Revelation 16:12-21 Lift up your eyes!

Revelation 16:12 – 21

Lift up your eyes!

The last several chapters of Revelation have been tough to plow through.

13:10 set the tone “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”

In the course of redemptive history Satan has been allowed to make war on Jesus’ church 13:7.

We have seen the stiff exhortation to make sure we are clear on what team we have decided to be on. We are either on team Jesus or we are on team Satan. There is no middle ground in this war. There is no United Nations in the titanic war incited at the fall by Satan against his creator. Man became enslaved to Satan. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, was sent by the Father to invade captured territory belonging to him in order to win back what was his. Make NO mistake; the outcome is not in doubt.

This is not a struggle between two equals. Jesus is creator and Satan is creature. Jesus wins the day and displayed that win at the cross. Jesus effectively crippled all of Satan’s operations and has been taking his territory back one unreached people group at a time.

Revelation captures the end of this struggle for the church in order to encourage the church to stay faithful and not give up the pursuit of Jesus’ fame.

Jesus reveals himself as the King over kings and the Lord over lords. Jesus reveals himself as being worshiped by among all nations to encourage the church that the end has been fixed and we will realize his end, so don’t give up. Jesus reveals himself as the righteous judge over all the earth and ruler of all kingdoms. Jesus reveals himself as the conductor of human history with all of history responding to his decrees. Jesus reveals himself to the church as the one who will allow Satan to deceive nations and lands for his own redemptive purposes. Jesus reveals himself to the church as the one who will allow Satan to make war on his church through the demonically deceived kings and nations of Satan’s alliance for Jesus’ own purpose, which he does not state (the purpose that is). The lone exception we have in this suffering is that Paul tells us its part of the call of the church to suffer with Jesus for his sake and glory. So, suffering serves the purpose of the cross in calling people to Jesus. So, we endure and trust.

All that to say that Revelation serves the purpose of having us lift our eyes from the intense struggle in the world around us to see and savor Jesus Christ as King, Ruler, Master, Sovereign, Lover, Pursuer, Protector of and for his church.

26 times in Revelation John says, “Look!” or in good bible terms “Behold!”. The point? You have got to see this!

So, that is the invitation today from the text. “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” Rev 16:15

Bible Study Note: The literary nature of the biblical text you are reading determines how you read and interpret the text. If I throw out to you this headline: “Indians slay Tigers”, what do you hear? Some of you will hear a great injustice done to endangered animals in a foreign country. Some of you heard that the Cleveland team beat the Detroit team.

Who is right? It depends on the section of the paper you read that in. The genre of writing matters. If this headline were in the “international” section of the paper, then we have meaning. If this headline were in the sports section we would have meaning.

Revelation is not a letter alone. It is not historical narrative. It is not wisdom literature. It is apocalypse / letter combined.

My point is this: the whole book has a purpose and a point in the writer’s intention: look up and see who is running this show! It is Jesus!

So, when you wonder why I’m not prognosticating on when that sign is going to happen, that is why. I would be wrong. I must give you the point and help you learn to read it to see the point. Make sense?

Exposition:

A. Verse 12 The Lord prepares the way for the invading army he is going to send against his people so he can squash the army in battle in Chapter 19. Jesus sets them up strategically to crush them.

B. Verse 13 The spiritual leaders of the nations deceived are shown to be demonically inspired. In ancient times frogs were viewed as foul creatures, sometimes even as agents of evil powers. Here their task, like that of the lying spirit in the story of Ahab (1 Ki. 22:19–23), is to persuade rulers of the world to join in a great final battle against God, in the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon[1]

C. Verse 15 Blessing, biblically speaking has nothing to do with possessing material things or things we enjoy. Blessing, as a biblical issue, is inclusion into the family of God. Gen 12:1-3 defines the word. God blesses Abraham by revealing himself to Abraham and saving him. Jesus then tell Abraham that in him (Abraham), all the families (nations / people groups) would be blessed. That means they would be included in Abraham’s family that is being created as the people of God.

In other words, displayed, as part of the family is the one who is ready!

D. It’ is done!

What we will see in Chapters 17 and 18 is the final fall of Satan’s little rule through kings and kingdoms. When Jesus says, “it is done!” (16:17).

Babylon the Great in the full context of Revelation, historically, is probably the Roman Empire. Eschatologically, Babylon the Great is any Satanically induced regime that makes war on Jesus’ church and seeks to stamp out the Gospel either on purpose or as puppets of Satan and his henchmen.

So, what do we do with this? How do we live in light of verse 15?

1. Look! Don’t be deceived by the lie that matter is all there is

Since our senses are physical in nature and we are surrounded by the visible physical world, guess what has the tendency to dominate our attention? The material world

But, we are not just matter. We are also soul. Man is not just physical. Man is also spiritual. At death the physical veil is removed to see the reality of what gives the physical meaning at all.

The error made by us is that we live as though the physical is all there is.

Have you ever noticed how people get real serious about spiritual issues when it becomes clear that they are about to have their physical reality ripped away from them either by death or by a change in their physical surroundings?

There is something about physical suffering or threats to physical comforts that makes us grasp at spiritual reality. Why, because innately we all get that there is more.

The challenge for the Christian is to live life in light of that spiritual reality all of the time. The spiritual reality must dictate our physical responses.

A. Our conflict is not with flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:10-20)

1. Our armor is not physical but Gospel

a. Truth

b. Righteousness

c. Readiness with the Gospel

d. Faith

e. Salvation

f. Word of God (Scripture)

1. All this is put on praying

B. Our weapons are spiritual and demolish demonic lies about Jesus (2 Cor 10:4-6)

1. Bible / Sound Teaching / Sound Learning

2. Jesus is the testing point (make all thoughts and teachings obey Jesus)

C. Our family is the church (not merely attending on Sundays)

1. Community / Family is a fruit of being in the Gospel

a. To not engage in the life of the church is to expose oneself to church

discipline by excluding oneself from the fellowship of family. There is

Holy Spirit guarding in the family. There is more exposure to the Evil

One outside of the bond of Gospel family.

2. You have got to get engaged with the family.

a. It’s hard because it takes time (may have to let some things go)

b. It’s hard because family life exposes one’s faults

c. It’s hard because family life means deferring and honoring not

dominating and shaming

d. It’s hard because you have to repent when you fail

d. It’s fun because you get to watch personalities, laugh and live

D. Our mission must be the Gospel gone global

1. We can’t waste our time with inferior pursuits

2. If we have no church life and do not live in any spiritual reality we may be exposed as not ready

A. If the physical world dominates your field of vision, you may not be ready

B. If the church is not attractive to you very being, you many not be ready

C. If the glory of Jesus bores you, you may not be ready

D. If repentance eludes you and willful sin is your joyful pursuit, you may not be ready

Don’t be asleep, but be awake!


[1] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 16:1–21.

The Patient Wrath of God on Rebellion: A Meditation on Revelation 14:14-16:21

Revelation 14:14-16:21

A Meditation on:

The Patient Wrath of God on Rebellion

I know that what I’m going to say this morning is not en vogue. It’s out of vogue.

So many speak of “grace”. When they say grace they don’t mean the patient, fatherly kindness of Jesus toward his repentant followers who hate their sin and lean hard on the justifying work of the cross.

When they say grace they mean a blind acceptance of one’s sinful rebellion as ok, because, well, they are forgiven and there is no need for us to see what Jesus does not see, and there is no need for us to ask you to not do that anymore.

The Lord is patient toward his people. But the Lord’s patience will run out toward those who will not seek repentance.

1. The Lord enslaved his people 400 years in Egypt because the sin of the Amorite was not yet complete.

Genesis 15:1-16

And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete. 

A. But, make NO mistake. Father is just. When the Amorite does not repent, there is an end to his patience for those who persist in their fallen rebellion. He will send the conquest by the hand of Joshua to hand out justice.

2. The Father was pleased to crush his own son and put his righteous indignation for our sin on his sun in order to bring us peace.

Isaiah 53

A. When the nation does not repent for their rejection of the Messiah, Father sends the Romans in to crush the people who murdered the Son and would not repent. “He came to his own and his own did not receive him. But to those who receive him, he gave the right to become children of God.”

3. The Father has subjected the church for a season to the devices of fallen man to suffer as our King suffered, and to join him in his suffering, in order for fallen man to have a witness of the sufferings of Jesus in their place for their sin.

Philippians 1:27-30

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”

A. When the rebellious of the nations subject the church to unjust punishment because of the name we bear. Make NO mistake. It is not wasted. We fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of those who need to see, taste and know the suffering of Jesus in their place for their sin. It is a gracious and glorious calling to be in that calling to suffer. But make No mistake. Jesus will not allow us to be the object of suffering forever. That day will end. Jesus will vindicate his name and rescue those who bear his name from the hands of evil people and crush those evil people in JUST CONDEMNATION.

1. Jesus patience precedes his judgment, so don’t delay, repent!

Revelation 14:14-20; Revelation 15; Revelation 16

The wrath of the Lord is laid up for the unrepentant.

The wrath of the Lord is NOT for those whose treasure is Jesus and who hope in his name.

The salvation of the Lord is secure if one has tasted the salvation of the Lord.

The Scripture is clear on what a “saved” person is and does.

One of those indicators of fruit is the idea of “meta-noia” “repentance”.

1 John 3:1-10

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

There is a clear indicator of who belongs to Satan and who belongs to Jesus. Those who remain in their sin and those who seek to escape their sin; those who are satisfied in their sin and those who hate their sin.

An appeal inside the church…

We cannot isolate these passages from the rest of Scripture.

For 6,000 years the Lord has been gracious in allowing rebellious man to trample over his name, reputation and glory. He has sent prophets to warn man. He finally sent his Son to call man to peace.

Jesus has been more than patient and kind.

For us who are in the church, there is a sober warning here. That warning is that we not persist in any sin or love any sin or in any way test the patience of the Lord.

In Deuteronomy 32:35 (verse 15 warns of forsaking the Lord in one’s own pursuits), Jesus reminds his people that if they turn toward their sin and away from him there will be a time when their foot slips and their doom comes quickly.

I want you to hear part of the commentary of Jonathan Edwards to his church to be careful about testing the grace of the Lord in persisting in sin.

“O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. And consider here more particularly,

Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies, that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires. Nothing shall be withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. “Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them” (Ezek. 8:18). Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare. God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath. God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only “laugh and mock” (Prov. 1:25, 26, etc.). 
How awful are those words which are the words of the great God. “I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment” (Is. 63:3). It is perhaps impossible to conceive of words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three things, viz. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation. If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favour, that instead of that, he will only tread you under foot. And though he will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet he will not regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he will crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you, in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.”[1]

 

A. We may never conquer temptations or times when we totally mess up and sin, but we can’t

love our sin and persist in it in joy and be followers of Jesus Christ

1. When you sin, does the Spirit do his convicting work in you?

2. When you sin, does your entire being feel sick and weighted down?

3. When you sin, do you quickly run to the cross, confess and revel in justification?

 

B. We must never allow love of sin over love of repentance

1. When you sin, do you take grace for granted?

2. When you sin, do you think that it’s more enjoyable than the fruit of righteousness?

3. When you sin, do you know you have sinned? Is there any Holy Spirit conscience?

 

C. If you are in the Gospel, repentance will be a dominant characteristic of your life

1. When you sin, Holy Spirit will convince you of your act and bring you to repent as

a kind and gracious father trains his children to be like him.

2. When you sin, you will want to never do that again, even if you do, you will not want

to do that again, and you will fight for life against this Romans 7 wrestling.

3. When you sin, you will seek accountability in community for your recurring challenge.

2. Man’s fallen nature has enslaved him to his chosen “god” and he persists in his sin

Revelation 16:9; Revelation 16:11; Revelation 16:21

An appeal to those outside of the Gospel…

A. If you or a friend is persistent in sin, warn them to run to the cross and be saved

B. If you or a friend die without the justifying work of Jesus credited to your account you will face

a just and righteous hell that is totally deserved and Father deserves to be worshiped for such right

justice

3. For those who will repent and believe the Gospel, worship!

Revelation 15:3-4; Revelation 16:5-7

A. We worship in response to the justice of God to punish those would trample his name

1. This is a reminder of the grace of the Lord to take justice on our behalf so we would

not have to take justice.

B. We worship in response to the amazing work of Jesus to save us

1. This reminds us that we are saved not because of our good deeds but because of Jesus.

C. Join in the worship of saints and angels as they give glory/weight to Father for his justice


[1] Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

An Article Worth Reading and Contemplating

Check out this article by Gregg Doyel from CBS Sports. He critiques Tim Tebow’s view of how faith may impact whether or not he is a starter in the NFL. Not sure Tebow is saying what Doyel says he is saying, but Doyel does have a point regarding the question, “what if God’s plan is for the mundane?”

It’s funny how faith, in the Christian sub-culture, gets people super star success and not comfort if God’s purpose is that a person still loves Jesus even if they fail.

Sports and Christianity in collision here. It’s worth a read. I’d like to know what you think about the article. Post your thoughts.

Revelation 13-14 Part 2

Remember:

These chapters in Revelation meant something to the original readers. The seven churches read these chapters and were instructed in the moment for their current place as the church bearing the Gospel of the Kingdom and the King.

Remember that prophetic texts are not given to satisfy the curious but to instruct the saint.

Many of us have had Revelation taught as a futuristic document having not bearing on today except that I’m intrigued and form some opinions about how the future is going to work out.

I don’t believe that is the primary mission of Revelation.

These texts are intended to instruct now and in the future. That is the nature of apocalyptic literature.

These chapters of Revelation are telling of what is and what will be again.

The identity of nations and rulers is almost irrelevant to the larger identity of the Dragon and who it is the Dragon is fighting and why.

Bible Study 101:

Don’t get caught up in terrible hermeneutics (bible interpretation) by asking questions the text does not answer. “Who is the identity of rulers and nations?” is a stupid question because the text never answers that question. It’s stupid because it will lead people to speculate rather than exegete, and this creates many idols and much to “undo” in one’s decision-making structure. Speculation leads to speculative theology, which can lead to error. Exegesis leads to a systematic theology, which can keep you in the bounds of orthodoxy.

4. The church is called to trust and persevere

Revelation 13:9-10

A. Father’s purposes stand as good but sometimes bitter and sometimes sweet

1. Job 42:5

2. Father does not waste the death of his saints

3. Ordination to this calling is not fatalistic, it is a gracious gift of grace

guided by the only, and good, God of all creation, Jesus, for his purposes.

B. Don’t believe the thought(s) that questions the goodness of Jesus

C. Don’t believe the thought(s) that drive you away from the church

D. Don’t believe the thought(s) that question Jesus love for you

E. Don’t believe the thought(s) that Jesus’ love for you must not be in the form

of discipline

5. Do not fear Satan

Revelation 13:18

Satan is a created foe and can only harm the temporal body and cannot harm the soul

A. Satan’s greatest leverage is fear

1. Avoid fear of spiritual conflict

2. Don’t avoid spiritual conflict

3. Be aware of Satan’s schemes

4. Take on the armor of God Ephesians 6:10

6. The church worships in the midst of great conflict

Revelation 14:1-5

A. Don’t forget the chief mission is the worship of Jesus

B. Righteous judgment is a reason to worship Jesus as much as grace

7. Jesus rules over the Gospel, nations and the kingdom of hell, so persevere

Revelation 14:1-11

The lie is that there are two kingdoms and Jesus rules over one and Satan rules over the other and that these two great and equal forces are in conflict and the outcome is up to us. Don’t believe this.

Listen to the Manual.

Jesus not only rules over his created order, but he also rules over his created order of hell that was made for Satan and his angels and he will do so forever.

Matthew 5:22, 29, 30

Matthew 10:28

Matthew 16:18

Matthew 18:9

Matthew 23:15

Matthew 23:33

Luke 16:19-31

A. Hell is real

B. Hell is conscious

C. Hell is righteous

8. Jesus will execute justice in righteous wrath on his enemies

Revelation 14:14-20

A. If you are out of the Gospel, don’t delay, repent now

9. Jesus will reward his faithful

Revelation 14:12-13