Well, it's wonderful to have rich hymnody that we can choose from, that underscores the truth of Scripture, but more pertinent, that underscores the passage of Scripture that we're turning to in our preaching. If you listen to the words that you were singing that we affirm together as we worship the Lord, it strengthens and preaches this passage that we're going to look at tonight.
I want to try and do two things. I hope I'm not spreading myself too thin, but I want to do number one, a bit of a review that just helps us keep our orientation, understand the structure of the book of the Revelation. I am convinced, absolutely convinced, that if you understand the beautiful structure that this portion of God's Word is given to us in, that it will clear up an awful lot of confusion in your minds. And then I want to address this passage, the end of chapter 16 verses 17 to 21. As I said before, I read the Scripture that this section concludes the fifth major section of Revelation.
And let me recap the first four very quickly. The first section is chapters one through three, where Christ is appearing before the church with the seven stars of the churches in his hand. We have the seven letters of Christ to the church. That's chapters one through three. The second major section is chapters four through seven, where we looked at and consider the seven seals. Chapters eight through 11, the seven trumpets. Chapters 12 through 14, symbolic history that shows the enemies of Christ and of his church, the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, the harlot, Babylon. And then this fifth section, chapters 15 and 16, the seven bowls of God's wrath.
Again, there are seven cycles through the book of the Revelation, not just major sections, but these are cycles. Now, just to kind of give you some sense of where this goes, we still have chapters 17 through 22 to cover after tonight. So let me just kind of sketch and give you an overview of those sections. And again, this is more just to listen, not necessarily take notes. We're going to be covering this in detail. But don't glaze over on me at this point.
Don't check out on me, okay? This is introductory, but this is critical. I don't usually take this kind of time to review structure, but it is absolutely critical to our understanding. The sixth major section of the book of the Revelation is chapters 17, 18, and 19. In those three chapters, we have three visions, and I'll speak to those in a moment what those visions are. Then the seventh major section of the book is chapters 20, 21, and 22. At the end of that seventh section, there is a conclusion. It's an extended conclusion, and there are two parts to that conclusion. There is the exhortation of the angel, chapter 22, 8 through 11, and then there is the proclamation of Christ, chapter 22, 12 to the end of the book. Now, I'm just trying to help you understand what is it yet to cover?
Where else are we going here? That sixth section, three visions comprised in those three chapters, chapters 17, 18, and 19, let me give you those visions. Number one, the vision of the judgment of Mystery Babylon, chapter 17, verse 1 through chapter 19, verse 6.
Vision number two, the marriage supper of the Lamb, brief, four verses, but very, very important, chapter 19, 7 through 10. And then a third vision makes up this section that is of the second coming, chapters 19, 11 through 21. So those three visions make up the sixth major section of the book. And then the last, the seventh and final section of the book, chapters 20, 21 and 22, again, three visions make up this section. Vision number one, the vision of the binding and loosing of Satan, chapters 20, 1 through 10.
Vision number two, of the great white throne judgment, chapter 20, 11 through 15. And then number three, the third vision is the vision of the new heaven and the new earth. Now, just those subjects themselves ought to thrill our hearts, right? That's what we have yet to look forward to, to explore together, to study together. The judgment of Mystery Babylon, the marriage supper of the Lamb, the second coming, the binding of Satan, the great white throne judgment, the vision of the new heaven and the new earth.
So that is what yet awaits us. But let's talk about these structures, these seven main sections. They are bookend. They are bookend, every one of these sections by the first and second coming of Christ. That's how you pick up on the divisions in the book. Seven times there is a reference to the first advent of Jesus Christ. Seven times there is reference to the second advent of Jesus Christ, the second coming. And each one of the sections is marked out that way. That's something that has escaped me prior to my study of this preaching time. In some of the sections, it's very pronounced and clear and conspicuous.
And in other sections, not so much. So in summary, the structure of the book is of a non-consecutive nature. We're not reading chronologically historical facts. That's not the way this book is put together.
And if you fail to understand that, you will be terribly confused. It's not written in a historical chronological fashion. Instead, the book of Revelation has a cyclical structure to it. That was obvious as we studied the relationship between the seals and the trumpets and the bulls, each covering the same time period from different perspectives.
Let me give you two examples that I think are the most clear and conspicuous. And again, what I'm going to show you about these two sections is true of all seven sections. You make your way systematically through the book of the Revelation. The clearest example of this pattern, again, of each section beginning with some aspect of the first coming of Christ and ending the section with a view of the second coming is in the end of the third major section of the book. So we're looking at chapters 8, 9, 10, 11 in the very first part of chapter 12.
So turn with me. We'll begin. And again, this section is chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11. So we're at the end of this section. And what do we find at the end of the section?
Think about what I've told you. What will you expect to see if you understand the structure I just gave you about the bookends between the first and second advent of Christ? We're at the end of a section. There ought to be something conspicuous about the second coming of Christ, the second advent.
And what do we find? This is the last few verses of this section. Notice verses 15 of chapter 11. Then the seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven saying, The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.
And then there's this beautiful picture of worship. Verse 18 goes on to say, The nations were angry, and your wrath has come in the time of the dead that they should be judged and that you should reward your servants, the prophets and the saints, and those who fear your name shall small and great and should destroy those who destroy the earth. That's the second coming. The time of the final judgment has come. The wicked are punished, the righteous are given their reward, and we have the end of the age. So in summary, at the end of Revelation 11, the end of the third section of the book, we see the second coming and the final judgment in the seventh trumpet. Then we come to chapter 12. And again, if what I'm telling you is the truth about the structure, what should we expect to find at the beginning of this new section? Something about the first advent of Christ.
Surprise! Look at it with me, chapter 12. Now a great sign appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven. Behold, a great fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth, and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth to devour her child as soon as it was born.
She bore a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and her child was caught up to God and his throne. You can't read that without seeing the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnation. So again, as I told you, this is the beginning of a new section. What are we going to see? We're going to see something that's going to speak about the first advent of Jesus Christ, and that's very clear and conspicuous.
No commentators argue with how we're to understand those opening verses of chapter 12. One more place, and then we'll get on to the message. Well, this is part of the message, but you understand. If what I'm telling you is true, and I'm convinced that it is, you're going to see this pattern. And again, once you see the pattern, it clears up a lot of confusion that a lot of people have. The book's not mystical anymore.
It makes some sense. There's beautiful structure to it, intentional for our edification. Let's go back to chapter 1, the first section of this book. And again, I'm asking you rhetorically, what would we expect if the pattern I've suggested is true for all seven sections? We would expect to see at the beginning of this section some reference to what? The first advent of Jesus Christ. We're taken back in the first six verses.
Let me see. We have a description of the incarnation in verses 4 and 5. Come on 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 and from the seven spirits who are before His throne. And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler over all the kings of the earth, to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood and has made us kings and priests, to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
What's that a reference to? The first advent of Christ. Why did He come? He came to save. He came to die on the cross of Calvary. He came to redeem His people.
There it is. Verse 5 describes the first coming of Jesus and the work He accomplished on the cross. Jesus then dictates seven letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3. And again, chapter 3 ends this first major section. And at the end of chapter 3, we're going to expect, I hate to be repetitive, but at the end of chapter 3, we're expecting to see some reference, some insight, something that points us to the second advent of Christ.
Let me show it to you. Chapter 3. This is in the letter to the church of Laodicea. Verse 20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with me on my throne as I also overcame and sat down with my father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Now, the King James speaks, uses the word sup.
The word sup conveys the idea of sitting down to have supper with someone. What does that remind us of? It reminds us of the marriage supper of the lamb spoken of in Revelation 19, which occurs after the second coming. Again, verse 21, to him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with me on my throne.
That's interesting language. When will we sit in Christ's throne with him? At the second coming. So enough of that for now. Why did I spend so much time showing you this structure? Because I want to help you understand the book and demystify it for you. But for our purposes tonight, we see this same emphasis magnified for us.
Let me show that to you. We're confronted again in verse 17 of our passage this evening with the same emphasis, same structure that I'm talking about concerning the second coming. 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.
What is done? The wicked, the godless, the unbelieving are judged. There's a finality to it. It is done. Now, when I see those words, it is done. That statement that's coming out of the temple of heaven.
Who's saying this? John is giving this scripture to us via vision. 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. I'm going to argue with you tonight that that voice is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ sitting on his throne. Jesus said, All authority has been given unto me on heaven and on earth. Authority was given to Jesus to judge.
And he says at the end of the age, it is done. That's the second Advent. Go back with me to the first Advent. Jesus is on the cross of Calvary. He's gone there to die in the place of sinners, to redeem his own, the elect of God. And we have the words of Jesus from the cross when he said what?
It is finished. And I think there's something beautiful here being communicated to us about God and his purposes in the gospel. When you study the scriptures, the gospel promises of forgiveness and reconciliation are often set side by side with the wrath that awaits those who are in rebellion toward Almighty God. Let me just give you one verse that does that for you. This is John 3 36.
Think about this. The beautiful promise of forgiveness and reconciliation right alongside the wrath that awaits those who are unrepentant. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life.
But what? The wrath of God abides on him. The wrath of God abides on him.
I believe there is a profound redemptive connection between these two events. The cry it is finished from the cross and the cry from heaven. It is done from heaven at the end of the age. It is accomplished. Jesus was saying when he said it is it is finished all that God sent me to do to redeem his people. It's done. It's accomplished.
It is finished. And now at the end of the gospel age, that same voice is saying it is done, meaning it has come to pass. So in our passage tonight, our passage tells us what has come to pass, what has come to be done. And there are four things that have come to an end to our explicit in the text to our implicit that is implied. And I'm not sure whether I'll get to the two implied, but I want to definitely cover the two that are explicit in the text.
Let me give you all four of them and then we'll unpack them. So here are the four points of my message from Revelation 16, 17 through 21. We're looking at four endings. There are four endings. There is the end of the physical world. Number one, there is the end of the worldly society.
Number two, number three, this is implied. There is the end of sin. And number four, there is the end of gospel opportunity. Here we have a clear picture that Christ's return spells the end of the world. The end of the physical world.
Notice what it says. And the seventh angel poured out his bowl. And what is the bowl? Its judgment, its wrath into the air. And the loud voice came out of the temple of heaven from the throne, saying, It is done and here is the end of the physical world. There were noises and thunderings and lightnings, and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. A great earthquake. Now, again, if the structure that I'm communicating to you exists in the book, we would understand that this is not the first time we have encountered the mention of an earthquake and in conjunction with God's judgment on the world at the end of the age.
And it's not. We read about it in chapter six, verses 12 through 14, and we won't go there, but that's when we got to the sixth seal. Haggai, chapter two, verses six and seven, speaks of God shaking this created order in judgment. Hebrews chapter 12, toward the end of that chapter, the writer of Hebrews talks about God shaking the very foundations of the created order.
Why? So that only the things that are permanent remain. Everything temporal, everything that is not righteous, everything that is not of Him will not survive the shaking, the judgment.
And not just those places. There are other passages in Scripture I could point you to, but we won't have the time for that. But what do we have here? We have a purging, a shaking of the present world, so that it may be renewed and glorified in the new age when Christ returns. Christ is going to reclaim this earth.
He's going to renew it. I was doing a study sometime back on the subject of the new birth and regeneration, and I did a word study, and I stumbled across a verse that really grabbed my attention. Listen to Matthew chapter 19, verse 28. Let me read the context here, beginning at verse 23. Then Jesus said to his disciples, As surely I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus looked at them and said to them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Then Peter answered and said to him, See, we have left all and followed you, therefore what shall we have?
Now listen to Jesus' answer to Peter's question, verse 28. So Jesus said to them, Assuredly, I say to you that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Notice the word that Jesus used to describe what he's going to do at the end of the age in terms of this world. Assuredly, I say to you that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on his throne of his glory. That's the word we have for the new birth. This world, this created order that we know is going to undergo a regeneration, a new birth. Paul speaks of the creation, groaning and longing for what? For its redemption. Romans 8, verse 23, when the creation itself will be set free from its bondage. So there'll be an end to this physical world, a cataclysmic destruction. And why?
Why? What do we trace this to? We trace all of this to sin and its horrific effects on everything. There is nothing in the created order that is untouched by the brokenness and the curse of sin. Nothing in your life, nothing in my life, nothing in creation. It's all been polluted.
It's all been affected by the fall. This world, this is the thing that amazes me. That's true and I think we all would agree with that. This world, even under the curse, is spectacularly beautiful, isn't it? There are places you can go and observe the created order and you are in awe.
You'll be brought to tears. The beauty is astonishing. And we ought to rejoice in that because the Bible says that creation screams of the glory of God. But what I'm getting to with this observation is if that is true, there are places we can go that draw out from us in awe because we're overwhelmed by the beauty that we're seeing. What must paradise have been like? What must the paradise God created for the first man and woman, what must it have been like? A beauty beyond our wildest imagination. Now, do you think what God is doing in this broken world is going to be subpar to the paradise or greater than the paradise?
I tend to think it's going to be greater than. I don't know about you, but that creates a longing in my heart for heaven and for glory. Well, this present form of the world is passing away. It's passing away.
And since it is passing away, how should we respond to that? Well, Paul speaks to that issue in a very interesting place. In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, I want to turn there.
I can find my place here quickly. 1 Corinthians 7, verse 29 to 31. Now, this is instructions that are being given to married people or people wanting to be married. Verse 29 of 1 Corinthians 7, Paul says, But this I say, brethren, the time is short so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none. Those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess and those, notice this verse, and those who use this world as not misusing it.
Now, what's the last thing he says? For the form of this world is passing away. And because the form of this world is passing away, there are instructions there for us how we are to conduct ourselves in this world.
We are not to be preoccupied with even the significant things of this present world because it is soon going to come to an end. So, what's the first end? The end of the physical world as we know it. That's what's going to happen at the end of the age when King Jesus comes to judge this world and his wrath is poured out.
What is the second thing we see? We see the end of worldly society. Notice verse 19, now the great city was divided into three parts and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
The end of worldly society. Scholars suggest that John and his generation would have thought of Rome at the mention of the great city in verse 19. Now, the great city was divided into three parts and that's not hard for me to understand. Rome was the capital of that great Mediterranean world and if that is so, I think Rome here is to be understood in a representative sense.
Why do I say that? Well, because verse 19 goes on to mention great Babylon. Notice, now the great city was divided into three parts of the cities of the nations fell and great Babylon was remembered. Great Babylon. Babylon had ceased to exist for centuries at the time John was writing. So it's not merely one city or one nation that was falling under the judgment, but the cities of the nations. These mention of the great city and Babylon are representative. That is the entire world system that is in service to Satan and in opposition to Christ and his reign.
That's what God has set his sights on and is going to judge and pour his wrath out on. And notice what it says. The great city was divided into three parts and the cities of the nations fell.
They fell. The great city is divided into three parts. Listen to what Matthew Henry says at this point.
I find it very helpful. Quote, Satan had used all possible means to preserve the anti-Christian interest and to prevent the fall of Babylon. All the influence he has upon the minds of men, blinding their hearts, raising their hatred of the gospel as high as it could be. But now here, a bowl of judgment is poured out upon his realm and he is not able to support his tottering cause any longer.
It is his worldly city that is judged. Notice, I think there's something to be understood here back to verse 17 as we're considering this judgment upon worldly society. It says, then the angel poured out his bowl into the air. He poured out his bowl, the judgment, the wrath into the air. And I began to think about what we're told over in Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 2 about Satan. He is the prince of the power of what?
Of the air. That this judgment is spiritual in nature. The bowl is poured out into the air and it's judgment upon the entire anti-Christian worldly society as we know it. Now what makes up the worldly society?
Well, all its institutions, its cultural, its political, its economic, its sociological structures. And they will all fall because they are all a part of the great Babylon. John adds the provocative statement in verse 19 that great Babylon was remembered before God. God remembered Babylon the great. He has not forgotten. He is not indifferent.
He is not impotent in the face of such hatred and opposition. I think we can become discouraged even in our own day. I was grieved as I did what I would advise you against. You want to get a good night's sleep, do not turn on Fox News and get an update on what is going on as this world and the worldly system and our institutions are collapsing all around us.
Not conducive for sleep. Here's three examples of things that are happening that I was made aware of just recently. A teacher in California refused to submit to the rules of the school board that teachers are not allowed to inform the parents of their students when their children are undergoing gender transition. This woman was on Fox News. She's a Christian. She had an attorney. She said, I could not sin against God. My conscience troubled me.
I will not lie and hide truth from parents. It's our educational system. It's coming under the judgment of God, folks. Or in Canada, a pastor opposed to the public reading in a library to a group of elementary school students by a drag queen. He showed up at the library, public library, to voice his disapproval, and he was physically accosted, confronted, and thrown to the ground. Sometime later, I don't know the same day or another day, the police showed up at his house and he was arrested for creating a public disturbance. And it was caught on video.
It wasn't his word against somebody else's word. There was a video showing what happened. He was attacked, thrown to the ground in a public library, a pastor.
This is the thing that was a bit of a rebuke, this particular newscaster. He said, where are the Russell Moores of the world? Where are the Tim Kellers of the Christian world? You don't often hear names like that being dropped, do you?
Russell Moore, Southern Baptist Convention man, Tim Keller, pastor of a big church in Philadelphia or New York City. An 11-year-old boy went to a school board meeting and read a book that was given to him in the library that was the most graphic and immoral. It was pornography and the librarian wanted it if he wanted more. This 11-year-old went to the school board with his father and this is what is in our library.
The school board just shrugged its shoulders. Folks, that is what is going on. The institutions are crumbling all around us and they are ripe for judgment. And there's a sense in which we're on the losing side when you see this.
When you see evil gaining momentum and taking over the institutions and we think, well, where's God? How's this getting a pass? It's not getting a pass, folks.
It's not going to get a pass. Almighty God is mindful. The God of this world and the evil of this world will be judged. And how is it going to be judged according to our text? Great Babylon was remembered before God to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. I don't even have words to comprehend what is being communicated there. The cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
That's what's coming. This destruction that's coming, it is broad in its scope. Notice verse 20, then every island fled away and the mountains were not found. If there's anything permanent in this creation, in the created order, what would we look to? We would look to the mountains, right?
We'd say, well, there's permanence. The mountains aren't going anywhere. When the wrath of God is rained out on this creation, what does it say?
And the mountains were not found. Listen to another commentator, Richard Luski writes, quote, no city, even on the most remote island, no fortress of anti-Christian empire on the highest mountain can escape the destruction, the final wrath of almighty God, end of quote. Paul reminds Christians, reminds you and I that our citizenship is in heaven. And as Christian parents, we should be doing what? We should be raising our children, not for this world, but for the kingdom of Christ. We have to live in this world. There is no escaping this world, but we're to be in the world and not of the world. Not to enter into its ways of thinking and acting. Do not allow yourselves to dream the dreams of the ungodly whose hearts are set on earthly glory.
Set your affections on things that are above. That is the way we ought to be living our lives. That is the way we ought to be raising our children. Let me conclude with what Paul said in Philippians chapter three. Brethren, join in following my example and note those who so walk as you have us for a pattern. We don't often think about the power of influence and the call to be an example. There's all kinds of bad examples around us, but Paul is talking about a righteous example and I can't think of a better place for that to manifest itself than in a home, than in a neighborhood. Moms and dads, do not be guilty that your children one day will say to you, well, all you were, were talk. You didn't live what you preached.
No, let's set an example. Brethren, join in following my example, Paul says, and note those who so walk as you have us for a pattern. For many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. What about those enemies of Christ? What is Paul saying, going to say here?
Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their mind on earthly things. We ought to challenge us. We ought to be earnest in our prayers. God, help me not to be setting my mind on earthly things.
It's so easy to do. Set my affections on things above. Why don't we want our mind set on earthly things? Because it characterizes the ungodly. And God's wrath is coming upon such. And then he says in verse 20, For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body, that it may be conformed to his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself. Do not entertain thoughts that God is in a tug of war with the adversary.
And we really don't know how this is going to shake out. He's King Jesus. He rules over heaven and earth. And he's long suffering and he's forbearing.
Why? So that sinners will repent and come to him. Oh, may the goodness of God bring you to repentance.
It's the goodness of God that has withheld judgment upon you. And I'll conclude with verse one. Therefore, my beloved, Paul says, and long for brethren, my joy and crown. So stand fast in the Lord, beloved. That's the call of the church.
Stand fast, my beloved. Don't become weary in well-doing. Don't think the ship is sinking.
Don't think we're taking on water. Jesus is coming at the end of the age. And there's fearful judgment for all who are opposed to him. Let's not be in that company. Let's rejoice that God in his grace has rescued us, plucked us as brands from the fire. Well, my time is gone. We will consider those two other things that are coming to an end.
They're not explicit in the text, but they're implied in the text because at the end, there will be an end to sin and there will be an end to gospel opportunity. Let's pray. Father, we thank you for the sobering realities of your word. We thank you for reminding your church tonight that you are mindful of this world and how ungodly it is becoming and how opposed it is to you and how your people are under attack. We thank you that you will vindicate yourself and your people, that we are on the winning side, and we rejoice in that because we belong to King Jesus.
We thank you. We need reminded often that on the cross, you made Satan an open spectacle. You defeated him upon the cross of Calvary.
You stripped him of all of his power, all of his authority. Lord, help us to walk in truth, to walk in light. Would you strengthen us?
Would you galvanize us? Would you help us to be steadfast, unmovable, abounding in the things of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord? Strengthen your church. Save those who are outside of Christ, those who are outside the ark of safety before it's too late. For Jesus' sake, we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-06 21:02:28 / 2023-03-06 21:17:09 / 15