February 27, 2013

The Holy Judgment of God: Revelation 15-16

When terrible things happen, most people wonder what the purpose of life is. And many ask, “Is God speaking to me?” They might wonder if God is punishing them. Even people who don’t have a strong faith in God often wonder if God is punishing them when disaster strikes. We know from the Bible, of course, that it is wrong to think that all misfortunes in life are the result of personal sin. Jesus tells us in John 9 that the blind man wasn’t blind because of his sin. And we know from the book of Job that the tragedies that struck him weren’t due to his sin. We must beware, then, of being simplistic. On the other hand, some disasters are due to sin. Even many Christians today have forgotten about this strand of biblical teaching. The only biblical text they know about suffering is the book of Job. But remember that Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead because of their sin. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11 that some believers in Corinth were sick and had died because they sinned in the way they took the Lord’s Supper.

Most remember vividly Sept. 11, 2001 when 3000 people were murdered by terrorists in the U.S. Some wondered if this was the beginning of the end for the U.S. Some wondered if this was the judgment of God upon us. Many saw the civil war in the USA, I think rightly, as a judgment upon the U.S. for slavery. Abraham Lincoln expressed this sentiment in his second inaugural address.

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

The same kind of gravity will seize our nation if the swine flu sweeps through our country, or if the terrorists strike again.

Revelation 15-16 look at the final judgments in history, as the angels pour out the 7 bowls of God’s wrath upon unbelievers. The bowl judgments are more intense than the judgment of the seals and trumpets, and so this supports the first truth I see here.

Read the rest here.