The Bowls of Wrath
Gracious God, the deepest longings of my heart are for You. Accept my worship and praise as I come before You now.
Read REVELATION 15:1-16:21
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing” (Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God). Your greatest strength is in God.
I have sat in more circles than I care to remember discussing “What is your favorite characteristic of God?” I recall good and creative responses, but not one suggesting, “I am moved by the fact that he is the righteous judge…” I suggest that chs. 12-14 are a sweeping panorama of history and the conflict that is woven into every nation, every tribe and every human soul. Do we veer wildly between optimism and pessimism as we wait and wonder about history’s outcome?
Actually there is no room for uncertainty. Seven angels pour out seven bowls of wrath, and with that: “God’s wrath is completed” and “It is done!” (15:1 and 16:17). Chapters 15-18 are all about judgment, about the conviction that “Somewhere in the universe someone is fair” (words on a poster I remember from the 1970s).
The scene starts with the Songs of Moses and of the Lamb, in Exodus 15 and Revelation 15. These chapters are such friends: choirs lifting their voices while surrounded by Egyptian corpses, or filling the skies with song as the warning of the seven trumpets leads with certainty to the punishment of the seven bowls. Appointed angels pour out God’s wrath on earth and sea, rivers and sky, leading to agony and utter defeat at the “hill of Megiddo.” Finally, there’s the elimination of all who had dared to raise their voices against the living God. Soak up 15:7,8 and 16:17,18 again. Let the sensual onslaught of John’s language move you!
And why should you and I escape this judgment? Well, on a Friday afternoon outside Jerusalem, God poured out all his wrath on his only and beloved Son. There simply is no wrath left for us. Hallelujah!
“Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood; Sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah! What a Savior” (Philip P. Bliss). Praise him!
Father, thank You for the wrath You poured out on Jesus at Calvary, allowing me to go free. May I never take it for granted.
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