Revelation Chapters 15 & 16 - The Last Battle
In the last great war my father served with Montgomery's 8th Army in North Africa. He was in the Royal Army Service Corps, which meant he and his men delivered battle tanks to the front line against Rommel's Afrika Corps Panzers. They also went in to the battle zone at night to retrieve damaged tanks. So much of any army's success depends on keeping its supply lines open, and that where Dad served.
Now, when an army's supply line gets too long, they can get into real trouble, as Napoleon and Hitler discovered in their Russian offensives.
Well, we started with this fascinating, confusing, startling and vital book of The Revelation about 3 years ago, so you might say our supply line is getting a bit long. So a lot of what we cover today will be reviewing where we've come so far, and then quick tour of these 2 chapters.
- it's a book of history in pictures, in symbols. We must keep asking "what do these symbols mean?"
- it's not a straight-line history book, nor a tourist map, but more like one of those coffee-table travel books like "Images of Tibet"
- it's meant to do us good, and not harm
- Jesus, the Lion Who is the Lamb, is the ultimate focus and the ultimate answer.
As my presentations on Revelation were given at intervals of a few months, I prepared a review of the "Brief History" up till chapter 14. You can find it here
A PDF version is also available
The History of the World so far (much simplified)
- 1st coverage. Chapter 6 covers the opening of the 7 seals on the book of destiny. It begins with Jesus the Lamb (ie, the Saviour who sacrificed Himself for us) and ends with THE END, the last judgment of the Great Day of God
- 2nd coverage of the same history is in chapters 8 to 11, and covers the blowing of the 7 trumpets. It too ends at THE END, with the crowning of King Jesus and the destruction of all evil.
- 3rd coverage is ch. 12-14. No number 7 here (we can never rely on the patterns to stay the same, and that's OK). It starts with the birth of Jesus, shows us the opposition of Satan and the hatred towards Jesus' people, who have trusted in Him, and ends with THE END again: with the victory of Jesus the Lamb and His people, and the judgment on all wickedness.
The 4th Coverage of the History of the World (from Jesus' 1st to His 2nd coming)
Main Image - the 7 Bowls full of 7 Plagues
- this is about God's Wrath. We've been on a helicopter ride over the forests of Revelation, but this time its a more like a helicopter-gunship we're flying in!
- not what we really like to hear - "can't I just have 'God is Love'?"
- No! for then He would not, could not be God. He cannot be Goodness and Love and tolerate evil forever. One day He must and will act against all evil. He cannot be Light and not drive out Darkness.
- But not like our outbursts of wrath - He never flies of the handle, loses His cool. He knows everything everyone has done, and He is Holy, and He is Just. No one will convict Him of being unfair.
- note: 15:1 "the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished" - It does indeed end with THE END.
- note: the sea of glass in v2 - we saw this in ch. 4&5 before God's throne in heaven, in the Control Room of the Universe. But there it was as clear as crystal. Now it is mingled with fire. There is wrath, just anger against all evil (and we, broken as we are, share this, we get angry and great evil, like rich cheats who feed on others' misery, or child-abusers)
The Singers and the Song
- Who? Same as in ch. 7 and 14. The numberless crowd from all nations and languages who have washed themselves in the blood of Jesus the Lamb (7:14). That is, they have recognises that they are not really good, but broken, fallen people who cannot be Holy like God, and cannot be happy without Him.
the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil. -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- There is therefore HOPE. You don't have to be on the receiving end of God's just wrath. He still offers free forgiveness and sure hope of happiness simply through faith in Jesus the Lamb. Romans 3:26 "he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus"
- What Song? They were singing a song in Ch.14, but no one else knew it there. Here we find it is the song of Moses and the Lamb. Image is that of Moses and the Israelites standing on the shore of the Red Sea, safe beyond hope, out-numbered and out-gunned, and looking at the ruin of their pursuers. Just so "Jesus rescues us from the wrath to come" 1 Thessalonians. 1:10
- Great and Amazing works of God
- Just and True in His ways
- He is the King!
- Who wouldn't rightly fear/reverence Him, and gladly come to Him? (sadly, many)
The Curtain Goes Up on the Seven Plagues
Reminds us of the plagues in Egypt. "Let my people go!" but Pharaoh would not, until his magicians had to confess "this is the hand of God!"
- temple in heaven - now justice marches forth. These plagues come from God. We can't escape the fact, and won't escape the reality except we trust in Jesus (His name means "He Saves"
- the 7 angels are pure and holy. God does not use demons and tyrants for His final judgment, though He can and does overrule them to make them unwillingly and unwittingly carry out His purpose.
- The 4 living creatures hand over the 7 bowls of wrath. They who stand for God's noble creation have a hand in its cleanup campaign. All creation was ruined when Adam sinned, and all Creation (ie, all facets of it) will be redeemed at last.
- Awesome - the temple is filled with glory and smoke - none can enter till the mighty work is done - just as at the dedication of Solomon's Temple. Then even the earthly priests had to leave off their work. God is Great!
Apocalypse Now! - the 7 Bowls are Poured Out
- first 4 are against the Earth
- sea turned to blood
- inland waters turned to blood
- in all this horror, there is Justice, 16:5-7 "it is what they deserve" - never ask God to give you what you deserve - cry for mercy and He will give it, by Jesus. Note: 16:7, it is the altar which cries out "true and just are Your judgments!". The altar is the symbol of sacrifices to take away sin, and so of the one true sacrifice, Jesus. We are still in the age of mercy, of grace - don't let it pass you by!
- Sun flares up and scorches the earth and the people
- yet people did not repent - they could have, but chose to curse instead. See here mercy is on offer, but rejected.
- the last 3 are against Evil directly
- on the kingdom of the Beast from ch.13 "the beast represents worldly political power and tyranny, serving the Dragon/Satan, the real power behind the throne." DARKNESS is the result of following them. DARKNESS forever (Jude 13)
- Armageddon - we had to get here one day. What does this symbol mean? It's not mentioned anywhere else.
- generally thought to get its name from Hebrew "Har Megiddo", the mountain of Megiddo, in the northern hill country of Israel, and the scene of many battles, including. the victory of Deborah & Barak against the Canaanites against overwhelming odds, after 20 years of oppression.
- The Place of Battles. Perhaps there will be a great earthly battle as the Judgment Day is ushered in, or perhaps it is just a symbol of the ongoing battle between good and evil, which we see all around us daily.
- Whatever, God wins, and the end comes. That's the 7th bowl
- 7th - poured on the air. Now even the air, which gives breath and life to all, is ruined.
- "It is done!" says a loud voice from the temple
-"THE END" (again! - Look back and you will see we have reached "THE END" previously in chapters 6, 11 and 14. We will meet it again in chapters 18 and 20. This tells us that the "history in pictures" that we have from chapters 6 through to 20 is a cyclic one. Several different sets of symbols telling much the same story.)
- Like Jesus' greatest victory at the Cross, He wins suddenly despite appearances of defeat. All the might of men and devils is wiped out in a moment.
- the father of all earthquakes
-Richter 9.5 recorded in Chile, 1960
-this one is way off the scale - all the cities crumble. The might and pride of man is fallen and ruined.
-islands run away, mountains levelled (note: same as in ch6:14 - this proves the cyclic nature of the visions of the book)
- proud men still refuse to take Jesus' mercy, and choose to curse God instead 16:21
Grim, but there is Hope
New International Version (NIV)
2 Peter 3:9-13
"9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.[a]
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[b]That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness."
Click here for the next Revelation article Death in the City - Revelation 17 & 18
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published: 18 Oct 2008
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