#40 The Seven Last Plagues
This morning we come again to the heavenly scene and what will captivate our minds is the overwhelming majesty of the glories of Heaven! Here we see the fact, the absolute truth that God is in control. We have all heard preachers wax eloquent about God on the Throne.
But then in almost the same breath they whine and complain much like the Children of Israel in the wilderness, because they can’t get what they want from Him. Or they say, “Salvation is up to you, the sinner!” God can’t help you unless you ask Him to. You must take the first step and show God that you’re serious. When He sees that you really believe in Him then He can do something!”
Now we know that this is not a description of the God of the Bible in any way, shape, or form. Our God does according to His will in the hosts of Heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth! He is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases! When God visits a people, there is no arrogance, no questions; only fear and trembling and wonder.
To see an actual account of a divine visitation turn in your Bibles to (Ex 19) and I want us to cast our minds back to the day on Mount Sinai. The children of Israel had come near the Mountain after three days of sanctification and preparation and God came down to meet them in an awesome way!
Let’s take a look at that scene as it plays into what we will see in our text in Revelation 15. 1 “In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. This was the appointed place where God would meet His people. 2 When they set out from Rephidim, which means“resting places” where they had fought with the Amalekites, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain. 3 Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” 7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. 9 The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD (“All that the LORD has spoken we will do!”).
They proclaimed their faithfulness to God, that they would obey Him. And we know how far that proclamation went for unless the Lord is with us, we too would turn away and fall into debauchery just like the Children of Israel!
Continuing in verse 10 we read: “The LORD also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; 11 and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Now lets look at God’s command a little closer. He calls for the people to consecrate themselves and wash their clothes. To consecrate (the Hebrew word is qadash) literally means to sanctify, hallow, dedicate, prepare, purify. They were to prepare themselves to meet God for He was coming down to meet them! The Jews understood that God was speaking, not only of their garments, but of their bodies also; teaching them by these outward things the necessity of internal purity and holiness, to appear before God.
John Calvin says “Before declaring His law, it is not unreasonable that God should command the people to be sanctified, set apart, prepared, lest He should cast pearls before swine, or give that which is holy unto dogs; for although by right of adoption they were holy, yet, as regarding themselves, the filthiness of their nature excluded them from participating in so great a blessing. It was by no means right or just that the infinite treasure should be polluted by foul and stinking vessels. Therefore, in the command that they should be sanctified, two things were pointed out, —that the sacred doctrine of God was not to be handled by unwashed hands, and that the whole human race is impure and polluted, and, consequently, that none can duly enter God’s school save those who are cleansed from their filthiness. And, doubtless, it is the just reward of their unworthy deviation that so many readers and hearers do not profit by heavenly doctrine. Why? Because they rush in without fear or reverence, like they would to see some ridiculous stage play. This preparation, then, is seasonably commanded, to make ready God’s scholars and render them fit to be taught.”
Not only were the people to prepare themselves but just like the sea, they would be allowed to go only so far! God said…12 “You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13 ‘No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ The place was awfully sacred, because the dreadful majesty of God was displayed on it. And this taught them that God is a consuming fire, and that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. 15 He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.” 16 So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. I have read the account of the eruption of Mount Krakatoa in Sumatra. The scene there was horrifying. But it was nothing compared to the divine visitation of God. Something like a volcanic eruption causes outward fear, fear for your life. But when God comes down, all the inner workings of the heart are laid bare before the holy blaze of Divine Glory! With Isaiah you fall on your face and say, “Woe is me for I am undone!
17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. Adam Clark says “Of the thunders and lightnings, and the deep, dark, dismal, electric cloud, from which the thunders and lightnings proceeded, we can form a reasonable picture; but of the loud, long-sounding trumpet, we can scarcely form a conjecture. Such were the appearances and the noise that all the people in the camp trembled, and Moses himself was constrained to say, “I exceedingly fear and quake.” (Heb 12:21)
We could speculate that the sound of the Sinai trumpet was something similar to that which will be blown by the angel in (Re 10:6) when he swears, by Him that lives for ever; “There shall be time no longer!” 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. Remember that God was magnifying Moses before the eyes of the people. I am reminded of Jesus praying and God answering with Thunder! This must have been terrifying indeed!
And now for the coupe de gras; 20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Now remember, the people could hear all of this. Again think of the two witnesses who were lying dead in the street for three days. Suddenly a voice from heaven says, “Come Up Here!” Incredible!
Verse 21 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. It is as He said to Moses in Chapter 34, “no man can see Me and live!” Here is great mercy. God is warning these people to stay away so that they will live! 22 “Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, or else the LORD will break out against them.” Now in verse 23 Moses who figured that the previous instructions were good enough said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24 Then the LORD knowing the wickedness of men’s hearts said to him, “Go down and come up again, you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, or He will break forth upon them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.”
One other place I’d like you to look at is found in (Ex 34:5-7) where God describes Himself thus: 5 “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God! And that is what we see today in this ugly fallen world. They have rebelled against God! They have sown to the wind and are about to reap the whirlwind. The stench of their sin has come up before the Throne of God and His Wrath ready to be poured out!
Consider this small selection from the pen of Jonathan Edward. This is from “Sinners in the Hands of an angry God.” “Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you on moment for you are a burden to it. Creation groans because of you. The creature is unwillingly made subject to the bondage of your corruption, does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan. The earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted out. The air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your body while you spend your life in the service of God’s enemies. This world would vomit you out if it were not for the sovereign hand of Him who has subjected it to hope. There are black clouds of God wrath now hanging over your heads; full of the dreadful storm of vengeance and big with thunder and it if were not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present. But all the while they continue to increase more and more and rise higher and higher till and outlet is given. The longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course when once it is let loose! It is true that judgment against your evil works has not been executed against you, THUS FAR! The floods of Gods vengeance have been withheld. But meanwhile, your guilt has been increasing and you are every day treasuring up wrath unto the day of wrath. The waters of divine justice are constantly rising and waxing more and more mighty and it is nothing but the mere pleasure and longsuffering of God that holds them back. Indeed they are unwilling to be stopped and press hard to go forward. If God should withdraw His restraining hand from the floodgate it would immediately fly open and the fiery floods of the fierceness of the wrath of God would rush forth with inconceivable fury and would come upon you with omnipotent power. And even if your strength were ten thousand times greater than the sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.”
This is what we see in our text. We see our glorious God displaying His omnipotence, His majesty, His Holiness and divine Justice and in His Holy Temple everything says, “GLORY!” God’s world is about to vomit the filthy unrepentant rebels out of existence and into their eternal punishment in the lake of fire! We begin at (Rev.15:1-8) 1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished. This is it! All the horrifying things that have come to pass are just the precursor, ‘the beginning of birth-pangs. God is about to finish His work of divine justice.
But we must always remember that while there is life there is still hope. If sinners would but repent they would be forgiven and granted new life in Christ.
Unfortunately sinful men do not see it this way. They only see themselves, only care about themselves and what they can get. It’s all about them! But when God visits a sinner He changes all of that. The new heart beats after God and desires His glory. What then does the sinner need? A new heart! He needs a new spirit. He needs God to visit him in his casket as it were and breathe upon him the breath of life! But unless God awakens the lost sinner they will remain uninterested in any Mediator though they have nothing to lay hold of to save themselves, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of their own: nothing that they have ever done, nothing that they can do, to induce God to spare them for one moment.
It’s a sad thing to contemplate this truth is it not? This world is winding down! Jesus is at the door and ready to step through at the appointed time and blind, unrepentant mankind just doesn’t care. So what are we to do! Exactly this, we are to try to make them care! We are to do our best to make them see! How? By planting the seeds of the gospel in their lives and praying that the LORD will cause them to grow and bear fruit!
We must do everything in our power to point them in the direction of the cross. It is our responsibility! I think that Keith Green was right: this generation of believers is responsible for this generation of souls! We are responsible to live before the world as Jesus did and we are responsible to proclaim the truth to them in word and in deed! We are responsible to pray daily for those within our sphere of existence as well as for the needs of ministries and the lost around the world! No I’m not saying that we can save anyone.
But who knows that we might be the tool God uses to plant His seeds of life into the heart of a lost soul. We must therefore be faithful to do the work that we are able to do! The world is going to hell in a hand-basket and the devil is laughing his head off. We must take a stand for Jesus. We don’t want to be ashamed at His coming do we? Search your hearts and go before the Throne pleading God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and use you for His glory, NO MATTER WHAT! Our testimony must mirror what we read in (Re 12:11) “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
Notice verse 2 where we read “And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire… These images are symbolic of the perfect calm of the Kingdom of God and purity of His rule. While the heathen rage, there is peace in Heaven! We notice that the sea is mingled with fire which is a symbol judgment. So what we see here is this: the time for judgment is here just as we read in verse 1. God is about to pour out the seven last plagues upon the earth. Seven denotes completeness and these plagues complete the judgment of sinners in this world. It is a summing up, a closing; the conclusion of the world.
We see too that there are people in heaven in this place. John refers to them as …those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, they have not bowed the knee to Baal.
They have not succumbed to the wiles of the devil but have remained faithful. In (Mt 10:22) Jesus said “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. Well, these have done just that. They have endured. They have remained steadfast no matter what! And now they are standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.
And they are singing! Every tear has been wiped away. The pains of earth are forgotten now as they stand in the presence of the LORD! Verse 3 says…And they *sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! 4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.” Amen!
Now the time of judgment has come. “After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened, 6 and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean and bright, and girded around their chests with golden sashes. 7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. No more intercession is made before the Throne! This is it! As Hendriksen said, “God had shut up his tender mercies!”
Therefore, while it is still called today, while there is still grace to be had, let us pray for everyone who is out of Christ, that He would even now awaken them and cause them to flee from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this world. We must call to them, point out the danger and warn them to flee out of Sodom.
Remember the words of the angels; (Ge 19:17) “When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away. This is the warning we must carry to the lost! They really do have an extraordinary opportunity, a day where Christ’s mercy is still available. All who will call upon Him will be saved.