"Bowls of Wrath"
The last “set of three sevens” we read is the seven bowls of God’s wrath. In chapters 15-16 we find their arrogance has kept them from repenting and this great evil has left God no choice but to bring His wrath upon her.
Bowls of Wrath
A. Nebuchadnezzar was not a good man. He not only took Judah into captivity in Babylon, but he desecrated the temple and took the holy vessels for his own use. His arrogance really angered God so that God showed his wrath and power on a man who believed he was the greatest of all men (READ Dan. 4:28-33).
B. The good news for Nebuchadnezzar was that he did seem to repent and God did restore him. But that story is not the one we find happening so often in life today or in the days of Rome when John wrote the Revelation of Jesus. What we find in defiance of God even when we acknowledge that God’s hand is at work.
C. Rev. 16:9 and 11 end by saying, “They did not repent.” In fact, we read that prepared for battle against God at a place that in Hebrew is called “Armageddon.”
D. Our lesson today is about those Bowls of Wrath that God pours out and the hard heartedness of the leaders and people of Rome.
E. But before those plagues are unleased we have Revelation 15. It is here that our story begins today.
I. Mercy Does End
A. READ Rev. 15:1. There is a truth that you need to understand, a truth no so much for you, but one I wish the world would understand. The truth is this: God mercy does end. There is a time when the heart becomes so hard that it will not turn to God. There is a point in which there is no hope, not because God won’t, but because the person will not change. When the heart becomes that hard, it is difficult for us who love God to fear that the one who is so against repenting may very well die in their sin.
B. Paul would write about the return of Jesus to the church in Thessalonica (2 Thes. 1:8-9) that Jesus will come in fire inflicting vengeance on those who “do not know God and those who do not obey the Gospel.”
C. The Hebrew writer gives a warning to both Christians and the unsaved (READ Heb. 10:26-31).
D. John sees that the wrath of God has come to completion upon those who follow the beast and those who persecute the righteous. John also sees a sea of glass and the martyrs were singing the song of Moses and Lamb. After singing the sanctuary of the tent was opened. Out if came the seven angles with their bowls of God’s wrath. When they came out the sanctuary was filled with smoke so that no one could enter. The symbolism to me is that the time for interceding on behalf of Rome had come to an end. God was now about to bring them to justice.
II. The Bowls of Wrath Bring Armageddon
A. Rev. 16:1. In quick succession in our text the plagues being. With the third we hear these words (vs 4-7).
B The justice of God demands an answer for the sin of men. While Jesus died for the sin of all mankind, only those who repent and turn him will receive his mercy and grace. But there are those who either do not believe God exists or choose to live a life outside of a covenant relationship and the justice of God demands they pay their own penalty for sin.
C. Rome was falling and many knew it. History speaks of the poverty, starvation and even plagues in the Roman Empire (read from John Simkin)
D. Now we come to the sixth angel and it here that we find a word that many know (READ Rev. 16:12-16). For all indication, these bowls of wrath come upon the earth. When would or did they happen is debated. I believe that we are speaking primarily of the Roman Empire and its fall.
E. Armageddon. It is word used by many today to describe an epic battle at the end of time. But if you ask people, “Who is fighting that epic battle?” you don’t get much of a consensus. In fact, some people simply use the term to mean the day Jesus comes back, while others use it devoid of Jesus and speak of a battle like nuclear warfare destroying all mankind. I agree it is a great battle, but this battle is based on evil. Evil that starts with the dragon and is seen in his allies of the beast and the false prophet. They want all the kings to gather and seek to fight God, but they will be destroyed. The calling is sure (vs 15) and the defeat will come upon Rome and any who align themselves against God.
F. The seventh bowl is poured out and with it comes the cry “It is done!” What is done? Armageddon is over, the fall of Babylon (Rome) God’s display of power was great.
A. BUT…there is one more than that needs to be said, Listen to vs 21. This was not the end of time, it was the end of Babylon (Rome). Even as it was coming to an end, there is no sign of repentance, only anger toward God.
B. While for Christians, the idea that a great battle was coming, and yes, the time of persecution would increase, there is joy in knowing that at God’s choosing, Babylon would fall. That doesn’t mean life is great, it just means that enemy they now see would have its end.
C. I go back to Nebuchadnezzar. He was a man who thought he was as great as God, but learned he was not. The leaders of Rome thought they could defeat God and the Lamb, but they could not. For them, they kept a hard heart even at the end.
D. Our prayer today is not so much for you, for you don’t have that heart, but for those who are still outside of Jesus, whose hearts have not turned to him. It is for them that we pray. As you face the trials along the journey, we always stand to encourage you. If you desire us to pray with you this day for someone whose heart has not yet come to Jesus, then come as we stand and sing.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister