Friday, January 5, 2024

The Vials of God's Wrath - Part 1

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Vials of God's Wrath"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the timeline of the Book of Revelation, John has brought us to the precise mid-point of the Great Tribulation Period. Antichrist has stolen 3 ½ years of worship due God, and His anger has been stirred to wrath. The losses on Earth as the Seals were opened, and during the Trumpet Judgments were horrifyingly great in the earlier chapters, but now the vilest of plagues are about to be poured out in the Bowel, or Vial, Judgments upon the Earth. The warnings of Chapter 15 will have been ignored, and judgment now comes. It never comes without warning.

The heavenly view: Seven Angels are given the seven golden vials of the seven final plagues to be poured out. The Earthly impact: “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled."

It reminds us of Isaiah 55:6 – “Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah is telling us in this verse that there will come a time when the Lord will not be found through the Earthly Temple. The Temple will have been thoroughly defiled, and God’s presence will not be found there. Those that go there to find Him, will find only the abomination of desolation, as spoke of by Daniel the prophet: Daniel 7:8; Matthew 24:15; and Mark 13:14. Only a truly vulgar image of Antichrist will be there.

Any who seek to make peace with God and find salvation will have to seek Him through His Son, Jesus the Christ, and worship Him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might. (Deuteronomy 6:24).

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 [verses 11-14]). 
This verse promises that God shall be found when and if we search for Him to the depths of our hearts. You see, even in our final moments, we can find God’s presence in the depths of a heart that is searched to its depths.

He reaches out His hand to you and to me, inviting us to trust only in Him. As gentle as a lamb, He knocks on our door, and invites us to open it so He can fellowship with us. Will you grasp His hand? It is extended to you even today!

Revelation 3:20 - 

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me."

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 16:1-9 - "The Vials of God's Wrath" - Part 1

Summary/Bible Notes:

Today, we are getting back in our ongoing study in the Book of Revelation beginning in chapter 16.   The events in this chapter are God's judgments upon a rejecting world.  They are horrifying, and heartbreaking as you realize that God has been calling and pleading with mankind to repent and return to Him since the beginning, and that man in His sin will willfully and stubbornly reject Him, thus bearing the consequences of their sin.

This morning's reading is from Deuteronomy 32:7-22.  It is a passage about the rebellion of the people against God.   Sadly, it is the history of mankind, the story of the human race.  The tragic reality is that judgment awaits all those who reject the Lord.  

This chapter covers, "The Vials of God's Wrath."  These judgments, are also known as the "Bowl" judgments, or the "last judgments."  This is the last half of the seven-year tribulation period.  Mankind, that is, those still alive on the earth, are still able to avail themselves of God's saving grace, but as we will see, few if any will do so.  The Jewish remnant has fled to the wilderness where they are protected by God, as the beast's fierce rage is ravishing those refusing to receive his mark.  Multitudes are being hunted down and executed.  Survivors of the previous judgments are still reeling from the effects, and now we have come to the "last judgments." These are God's vials of wrath, and they are about to be poured out upon the earth.  In light of these catastrophic events, which by the way, are not natural, or man-made, they are the judgements of God being poured out upon sinful, rebellious, God rejecting mankind.  

These bowl judgments come in rapid succession leaving no time to recover.  Each judgement, stronger than the previous, is more intense as they are being poured out. 

Understand, that the Church, that is, believers in Christ, those who have by faith received forgiveness of sins, and salvation through Jesus Christ, are not on the earth during this period.  The church is already with the Lord and will not face God's wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

The scene is set!

A Great Voice (16:1) - This is the great commanding voice of God speaking.  It is the same great voice in Revelation 1:10. His voice signals the seven angels holding the seven bowls filled to overflowing with His wrath, to go their ways and pour out the vials upon the earth.  No longer will his wrath be restrained.  Since the beginning He has spoken to mankind with mercy and grace, and from the beginning mankind has rejected His Words.  They reject His authority, His love, His offer of forgiveness and salvation, His call to repentance (Romans 1, esp. vs 24). Here is the great voice of God, who alone has the 
ultimate right to initiate judgment, because He alone is holy, righteous, and just.

First Vial of Judgement:

Noisome and Grievous Sore
(16:2) - Noisome means foul and loathsome.  The Septuagint uses the same Greek word to describe the boils that plagued the Egyptians and afflicted Job (Job 2:7).  In the New Testament, it describes the open sores that covered the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:21; see Deuteronomy 28:15, 27, 25).  Here we have those who had refused to worship the true God and Creator, Jesus Christ (14:6,7), willfully and knowingly choosing to worship the image of the beast, being identified with him by receiving his mark.  The revolting appearance of the character of the god they preferred, the beast. God, in His wrath, will add His own mark, noisome sores.

Mark of the Beast (16:2) - This first judgment does not only fall on just the third part of men, but upon all those destined for hell.  These are the worshipers of the Antichrist, who bear his image (see 13:16; 14:9-11). 

Second Vial of Judgement:

The Sea (16:3) - The sea turns to blood.  This is not the first time we've seen this judgement; this is one of the first plagues against Egypt. Further, not just a third part of the sea will become blood as it had once before (see chapter 8:8), but all of it.  There is a great similarity between isotonic seawater (marine plasma) and body fluids, particularly blood. Isotonic seawater has the same molecular concentration as blood plasma, 9 parts per thousand of pure water.  The water in the world's oceans will become thick, dark, and coagulated, like the blood of a corpse.  The death and decay of billions of sea creatures will only add to the misery of this judgment.

Third Vial of Judgment:

Rivers and Springs of Water (16:4) - These are all of the freshwater resources.  Fresh water is already in short supply at this point, because of the prolonged drought (11:6). If you remember, the third trumpet judgment will result in the poisoning of one third of the world's freshwater.  Additionally, the two witnesses will have the power to shut up the sky so that it doesn't rain (the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation).  They will have power over the waters to turn them into blood (11:6). The worshipers of the Antichrist will have no clean water with which to drink or wash their wounds.   Those who have rejected the water of life, will be made to drink the water of death. There will be no rest or recovery from these judgments.  

Which Art, and Wast, and Shalt Be (16:5) - This phrase expresses God's eternality (see 1:3, 8; 4:8; 11:17).   God's judgment of sinners is unquestionably righteous!  Why?  Because he is the Holy One.  His judgment is a just and appropriate response to sinners' rejection of Him.

Blood To Drink (16:6) - How fitting that those who are responsible for spilling so much blood will be made to drink blood. 

For They Are Worthy (16:6) - Literally, they deserve it. God who is holy and just will execute vengeance for His people (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30).   The angel is exonerating God from any charge that His judgments are too harsh, and unjust.  This unspeakably wicked generation will shed more blood than any before it, including that of saints (6:9; 17:6) and prophets (11:7-10).  God's judgment is not only fair but is proper (see Exodus 21:25-27; Leviticus 24:19-20; Hebrews 10:26-31). Those who have willfully rejected the knowledge of the truth (Hebrews 10:26), will receive exactly what they deserve - judgment (Hebrews 10:27).

Altar (16:7) - The personified altar echoes the words of the angel, reinforcing the truth that God is just in all judgment (19:1, 2; see Genesis 18:25; Psalm 51:4; Romans 3:4).

Fourth Vial of Judgment:

Upon the Sun (16:8) - While the first three vials were poured out upon the earth, this vial is poured out upon the sun.  Thus, searing heat that will scorch men so severely that it will seem that the atmosphere is on fire.  Those scorched with the sun's fierce heat are the same people who had taken the mark of the beast, and who worshiped his image.  Along with the sun's intense heat will be the melting of the ice caps, the rise in the ocean's water level, and the flooding spreading miles inland with the noxious waters of the dead seas.   Adding to the misery of the scorching sun, the dead seas, the noxious putrefied floods, there is the end of the food supply and transportation by sea.  

These are just the first four vials of judgment.  You would think that people would be crying out to God, pleading for mercy, but here in verse 9 it says that they blasphemed the name of God, which hath the power over these plagues: and they repented not to give Him glory.  Willfully and knowingly!  Incredible.

Next week we will finish the chapter and the remaining vial judgments. 

As we study this chapter of God’s Word, to be honest, just reading these verses will rip and tear at your heart, the sheer terror of these judgments should invoke prayer for the lost.  It should awaken believers to fulfilling our mission of bringing them to Christ before judgment comes.  It should awaken those who call themselves "believers" who are sitting on the fence, neither hot, nor cold, one foot in the world and one foot in the church, to get serious about their condition, their faith, and their eternal destiny.   This is it!  This is the end! Chapter sixteen is the culmination, the final wrath of God filled up and poured out on the ungodly earth.

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