Sun, Sep 24, 2000

The Bowl Judgments Begin: Revelation 16:1-11

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

 

THE BOWL JUDGMENTS BEGIN

REVELATION 16:1-11

Please turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 16, as we continue our study through the book of Revelation. And lets read through this section of Scripture before we dig in and see what the Lord has for us this morning. (Read Revelation 16:1-11).

Now before we dig in, listen to this story that took place just last year, for it truly relates to what we will be studying this morning:

The 1999 crash of golfer Payne Stewart’s plane was a bizarre incident. He and five companions boarded a twin-engine, $2.4 million Learjet which left the runway at 9:19 AM. There were two pilots, and all seemed fine when they checked in with air traffic controllers a few minutes later.

But for unknown reasons, the pilots apparently lost consciousness shortly before they were to turn west toward Dallas, and when they couldn’t be raised by air traffic controllers, two Air Force jets went aloft to investigate.

No one was at the controls. There was no movement in the cockpit, and the windows were fogged, suggesting that the cabin had depressurized and become chilled with stratospheric air some 45,000 feet above the earth.

One of the Air Force pilots said, "It’s a very helpless feeling to pull alongside another aircraft and realize the people inside that aircraft potentially are unconscious or in some other way incapacitated. And there’s nothing I can do physically from my aircraft even though I’m fifty to one hundred feet away, to help them at all."

When one of its two engines finally ran out of fuel, the plane roller-coastered through the clouds, heading toward final, cataclysmic destruction.

One air safety investigator said that airplane depressurization can be "very insidious." He explained that the problem could slowly deprive the crew of its ability to know what was happening. "It could be one of those things where you’re feeling happy, and you don’t know what is going on."

Picture humanity on a runaway airplane, on a collision course, with only moments of time remaining. Yet people are so caught up in their pleasures and pressures and pursuits that they don’t realize the urgency of their plight.

Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations & Quotes, p 501

That is where we are at in Revelation chapter 16. Man is out of control, in rebellion against God, and they don’t even realize that the wrath of God is soon to be complete, the culmination of God’s judgment is going to be poured out against a world that has rejected Him and His message of salvation. And, as we will see this morning, it will be a series of bowl judgments! Now as we begin reading this morning, lets back up to Revelation 15:8, for I believe that Revelation 16:1 flows from that verse.

REVELATION 16

VERSE 1

I believe it is the Lord who calls with a loud voice from the temple, calling for these angels who have these bowls of judgment in their hands, to go forth and pour them out upon the earth. You see, God’s holiness and justice require Him to execute judgment upon those who refuse to bow the knee to Him and receive His message of Salvation into their lives. Outside of Christ they are still in their trespasses and sins and unable to approach a holy and righteous God in that condition. Thus, the bowl judgments have come upon them.

And as we shall see, these judgments do not take place over a long period of time, but towards the end of the tribulation period they will fire off in a trip hammer rapidity. BANG! BANG! BANG! And by the time we finish up with these last seven judgments, God’s wrath upon a Christ rejecting world will be complete!

Now, again, as we shall see, these bowl judgments are very similar to the trumpet judgments spoken of in Revelation chapters 8 & 9, only on a more intense scale. And what we will see here is everything man has placed his trust in outside of God, will be affected, taken away from him.

VERSE 2

This first judgment that is poured out is a running sore or a loathsome sore that won’t heal. Thus, this first judgment affects the health of man. Today we have health care products that are a multi-billion dollar industry. They have drugs to make you lose weight, make you gain weight, build up your muscles. I guess they can make you run faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, no, not really, but I think you get the idea. Man puts so much energy in keeping these physical bodies alive, these tents or temporary dwelling places, but the reality is they all will go back to the dust of the earth no mater what you do to them. And the ironic nature of this is they spend so much time and energy on that which is passing away and neglect the more important issue, preparing for eternity!

Now what is this sore? Some feel that this sore is due to the depletion of the ozone layer causing more ultra-violet radiation to penetrate our atmosphere. These rays cause an increase in sunburns and cancer, which we have seen increase over the past several years. Others say it is some kind of malignant sore that won’t heal. Others believe it is the result of radiation exposure from a nuclear fallout.

Those are all good possibilities, but I want you to notice something that many miss in reading this. John tells us that this judgment will only affect those who receive the mark of the beast and those who worship the beast. Think about this possibility for a minute. Could these sores be the result of some kind of allergic reaction to the mark that these people took? I believe that is a strong possibility! And that reaction could affect their entire body. God warned His people if they turn from Him that judgment would come upon them.

In Deuteronomy chapter 28 we read "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you...The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed...The LORD will strike you in the knees and on the legs with severe boils which cannot be healed, and from the sole of your foot to the top of your head." Deuteronomy 28:15, 27, 35. Not a pretty picture, and that is what will be coming forth in this judgment, these sores that will not heal.

VERSE 3

In Revelation 8:8-9 we see 1/3 of the sea’s affected by a huge object hitting the sea and killing 1/3 of the creatures in the sea and 1/3 of the ships that sail in the sea. But now, here in Revelation chapter 16, we see this judgment upon the sea complete, the sea and it’s life are destroyed, completely destroyed! Here we see the food supply of the world affected by this judgment, which would cause a world-wide panic.

And the picture that John gives us here is that the sea "...became blood as of a dead man..."Millions upon millions of sea creatures will die and can you imagine the stench of these decaying creatures. We have a few dead fish wash up on the beach and we think that smell is bad. I can’t imagine what this will smell like, nor do I want to! The sea will turn as blood, the horrible consequence of this judgment.

Now some say this is the result of a red tide, which is caused by the over multiplication of plankton and other microscopic sea creatures. These sea creatures turn the water a reddish color and release toxins that kill other forms of sea life. When a red tide is in progress there may be as many as 50 million of these sea creatures in a single quart of water. They will choke out the sea life, destroy it.

God can use natural causes to pour out His judgment, but I tend to lean towards this being supernatural, and in this judgment all the sea life is destroyed, the judgment is complete. Because of this, I see this happening towards the very end of the tribulation period.

VERSES 4-7

We saw with the third trumpet judgment that the fresh water supply was affected by a star called Wormwood. It caused 1/3 of the fresh water supply to become bitter, polluted, and we are told that many who drank from these waters died!

Now, once again we see the fresh water supply affected by the third bowl judgment. The difference this time is not just 1/3 of the fresh water supply is affected, but the entire fresh water supply! Thus, without water to drink, there is no hope for man, he can’t live very long without it.

Now some may argue that God is not being fair, His judgment is not right. But that would be contrary to what the Scriptures tell us of God. In fact, there is not only one angel proclaiming that God’s judgments are fair, they are righteous, but there are two angels proclaiming this message. One is found in verses 5 & 6, and the other is found in verse 7. Why two angels? Because the Scriptures tell us that by the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses the matter is established. Deuteronomy 19:15. And so, with these two witnesses, the matter of God’s righteous judgment is established!

In Psalm 145:17 we read "The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works."(KJV). David is telling us that there is nothing that God does which is not right. Everything He does is righteous and it is fair. Now we do understand that many times, as we look at the things that are happening around us, how the bad live on and the good die young, how the bad get rich and the good are poor, for example, and that doesn’t seem fair. We must never lose sight of the fact that God says in His Word that what He does is fair, it is right, and even though we might not understand it, we must trust Him. It is called faith. It is as Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

Now, back in Revelation chapter 16, God’s judgment is poured out upon those who "...have shed the blood of saints and prophets." Who are those people who have been martyred for their faith? Those who have come to know the Lord during the tribulation period! In Revelation 19:1-2 we are told, "After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her." Also, in Revelation chapter 18 we are told, "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!...And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth."

Thus, we see that what you sow, you will reap! They have shed the blood of the saints and in return for their rebellion against God, He gives them blood to drink. And in this we see a kind of poetic justice, and that is played out throughout the Scriptures. Remember when Pharaoh instructed that the newborn Hebrew male babies were to be drowned in the river. In the end, it was Pharaoh and his army that were drowned in the Red Sea! Then there was wicked Haman who comes up with a plan to destroy the Jews and he builds these gallows in the hopes of hanging Mordecai on, a Jew whom he despised. And yet, in the end God has wicked Haman hung on the same gallows he prepared for Mordecai. For king Saul, he refused to obey the command of God and wipe out all of the Amalekites, not leaving a man, women or child left. And because of his failure to obey, later on in his life he was killed by a Amalekite!

It is as Isaiah 49:25-26 says, "But thus says the LORD: ‘Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible be delivered; for I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children. I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine. All flesh shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." Again, you will reap what you sow and we see that here in Revelation as those who had shed innocent blood will now have to drink it down, the fresh water supply has been turned to blood!

One more point before we move on and that is found in Isaiah 26:9, which says, "With my soul I have desired You in the night, yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; for when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."The people of this world are living in a unrighteous lifestyle, but here, in these judgments of God the world will see and understand what true righteousness is. That these judgments are fair and they will not be able to have an excuse for their rebellion against Him.

VERSES 8-9

In the fourth trumpet judgment we saw 1/3 of the sun, the moon and the stars struck. But here, in Revelation chapter 16 we see that God will cause the sun to scorch people with great heat. And this is not just a heat wave like Texas had this year. It is a scorching heat! No air conditioner will solve this judgment from God.

Now some say that this could be speaking of the sun going into a supernova, a stage that a star goes into before it burns out. As it goes into this supernova, also called a red giant, it increases in intensity the amount of heat that is given out. This is a possibility.

Also, some say that there is a change in the magneto-sphere, which protects us from the radioactive particles that emanate from the sun and travel at some 3,000 miles per second. 45% of these particles are filtered out through the Van Allen Belts or the magnetic fields. If these were disturbed, men could be scorched by the radioactive particles. This too is a possibility.

Personally, I don’t think either will happen. Now the reason I say that is this is once again a supernatural event. You see, in the Greek the implication here is God will "...scorch themen with fire." Also we read, "And the men were scorched with great heat..." In other words, these men are the same men spoken of in verse 2, the first bowl judgment.

Thus, it seems that those who will be scorched by the sun are those who receive this mark of the beast and who worship the beast. It is as Malachi 4:1 tells us, "‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch." Thus, I believe this judgment will only affect the wicked!

So we have seen God affect their health, their food supply, their water supply, and now their weather, and their response to all of this is "...they blasphemed the name of God who haspower over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory." They fully understand where this is coming from and they just chose not to repent and get right with God. We see this same attitude in the sixth seal judgment where we are told, "And the kings of theearth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" Revelation 6:15-17.

What is the problem with these men? Why do they refuse to repent? What is wrong with them? The world likes to tell us that we are a product of our environment we grew up in and thus it is not our fault. For all who lean in that direction, you are wrong. I am not saying you can’t be influenced by these things, but you do have a choice to make, that path you will chose to go down. You see, the problem is not the environment but it is our heart! Adam and Eve had a perfect Father, God. They lived in a perfect environment, the Garden of Eden. And yet they still blew it and they too tried to blame God for their problems. Adam blamed this woman that God had given him, thus he was blaming God that she was no good from the start! Eve blamed the Devil, she said that the Devil made her do it! And God did not agree with their conclusion, but held them responsible for their actions. Sin was at the door of their lives, and they chose to open the door and let it in.

That means all the excuses you may have for why you acted in a certain way are invalid before God. You are just responding to what is in your heart and you chose to do those things. That means you can’t blame your parents, your friends, your boss or whatever for the way you are acting. God is bigger than all of that, it is your heart that is stopping you as it stopped these men here in Revelation. Remember what Paul said in II Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." Believe it and apply that to your life!

VERSES 10-11

In the fifth trumpet judgment we saw the demon locust come out of the bottomless pit and darken the sky with their presence. But here we see the darkness complete. And this darkness is poured out upon the throne of the beast, his kingdom. It affects the energy sources. No lights, and it would seem to indicate no light at all, not even candles! Now some feel this is just local, upon his kingdom, but it may also be world-wide, for his kingdom will encompass the whole earth.

And don’t come to the conclusion that this is just a dark night, where we see no moon or stars due to a heavy cloud cover. Again, this is a supernatural judgment of God that causes such a blackness that people can not see each other, it is a darkness that can be felt. We saw this in the ninth plague in Egypt, and we read of this in Exodus 10:21, which says "Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt."

Now I don’t know how many of you have been to Meramac Caverns in Missouri, but I have an idea of what that kind of blackness is all about when we were there several years ago. At these caves they have a huge chamber that is well lit with artificial light. During the tour they turn off the lights for a few minutes and before they do they warn you to grab a hold of a loved one, for in a minute, you will not see them. And I have to admit that I was a little skeptical until they turned off the lights and I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face. It was a eerie feeling, a darkness that could be felt!

And this darkness here in Revelation could be a prelude of Hell itself, "outer darkness" where there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth."

And again, they refused to repent and they were in excruciating pain from the previous judgments they encountered. It is amazing the hardness of man’s heart, even when they recognize that God is bringing this judgment upon them for their refusal to turn to Him so their sins can be forgiven. And I guess that does lay to rest the argument that says that if men could see God’s work clearly, they would surly turn to Him and repent! Obviously that is not what we see here. They still refuse to repent, and their rebellion is going to climax in a war that they are going to be involved in, a war against God!

As we saw in our story this morning, humanity is on a runaway airplane, on a collision course with only moments of time remaining. And we need to be praying for God’s grace to be poured out and break those shackles of sin that have them bound, keeping humanity from turning to the only one who can save them, Jesus! This world is running out of gas, they are out of control, and the only hope is Jesus!

Paul, in I Timothy chapter 2, tells us "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." I Timothy 2:3-6. God’s desire for your life is that you would turn to Him and live, but not all roads lead to God. You have to come to the knowledge of the truth. It is not just believing in something, but coming to Jesus Christ, the Mediator between God and men, and receiving Him into your life. Asking Him to be your Lord and Savior, to forgive you of your sins, and He will.

For those that do know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, understand the days we are living in and be wise, share your faith, point people to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. For the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world, is coming back as the Lion from the tribe of Judah to pour out His wrath on a Christ rejecting world. Thus, man has a choice to make, to turn to the Lord and live, or reject the Lord and receive His judgment, which will be complete!

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