Today’s readings cover everything from the lens we should use when we view our circumstances and how we “see” God to the danger of social upheaval. We’ll, also, look at more of God’s judgment during the Tribulation as He continues to turn up the heat. Here in Revelation 16 God pours out the seven bowls judgments. Part of which includes: incurable sores, water turned to blood, intense heat, darkness, floods, earthquakes, and unbearable pain.
How do you “see” things?
What kind of lens?
God’s people had spent 70 years in captivity in Babylon (1.12). Now the first group of exiles, including Zechariah, had returned to Jerusalem.
They had begun rebuilding the temple, but had become indifferent, more focused on their personal lives than God’s agenda (Hag. 1.1-11). God used Haggai to call them to repentance and a re-commitment to God’s priorities.
Now Zechariah was to encourage them and keep them moving ahead. He reminded them of God’s promises, especially the promise that Messiah would one day come and inhabit the temple.
I imagine the people returned to Jerusalem excited to start rebuilding. But when the work turned out to be hard and God’s enemies attacked them (Neh. 4.7-9), they must have lost their enthusiasm. Perhaps the people of Zechariah’s day began to allow their circumstances to dictate what they believed about God.
That can be a temptation for us, too. When things don’t work out the way we had planned or when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we desire, we weaken or give up altogether. We begin to believe He no longer loves us or conclude that He isn’t really good.
We start to see God through the lens of our circumstances, instead of seeing our circumstances through the lens of Scripture.
In the Israelites’ lives and in ours, God is sovereignly working out His plans, even when they don’t make sense or are uncomfortable for us. But it’s important for us to draw close to Him, get to know His character and study His Word so it will be the lens through which we view everything.
Today’s Other Readings:
Praise the Lord
This passage begins and ends with the admonition to “Praise the Lord!” In this case, the psalmist uses God’s control of nature as proof of His sovereignty. That will be even more evident during the Tribulation period as we’ll see as we continue reading through Revelation.
21 For three things the earth is perturbed,
Yes, for four it cannot bear up:
22 For a servant when he reigns,
A fool when he is filled with food,
23 A hateful woman when she is married,
And a maidservant who succeeds her mistress.
When biblical, societal roles are overturned it creates great instability.
Seven Bowls of the Wrath of God
Verse 1, “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.’”
The First Bowl—foul and loathsome sores (v. 2).
The same Greek word is used to describe the boils that God brought on the Egyptians, those with which Satan tormented Job, and those that covered the body of the beggar Lazarus. John MacArthur says they will be open, oozing, incurable sores.
The Second Bowl—the sea will turn to blood (v. 3).
The word here means the thick, dark, coagulated blood of a corpse. Imagine the death and stench which will result as all the seas turn to blood and all the sea creatures die.
The Third Bowl—fresh water turned to blood (vss. 4-7).
4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying:
“You are righteous, O Lord,
The One who is and who was and who is to be,
Because You have judged these things.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
And You have given them blood to drink.
For it is their just due.”
7 And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”
Adding to the misery will be a shortage of fresh water to drink and in which to bathe.
The Fourth Bowl—the heat from the sun will be intensified (v. 8).
8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
This will make life even more miserable. It will melt the polar ice caps causing flooding in major cities and make distribution of food, water and other resources difficult. Global warming will take place, but at God’s command not man’s doing.
Even though it’s not too late, God’s mercy is still available, most will not repent, but will blaspheme God instead (v. 9).
The Fifth Bowl—darkness and increased pain (vss. 10-11).
This is the darkness of God’s increasing judgment and pain so intense that men will gnaw their tongues in a futile attempt to relieve the pain. Yet … they will not repent (v. 11).
The Sixth Bowl—the Euphrates River will dry up (v. 12).
This allows Antichrist’s armies to amass against Israel, yet God is in control setting the stage for the Battle of Armageddon and their destruction (vss. 13-16).
The Seventh Bowl—a great earthquake (vss. 17-18).
The earth will experience the greatest earthquake ever and the city of Jerusalem will be split into three parts. The islands and mountains will disappear from the earth and a hailstorm with 100-pound hailstones will cause even more devastation. The earth as we know it will be completely changed setting the stage for the destruction of Antichrist’s kingdom and Christ’s millennial reign on earth (vss. 19-21).
“… come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22.21).
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