Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb
November 18, 2015
Armageddon: The Eve of Battle
I. Let My People Go
In the book of Exodus God’s people were imprisoned under an anti-God empire, enslaved physically and economically to a world power opposed to God’s reign. Then God came and personally delivered them. He humbled Egypt by breaking their resistance to rebel through a series of judgment-plagues culminating in the absolute destruction of Egypt’s military forces as the Red Sea was dried up and then the armies of Pharaoh were plunged into the depths. God displayed his glory over Egypt and the salvation of his people through his fierce judgment.
As John’s vision of the history-long conflict between the forces of Satan and the people of God moves into its final chapters, he echoes that Old Testament story by portraying the final climactic end-time judgment of God as an ultimate Exodus, an unleashed rapid-fire judgment of plagues that breaks Babylon (the metaphor for the fallen anti-Christian world) while hardening God’s enemies in their sin and refusal to repent.
II. Poured Out Plagues
These Exodus-like plagues occur one after another through the imagery of bowls filled to the brim with the fully fermented wine of God’s wrath. Unlike the seal-judgments and the trumpet-judgments, this final set of seven wrath-works is not a partial set of judgment culminating in the final end-time judgment (represented by the seventh seal and trumpet). This final series of judgments together represent the ultimate and full judgment of God on his enemies, poured out fully with no relief. No wonder the cosmic-conflict at the heart of reality reaches a crescendo with God’s wrath being deployed. As we consider, then, this judgment series as a whole we are called to consider the three major parties in this drama: the holy God who executes judgment, the rebellious world that receives judgment, and the suffering church rescued through judgment:
1. The Holy God unleashes judgment as the appropriate response to the world’s opposition to him and his people.
2. The Holy God sovereignly executes judgment over the whole world, ruling and reigning even over the rebellion of his enemies.
3. The rebellious world is hardened in unrepentance through their sinful and unbelieving response to God’s judgment.
4. The rebellious world is deceived unto destruction through their dedication to their idolatries and rebellion.
5. The suffering church is ultimately vindicated through God’s judgments on its enemies.
6. The suffering church, whose relief seems hopelessly distant, is strengthened to overcome by holding fast to the truth of the imminent return of Christ.