Summary: 7th in a 10 part series on the Book of Revelation, this walk through chapters 15 and 15 expose visions of judgment and ask the question: Where is hope?
Visions of Judgment: Where is Hope?
We are getting into the home stretch of our series, 7th in our 10 part series, chapters 15 and 16 of the 22 chapters in The Book of Revelation. This Revelation of Jesus Christ to His Church through this apocalypse.
We have made the point in our walk through Revelation that the literary form, apocalypse, is vitally important in our understanding of the text.
I’ve mentioned that I’ve been reading Eugene Peterson’s Reversed Thunder as part of my study. Allow me to read a few paragraphs as uses an interesting metaphor to describe how we might approach an apocalypse.
It is easy for us to approach the vivid imagery of apocalypse and hear only nonsensical noise. We, who are so accustomed to “facts and information,” have to retune our eyes and ears and understanding to benefit fully from the vision of this apocalypse.
I think that we’re finding, as we walk through this series together, that we can. With a bit of effort we can retune our ears and we can hear what the Spirit is saying to Christ’s Church.
This is the last episode in the scene that we entered back in chapter 4. The pastor/prophet/author John has transported us to the vantage point of heaven. Through the visions, we are getting a glimpse of how Heaven sees earth. We are seeing how timelessness views time.
In these 2 chapters we have another glimpse of the end.
The overwhelming theme of Heaven remains the same: worship.
As final judgment is about to be poured out, the redeemed are standing with God. Beside the glassy sea, victorious over the devil and his schemes, God’s people sing of deliverance, justice, holiness, and righteousness.
This is the passage that Glenn read earlier. It is an awesome song of praise to God.
Chapter 16 gives an account of this final judgment, the outpouring of God’s wrath.
Then I heard a loud voice from the templea saying to the seven angels,b “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”c
2The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land,d and ugly, festering sorese broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.f
3The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.g
4The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water,h and they became blood.i 5Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:
“You are just in these judgments,j
you who are and who were,k the Holy One,l
because you have so judged;m
6for they have shed the blood of your people and your prophets,n
and you have given them blood to drinko as they deserve.”
7And I heard the altarp respond:
“Yes, Lord God Almighty,q
true and just are your judgments.”r
Does this sound familiar? These bowls of God’s wrath mirror the ten plagues poured out on Egypt in Exodus. I’m confident that we will see that this is an important parallel to understand… this is a theme of deliverance and judgment that persists from the beginning through the end, from the Penteteuch through the Revelation.
8The fourth angels poured out his bowl on the sun,t and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire.u 9They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God,v who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repentw and glorify him.x
Again, as we’ve seen before in the Revelation, judgment does not produce repentance. Those suffering God’s wrath, in this scene, plainly understand that God is in control, “but they refused to repent and glorify him.” Just like obstinate Pharaoh, who would not allow Moses to lead God’s people in worship, judgment only hardened hearts.
10The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast,y and its kingdom was plunged into darkness.z People gnawed their tongues in agony 11and curseda the God of heavenb because of their pains and their sores,c but they refused to repent of what they had done.d
Still no repentance.
We’ll have more to say about this, but notice here in verse 10 that this is a clash of kingdoms. Judgment is for the dragon (the devil) and those who choose his kingdom rather than God’s Kingdom.
12The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates,e and its water was dried up to prepare the wayf for the kings from the East.g 13Then I saw three evil1 spiritsh that looked like frogs;i they came out of the mouth of the dragon,j out of the mouth of the beastk and out of the mouth of the false prophet.l 14They are demonic spiritsm that perform signs,n and they go out to the kings of the whole world,o to gather them for the battlep on the great dayq of God Almighty.