Thursday, November 24, 2016

Revelation 16:8-12

Revelation 16:8-12
And the fourth one poured out his bowl upon the sun and it was given power to scorch mankind in fire.  And mankind was scorched with a great burning heat and they blasphemed the name of God who has the authority upon these plagues.  And they did not repent to give glory to Him.  And the fifth one poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast and his kingdom became as having been shrouded in darkness.  They chewed their tongues out of anguish.  And they blasphemed the God of heaven out of their anguish and out of their wounds.  And they did not repent out of their works.  And the sixth one poured out his bowl upon the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order that the way of the kings from the direction of the rising sun should be prepared.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

The fourth angel steps us and pours out his bowl.  The sun scorches the earth.  Remember that the water of the earth has just been affected.  Now a scorching heat comes.  God is sending a message.  Humanity cannot save itself.  We can protect ourselves in small areas, but in the big things we can do nothing.  We can’t keep the sun from affecting our planet.  We can’t create water from nothing.  But God is also sending another message.  When humanity’s chips are down, we sulk, pout, and get angry.  The people who are scorched are not humble or repentant.  They blaspheme God!  They aren’t interested in seeing their own failings or shortcomings!  They are interested in cursing God when things don’t go well for them.  We can learn from this.  Humbleness is difficult for human beings, but it is an incredibly important dynamic in our relationship with God.

Where are you humble?  Where are you likely to get angry when things don’t go your way?  How can you remember to be humble in your shortcomings and hen life turns against you?

Second Thought:

The fifth angel gives us much of the same story.  The bowl judgment comes forth and the people don’t repent.  The get even more hostile to God!  However, don’t overlook the irony of the fourth and fifth judgments.  In the fourth, the sun scorches people.  In the fifth, the sun is taken away completely.  What’s the point?  Human beings really just like to complain.  We aren’t happy when it is hot; we aren’t happy when it’s cold.  Living where I live, it is not unusual for me to experience chilly mornings and hot middays.  I can remember days going to work and complaining about how cold it is and then coming home in the afternoon and complaining about how hot it is!  Human beings just like to complain.  We grumble a lot.  God’s message to us is that we can be malcontent.  In our malcontent nature, we forget to be humble and repentant.

Are you ever malcontent?  How does this hinder your ability to be grateful to God?  How does this hinder your ability to give thanks at all times and in all things?  How does your malcontent nature impact your witness for Christ?

Third Thought:

As we turn to the sixth bowl, don’t miss the analogy to the Exodus story.  No, this bowl judgment doesn’t match up with one of the plagues.  Instead, it matches up with the parting of the Red Sea.  In the Exodus story, the Red Sea parts so that the way is made for God’s people to walk on dry land.  In the bowl judgments, the Euphrates dries up to prepare the way of the kings.  Deliverance from oppression came through the drying up of a great river.  Perhaps even more poignant, when the Persian people came to conquer Babylon and set free the Hebrew people, the city of Babylon was considered impenetrable because of its great walls.  To defeat this, the Persians diverted the great river Euphrates, drying up the riverbed.  Once the river was dry, the Persians had an easy entrance into Babylon!  Again we see that the deliverance of the Hebrew people from the oppression of the world comes when rivers dry up!  I believe John is sending a message of hope to his readers.  God is a God of redemption and deliverance.  Even in judgment, God does not forget that He is a person who saves, not destroys.

Are you surprised to find that one of the bowl judgments is actually about salvation?  What does this point say to you about the nature of God?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 16:13-16

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