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?
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
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
c. Readiness with the Gospel
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!
 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.