LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

Home   About Us   Holiness Library   Bible Prophecy   Listen to Sermons  History of the Holiness Movement   Early English Bibles   Bible Studies

 

 

 

 

THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES, PART 2

 

 

The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. Revelation 15:8

 

The seven last plagues are said to make the wrath of God complete. The wrath of God is a common topic in the Old Testament but not so common a topic in the New Testament. It is not that God changes—the change takes place in mankind. Psalm 95:8–11 is a classic expression of God’s wrath:

 

Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways. So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest.

 

Notice it is the hardness of a man’s heart that places him on the side of God’s wrath. When the Israelites moved from the blessing of God to the wrath of God, God was not the one who changed. God remained constant; it was their choice to grieve God by going astray and in so doing they ended up under God’s wrath. There is an inevitable consequence to the wrath of God. To those that are under God’s wrath, the consequence is: “They shall not enter My rest.” The rest referred to in the Psalm was the land of Canaan, the Promised Land to which God was leading them after He delivered them from Egypt. The writer of Hebrews refers to these verses as “a solemn warning to all not to be unbelieving and rebellious, since the consequence of unbelief and rebellion must be to exclude us from the kingdom of heaven, the true place of ‘rest.’” (Barnes)

The Apostle Paul carries the concept of the wrath of God into the message of the gospels. In Romans 1:16–19 he writes,

 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

 

Paul tells us the two things are made evident in the gospel: It is the power of God to salvation. Barnes comments on the power of God:

 

This expression means, that it is the way in which God exerts his power in the salvation of men. It is the efficacious or mighty plan, by which power goes forth to save, and by which all the obstacles of man’s redemption are taken away.

 

The power of God is not something that knocks people to the floor and it does more than make people feel good about themselves; it is the power to salvation. Barnes tells us that salvation is much more than just the forgiveness of sins. He comments:

 

This word means, complete deliverance from sin and death, and all the foes and dangers that beset man. It cannot imply anything less than eternal life. If a man should believe and then fall away, he could in no correct sense be said to be saved. And hence when the apostle declares that it is the power of God unto salvation “to every one that believeth,” it implies that all who become believers “shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”

 

The second thing made evident in the gospel is the righteousness of God. Barnes writes that “there is not a more important expression to be found in the epistle than this.” He gives us the reason why this is true.

 

The phrase, righteousness of God, is equivalent to God’s plan of justifying men; his scheme of declaring them just in the sight of the law, or of acquitting them from punishment, and admitting them to favour. In this sense it stands opposed to man’s plan of justification, i.e. by his own works. God’s plan is by faith. The way in which that is done is revealed in the gospel. The object contemplated to be done is to treat men as if they were righteous. Man attempted to accomplish this by obedience to the law. The plan of God was to arrive at it by faith, here the two schemes differ; and the great design of this epistle is to show that man cannot be justified on his own plan—to wit, by works; and that the plan of God is the only way, and a wise and glorious way of making man just in the eye of the law.

 

You will recall that when the Lamb appeared on Mount Zion in chapter 14 a ministry was raised up to preach the everlasting gospel which also was declared to be the hour of God’s judgment. The bowls of God’s wrath pour out the judgment of God on all the religions of works that men have devised, especially those under the name of the Christian church. Man cannot be justified by his own plan. The problem we have to address in the end-time revival is that so many in the name of Christianity have been lead to believe that their plan, or the plan of a denomination, church, televangelist, or their own thinking, is God’s plan.

God has been patient with the outward, visible church throughout its history just as He was with Israel in Psalm 95. He has allowed error, injustice, and deception to come against the church but at all times God has still revealed the gospel truth so that those who wanted the power of God and His righteousness could find it.

We need to define God’s wrath. John, the writer of the Book of Revelation, wrote in 1 John 4:16, “God is love;” in fact, he gives an extended discourse on the love of God in that chapter that proves the main aspect of God’s character is love. Jesus taught us the same thing in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” How do we reconcile the concept of the wrath of God with the love of God? Are these characteristics not contradictory?

The wrath of God is greatly misunderstood. The anger and wrath of God appear frequently in the Old Testament and there certainly are allusions to them in the New Testament.

Many people that choose to disbelieve in God cite the wrath of God as the reason they cannot believe in God. The see a God that indiscriminately kills people because they do not believe in Him. They see a God that is angry and are repulsed by this anger and want to have nothing to do with Him. How can anyone be drawn to a God that hates people and does horrible things to them? This is a total misconception of God and the concept of the wrath of God that has been foisted on people by the very devil himself.

The wrath of God is not a capricious and willful act on the part of God; the wrath of God is a condition that is brought on through the free will of people. The wrath of God is the absence of God’s love.

The wrath of God is similar to the difference between light and darkness. John tells us in 1 John 1:5, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”

What is darkness? Darkness is the absence of light. In the presence of light there is no darkness; however, if a person puts up a barrier between himself and the source of light, that person will be in darkness. It is a choice and action he does of his own volition. Light, the presence of God, is the natural condition. God created mankind with the ability to make choices. Because of this, if a person does not want the light, he can build himself a closet, get inside it, close the door, and be in total darkness. In this sense, darkness is a moral choice. God forces no person outside His love but He gives each person the right to choose or to reject His love. This itself is an expression of God’s great love for mankind; He forces no one to believe Him.

God is love and, as with light and darkness, wrath is the absence of God’s love. Again, this relationship is a matter of personal human choice. Every person has the God-given right to erect a barrier between himself and the love of God. As a closet hides the light of God, people can built a closet that hides them from God’s love. That closet is expressed in many ways: it can be called self-love, it can be called sin, it can be called depravity, and it can be called man-made religion—even with the name Christian attached to it. When people build one of these closets and get inside they closet themselves off from God’s love and place themselves into a state that is opposite God’s love—wrath.

There is such a thing as the wrath of God, but it is entirely the consequence of the choice to separate one’s self from the love of God. God does not initiate this wrath; it is the automatic consequence of human choice. This is clearly taught in Psalm 95:8 by the exhortation, “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion.” God does not harden people’s hearts; people do that themselves. God does not go around mean and angry looking for opportunities to strike people down in wrath. When people reject God’s love it puts them outside the reach of God’s love and into a spiritual realm that is opposite everything that God is. In this sense, the wrath of God is everything that is opposite God’s love. People have a God-given right to accept either the love of God or the wrath of God.

The great and marvelous sign of the end-time revival is an outpouring of God’s love. It is nothing more than the sound teaching of the everlasting gospel that saves people from sin, restores them to holiness, and inducts them into the body of Christ. This outpouring of God’s love is expressed in terms of the seven last plagues because the gospel exposes the closets people build to hide themselves from the love of God while they yet profess to love God.

There are people living right now that have received the everlasting gospel and are standing on the sea of glass singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, verses 3–4,

 

Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.

 

We are in the time when the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony is being opened; there are people that grasp the true meaning of the church as Jesus built it; their hearts are longing to experience what it means to be the body of Christ. Now we need for the temple to be filled with the smoke of God’s presence and for those angels to pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath. Church, pray for this revival!