Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"God's wrath ... and our only hope!"


Day #363

Scripture Reading:  Revelation 8 - 11 …

The prophet Zephaniah writes, "Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near" (Zephaniah 1:7).  He then goes on to describe that "day" as a day of judgment unparalleled in the history of mankind.  "That day will be a day of wrath … " (Zephaniah 1:15).  "He will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth" (Zephaniah 1:18).  God's wrath begins in Chapter 8 of John's Revelation, as there is "silence in heaven for about half an hour" (8:1).  Notice the difference between the actions of the Antichrist in Chapter 6, as the Lamb opens the seals to the scroll, and what happens in Chapters 8-9, where it is now God's angels who carry out His wrath upon the earth.  One-by-one they sound their trumpets and God sends judgment upon the inhabitants of the earth.  The result:  "A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths … the rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands …" (9:18,20).

Such will be the wrath of God that will be poured out on the earth prior to Jesus' return in glory!  Paul writes in Romans 1:18, "the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness," but the fullness of God's wrath is being stored up "for the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed" (Romans 2:5).  God's wrath is not a pleasant topic and many in the church today choose not to consider it or to talk about it, but His wrath will come!  

God offers an escape from His wrath through faith in Jesus Christ.  That IS the Gospel!!  Jesus controls the events of Revelation, from beginning to end.  That is a great comfort for those of us who know Him, who have believed in Him, who love Him, but for all who have not heard or believed, only wrath and judgment lies ahead.  If eternal life has any meaning, the opposite must exist:  eternal death.  And the Bible says it does.  JESUS says it does!  Revelation is the "uncovering," the revealing of God's plan for the deliverance of the final generation of believers and the pouring out of His wrath on the rest of mankind.  Jesus promises that those who ENDURE, who persevere to the end will receive the result of their faith:  eternal life in the new heaven and the new earth!

Chapter 10 is an interesting message that at once reveals both God's power and the specific nature of His plan.  He could carry out His judgment in a million different ways.  There are thousands of scenarios that could be played out on the stage of planet earth.  The "seven thunders" gives us a glimpse of another possible scenario, but God says, "Enough!"  "There will be no more delay!  But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound His trumpet the mystery of God will be accomplished just as He announced to His servants the prophets" (10:6-7).  The "mystery" of God is the establishment of His kingdom on the earth and that will be accomplished as the seventh trumpet sounds and the final bowls of God's wrath are poured out (Chapters 15-16 through Chapter 19).

John is given a vision of the last "42 months," "1,260 days" through the revelation of the "two witnesses" (11:3-14).  In Chapter 8, verse 13, the last three trumpets are described as three "woes."  Chapter 9, verse 12, says the first woe (the fifth trumpet) is passed, and Chapter 11, verse 14 says the second woe (the sixth trumpet) is passed.  Chapter 10:1 through Chapter 11:13 is an interlude that gives additional information.  Verse 14 would be better understood taken with verse 15 as John writes, "The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.  The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven which said, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever'" (11:14-15).

Note what the twenty-four elders then say as they fall on their faces and worship God:  "We give thanks to You, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because You have taken your great power and have begun to reign.  The nations were angry; and Your wrath has come.  The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding Your servants the prophets and Your saints and those who reverence Your name, both small and great - AND for destroying those who destroy the earth" (11:15). At the sounding of the seventh trumpet the final scenes unfold, culminating in the return of Jesus Christ, described in Chapter 19:11-21.  No doubt is left concerning the outcome of all that has happened on the earth up to this time.  Jesus Christ shall reign!!

You and I can see the ongoing struggle between good and evil, between God and Satan, between those who know the true God through faith in Jesus Christ and those who do not.  The Bible, God’s Word spoken to God’s people, stands against all the other philosophies and religions of man and points to the ONE Who declared Himself to be King, and gave testimony to His power by rising from the grave.  No one else … no one else has done so.  The Antichrist will attempt to imitate Christ's resurrection and God will allow the people on earth at the time to be deceived, but we who believe will know the truth because we have the unchanging, infallible Word of the living God!!  Pray that His Spirit gives you wisdom to read and to understand these things.  Some of the details are difficult to understand, but with certainty we have the outline of the events to come.  

Stand firm in your faith in Jesus Christ.  Watch and wait, as Jesus told His disciples to do, and prepare for His coming by serving Him and proclaiming the Gospel at every opportunity.  Then when Jesus comes in glory you will hear Him say, "Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).  AMEN!  Come Lord Jesus!!

"Heavenly Father, I come to You with joy and peace and hope, trusting in Your unfailing love and the promise of eternal life that is mine through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ.  Reading of Your coming judgment stirs within me the urgency to proclaim the Gospel, offering forgiveness and deliverance from Your wrath through Jesus' blood, shed on the cross so long ago for sinners like me.  Give me strength to stand on Your Word, believing all that it says, and give me grace to endure the temporary trials of this life, knowing that I will live forever in Your perfect presence.  To You be glory and honor and praise, in Jesus' name, Amen"


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