would do and has done for His people. That Red Sea deliverance, it typifies the saints' deliverance by the power of God from the bondage of sin. So when we go to the Old Testament and we read this story, it's not just contained, it's just not a story to be appreciated for what He did for them. It's typological language, it's pointing us forward to our Savior and what He will do and what He did do.

So there's solidarity, there's continuity between the Old Testament people of God and the New. And I think this is highlighted a bit, at least for me, when you go to Luke chapter 9 and you begin to read about the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. Luke tells us that while Jesus was transfigured on the Mount, two Old Testament saints appeared, Moses and Elijah. And in fact, let me read this to you, this is Luke chapter 9. It says, verse 30, And behold, two men talked with Him, that is with Jesus, who were Moses and Elijah. Well, Luke's the only one of the gospel writers who tells us what they were talking about. What would be on the mind of Moses and Elijah? Why would they want to talk to Jesus? Well, listen to verse 31.

Well, verse 30 again, And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory, who spoke of His decease, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now, my Bible translates a word, decease, that is the word that is from the Septuagint. Is that the right Septuagint? Is that the New Testament translation of the Old Testament Scriptures? Am I right about that?

Is that what it's called? The Septuagint? It's the word Exodus. They were talking to Jesus about His Exodus. Now, back to the question, why would they be interested in Jesus's Exodus? Well, because they were living on that side of the cross. They needed the benefit of Christ's atoning death. They were interested in what Jesus has come to the earth to do.

He was going to deliver His people. So, again, I think we fail to appreciate the solidarity and the continuity between the old and the new. No, this is magnifying Christ and what He will do for His people. Well, back to Revelation 15, and let's take a brief look at this hymn. It's God-centered. It's a God-exalting hymn.

It's contained here. It says, Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the Saints. Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name?

For you alone are holy, for all nations shall come and worship before you, for your judgments have been manifested. I don't scrutinize the prayers that men pray from the pulpit here, but there are things from time to time that catch my attention. And I really appreciated Aaron's prayer this evening for a number of reasons, but the thing that I'm drawing attention to right now is that he first thanked God for who He was before He thanked God for what He's done.

And that's a good practice. We shouldn't be thankful only for what we get from God, for the things He gives to us by grace. We need to be thankful for God for who He is. And that emphasis is in this hymn. The hymn draws out various attributes of God, His holiness. That's why we sang Holy, Holy, Holy this evening. Who shall not fear you, O Lord God, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy.

His justice is referenced here. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty. Just and true, His righteousness are your ways, O King of the Saints. They're glorifying, magnifying God for His Lordship. That's an important aspect of genuine Christianity. There's an awful lot of people who are convinced that they're on their way to heaven, who have never acknowledged Jesus as king.

They've never bowed to His Lordship. Well, the saints in glory magnify God. They say, O King of the Saints. From heaven's perspective, there is the rhetorical questions of verse four. This is rhetorical. Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name? That's a rhetorical question.

Why is it there? Well, they're saying, in essence, who on earth could be so foolish as to not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name? From their perspective, who is so foolish down there that they would not fear you and glorify your name? There's an awful lot of fear in this world, but not a lot of fear of God.

There's fear of men and fear of a host of other things, but we as a people of God need to be characterized by a holy fear of God, because that's true. When we get to glory, it'll seem foolish to us that we ever entertained any thoughts of not fearing God while we were here on this earth. Then he says toward the end of verse four, for all the nations shall come and worship before you. All the nations shall come and worship before you. Now, I don't think that's because there's going to be this worldwide conversion, but I think what is being referred to is similar to what we read in Philippians chapter 2. Every knee is going to bow, every tongue is going to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

That's what that means, I believe. All nations shall come and worship before you. So what have we seen this evening? We've seen, number one, the angelic messengers who will bring the finality of God's wrath. Number two, we've seen the glorified saints in victory and conquest worshiping and singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.

What else do I want you to see this evening? I want you to see the sober commissioning of the angels of wrath. The sober commissioning of the angels of wrath. Verse 5, John says, After these things I looked and behold the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened and out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues clothed in pure bright linen and having their chests girded with golden bands.

Why would we expect them to be dressed any other way? Isn't that what we would expect from heaven? Purity, gold? Verse 7, Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. And then verse 1 of chapter 16, this is where I draw the point, the sober commissioning of the angels. Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying, To the seven angels go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth. That is not a myth. That will happen in human history at some point.

We do not know when. I was reading over in Genesis about the angels that God dispatched to go and warn Lot and his family of the judgment that was going to come upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Even a visitation of angels. He knew they were angels. They had to literally take Lot by the hand. They laid their hands on him to assist him to flee the city. He was so entrenched, so a part of Sodom, sitting in the gate, you say, well that sounds like an unbelieving man. Why would God come and rescue a man like that?

Well, what does Hebrews tell us? That righteous man Lot who was vexed in his spirit. And you say, well, I'm glad God said that.

I never would have said that. Righteous man Lot. That's a reminder, isn't it? We need divine assistance. We need divine assistance to hear this message tonight and take it seriously and not just pass it off and say, I've been talking about wrath.

I haven't heard a message on wrath for so long. I'm glad this is over. No, we need divine assistance for a message like this to grip our hearts and to fear before God. What are some lessons, some applications that we can take away from this tonight? Well, let's rejoice that regardless of the trials and the difficulties in the tumult that we must pass through in this life, that there is a time reserved from the people of God where we will be removed from all of that. It's not in this life, but there is a day when sin and its temptation and the devil and his emissaries will not bother us.

And it's true, if God be for us, who can be against us? We will stand victorious rejoicing in our Savior and His deliverance of us that we have to look forward to. So don't despair. Don't give up. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Keep believing the truth. Number two, let's take a lesson from the saints in heaven. They're preoccupied with the glory of heaven. They're preoccupied with the God of heaven. They're singing to Him.

Their focus is upon Him, who He is and what He's done. And that should characterize our worship here on earth. Number two, this song urges us not to fear men, but to fear God Himself.

That's a good lesson for us. Number three, we should rejoice in the opportunity God has given to us to give our energy and our time and our resources to the gospel enterprise. The gospel will be successful. All nations shall come and worship before Him. Now some in that day, the time of salvation will have passed. Some will be bowing and acknowledge the Lord in worship reluctantly, but it is our privilege to go with the message of the gospel, because there is an elect people out there for whom Jesus died. We don't know who they are.

We don't know where they are. But as long as we're living in this dispensation of grace, there's gospel work to do. And we need to rejoice in our privilege to be involved in it. He is gathering His church.

He is subduing His enemies. And we need to realize, number four, our purpose. What is our purpose? Our purpose is to glorify God, to praise Him. What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

It's good to see this picture. This is what we're going to be doing throughout all eternity. And again, that reminder from Aaron's prayer this evening that this life is but a vapor. As we give our lives in worship here, it'll be preparation for an eternity of worship there. So this is our reintroduction into the study of Revelation. We'll pick up here in verse two as we begin to walk through these horrible judgments that God is going to bring upon an unbelieving world. God has given you grace to repent of your sins and to come to Jesus Christ in faith.

Rejoice in that. But if you are a stranger to the grace of God and you are in rebellion toward Him, you will not escape this. There is no escape for this, apart from, flee to Jesus Christ.

He's the only escape. Flee the wrath to come, shall we pray. Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for this reminder of your wrath, your just wrath. How we thank you as believers that Jesus stood in our place and absorbed the just wrath that was deserving of us. And because of that, there is no wrath reserved for us. What a glorious message. What good news. Give us fresh motivation to carry that good news to our loved ones, our neighbors, our co-workers, those you allow our paths to cross. Thank you for the reminder that there is a day of glorious worship in your presence with all the saints who've gone before us. Create a longing on our hearts for that and may it affect the way we live and represent you in this world, we pray in Jesus' name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-24 18:45:57 / 2023-01-24 18:59:05 / 13

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