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THE PREPARATION FOR THE BOWL JUDGMENTS
Intro: As the book of the Revelation is a book of contrasts. As we move through the book, we are taken back and forth between Heaven and the earth. We are allowed to witness scenes of joy in the heavens and we are confronted with scenes of judgment on the earth. In the heavens you see scenes of worship. On the earth, you see scenes of wrath.
In this chapter we are once again taken into Heaven. In these eight verses, which comprise the shortest chapter in the Revelation, we are allowed to see a vision of Heaven as God prepares for His final judgment of the tribulation earth. There has already been great suffering as the judgment of God has been unleashed on the earth. When these judgments are poured out on the earth, they serve to increase the agony of the wicked.
We want to examine John’s vision today. We are given a glimpse of Heaven as it prepares for final judgment. Up to this point, God has mingled mercy and judgment. Up to this point God has been leaving the door to repentance ajar. Now humanity has made its final choice. The world has chosen Satan over God and judgment is coming. There will be no mercy. There will be no more opportunity. There will be no longsuffering or grace. There will only be judgment and the wrath of God for all those who have rejected Jesus Christ. Let’s join John as he looks in on this scene of heavenly preparations. I want to preach on the subject: The Preparation For The Bowl Judgments.
I. v. 1, 7 A VISION OF
(Ill. John tells us that he saw “another sign. The word sign is the same word translated wonder in Rev. 12:1 and 3. In Rev. 12:1, saw a “woman representing the nation of Israel. In Rev. 12:3, John saw a “great red dragon representing Satan. In these verses, John sees seven angels who will be Gods instruments of final judgment upon the earth.
John tells us that this vision is both “great and marvelous. The word great speaks of something that is important and astonishing. The word marvelous has the idea of something to be wondered at. John is calling our attention to this vision because what is happening here is something important and amazing.
You see in the last chapter, we saw the horrifying judgments of God as they were visited on earth. Here, we are allowed to see the judgment from Heaven’s perspective as it prepares for judgment.)
A. v. 1 It Is A Scene Of Final Judgment John sees seven angels and these angels have the seven last plagues. The word plague means a hitting, or a wound. What we see here is Gods hitting the earth and wounding it in judgment. The lashes of Gods whip of judgment and begun to fall on this world system and there is nothing that can stop the damage that is about to be inflicted on those who have rejected the Gospel of grace.
When these seven judgments are poured out on the earth, they will complete the judgments of the Tribulation Period. Verse 1 says that through these judgments the wrath of God is “filled up. This phrase translates the Greek verb telos. This is the same word used by Jesus when He was dying on the cross. Just before He died He cried, “It is finished, John 19:30.
The word is very expressive and it was used in many ways in that society.
· Servants used it when they had completed an assignment.
· Priests used it when they had located a worthy animal to be used as a sacrifice.
· Farmers used this word when a perfect specimen had been born into their flock.
· Artists used it when they had put the finishing touches on a work or art.
· Merchants used it when a deal had been struck. Often your receipt would contain this word. It meant that the debt had been paid in full.
· Soldiers used it when they placed their foot on the neck of a vanquished foe.
· Homeowners used it when they had paid the last payment on their mortgage. They would often inscribe the word of a plaque and nail it to the front of the house, revealing to all that the final payment had been paid.
Jesus used this word on Calvary to let everyone know that He had finished the Father’s work and that redemption’s price has been fully and finally paid. Praise God, salvation is finished!
It is used here to signify completion as well. When these seven last plagues are poured out, God’s judgment on this world will be finished.
B. It Is A Scene Of Full Judgment The seven angels are given seven vials or bowls. These bowls are said to be full of the wrath of God. The word full means to be swelled. It was used in that day of a ship that was filled with cargo. Here, it refers to the wrath of God that reached the busting point. Up until now the wrath of God has been like water flowing over a dam. The damage has been severe, but the dam has held back the worst part. In these verses, the dam of Gods wrath is about to break and the waters of judgment are going to drown both sin and sinner. As Rev. 14:10 says, “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation… Judgment is coming and there will be no escape.
(Ill. In 1899, Johnstown, PA was a growing steel town located on the Little Conemaugh and Stony Creek Rivers. It had a population of some 30,000 people. On May 31, 1899, at 4:07 PM, after a night of heavy rains, the South Fork Dam burst. When it did, 20 million tons of water came crashing down the narrow valley. Boiling with huge chunks of debris, the wall of flood water grew at times to 60 feet high, tearing downhill at 40 miles per hour, leveling everything in its path.
When the dam broke and the water came hurtling toward Johnstown, the people heard the roar and understood what had happened. Thousands tried to escape, but were soon overtaken by the waters. When the next day dawned, over 2,200 people were dead. Some of the bodies were not uncovered until years after the flood. There was no time to escape and there was no means of escape. Johnstown was destroyed without mercy in a matter of minutes.
That is but glimpse of the horror that is coming on this world when God’s wrath is poured out. The dam will break and judgment will fall. You need to be sure that you are in Jesus and secure from the wave of wrath that will soon come upon this lost world.)
I. A Vision Of Judgment
II. v. 2-4 A VISION OF
(Ill. Even as Heaven prepares to unleash judgment upon the earth, there is rejoicing in Heaven. I praise the Lord that there is a land that is free from the cares, sins and sufferings of this world. Every time we are privileged to look into Heaven, we see the same thing. We see the saints of God rejoicing in the presence of their Redeemer. This vision is no different.)
A. v. 2a The Setting Of This Jubilation These saints are standing on a sea of glass mingled with fire. This glassy sea speaks of Gods judgment as being firm and fixed. On this earth, there is nothing more constantly changing than the ocean. The sea is never still and it is never the same. This sea is solid and unmoving! Judgment is fixed and it cannot be altered! It is mingled with fire to remind us that God is a God of wrath Who is in the process of judging this world.
If you will remember, there was a “sea of brass called the laver outside the tent of the Tabernacle. Before the priests entered the tent they were required to wash in the laver. It symbolized cleansing and forgiveness of sin. How many times have I stopped at the laver of 1 John 1:9 and washed my sins and my stains away? I thank God that there is a place of forgiveness and restoration today.
In Heaven, that sea of brass has become a sea of glass. There will be no more need for the saints to come to God for cleansing. We will never fail Him again! That will be a blessing.
But, for the lost sinner, this sea reminds us that it has become too late for repentance. Judgment is set and fixed. Man has reached his limit and God is about to pour out His wrath on a lost and sinful world. What a horror awaits the “earth dwellers!
B. v. 2b The Source Of This Jubilation These Heaven dwellers are rejoicing, and with good reason! These are the Tribulation saints that we met way back in Rev. 7:9-17. These are people who heard the Gospel when it was preached during the Tribulation. They heard the call of God and they repented of their sins and they were saved. Many of them were called upon to give their lives for Jesus. This they did, dying horrible deaths at the hand of the Antichrist. Now, they are home in Heaven, safe, secure and saved. And they rejoice in the victory they have been given. While those who dwell on the earth writhe under the lashes of God’s whip of wrath, these saints of God stand perfect and saved in the presence of God and they praise Him for His grace in salvation! (Ill. Just a reminder: Heaven will be a place of praise and glory to the Lord! I look forward to being in a place where praise is welcomed and encouraged. I look forward to having a body that can offer unhindered praise to our worthy Savior!)
C. v. 3-4 The Song Of This Jubilation These Tribulation saints lift their voices in song to praise the God Who redeemed their souls. We are told that they sing two songs. They sing the song of Moses and they sing song of the Lamb.” The Song of Moses is found in Ex. 15. It is the first song in the Bible. The Song of the Lamb is the last song recorded in the Bible. The Song of Moses was sung by the children of Israel when they had been delivered from Egypt and Pharaoh. The Song of the Lamb is sung by the saints of God when they are delivered from Antichrist. The Song of Moses was sung by the Red Sea. The Song of the Lamb is sung on the glassy sea. The Song of Moses was to praise God for bringing His people out. The Song of the Lamb is sung to praise God for bring His people in. Both songs are songs of redemption and praise for the God Who excels in delivering His people from sin and sinners. Let’s take a moment to examine this song.
1. v. 3 They Sing Of His Works They sing of the God Who works in power and moves in glory.
2. v. 3 They Sing Of His Ways They sing of the God Whos ways are always right and just.
3. v. 4 The Sing Of His Wonder They exalt His greatness and magnify the God Who alone is worthy to be praised!
4. v. 4 They Sing Of His Worship They sing of the God Who is worthy to receive and will receive the worship of all mankind.
5. v. 4 They Sing Of His Wrath They sing of the God Who alone is worthy to judge sin and sinners because He alone is holy and just.
These saints have been through a terrible time, but they found God to be a faithful God. He saved them. He kept them. He carried them home to glory. And, they stand in His presence and lift their voices in song to the God of their salvation.
(Ill. Just as surely as Heaven will be a place of praise, it will be a place filled with singing. I like “good singing here. It really can set the mood for the service. But, in Heaven, our songs of praise will be lifted to a new level. We will sing in perfect pitch and harmony and we will sings songs of praise to the God Who saved us from our sins and from His wrath!)
I. A Vision Of Judgment
II. A Vision Of Jubilation
III. v. 5-8 A VISION OF
(Ill. The scene changes and our attention is focused on the Tabernacle in Heaven. What John sees here is the original Tabernacle. The one Moses built in the wilderness was patterned after this heavenly place of worship. It is from this Tabernacle that God’s judgment issues forth onto the earth.)
A. v. 5 Justice Is Decreed This place John sees is called the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony.” The word “testimony refers to the Law that was handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai. The ancient Law set Gods standard for living. Through the Law God manifested His glory and His holiness. The Law also showcased the sinfulness of man. The Law was given so that men might understand the holiness of God and what He expected from people. The tables of the Law were placed in the Ark of the Covenant as a permanent witness to Israel of the holy demands of a righteous God.
Here in Heaven John sees that the Law is still in force! The Law of God has always served as God’s standard of righteousness. And it always will! Man has tried to alter the standards of God, but they are carved in stone and they are unchanging. Men have broken the Law of God and the Law demands that men be judged. God will defend His righteousness and judge all those who violate His Law. That is what is about to take place in the next chapter.
By the way, Jesus came to fulfill the Law for all those who will put their faith in Him. He has not abolished the Law, but He has fulfilled it for those who are saved, Col. 2:13-14. When a person’s faith rests in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, they are not required to keep the Law to please the Lord. They are, however, expected to live holy lives for the glory of God! The Law no longer stands in judgment over the redeemed saints of God, for in Jesus, we are seen as righteous!
B. v. 6-7 Justice Is Delivered Seven angels appear out of the Temple in Heaven. They are clothed in pure and white linen. This signifies their holiness and it reflects the holiness of the One they serve. They wear golden girdles around their chests. This speaks of the majesty and glory of the God they serve. These angels have in their hands the seven last plagues that will be poured out on the earth. These are the four beasts we met in Rev. 4:4-8. They exist to glorify the God of all creation. These beasts give the angels seven bowls filled with God’s wrath. This signifies the fact that the plagues of the Tribulation will be carried out because of God’s wrath and anger against sin and sinners.
God’s wrath had been building against sin ever since Adam and Eve sinned in Eden. One day the wrath of God will boil over and absolute judgment will be the end result. The only refuge a sinner has, whether it is now or in that future day, is the blood of Jesus Christ.
C. v. 8 Justice Is Dispensed The Temple that was standing open has been closed. No one is allowed to enter because it is filled with the glory and presence of Almighty God. This image indicates that the day of mercy is passed. The door will be opened again during the Millennium, but it has been closed for the duration of the Tribulation and will not be opened! Mans access into grace and salvation has been forever cut off. The door has been closed and God is going to judge sinners and there is nothing they can do to stop Him. It is too late to pray. It is too late to repent. It is too late to change. It is too late! There is no more hope, no more grace and no more opportunity. The door is shut and it will not be opened again!
Conc: In Matt. 25:1-10, Jesus tells a parable about 10 virgins. Five are wise and five are foolish. The five wise virgins were ready when the Bridegroom came and they entered in with Him and His Bride. The five foolish virgins were not ready. They had no oil in their lamps and while they were gone to get their oil, the door was closed and they were shut out of the wedding chamber.
That parable will be a reality in many people’s lives one day. Do not let it be true in your life! You need to be sure that you know Him! You need to be sure that you are saved. Today, God is offering salvation to whosoever will come to Jesus. In that day, He will offer salvation to no one. All He will give then is judgment, wrath and damnation. Get in while the door is still open!