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#41 The Day Of Vengeance!

September 4, 2008

As we begin this morning I want us to turn to the gospel of (Lu 4:17-21) “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

 

As is noted in the verse this scripture passage comes from the Prophet Isaiah 61. And I want you turn to that passage and notice something with me. Jesus stops at the words 2 “To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD.” Now I want you to notice the very next line… And the day of vengeance of our God; As I have stated throughout this series, when Jesus came the first time He came as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. But when He returns it will be as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the conquering King of kings and Lord of lords. He is coming to visit the rebellious earth with judgment for when He comes again it will be the day of vengeance of our God

 

Last week we saw seven angels appointed to pour out the seven last plagues upon the earth and we were told that in these seven last plagues Gods wrath is completed. We also saw the Temple filled with smoke and no one could enter because of the smoke. The time of intercession is past and what we will see today is absolutely horrible. But what we must keep in mind is that God is the Righteous Judge of all the earth and whatever He does is right.

 

The wicked more than deserve to be swept out of existence but God is full of longsuffering and mercy. Consider these few examples. The pre-flood world had 120 years to repent under the preaching of Noah! The inhabitants of Canaan were given 700 years of grace before being dispossessed by Israel! Eli, the priest, father of Hophni and Phinehas was warned by a prophet concerning the wickedness of his two sons. And God gave him 15 years of grace before judging them. The Amalekites had persecuted the Children of Israel in the wilderness, killing the weak and the elderly and the stragglers. God pronounced judgment upon them but gave them 420 years of grace before sending Saul and then David to punish them. We read these words in (2Pe 3:15) “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you…”

 

But there comes a day when the longsuffering of God comes to an end. He told Noah that He would not always strive with man. That means that His patience is not everlasting with the wicked! One day He will say ENOUGH! And on that day “The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.” (De 29:20) This is final!

We are dealing with such a day in our text. The plagues begin in (Re 16:1-21) “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” The awesome command is now given from the Heavenly Temple! The seven angels are dispatched with the seven final plagues with which God will smite the earth prior to the return of Jesus. Now I want you to notice, as I have said throughout this study, that God makes a distinction between His children and those who follow the beast! The plagues will fall upon those who worship the beast!

 

Also I want you to notice that unlike the earlier seals and trumpet judgments in which a third part of the sea and the grass and trees etc. were destroyed, here we see that it is everything. We are seeing the total destruction! Mankind’s beloved world is going to be destroyed with a thunderous bang! We saw in Chapter 15 and verse that these are the finale. “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.”

 

Now what I’m going to do this morning is give you some of the many theories, ideas that men have had concerning the nature of these seven last plagues. And then I will tell you what I see from the word of God! The judgments begin in verse 2 “So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image. Men are proud of their bodies and love to show them off. But God now touches this source of pride in the form of a loathsome and malignant sore breaking out on the bodies of those who have sold themselves to do evil; who have rejected God and His provision of salvation. And we can see how these plagues are similar to the plagues of Egypt. Study the 10 plagues of in Exodus and the seven last plagues here! You will see a similarity. Unfortunately sinful man does his best to regulate all of these plagues to natural causes for the simple reason that he hates God and must deny His existence.  Men cannot deal with a Holy God who hates evil and promised to judge it and so he must explain these things away, rationalize them to fit his limited knowledge.

 

And in that vein some say that the first plague which takes the form of a loathsome sore is really skin cancer caused by the depleted ozone. Others preach that they are radiation burns and the idea is that a nuclear exchange has taken place. Of course that would mean that mankind is going to destroy themselves!  God is going to sit back and let it all happen. But let’s look at the facts. First, as I said, there is the distinction; only those who worship the beast are struck with this loathsome and malignant sore. Second, it is literally a stinking and dangerous sore, the type that doesn’t heal. Some have speculated that is black leprosy but we are not told anything more than that it is loathsome and malignant. And that is quite enough!

 

Like the boils of Egypt, this is a judgment that comes directly from the hand of God upon unbelievers! He has had enough of their wickedness. The stench of their sin has reached heaven and His patience is at an end. He has endured with much longsuffering, these vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. But the day of wrath has come and these plagues are the summing up, the completed wrath of God: seven being the number of completion.

We must be careful not to try to apply current images of what we know to that which is coming. These plagues are a special, final judgment from the Throne of God.

They aren’t explainable away! Interestingly if you look at (Deut 28:27) you can see that this is a judgment that God had declared against His people should they turn away from Him to serve other gods. We read…“The LORD will smite you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors and with the scab and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed. And there is no letup. In verse 3 we see that “The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.”  Now many people have stretched their imagination to try to come up with an explanation for this. But this plague goes far beyond that of Egypt. We’re talking about the worlds oceans here! So this plague is worldwide. Now the question; is this literal blood or a natural phenomena known as Red Tide? We aren’t told. There are those who relate this plague to the oil spills and other ecological disasters. But they are missing the point. This terrible plague is not the result of poor ecological planning or human error. This is God pouring out His wrath on wicked unrepentant sinners. Whatever this plague is it causes all life in the sea to die. This is something unfathomable. How can you picture in your mind the death of all sea life? It is impossible. There is nothing that relates to this in any way. It is horrific!

 

And God isn’t finished yet! Verse 4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood. Again notice the similarity between this plague and the Plague of Egypt. All rivers are turned to blood and mankind is now without a source of water. Those who worship the beast have nothing but blood to drink. They have shed the blood of the martyrs and now all they have to drink is blood.

 

And notice now verse 5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; 6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.” The wages of sin is death. 7 And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” Throughout all of these judgments the Lamb is declared to be worthy and God is justified; there is no hint that the punishment that is being meted out doesn’t fit the crime!

 

For all this His anger is not spent, but His hand is still stretched out. Verse 8 “The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire. 9 Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.”

 

Men are scorched. The Greek word is kaumatizo which means to be tortured with intense heat. And in their pain they still refuse to turn to the only One who can deliver them! Instead they blaspheme His Holy Name. though He alone has power over the plagues they will not look to Him that they may have life. They will not have this God reigning over them for they are utterly sold to do evil! In fact, this is also a theme in Revelation. There is no repentance, only anger and rage and blasphemy! Like the plagues of Egypt, these too fall upon the gods of men. God is showing them just how worthless and impotent their deities are. Now it is interesting that sun worship is one of the oldest forms of pagan worship. It was begun on the plains of Shinar and is linked to Nimrod whose name means “we will rebel”. He is called by some the first world dictator!

 

In (Genesis 10:8-11) we read… “Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, 12 and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.

 

Now I want you to go back to verse 9 and see these words… “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” This is not a positive statement. Nimrod was a mighty hunter “in defiance of the Lord”. He put himself before the Lord. Josephus  says – “Nimrod persuaded the people  not to ascribe their happiness to God but instead to think that ‘his, Nimrod’s, own excellence was the source of it and he soon changed things into a tyranny believing that this was the only way to wean men from their fear of God, by making them rely upon him!”

 

The Targum of Jonathan, another classic Rabbinical source of history, says that “from the foundation of the world, none was ever found like Nimrod; power in hunting and in his rebellion against the Lord.” The Jerusalem Targum refers to Nimrod as “a hunter of the souls of men. His edict was ‘depart from the judgment of the Lord and adhere to the judgment of Nimrod.” The Chaldean Paraphrase of 1st Chronicles 1:10 reads, “Cush begat Nimrod who began to prevail in wickedness for he shed innocent blood and rebelled against God. And so we can see that Nimrod was bad news.

 

Some say that since Nimrod was an Assyrian, the final word dictator, the antichrist, will also be and Assyrian. They site Isaiah 10 and Micah 5. Whether this is true or not is open to conjecture. Pink thinks he will be a Jew. As far as I am concerned we are not told where he will come from; only his nature. He will set himself up in the place of God (which some say is the restored Jewish temple) and proclaim that he is God! And the scriptures tell us that he will be judged and punished by God Almighty. And this is what we are seeing in this study of Revelation!

 

In (Re 13:4) we see the world following after the antichrist. And we are told that “they worshiped the dragon the devil because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” The question was asked by the unbelieving world…who could possibly fight this guy? And the answer is GOD! There is no being in all of creation that can stand against the LORD GOD! Though the antichrist manifests great power and awes the world with his might, notice that he not able to stop, or slow down any of the plagues that God pours out upon him and his kingdom. There is only one Omnipotent being and that is God!

 

Look at verse 10 and see the plagues continue! “Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, 11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.” The plague of darkness once again turns our minds back to those terrible days in Egypt when a darkness that could be felt fell across the land. God is light: darkness is the withdrawal of the light, the forsaking of God.

MacArthur says, “Such a description of the ninth Egyptian plague, which occurred without warning, pointed to the most unusual nature of the three-day darkness that now prevented anyone from leaving their homes. That Israel had light in their dwellings and went about their normal activity stresses the supernatural nature of this plague. It takes attention away from trying to explain the darkness solely in terms of the Khamsin, the swirling sandstorms of the day. Theologically, such thick darkness directly challenged the faithfulness of the sun god, Ra, to provide warmth and sunshine from day to day, and also prevented any daily worship rituals from taking place.”

 

 My speculation as to the darkness being felt is this: what they felt was the presence of God, not in comfort but in judgment. They experienced the terror of the Lord in a very real and tangible way! Another point is that this was spiritual darkness. That’s what we’re dealing with here and we can see it already filling our sphere of existence.

 

It is beyond belief to see someone go through graduate training in science and then embrace a theory (a guess, an idea) that is easily disprovable, both mathematically and scientifically as being impossible. And yet it is not only embraced by a lunatic fringe; if you don’t embrace the theory of evolution you are putting your career in jeopardy. The whole theory of evolution is recognized by many, many experts as absolutely indefensible. There is no evidence for it. It violates the laws of entropy. (I’ll provide you a definition for that term next time.) You can’t explain the origin of life because you can’t explain the origin of information. This according to some puts the final nails in Darwin’s coffin.

 

But despite all the nonsense, despite all the evidence to the contrary, evolution, not the Bible, is the foundation for our ‘modern’ society. This foundation of sand leads to further error; in fact the whole field of psychology is frail because it is built on that same unstable foundation. The whole foundation of Islam is strange; the Koran is full of Arabic errors, (like the book of Mormon is full of errors too) and is self contradictory. And yet it is extolled as if it were some kind of equivalent to the Bible. But it is opposed – it is satanic.

 

Watch the News Media and you see that there is no commitment to the truth at all: and these people are held up as the sources of our information. It is misinformation. They are only telling people what they want them to know. They are ‘shaping society’ into what they want it to be. And all worldly sources of knowledge have the same source, the devil. The antichrist will be the perpetrator, the purveyor of devilish knowledge and the masses will fall for his lies hook, line and stinker.

 

And because of their love of evil and their hatred of anything that has to do with God, they will blaspheme God at every opportunity. In our text we see that “they gnawed their tongues because of pain, 11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.” They don’t link the fact that these calamities are coming from God because they refuse to believe in Him. I find it interesting that though they say there is no God, when these judgments fall, they blaspheme His Holy Name. Also we see a denial of accountability for our actions here. They don’t link the fact that these things are punishments upon them for their evil deeds. This attitude is pervasive.

Now God begins to move all the pieces into place for the great slaughter of Armageddon. 12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.  This river is a natural barrier to two of the largest nations on earth, India and China. It was the cradle and apparently will be the grave of civilization. (Check out Zech 10 and Isaiah 11) It was the eastern boundary of the Promised Land. It was the same for the Roman Empire. They could never deal with the Parthians and the other nations east of there.  As powerful as Rome was, they couldn’t crack that barrier. Rudyard Kipling, in his “Ballad of East and West” said, “Oh East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet, till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat.” And we are drawing near that day!

 

Now what happens when the waters are dried up? 13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; 14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.  This is the drawing. The prophet Ezekiel speaks of the princes of Gog and Magog (some believe this is Russia) and Persia and Libya and Gomer (Germany) being drawn to their deaths in this manner.

 

15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”) Could this be a warning for us now, to be on the alert? This could be a call to perseverance as well. In (Mr 13:35-37) we read  Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’ Don’t go to sleep at the wheel! Don’t be blind like the world. You know better. You have been warned in advance!

 

But the men of the worldly mind have no such insight. They are being led like sheep to the slaughter. 16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.  Nations gather to the valley of Megiddo, a place that is about 60 miles North of Jerusalem. This is the place where Jabin and his 900 chariots were overthrown, where Gideon and his 300 defeated the Midianites. Here Samson triumphed over the Philistines, Barak and Deborah defeated Sisera and King Saul met his end at the hand of the Philistines. In this valley Jehu killed Ahaziah, Pharaoh Neco killed Josiah. The Saracens, the Crusaders, the Egyptians, the Persians and the Turks, all had battles there. Napoleon, on his return to Egypt from Assyria looked out over this valley and said, “What a perfect place for a war!” 

 

Here the kingdoms of the world will be swept away by the sword that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. And the fools think they have a chance. But is God worried? According to Psalm 2 He who sits in the Heavens laughs! Remember that the world is worshiping the devil and notice where the seventh bowl is poured out. : 17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, who is the prince of the power of the air? It is the devil. And God has delivered the finishing blow here…and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “IT IS DONE.” Were done here!

And for emphasis/evidence of who is in control here we see in verse 18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell.

 

In (Zech 14:4) we are given a description of the return of Jesus…And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

 

Now there have been terrific earthquakes in the world that have leveled cities and caused great devastation – locally! But notice the last words of verse 19 and the cities of the nations fell. This is total destruction. Everything sinful man loves is gone, blown away. And the place he loves the most, Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. The capital of the Antichrist’s empire will receive a special outpouring of God’s wrath.

 

20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And if that isn’t enough, huge hailstones, (reminiscent of the storm that struck the Ammorites) about one hundred pounds each, *came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague *was extremely severe. Do you recall the penalty for blasphemy in the Old Testament? It was stoning. We have nothing to relate to this to help us understand. We can see the destruction of Hiroshima and Berlin. We saw the devastation caused by Mt St. Helens. But these were localized. What we have here is destruction on a global scale. There will be nothing left! Men and women put their trust in this world not realizing that in a moment it will be utterly swept away! (1Th 5:3) “While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.” For this is the day of vengeance of our God!

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