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Suffering

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golden gavel

Things continue escalating in today’s Bible reading. Seven angels pour out seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.

First Bowl: Painful Sores
Second Bowl: The sea turned to blood and all sea life died
Third Bowl: Rivers and springs became blood
Fourth Bowl: People are scorched by the sun. They blaspheme the One who has power over the plagues. They do not repent.
Fifth Bowl: The Beast’s kingdom is plunged into darkness. The people are in intense pain and blaspheme God and do not repent.
Sixth Bowl: The Euphrates River dries up, paving the way for the eastern kings to march to Armageddon.
Seventh Bowl: The greatest earthquake ever occurs. God pours out His wrath on Babylon the Great. One hundred pound hailstones fall and people blaspheme.

Once again, we see people refuse to repent of their sin when they’re face-to-face with God’s wrath. They don’t cry out for mercy. Instead, they blaspheme. They curse God.

Application

We’ve seen this before. God brings hardships in order to call people to repent. And yet they don’t. Their hearts have grown so hard, they don’t see a need to ask for God’s help. Instead, they call down curses on God, the only One Who can stop or give any relief from the plagues.

So what does this say about God? It says that God is holy. God is righteous. God is just. And God is justified in pouring out His wrath on sinful, rebellious humanity. God is patient. But a Day is coming when He will no longer hold back His wrath. He will pour out His wrath and punish sin. He will punish those who pursue their sin. And that Day will be the worst day ever.

Are you ready for that Day? If you repent of your sin, God will credit the righteousness of Jesus to your account and His wrath will be satisfied in the punishment Jesus bore on a cross almost two thousand years ago.

You can face God’s wrath on your own. Or you can have Jesus to deal with God’s wrath for you. Turn to Jesus and repent of your sin today!

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dragon

In today’s Bible reading, we see the Beast. Actually, we see two Beasts. One thing that was striking as I read this was the language used of the Dragon and the Beasts. Things like:

It was allowed to exercise authority (v. 5)
It was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them (v. 7)
It was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation (v. 7)
It was permitted to give breath to the image of the beast (v. 15)

As I stated before, instead of being distracted by the picturesque language and trying to figure out things, look at what the passage says about God. The Beasts and the Dragon are allowed and permitted to do things. They were given authority.

Application

What this says is that they have no authority in and of themselves; it is given to them. They are passive recipients of these things.

God is the Sovereign One! He is the One in control! Never was there a contest of who would win: God or Satan. Satan is no match for the King of kings and the Lord of lords!

Another thing to note in this chapter: the Beast performs great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in front of the people. it deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs that it is permitted to perform in the presence of the beast. (vv. 13-14)

This reminds us to not be enamored by signs and wonders. Yes, they may be spectacular. Yes, they may be convincing. And yes, they may be counterfeits of the real deal. Just because someone has miraculous gifts doesn’t mean they are the real deal. Look closely at their character. Look at the content of their teachings. If their character and teachings don’t line up with God’s Word, don’t listen to them. Flee from them. And don’t look back! (Matthew 7:15–23)

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In today’s Bible reading, we see a “great fiery red dragon” appear. Michael and his angels war with the dragon and cast it and its angels to the earth. We learn in Revelation 12:9 the dragon’s true identity: Satan, the ancient serpent, the devil, the world’s deceiver, the accuser. All of these names are given elsewhere in the Bible.

A loud voice cries out praises to God because the enemy was cast out of heaven. This is great news for those in heaven. But this is bad news to those on the earth because Satan is here. BUT, he knows his time is limited. That’s a great reminder. As bad as it seems, Satan is on a short leash; his influence is limited. Finally, John tells us that Satan attacks the children of the woman and tries to drown them by spewing a river from his mouth. John reveals that the children are Believers, those who obey God and hold fast to the testimony about Jesus.

Application

Again, don’t get lost in the details and the description of the dragon, the woman and her children. What does this chapter tell us about God? What does it tell us about the people of God?

This chapter reminds us that God is in control. He places limits on His enemy. And He protects His people, even through their torment. God doesn’t remove His people but rather, He sustains and protects them in the midst of their persecution.

Rather than being spooked by what John writes, Believers should be comforted. Although God doesn’t remove His people, He has a purpose of glorifying Himself through all of this. God is all-mighty! God is all-powerful. God is good! And God is worthy of our praise.

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the overlap of This Age and The Age to Come

In today’s Bible reading, we see two witnesses given authority to prophesy/preach against the people’s sins for a period of time. During their allotted time, they are immortal; no one can harm them. At the end of the allotted time, people martyr the witnesses and leave their bodies on the street until the witnesses are resurrected on the third day after they are killed. (Note: The word we use for “witness” is the Greek word “martyr”.)

The witnesses are called home to heaven, and an earthquake on the earth follows. FINALLY, the people are terrified and glorify God. (Revelation 11:13)

Application

How long? How long does it take for God to get your attention? How quickly do you respond? How deeply do you respond?

“Oh, Believers will be raptured before the ‘end times’ begin so we don’t have to worry about the End Times!”

Not according to Jesus!

When Jesus showed up and began ministering two thousand years ago, the “end times” began. (Luke 11:20) In other words, we don’t have to wait for the “end times”. We’re living in it. The Kingdom of God is already here. The Kingdom of God has come, but it hasn’t been consummated. Right now, we’re living in the overlap of This Age and The Age to Come. For now, we live in the tension of “Already, but not yet”.

In other words, eternal life doesn’t begin when we cross over to the other side of eternity. Eternal life begins on this side of eternity. We can know God now! (John 17:3) We get to experience Kingdom of God life now!

Spend some time today thanking God for sending Jesus to initiate The Age to Come. Look for ways you can partner with God to usher in His Kingdom. Seek His Kingdom and His righteousness first. (Matthew 6:33)

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humble repentance

In today’s Bible reading, we see more trumpets blown and more calamities sent to earth. Each is worse than the previous one. One-third of the people died. (Revelation 9:18)

And yet, those remaining two-thirds of the people do not repent.

If you’ve ever read 2 Chronicles 7:14, you’ll remember that God promises to hear from heaven, forgive sin, and heal the land if His people will simply humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their evil ways.

That’s a tremendous promise! But the promise comes in the context of a response to God bringing calamity on His people because of their wickedness. Before this verse, God promises to bless His people. But if they turn away from Him, He will bring hardship. If they respond with humble repentance, God promises to act.

In our reading, God brings calamity, but no one repents. (Revelation 9:20-21)

How incredibly sad.

Application

Indeed, God’s promise to answer the prayers of His people, forgive their sin and bring restoration to their land is a tremendous promise.

As I type this on Tuesday Night, the US House of Representatives has handed down two Articles of Impeachment against the President of the United States. I’m not going to go into my feelings about this other than to say that the Articles — even if glaringly true — do not qualify as treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors, the only provisions in the US Constitution for impeaching the President.

The United States is in a crisis. It’s (past) time for God’s people to cry out to Him in humble repentance, to pray, to seek God’s face, and to turn from our wickedness.

Nothing short of this will restore civility to our beloved nation.

This is not a Left vs. Right political problem. This is a spiritual problem. And spiritual problems can only be remedied with spiritual solutions.

Spend a few minutes right now, asking God to bring conviction of your sin. As He reveals areas where you have sinned, confess those sins (“God, I am a sinner. I was wrong. I did ___.”) and repent (something like, “God, forgive me. Give me a renewed heart and fill me with your Holy Spirit that I might follow you.”) If God leads you to periods of extended prayer and/or fasting, don’t delay. Obey Him immediately!

Ask God to unite His people and draw us to Him. Ask God to raise up a mighty army of men and women who are committed to following God’s prescription in 2 Chronicles 7. Ask God to bring another Spiritual Awakening and revival to our country.

The big application here is to repent whenever God brings correction.

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