Hope in the Dark – The Last Plagues
Day 1 – The Lamb and The Beast
Read Revelation 15:1-4
1 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. 2 And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God 3 and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:
“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations.
4 Who will not fear you, Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Scripture tells us about seven angels, and they brought with them seven last plagues. Seven is the number of perfection and completion, the seven churches – the full and perfect number. Seven is also a number of authority and power. Which means that the seven plagues carried by the seven angels are not to be taken lightly.
We are told that these final plagues somehow complete God’s wrath. The word “complete” can also be understood as to bring to an end. In other words, the plagues signal an end to God’s wrath.
If you have trouble understanding why wrath is even a thing that God has,
To the modern mind where compassion and kindness reign supreme it can be hard to understand why God is wrathful.
There is no easy answer, maybe the most direct answer I can think of is that God is love and God is also just. He is love and therefore ultimate judgement only comes after a long and patient wait with numerous calls to repentance. At the same time, He is just and therefore Jesus came as the sacrifice Lamb to atone for the sins of the world.
The judgement is coming to those who were victorious over the beast, the devil, the tempter. The passage today is setting for the coming judgement on those who choose to worship anything other than God.
There are two songs mentioned, the first is the song of God’s servant Moses, which is a shortened version of the song from Deuteronomy 32, speaks of God being upright and just. The second is song of the Lamb; the song of Jesus which in Revelation 5, was sung by the angels and living creatures as the Lamb who is worthy to open the scroll
Those who sang the songs are those victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They are victorious because of a just God who gave his son Jesus as the Lamb to save many.
Now all of this boils down to a few question: Will you choose the Lamb or the beast? Would you and have you grab onto the salvation that Jesus is offering? Will be counted among “those who had been victorious over the beast” who “sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb?”
Take a moment to write down the questions you may have regarding what you read. If you are ready, let God know your answers to those questions.
Day 2 – Lordship
Sit in silence before the Lord for 2 minutes.
Read Revelation 15:5-8
15:5 After this I looked, and I saw in heaven the temple—that is, the tabernacle of the covenant law—and it was opened. 6 Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests. 7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”
2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.
3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.
Here comes the first two plagues…
The first and second angel poured out his bowls, and those who worshipped the beast broke out in sores and every living thing in the sea died.
Not exactly a comforting picture to have in your mind to know that when judgement comes, many will suffer.
Before the first plagues, scripture mentioned that the tabernacle of the covenant law, where the ark of the covenant is situated is opened And that it was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power. All of which points to God’s presence. That is a good thing, right? But here is the kicker – “no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.”
God is there, but no one can come near him. For whatever reason, he is not accessible. No one can get to him until one condition is fulfilled: that the seven plagues were completed.
In other words this plagues must happen, judgment must come upon the people. More stunningly, these plaques are from God. Yes, I know, normally we are taught that we don’t jump to conclusions and claim that natural disasters or personal tragedy, or massive destruction are God’s judgement. But here, we are told that at the end times, the plagues are brought on by the Angels of the Lord.
We cry “Lord have mercy” or “God, how could you allow such calamities to happen?” We mentioned God is just and God is love yesterday. Today, there is more from this passage. The Tabernacle of the covenant law, the glory of God, his power all points to God being God himself. He is the Holy One, He is the Almighty, he is the Alpha and the Omega
Under this knowledge, we are brought to the admission and submission of the kingship and lordship of Jesus. That he who is on the throne is not us but God himself. That God in his sovereignty has all ultimately authority to bring the earth to the end of its cycle by pronouncing judgement on the people of the earth.
I’d invite you to spend some time to write a short prayer in response to God’s rule and sovereignty over all things, specifically submitting to Jesus being Lord over you and over all.
Day 3 – There’s still time
Read Revelation 16:4-9
4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:
“You are just in these judgments, O Holy One,
you who are and who were;
for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”
7 And I heard the altar respond:
“Yes, Lord God Almighty,
true and just are your judgments.”
8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
In today’s reading, there are two more plagues poured out from the bowls onto the rivers and the sun. The waters and the sun are two natural resources that are essential for life to happen. When judgement came, the rivers and springs became blood and the sun became unbearably hot. Yet even under these extreme reprimands, the people refused to repent.
Let’s remember, from Day 1’s reading, that those who worship God are victorious over the beast and are spared from the plagues. They sing of God’s righteousness and holiness. Let’s remember that those who are under judgement are those who refused to worship God but instead sided with the beast. They even harmed and killed God’s people.
Now remember that this is the apocalyptic vision that St. John saw. In other words, it is set in a future that isn’t now. It is meant to be seen as one of the final scenes of the earth’s history
before the curtain falls.
What I am trying to say is there is still time for us to bring people to Jesus.
Having this future picture in mind, a couple of questions come to mind:
What are the emotions you feel as you imagine yourself being in the group who is victorious? What are your feelings towards those who remain unrepentant? Take a minute or two to take note of your emotions
Are there people around you who seemed unrepentant towards their wicked words or actions? What do you think the Lord is trying to say to you through this passage today?
Remember this past Sunday’s message called “First, Love” where we were called to return to the love that we first had for those around us. Pray for those around you who need to repent and be shown grace.
Pray for those whom you believe are unrepentant and ask God to draw them closer to him.
Day 4 – Awake and Clothed
Read Revelation 16:10-16
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 agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.
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 Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
15 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
How important are the words of Jesus to you? I have highlighted the word of Jesus in red.
Jesus’ words came after the fifth and the sixth plagues being poured out. Altogether, six plagues have been poured out. During the fifth plague the kingdom of the beast was banished to darkness and in the sixth plague, the impure demonic spirits were out to gather the kings of the world to a battle between good and evil, known as the battle of Armageddon.
Then Jesus spoke those words. He likens his return to a thief’s, meaning that he’ll return unannounced and that no one can time or figure out when he’ll return. And so the thing to do, for those who care, is to stay awake and remain clothed and not go naked and be shamefully exposed. No, Jesus isn’t against sleeping without your clothes on. He is referring to having a spiritual alertness and wakefulness, a kind of vigilance. As opposed to a spiritual slumber, or slothfulness.
If you are curious like I am, you’d want to know what it means to “stay awake and remain clothed”. To do that, we don’t need to look any further than a fewer chapters later:
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
The bride is to dress herself in righteous acts and make herself ready for Christ – the Lamb on the throne.
In the midst of the plagues, with all the suffering and pain, Christ called out to his Church to warn and to remind them to be alert and be active in righteous deeds.
It seems that even in the midst of trials, the Church is called to remain faithful to Christ.
Take a moment to pause for a minute or two in silence. As you do, ask God how he would like you to respond to this passage. Then reflect on the following questions:
- Are there trials you might be going through in your life right now? What are they?
- In what ways can you “stay awake and remain clothed” for Jesus? To not be disheartened or lose hope during this difficult time?
Day 5 – It is Done
Take two minutes of silence before the Lord as you begin.
Read Revelation 16:17-21
17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people.
And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
For the past four posts, we’ve read about plagues and suffering and judgement. Today I feel compelled for us to be reminded of God’s mercy, to stay in his loving Presence.
Here is a song that sings of God’s mercy triumphing over judgement.
As you listen, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your heart toward God’s heart.
Here is how the prayer could look like:
“God, thank you for revealing yourself to me as the God of love and justice. There is a lot I don’t understand, so I ask for you to give me wisdom to learn and patience to wait upon your guidance. Holy Spirit, open my heart as I listen to this song, reveal to me the heart of God and help me follow after his heart. Give me faith today to trust in your work in and through me. Let me rest in God’s mercy knowing that Jesus has died and resurrected for me. Amen”
May the Lord blessed you with this song.