Summary: The final showdown, Christ's return, victory
Welcome Salvation Joyfully Revelation 19-20
The Gaither singer and comedian Mark Lowry and I have at least one thing in common…he said the scariest sound of his childhood was “the sound of his father’s belt going through the loops as he took it off quickly.”
I remember someone telling my dad that he shouldn’t spank us when he’s mad. And his response was, “Are you kidding? What fun is that?”
Punishment at my house growing up was usually dealt with on the spot. This spatula hangs in my office. I asked mom if I could have it, because it was the instrument she used to bring punishment…and I was afraid she’d still use it. The only time she would wait for dad to get home to administer the punishment was if my deeds reached a “nuclear” level. “You’ll never guess what your son did today!” The story would be related. My dad’s head would start to turn red, the vein on the left side of his head would pop out and then the sound. The dreaded Mark Lowry, Rick Burdette feared sound—his belt going through the loops. Quickly.
Listen, I was never abused. Every time the discipline came down I deserved it. The things I did had consequences. One of them was my father’s wrath. My father loved me without a doubt. But there were times he got mad, he administered discipline and punishment.
The wrath of God isn’t a popular topic in our culture today. Maybe it’s a reaction to people like the Westboro Baptist Church who picket soldiers’ funerals with signs that say, “This is God’s wrath against America.” We look at their cold, bitter, judgmental faces as we read…”God Hates ______.”
Maybe we want to make sure that the world doesn’t see us that way. Maybe so many here come from abusive homes with a broken view of the word “father” and those broken people desperately need a whole new concept for that word, “Father.”
Not bad reasons. And my favorite hymn, like yours is “Amazing Grace” but I believe when we avoid the truth of God’s wrath and His perfect judgment we’ve lost sight of something important. We forget
I. God Will Bring Judgment to Injustice
My brother Sam is 10 years older than me. He’s amazing, but has some disabilities. And I’ll never forget the day Gary Cowle got mad and started screaming at Sam, “You’re retarded.” I was 8 or 9 and I got so mad I went after him. I hit him as hard as I could and he just shoved me into the bushes. That’s when I saw Chuck Marks, “Chucky,” go after Gary. Chucky was about 6’4”, two fifty, and he beat Gary to a pulp. Chucky was angry, too. I’d never seen him angry. He was always the one who let me play even though I was so much younger. I’m not promoting violence but on this day justice was brought to injustice.
If the book of Revelation has taught us anything so far it’s this: God’s wrath isn’t something we should take lightly. It’s holy and terrible, full-blooded, just, fair and completely unstoppable. But in truth don’t we want a God of wrath? Remember the martyred ones underneath the alter of God who cried out, “How long, Oh Lord, Holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Rev. 6:10)
When we look at some of the things that happen in our world we, too, wonder, “How long Lord until you deal with the evil and depraved?” Ten year old girls sold into sex slavery in Cambodia. Three girls locked up and imprisoned for a decade, beaten, impregnated, abused. Three year old Congolese boys forced to become soldiers and brainwashed to kill. 3,000 moms, dads, sisters, brothers who all went to work one day only to be murdered by hateful Islamic extremists who hijacked and flew planes into buildings…Murders, kidnapping, rape, Iranian pastors martyred, Chinese pastors like Wing Wong thrown into prison, starving children, genocide, drug addicted babies…when will it end? When will it stop? Who will make things right? GOD WILL.
We have a God who is coming to save us. A God who sees the people He loves being bullied and brutalized by Satan. And some day He will bring the “big stick.” He’s bigger than Chucky Marx. And He’ll wade into the middle of His enemies and whip the lot of them. I want a God of wrath. I want a God who will judge those who commit atrocities on the evening news. I want a God who will put Satan in his place. And for “the god of this world” that place is very bad news.
But for those who belong to Jesus that is very good news--to the persecuted churches in Asia Minor, who are surrounded by tormentors and are outnumbered and afraid and need someone to come to their rescue. These chapters 19-20 remind them and us—the hero is coming on a white horse.