The Final Verdict (Revelation 12:7-17 and 15-16)

Posted: April 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Verdict…(Revelation 12:7-17, 15:1-16:21).

 Do you remember O.J.? Scott Petersen? How did you feel when you heard the verdict? Angry? Relieved? We all have an inherit desire for justice but where does our desire for justice come from? If we are purely physical creatures then what difference does it make if someone unconnected to us is punished or set free?

Part of being made in the image and likeness of God is a desire for justice and the Bible says that God is just.

 Yet, at the same time Christians tend to fear “ultimate judgment”? Why?  Because we are so slow to accept grace that we fear we will fall under condemnation.

 The early Christians, to whom the book of Revelation were written, were no different.

 Let’s look at Revelation 12:7-17 and chapters 15-16 and see what it said to them and what it has to say to us:

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

15:1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.

2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations! 
4 Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

5 After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, 6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8 and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.

16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

2 So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

3 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.

4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters [1] say,

“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
for you brought these judgments.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!”

7 And I heard the altar saying,

“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!”

8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) 16 And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. 21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.

 So, what is all that about? The whole point of these texts is that God has the final say.  On the one hand, our desire for justice will be satisfied.  The “bad guys” will be punished.  No murderer gets away with it.  No child abuser gets away with it.  No third world dictator gets away with it.  Those who go to their grave unrepentant will be punished.  But what about those of us call ourselves Christians but still fear judgment?

Go read Genesis 4 carefully.

You have the story of Cain & Abel.  They were brothers who offered sacrifices to God but only Abel’s sacrifice was accepted.  Cain became so angry that he killed his brother.  God confronts Cain who fears that his punishment will be that he will wander the earth as a homeless man, with God’s face turned from him and that someone will kill him.  Yet, Cain doesn’t receive that punishment but instead receives a mark that protects him. 

Why?

If God is a god of justice then why doesn’t God kill Cain? 

Jesus, the son of God, appears one day and what happens to him? Jesus wanders as a homeless person, he goes to the cross and cries, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?!?” because, for the first and only time in eternity, the Father turns His face from the son because the son has taken our sins upon himself and then Jesus is killed. 

Jesus takes Cain’s punishment and, as you probably know in your most honest moments, we are all like Cain.  We are all just as evil as Cain, yet Jesus dies for us anyway.

Notice also that  Genesis 4 teaches that innocent blood cries out to God…for those of us who place our faith in Jesus, this is a good thing because, as D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out, the twist is that Jesus’ innocent blood cries out that justice has already been done in that it has covered our sins.  If God would punish us for our sins then that would be unjust because it would be a double punishment.  Jesus blood cries out that our punishment has already been meted out. 

 At the end of time, you cannot plea looks, money, fame, success or even good works…only the life and blood of Christ.

Those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus have nothing to fear from “judgment day” because our judgment day has already passed.  Our judgment day occurred 2000 years ago on a cross outside of Jerusalem. 

Nothing else to fear…but every reason to live in love and thanks.

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