Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Wrath of God Released

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Tuesday,  December 25, 2012:  Revelation 16:1-21

(I must begin today by saying that it is a bit unusual to be writing a reflection on the Book of Revelation on CHRISTMAS DAY!  Something more seasonal and jolly seems so much more appropriate. However, it has been my commitment to faithfully follow a disciplined reading and writing plan through the Scripture. It happens that, following the One Year Bible, one of the toughest chapters in all of Scripture falls on December 25. I will write elsewhere of the wonders and joy of Christmas. But, please take into consideration the fact that I have not intentionally ignored the celebration of our Lord's birth.)

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

The wrath of God is not a popular topic in our day.  It calls up images of angry preachers warning of fire and brimstone.  Ours is a day of grace, mercy, acceptance, and love. I do believe very much in the love that God has for us. However, I am very aware that God's compassion HAS A CONTEXT. The measure and magnificence of God's grace is tied the depth and depravity of our sin.  His love that redeems us is coupled with His wrath that must judge and punish sin.

Holy God MUST rain down the severest of punishments upon the rebellion of man!  It is so bad that it demands THE CROSS!  He poured out furious wrath and punishment upon His Son who took our place. Jesus absorbed God's holy wrath against our sin. This is the measure of God's love for us!

But we must remember, God's wrath against sin is mediated in the death of His Son. What then is the destiny of fallen man and fallen creation APART from Jesus?  All that refuse the Son are already under condemnation.  John says "the wrath of God abides" on all those who reject God's merciful, atoning work in Christ. Jesus provides the way out. This is the hard truth.

There will come a day in world history, when God will come no longer as merciful redeemer, but as righteous judge. He will vindicate and prove His righteousness before the nations. Revelation 16 is a description of that awesome day.  The writer of Hebrews speaks of this when He say,  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  Hebrews 10:31 (NKJV). God will judge the world.  Because of that, He calls all men everywhere to repent!

It is interesting that the judgments of Revelation 16 are aimed at mankind, but take the form of environmental and health-related catastrophes. There is run-away pollution, skin cancer presumably due to ozone layer deterioration, drought, and freak weather. Sounds like our day!

It is important to note that somehow these natural disasters do not affect God's people. Some believe we will be raptured out before their onset. I do not believe that. I do, however, believe that we are not appointed for God's wrath (I Thess. 5:9). If we are in Christ, He will somehow protect us IN THE MIDST of those perilous days. Therefore, we can always rejoice. Our God is near. The time is short. Our Lord comes!

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