Hell Resolves (Revelation 18-20)

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  • If a man doesn’t have food in his house, that’s a misfortune but he can find it at a store or a food pantry.
  • If a woman doesn’t live in a nice house, that’s hardship but she can remodel and decorate where she does live.
  • If a child doesn’t have the grades they want, that’s a challenge but they can study and obtain a tutor to better academics.
  • If a man doesn’t have the car he loves, that’s a concern but he could either beg to drive his wife’s car 😊 or save $ to buy a new one.
  • If a woman doesn’t have the job she prefers, that’s an adversity but she can work hard for promotions or pursue a different career field.
  • If a church member doesn’t have the pastor they want, that’s problematic but there’s a preacher down the road that will tell you what you want to hear (good or bad; not indicting anyone).
  • If a family doesn’t have the happiness they want, that’s a crisis but they can work on necessary changes to become better people and find meaning and happiness in life.
  • If a person dies without a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ and wakes up in hell, that’s trouble and a tragedy from which one can never recover.
    • No verse or passage of the Bible communicates an after-death conversion.
    • People say, “I could never believe in a God who would… send people to hell.”
      • What they really mean is, “I could never believe in a God who will disagree with me; who would act differently than me because they have greater knowledge than I; who is more concerned with His glory than my comfort or feelings.”
      • God is God, and He is not answerable to us, we are answerable to Him.
      • The door is open and available for Heaven, but a day is coming when the door will be shut.

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EXAMINE         Revelation 18-19

Last week’s message from Rev 6-17, we saw God’s wrath in a series of three judgments: 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls of plagues. The unholy trinity of the dragon (satan), the beast, (anti-christ), and Babylon are unleashed upon the earth. In all, we saw two diagnostics: Those who do not worship God will experience God’s wrath, and Those who do worship God will experience God’s salvation. That’s a unifying eschatological summary!

Today’s message nears the end of Revelation with the eternal reality that judgment and hell await unbelievers. In Rev 18-19 we will uncover 2 truths that I hope will turn us to faith and fervency with the Lord.

God is orchestrating a war that results in His victory.

This statement is a little deep and perhaps confusing, and one I don’t intend to wax fully philosophically.[1] One may ask, “Why would God orchestrate a war that we all know He’s going to win?” There are lots of questions that we ask “why,” that our finite human minds cannot fully comprehend. In all, God does not create us as inconsequential robots but as people for relationship with heart/minds to choose.

Unfortunately, many have chosen to not worship God and make war with Jesus. And there is no middle ground – you cannot sit on the sidelines as a neutral party.

  • President Franklin Roosevelt prior to WWII: “Even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or conscience.” Ultimately, USA chose to enter war with its Allies against an axis of evil.
  • Indecision is still a decision of non-commitment; so casual faith is a fraud (not talking perfection but direction of life). If we are not intentionally daily walking with Jesus, then we are intending not to be with Jesus in eternity.

Revelation unveils for us that while we live in wartime, victory is assured. Our culture endlessly creates conflict with Christianity. Sometimes victory looks uncertain. Yet, the wrath of God in the tribulation is the reminder humanity cannot compete against God.

Worship about wrath in Revelation

Seals

Revelation 6:10 “They cried out with a loud voice: ‘Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until you judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?”

Trumpets

Revelation 10:17-18 “The 24 elders fell facedown and worshiped God saying, ‘We thank you, Lord God, the Almighty, who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, but your wrath has come. The time has come for the dead to be judged and to give the reward to your servants the prophets, to the saints, and to those who fear your name, both small and great, and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

Revelation 12:10-12 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

Revelation 14:7 “An angel spoke with a loud voice: Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship the Maker of heaven and earth”

Bowls

Revelation 15:3-4 “And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Revelation 16:4-7 “The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!”

The sixth bowl is an assembly of the world’s kings readying for battle against the godly; assembling at a place called Armagedon – Mt. Megiddo (cf Rev 16:12-15). This site is not actually a mountain, but a plain, nor large enough for a world battle. However, it was host to numerous battles in OT and history, and therefore, it is likely Armagedon is symbolic of the wars in today’s world: economic centers of control like New York, Toronto, Berlin, Madrid, Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong; political centers of control like Washington D.C., London, Belgium, Moscow, Beijing; religious centers of the world like Israel, Mecca, Delhi, Tibet, Rome. These locations and others are the centers of power and influence, representative of the Armagedon’s of today’s world.

Babylon’s Fall

Revelation 18:20 “Rejoice over her, heaven, and you saints, apostles, and prophets, because God has executed your judgment on her.”

Babylon is a city that rises to prominence. It is not clear if Revelation refers to Babylon as a literal city, to the evils of Rome, or further symbolic of the world’s spirit of rebellion against God. Personally, I lean towards the latter in broad terms, and perhaps – perhaps, sadly, this is where America fits?

  • Babylon is identified with a global harlot (17:5; 18:3), drunk on the blood of Christian martyrs (17:1-6), a shelter for demons (18:2), gluttonous in wealth (18:3, 7, 11-19), infinitely depraved (18:4-6), and a wasteful steward of resources (18:21-24).
  • Ultimately, Babylon was alluring and influential with its seductive temptations, powerful politics, audacious leadership, and captivating philosophies. But the entire city collapsed without a moral foundation and its anti-God focus.
  • John announced the fall of Babylon first in Rev 14:8, then again in 16:19 “God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with wine of the fury of his wrath.” Later, John notes a seductress woman will entice worldly kings to make war against the Lamb, but they will be conquered (Rev 17:14). Likewise, after using and abusing her commodities. the world’s kings will mourn and mock Babylon as it falls in eternal destruction. The city’s full collapse occurs “in a single hour” (Rev 18).
    • There will be no remembrance of her as she collapses into the sea (18:21).
    • There will be no rejoicing from her as no musicians exist from her (18:22).
    • There will be no rebuilding of her as no craftsman or trade exist from her (18:22).
    • There will be no reflection of her as her once shining light will be extinguished (18:23).
    • There will be no respect for her among merchants or nobility (18:23).
    • There will be no redemption for her as she murdered Christians (18:24).

Revelation 19:1-3 “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

God’s wrath is a reason we should worship Him (19:1, 3, 5). Think about it: If this world is all there is and there is no God/Jesus/resurrection, then why should anyone work to make this world a better place? Why should anyone seek to alleviate hunger, disease, poverty, or care for the injustices of the world? Those who work for causes of justice often do so while undermining the true motivation that our world is headed for an ultimate judgment day. And for that, we can rejoice. Unfairness, racism, murder, war, all have an expiration date. Humans love to resolve tensions of earth (Rom 8:19-22), and God will make all things right because He is just, and His judgments are certain.

God’s wrath is right.

  • Humanity has denounced God’s existence.
  • Humanity has disregarded the fear of God.
  • Humanity has doubted the love of God.
  • Humanity has defamed the holiness and glory of God.
  • Humanity is deserving of the wrath of God.> 18:4 “come out of her…” 18:11 we worship for what we weep
    > What breaks your heart and causes you to cry? If it will not survive eternity, then your heart is bamboozled by Babylon. Wake up and repent from heart idols and turn to faith & fervency in Jesus.

 

God is orchestrating a world that results in His glory (Rev 19:6-9).

6  Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
7  Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;
8  it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9  And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

While God resolves the evil and injustice of the world with His wrath, He also does so with His grace for His children. Jesus returns to redeem His people and all creation. He will bring a party that will surpass any has ever known and last beyond what you can imagine – it’s called the marriage supper of the Lamb.

In biblical times, a marriage involved three significant events[2]:

  • Betrothal with a promise to become one and prepare a place to live together.
  • Wedding Processional starting at the bride’s house dressing with wedding garments and traveling unto the ceremony, and then a return the groom’s house for a reception.
  • Wedding Feast with lavish guest list and generous portions of food and drink.

This week I met with Savannah and Clayton. Savannah was in a youth group that I ministered over a decade ago. She is marrying this young man and there’s something about meeting with an engaged couple to be married.

– They look at each other a lot and smile.
– They laugh at each other’s sayings, even if they’re not that funny.
– They listen attentively to each other, even when they’re talking to other people.

– They observe needs to preemptively help and serve every need imagined: food, straws, chairs, napkins, wiping face, etc.
– They view relational work as a cherished gift not as a chore or inconvenience.
– They stay close when they sit, walk, and hold hands.
– They have a blissful optimism that everything in front of them will work out.
– They view conflict as entirely abnormal (us argue? never!).
– They are confident in each other’s love, never imagining a circumstance that could tear them apart.
Jesus loves us with a wonderful, never-stopping, never-giving-up, unbreaking, always, and forever love. Don’t miss out on love and the marriage supper of the Lamb.

APPLY/THINK

Revelation 20:12 Is your name in the book of life?

 

 

The church is a foreign embassy in Babylon that is too often prostituted for cultural commerce and entertainment, or political power. The church is an embassy existing in a land that is not home but knowing the ground beneath our feet belongs to our king. The church is a refuge from the storms and struggles of this world. We are reminded the wealth of Babylon is fleeting, the power of Babylon is fading, the pleasures of Babylon are unsatisfying. The church’s worship gatherings are an attack against counterfeit life and fulfillment apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians are reminded that we are not captive to earthly influence but an enduring kingdom, which we savor in our hearts and shout with our whole being the goodness and graciousness of our God. So, let everything that has breath – and as long as God gives us breath – let us give praise and glory to God.

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[1] Further reading: https://www.gotquestions.org/if-God-knew.html, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/is-god-less-glorious-because-he-ordained-that-evil-be

[2] Robert Mounce, Revelation.

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