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The Bowl of Judgments - 42

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
February 13, 2023 1:00 am

The Bowl of Judgments - 42

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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February 13, 2023 1:00 am

Pastor Mike Karns continues his exposition in the book of Revelation.

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I've been looking for a verse for a long time since we began this study in the book of Revelation, and I have not been able to find it. And it is the sequel to what Peter writes about Paul's writings. Paul says in his second epistle, speaking of our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, some things hard to understand. And I've been trying to find the verse that tells us about John's writings in Revelation that are hard to understand.

You didn't get the humor in that, but that's alright. I know now why this book is overlooked, and I know now why this book is not very often considered. But I've been motivated by a couple of things. You've already received a blessing by being here. You've already received a blessing from sitting under the reading of the Word of God, because there's a promise that's unique to the book of the Revelation, and it's chapter 1 and verse 3. Those things which are written in it for the time is near. There is a special promise given to those who read it and to those who hear it.

So you've already received a blessing based on the promise of God. I've been motivated by the exhortation to study, to show myself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. I want to, to the best of my ability, rightly understand and divide the Word of truth and bring it to you.

So it's been quite a challenge. Last Sunday night I brought a message on four vindications of God's wrath, and I wondered afterwards whether the word vindication was the right word. And then I consulted a dictionary and found that vindication means proof that someone or something is right, reasonable, or justified. So I thought, well, vindication is probably a good word. I attempted to prove from the Scriptures that the wrath of God, God's wrath, was something that was reasonable, something that was justified, and something that was right.

And I think you would agree that that is so. We're in chapter 16, the early verses of the chapter, and I think it's helpful just to be reminded of a couple of things. Number one, why? Why is there this declaration, this future promise of the outpouring of the wrath of God?

Why? And we're told numbers of reasons in this study, but there are two in particular that are mentioned, two verses I want to draw your attention to in our study tonight. Revelation 16, verse 7. Verse 7 says, And I heard another from the altar saying, another angel saying, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments. Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God, who has power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory. Why is God wrathful? Why is the wrath of God coming? It's coming on men who have blasphemed God, who have not repented and not given him glory, according to verse 7. Verse 9, I mean, and then verse 11, They blasphemed the God of heaven because their pains and their sores, and they did not repent of their deeds.

In the face of no repentance, and in the face of those who were created for God's glory, failing to give him the glory that's due unto his name. As we proceed here in our study here in Revelation chapter 16, I want to just pause and make mention of some interpretive challenges that we're facing. We're not new to our study here in chapter 16. Some of them we've had to be mindful of and work our way through as we've made our way this far.

And what are they? Number one, are these judgments, these plagues that we're going to be reading about and studying, are they to be interpreted literally, or are they to be interpreted figuratively? The plagues, the first four bowls of judgment mirror the plagues of Egypt in Exodus.

And here's the question that you must wrestle with. If we're going to say that these bowl judgments are not to be interpreted literally but figuratively, what do we say about the plagues of Egypt? Were they literal or were they figurative? I think most of us would say the plagues of Egypt that came upon Pharaoh were literal. They weren't figurative.

Those really happened. Therefore, if they were literal in Exodus, does that demand insist that they must be understood literal in the book of Revelation? My answer to that, not necessarily.

You say, why not? Because of the interpretive rules that we bring to various genres of Scripture. Exodus, we're looking at historical narrative. The book of Revelation, we're looking at apocalyptic literature. And there are different rules of interpretation for different genres of Scripture. A rule of interpretation that applies to historical narrative does not necessarily apply to apocalyptic literature.

Interpretive challenge number one. Number two, are these judgments, are these plagues discriminating or does all mankind suffer the consequences of these judgments? When you go back and read about the plagues that Moses declared from God, you see that they were discriminating, weren't they?

They fell upon the Egyptians, but it didn't fall upon the Jews. We read here in chapter 16, verse 2, so the first, this is the first bowl, so the first angel went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a fowl and loathom sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. That seems to suggest that this wrath that's being poured out was upon those who were the ungodly, those who failed to give God glory, those who failed to repent, those who were in defiance of him. And we would, I think, say that these plagues that are the wrath of God are reserved for the ungodly, that they are indeed discriminatory.

That's an interpretive challenge. Interpretive question number three, where do we place Revelation chapter 16 in redemptive history? Where are we in redemptive history?

We're moving toward the end. We understand that we have come to the place where God's wrath is being poured out unmitigated. The seal judgments, the trumpet judgments were mixed with mercy and with grace. If you remember the seal judgments, that when judgment came and destruction came and death came, only a fourth of creation was affected, only a fourth of the grass and the earth was affected, only a fourth of the sea and the ships were destroyed. Then when you get to the trumpet judgments, it moves from a fourth to a third, only a third of, not the entirety, but only a third.

It was mercy. God remembered mercy in the process of dispensing judgment. But when we come to Revelation chapter 16, you remember we tied chapters 15 and 16 together.

Chapter 15 verse 1 says, this is John, 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. So there's no one fourth, one third fraction of destruction. There is entire destruction. This is the emptying out of the wrath of God. This is the full expression of the wrath of God.

So again, the question is, where does that place us in redemptive history? That question has a verse tied to it that is there for me to remind you to pique your interest. We've seen this address of God in the Book of the Revelation, and let me read it to you in the few places that we find it.

Revelation chapter 1 and verse 4 says, John, to the seven churches which are in Asia, grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come. From him who is and who was and who is to come, chapter 1 and verse 4, verse 8 of the same chapter, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. Then chapter 4 and verse 8, the four living creatures, each having six wings were full of the eyes around and within, and they do not rest day or night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. Chapter 11, verse 17, we give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the one who is and who was and who is to come.

That's a song of praise in heaven and glory at the second coming of Christ. The God who, the one who is and who was and who is to come, all right? What do we see in chapter 16? Notice this verse. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, You are righteous, O Lord, the one who is and who was and who is to be. And who is to be, not and who is to come, but the one who is to be. So I draw your attention to that verse in reference to my question, where are we in our study in the book of Revelation in terms of redemptive history? Has Jesus come? Has the second coming taken place?

Or is it yet still future? Is my question. You say, well, you're raising lots of questions.

It's about time you start answering some. You know, I've tried to remind you numerous times through this study of the way the book of the Revelation is structured, that it's not to be understood as consecutive history, that we are revisiting the same themes, but with more and more detail, little more understanding over and over again. And for those who insist that, oh, no, the book of Revelation is to be understood as consecutive history, you've got a problem because I can count about five second comings in the book of the Revelation. And there's really there's only one.

All right. He's only coming once. So why is the second coming referenced four or five times? Because of the reason I just told you the structure of the book. That alone should cause anybody who says, well, this is to be understood as consecutive history.

Major, major pause. If that's the case, then we would only have one. Everything would be building to a second coming.

We wouldn't have three or four or five references to the second coming as we do. But I'm convinced that we are moving toward the end of time as we know it in our study. Yes, there's some there is the full outpouring of the wrath of God that's come that is coming. And that's what we're going to be looking at here in Chapter 16, Chapter 17. I'm just turning the pages in my Bible.

Chapter 17, the scarlet woman and the scarlet beast. The fall of Babylon, the great Chapter 18. The beast and the armies defeated. Christ coming on his white horse. The finality of Babylon's fall. The Saints reign with Christ a thousand years. Satan, satanic rebellion crushed. All things made new.

We're moving quickly toward the end of time as we know it. So I think what we're to understand here is that this is the outpouring of wrath. This wrath is discriminatory. It is for those who have failed to repent and give God glory. As I've reminded you, as saints of God, as the elect of God, there is no wrath reserved for you or me. Jesus bore the wrath of God in our place.

We need to understand that. That is cause for great rejoicing among the saints. So I believe that John is writing from the perspective of the second coming of Christ. When you read Chapter 15, the prelude of the bold judgments.

You read Chapter 11, the kingdom proclaimed. It's hard to get around that all the second coming of Christ is still yet future. Now I say that with the understanding that the second coming has been referenced by John numerous times. So there are, there's more detail that John is going to give us as God's enemies are subdued and God's wrath is exhausted upon an unbelieving world. And that's what we're going to be seeing. Another thing I'd like to point out that's more overview and that is that I think it's helpful for us to understand these bold judgments, not as being consecutive. That is, well when one ends another comes and when that ends another comes.

But that they're to be understood in a unified way. Let me show you one thing that draws my attention to that. The first bold judgment is the foul and loathsome sores that come upon the men who have the mark of the beast and those who worship his image. Similar to the sores that came upon the Egyptians. Similar sores that Job experienced.

Sores that the rich man and Lazarus, that parable that Jesus told, were told about this kind of a condition. Well that's mentioned there in verse chapter 2, but when you get over to verse 10, this is the fifth bowl. So if these are consecutive, okay that judgment's ended and then another judgment comes and it ends and then a third.

Now I think that they're to be understood in a unified way. Because verse 10 says, then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast and his kingdom became full of darkness and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of the pains and their sores and did not repent of their deeds. So these are coming in a rapid succession.

There's not a lot of time in between. When we get to the fifth bowl, they're still suffering the pains of the sores that were inflicted when the first bowl judgment came upon them. Alright, let's talk about these first five bowl judgments. Again, the first bowl judgment. So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. Again, it's similar to the sixth Egyptian plague of boils that came upon the enemies of God in Exodus 9 verses 8 through 12. Here in chapter 16 of Revelation, they come upon the men who have the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. Now, is that literal?

It could be. But I want us to, instead of looking at each individual one, think about what is being said before us. The first bowl, the earth. The second bowl, the sea. The third bowl, the rivers and the springs of water.

And in the fourth bowl, the sun. All those things that are part of creation. And rather than try and get lost in trying to understand, okay, literally, how is that to happen? I think that it's helpful to think through in a more holistic way. Think with me about this. The very thing that God intended to display his glory and to provoke men to worship him.

What's that? Creation. Too often becomes the God that men worship. The heavens do what? They declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork. What does Paul tell us in Romans chapter 1 about creation? For since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes are clearly seen.

Being understood by the things that are made so that men are without excuse. Because although they knew God, they knew God? They knew God through his invisible attributes.

Through creation. Although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God. Nor were they thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish heart was darkened.

And a few verses later, he says, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie. And worshiped and served the creature or the creation rather than the creator. Now the creation made up of the earth and the sea and the rivers and the springs and the sun. Those things that God created in order to bless man and to sustain life on this earth. The very things that men benefited from, although they did not honor God or worship God for them, they weren't thankful. They exchanged worship for God for worship of the creation.

They looked to those things. And what do rebellious men do? What do ungodly men do? They want to push God out of their life. They don't want to have anything to do with God.

We see that in our culture today. No room for God in public discourse. No room for God in the schoolrooms. No room for God in the halls of Congress. No place for God. We're going to eliminate God. You can't talk about God. You can't argue for God.

All right. What's God's posture going to be toward that? Is he going to be indifferent toward that?

No. No, God is the very things that men have exchanged worship for, God is going to judge. Men look to the earth for what? What do men look to the earth for? What does the earth do? It provides food.

The grains of the earth and food that sustains life. Well, there's going to be loathom sores come upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worship his image. So this first expression of wrath is poured out upon the earth. And whatever curse that is, and I don't know cause and effect, I don't know how God is going to dispense his wrath and express his wrath, but it's coming upon the earth. And one of the manifestations, according to this, is it's going to affect man's well-being.

And if indeed it is loathom sores, where do men get the medicines in order to treat the ailments that we deal with? Well, from the earth. So God is going to bring wrath in this way. You would not worship me. And again, why are they going to be judged? Because they did not repent or give him glory. And God is jealous for his glory. And men will suffer for failing to honor God and acknowledge him and give him glory. So God is saying, when my wrath is poured out, it's going to affect the earth. And when men realize the futility of trying to find sustenance in the earth, they're going to turn to the sea.

And what are they going to find in the sea? And the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man, and every living creature in the sea died. You talk about an economic meltdown. You talk about an economic collapse.

That's what would happen. Every living thing in the sea, those who make a living in the sea, harvesting things from the sea, the judgment of God is going to fall. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Well, literally, no, I don't think so.

Back to the second. Is the sea, everything in the sea going to die? No, I think that is to be understood in a figurative way. God's going to judge this world and the things that men look to instead of Him, or they're going to find our futile. God's going to judge those things. The rivers and springs of water, they will become blood. And I heard the angel of the water saying, You are righteous, O Lord, the one who is and who was and who is to come, because you have judged these things.

Think about it. The entire sea changed into blood. All the rivers and fountains of water poisoned.

What's the fourth bowl? Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who had power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory. I find it interesting that despite man's unceasing attempt to push God out of his mind and to ignore God and to not acknowledge God, when these judgments come, they're going to acknowledge that God's behind them.

Notice what it says there in verse 8. Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given. Power was given to him, the angel.

Power was given to him by home, by God Almighty. God Almighty gave the angel power to execute this wrath, to scorch men with fire. Verse 9, and men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory.

Well, that's interesting, isn't it? They've been pushing God off the scene and having nothing to do with God, and all of a sudden, there's an understanding that God's behind all these things. And rather than repent and rather than humble themselves, they blaspheme, it says, they blaspheme the name of God who has power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory. Now, if you don't believe in human depravity, there's some evidence to convince you otherwise. One would think that if they rightly understood that God was the one who has made life so miserable and so unlivable on planet earth because of these plagues that He's brought, then men would turn to Him in repentance, and yet they blaspheme God. Listen to these thoughts from one of the commentators.

He says these things. The second trumpet turned one-third part of the sea into blood, destroyed one-third part of the living creatures and one-third part of the ships, but now the whole sea is turned. The sea is a source of necessity for man, and it has now become worthless. A man who cannot find on the earth what he needs now turns to the sea to feed himself with the creatures that are in it. The earth being poisoned, the sea offers nothing to relieve the suffering. The sea, that mighty treasure to man, has lost its value. He says still more, the waters and the rivers are also affected. If man in his distress only might turn to these waters for help and feed on its living creatures, drink from its fountains, he might perhaps find some relief, but this is not the case. These are filled with the wrath of God as well.

They afford man no pleasant and refreshing drink any longer. The sun is affected. It is not darkened, that will be still later, but now it is increased in heat to such an extent that it scorches men by its heat. It not only affects men, but the crops and the cattle and the meadows and the beasts of the field.

Nowhere in all creation is there help or comfort. The whole world is now filled with the wrath of God. I wonder what the climate alarmist would have to say about that word. The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the power was given to him to scorch men with fire. Men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who had power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.

Serious things. Deuteronomy chapter 32 and verse 24 ties this imagery of scorching heat to economic failure. Deuteronomy 32, 24 explains that those who are guilty of covenant disobedience will be consumed by burning heat, and this is directly related to the woe of being wasted by famine. So this fourth bowl judgment has the same effect on the ungodly as the plagues of Egypt had on Pharaoh. One would think, with Moses standing before him, declaring that God was the one who was bringing these plagues, that Pharaoh would have yielded and softened, and yet the Bible says he hardened his heart. He hardened his heart. We read that over and over again.

It's a frightening thing to be in a state of unrepentance. In our day, no one would dare speak of God as the cause of any earthquake or tornado, but if God brings judgment upon the earth, perhaps that and that alone will be what gets man's attention, because it got man's attention here. Now the goodness of God didn't lead them to repentance, that's for sure, and the wrath of God hasn't softened them and brought them to repentance. They blaspheme God and do not repent and do not give him glory, the scripture says. The fifth bowl judgment of verse 10 says, Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores and did not repent of their deeds. Again, this is similar to the 9th plague of darkness in Egypt in Exodus 10, 21-29. And if you remember, in Egypt, Pharaoh was thought to be the incarnation of the sun god, Ra.

And God exposes him for being the fraud that he was by doing what? By bringing darkness over all the land of Egypt, so dark that one Egypt could be standing side by side and they couldn't even see one another. So dark was the darkness. And God was, I think, taunting Pharaoh. Okay Pharaoh, you're the one who controls light and darkness, well go ahead and shine yourself, dispel the darkness that I have sent, that I have sent upon the land.

But he had no power to dispel the darkness. And this judgment here in Revelation 16 is directed upon the throne of the beast. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast and his kingdom became full of darkness. The darkness here in Revelation 16, 10 has the same figurative significance as in the Exodus passage that describes the plague of darkness that fell over all of Egypt.

It induced anguish, figuratively expressed by the phrase, they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. So, these five bold judgments set the stage for the sixth and the seventh as the enemies of God make one final rally to oppose God and challenge God and go to war with God and find that to be futile. So when we come back together again, we will pick up at verse 12 and consider the sixth bowl and get on to the seventh bowl. But let's be sobered by this.

Let's be encouraged by this. God is mindful of the ungodly, those who oppose Him, those who think that they can defy Him and will never have to answer to Him. And let's be thankful that God has come to us in rescuing grace and subdued our hearts and granted us grace to repent of our sins. And we now find delight to give Him glory.

What a contrast. We're here tonight and that's our greatest joy to lift our voices in praise and glorify Him and determined to live our life for His honor and glory. That's our orientation. That's our direction in life. And here are people who are going to face the full wrath of God because they have not repented of their deeds and they have not given Him glory.

That would be our condition. That would be us if God had not come and rescued us and redeemed us and regenerated us and given us His life. So let's worship God for what He's done in us.

Let's pray. You know, we all know loved ones that are outside the ark of safety that do not know God and are indifferent to God. I think we need to be encouraged when we see people who still seem to be tender toward the things of God. They're not hardened against God. They're not defiant against God. They're not in full-blown rebellion toward God.

There's a tenderness about them. That ought to encourage us. And yet, wrath will fall on all those who have not bowed the knee to King Jesus. So thank God that He has redeemed us.

We're in the company of the beloved. Pray for me as I continue in my study. This has been the most, I think, challenging portion of Scripture that I've ever dove into. And yet, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable.

So I didn't want to ignore the book of the Revelation. And yet, there is... I may have raised more questions in your mind than I answered.

I hope not. Questions aren't a bad thing if questions force us back to the Scriptures to try and find answers. But let's not insist on answers when there are no answers. There's mystery here. God has not given us an awful lot of the detail. He's told us what He's going to do, and yet we really don't know how He's going to execute that.

But this is not a bluff. There are people who say, well, God's just huffing and puffing and, you know, oh no. God says there's wrath coming. There's wrath coming. His holiness demands it. His holy character demands it. He will judge His enemies. He will subdue all who are opposed to Him.

None will be unscathed from that judgment. Let's bow and pray. Father, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for these difficult passages that we find challenging to fully understand and comprehend. And yet, keep us humble, keep us teachable, keep us searching for truth. And thank You, Father, for the illuminating Spirit of God that helps us in our study, illuminates our minds that we might understand the Scriptures. Help us, Father, to say those things that are clear, not say things that are not clear, and trust You with the results, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-20 14:20:16 / 2023-02-20 14:32:53 / 13

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