Monday, 30 May 2011

How long..??

As we reach the vision of the bowls of God’s wrath poured out on the earth in our series on the Book of Revelation, I am convinced of the value of systematic expository preaching. Otherwise, who would ever choose to preach on this? Yet Marcus did a superb job this morning drawing out the true significance and importance of God’s wrath (see the download on the King’s website). No one should ever enjoy preaching on such a subject but a failure to preach it is to ride roughshod over God’s word and God’s character. He is Holy, awesomely so, and he is just. Were he less than perfectly just then he would not be worthy of all adoration and praise, there would be no guarantee of ultimate justice in the world, and Christ’s work of atonement for our sins would be devalued.
As we said at the start, the Book of Revelation has not been given to tickle our fancy but to strengthen our hearts and John’s first readers, many of whom were suffering terribly at the hands of their Roman persecutors would have been crying out to God “How long O Lord must we endure this suffering at the hands of evil men? When will justice come?”
In fact this vision of the 7 bowls of wrath gives the answer to the cry of the martyrs: “They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” ” Rev 6:10

How long? How long do we have to put up with injustice and suffering, with wanton wickedness and might-is-right arrogance? The question echoes down the centuries and across cultures, begging to be answered. Will it always be like this or will wrongs one day be righted?

This vision is all about a new exodus that is coming. The sight of what appeared to be “like a sea of glass like crystal” is the heavenly analogy of the Red Sea. This identification is confirmed by the mention of the new “song of Moses” that follows and the contents of the bowls of wrath that so closely resemble the plagues that God brought on the Egyptians as they hardened their hearts against God’s people and purpose.
Quite what the various plagues are referring to is unclear but there is no mistaking the awful, hellish torment that God’s justice will, and has already begun to bring upon a world that resists and opposes him. But God will bring an end to injustice, relief to the suffering on that Great Day when King Jesus appears... Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. Rev 19:11. That last battle (if it can really be called a battle because as soon as Jesus appears it is over!) is said to take place at ‘Armageddon’ (ch16v16) which in Hebrew means ‘mount of Megiddo’ and is where righteous Israelites was attacked by wicked nations. Like the place name ‘Babylon’ so ‘Armageddon’ does not refer to a specific geographical place but the whole world.

Yet amidst all this talk of wrath and judgment there is heard a song of worship, the song of the Lamb, because just as the first exodus was only made possible by the offering of the passover lamb, so too the last exodus - the redemption of a great multitude form every tribe tongue and nation - is only possible because Jesus the Lamb of God, paid in full the price our sins.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:3–4

It was for good reason that we called this series 'Living Life with Heaven;s Perspective'