Saturday, December 9, 2023

A Prelude and Warning

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "A Prelude and Warning"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Next week we will begin our Christmas teachings and take a break from His judgments. I must admit, my feelings are bitter/sweet as I write this week’s column. Joy is mixed with sadness for the reality of what the world has yet to go through. The signs of the end that Jesus shared with His Apostles are all in place. But it’s Christmastime and a time of great joy!

His arrival in Bethlehem should have been expected, a time of great joy for the Jews, as their long-awaited Messiah was about to be born. The prophecies that their own prophets gave to them were fulfilled! The Jewish leaders did not miss God’s prophecies regarding Messiah’s coming. They refused to teach of them to God’s Chosen People! I can only imagine that God has mixed feelings, the same bitter/sweetness as time moves forward on earth, and His Chosen Ones still reject Jesus His Son. But judgment must still come.

The warnings are clear in today’s text, and in the prophets. We, however, are blessed to know that the end is not yet. So, while God’s amazing grace delays His judgment, we shall truly celebrate beginning with next week’s teaching. But for the teaching today, the warnings are very real. They are real for any and all who reject Jesus, son of man, and Son of God. The Perfect Lamb of God will one day roar as the Lion of Judah, and Savior of the World. This is a time of great joy to every Believer, for we are washed clean by His shed blood.

We will read of a glorious vision that unfold through John’s words. The text calls it a marvelous sight, and it describes a scene in God’s glorious heaven that might bring fear to unbelievers, and cautious joy as Satan’s followers are judged on earth.

God takes no joy in doling out judgment, nor happiness in the destruction of anyone. But for the sake of the saved, sin cannot continue side-by-side with His glory, for He will is not willing to stand in the presence of evil. The losses might be great, and not pleasant for the faint-of-heart, but The Lord God will reign in His sovereign glory for all eternity!

Proverbs 14:27 -

"THE FEAR OF THE LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”

Bobservations Column: Audio Version:

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 15:1-8 - "A Prelude and Warning"

Summary/Bible Notes:  

We pray that you will join us as we continue in our ongoing study in the book of Revelation.  

Today we are in chapter fifteen of Revelation, the shortest chapter in this book.  It is a sort of prologue to the sixteenth chapter, which contain the coming bowl judgments, and the seven last plagues that will be poured out upon the earth.   It also looks back to God's former judgments while anticipating the glory to come.  

The chronological timeline of the seven-year period in Revelation is contained especially in:
  • Chapter 6 - The Seal Judgment
  • Chapters 8-9 - The Trumpet Judgments
  • Chapter 16 - The Bowl Judgments
The seal and trumpet judgments take place the first three and a half years, and the bowl judgments the last three and a half years.  

Remember, the Seventh Seal releases the Seven Trumpets (Revelation 8:1-2), and the Seventh Trumpet calls for the Seven Bowls (Revelation 11:15; 15:1, 7).   

Revelation 15 and 16 present specific facts of the final outpouring of God's wrath before Christ's return.  That wrath is expressed by the effects of the seventh trumpet that we read about in chapter eleven, from verse 15.  These are the seven bowl judgments described in Revelation 16. 

We must remember that God's nature encompasses not only righteousness and holiness, but also grace and mercy.  Even during the devastating judgments of the tribulation, God will continue to call sinners to salvation. 
  • The 144,000 Jewish evangelists (7:2-8; 14:1-5), 
  • The two witnesses (11:3-13), 
  • A host of redeemed Gentiles and Jews (7:9-17), 
  • The angel flying in the sky heralding a call to repentance (14:6-7).  
John sees gathered around the throne of God those who had been victorious over the beast because of their undying faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are holding harps of God, rejoicing and singing praise to Him.   They sing an anthem of praise to God, upholding His holy righteous character.  A song of deliverance and redemption. 

Each of the angelic beings John describes as carrying out their specific assigned duty according to God's plan.

After these things, John says, "I looked."  This introduces a dramatic new vision.  Something is about to draw John's attention away from the redeemed saints singing their praises before God's glorious throne.  This new vision being revealed to him are the bowl judgments that are described in chapter 16.  

After this brief interlude, Revelation will resume explaining the end-times judgments in chapter 16. There, the catastrophic bowl judgments will begin.

Another Sign in Heaven (15:1) - This is the third heavenly "sign" that John has seen in heaven (12:1, 3).  It is a miraculous preview of heaven and the events unfolding as God is getting ready to pour out his wrath upon an unbelieving world.    The "sign" anticipates the bowl judgments.

Great and Marvelous (15:1) - Terms expressing the enormous importance of this sign that contains the final outpouring of God's wrath on the wicked, unrepentant sinners of earth. 

Plagues (15:1) - These are the seven Bowl Judgments.  The word translated literally means "a blow," or "a wound."  These judgments shouldn't be considered diseases or epidemics, but rather judicially inflected pains. These are deadly blows that will strike the world with a killing impact.  This sign in the heavens pictures for us the overflowing wrath of a long-suffering and merciful God.  He is the judge slamming down his gavel in full fury, inflicting the severest punishments of all.

The Seven Plagues (15:1) - are the last and worst of all the judgments, because here the wrath of God is finished.   God had been speaking to men in His wrath, but they would not listen, they would not repent and return to their Creator.   God's wrath is finally filled up, and it is about to be unleashed.  

Sea of Glass Mingled with Fire (15:2) - God's heavenly throne sits on a transparent crystal platform (see 4:6).  The "sea" is mixed with the fire of God's judgment.  Those who reject God's grace and mercy face a "terrifying expectation of Judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries (Hebrews 10:27).  God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).  Fire is frequently associated in Scripture with God's judgment (See - Numbers 11:1; 16:35; Deuteronomy 9:3; Psalms 50:3, 9:3; Isaiah 66:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 2 Peter 3:7).

Victory Over the Beast (15:2) - Here are the overcomers, the saints, those who did not succumb to the beast, his image, the mark or the number of his name.  All the saints from every nation, including Israel, ultimately triumph over Satan's Antichrist and his system because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

Song of Moses (15:3) - This is sung by the people of Israel immediately after their passage through the Red Sea and their deliverance from the Egyptian armies (Exodus 15:1), this was a song of victory and deliverance that the redeemed who overcome the Antichrist and his system will readily identify with. 

Song of the Lamb (15:3) - This song, along with the previous mentioned, are two songs celebrating two great redemptive events.  (1) The deliverance of Israel by God from Egypt through Moses; and (2) The deliverance of sinners by God from sin through Christ.  The song gives glory to the Creator, the Redeemer, the Savior and the King.

Great and Marvelous are Your Works (15:3) - This statement from the song of the Lamb extols God's powerful works in Creation as He providentially upholds the universe (see Psalm 139:14). 

Almighty (15:3) - God is omnipotent.  He is all-powerful with unlimited ability.

King of Saints (15:3) - God is sovereign over the redeemed of every nation.

Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (15:5) - This refers to the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies (temple) where God dwells (see 11:9).  Aaron's rod and the stone tablets were stored in the ark. 

Seven Plagues (15:6) - The final, most severe judgments from God, described in chapter 16. 

Clothed in Pure White Linen (15:6) - The fabric represents holiness and purity (19:14). 

Golden Girdles (or belts) (15:6) - These belts run from the shoulder to the waist, that each of the seven angels wears over his garments.  The bands demonstrate riches, royalty and untarnished glory.

Seven Golden Vials (15:7) - The Greek word is phiale, from which we get "vial, or bowl."  The exact form of the container is unknown, though whatever the vessel, it is overflowing with God's long restrained wrath. 

For Ever and Ever (15:7) - This phrase occurs 21 times in the Book of Revelation, 17 of which stress the uniquely eternal nature of God.  Three times it refers to the never-ending punishment of the ungodly.  Once, in its final occurrence, it refers to the never-ending blessedness of the redeemed.  "The Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever" (22:5). 

Temple Filled with Smoke from the Glory of God (15:8) - The "shekinah" glory cloud indicating the presence of God.  It had similarly filled the ancient tabernacle and also Solomon's temple when they had first been dedicated to the Lord (See Exodus 19:16-18; 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11).  Smoke, an emblem of majesty.  This smoke also symbolizes God's wrath.  No one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues were finished.  The glory cloud will remain in the heavenly temple until the earth is completely purged and prepared for the King and His kingdom.  

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