LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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THE SIXTH BOWL OF GOD'S WRATH

 

 

Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. Revelation 16:12–16

 

 

When the everlasting gospel is faithfully taught it causes the great river Euphrates to dry up. You will recall that under the sounding of the sixth trumpet four angels were released from bondage in the great river Euphrates (Revelation 9:14–21). The great river Euphrates represents the city of Babylon. As ancient Babylon held God’s people in bondage, the Babylon of the Revelation is a church environment that holds God’s people in bondage.

Ancient Babylon was God’s judgment on two sins in the national life of Israel. The Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and exiled the population to Babylon in 597 BC. This was not a sudden event in the national history of Israel; it was something that had been prophesied by God-sent prophets for generations.

The first sin was idolatry. The Israelites struggled with idolatry during the 400 years of residence in Egypt. Even though the nation encountered God through deliverance from their bondage in Egypt, the Israelites continually fell into idolatry even in their 40 years of wanderings through the Sinai Peninsula and then during the centuries they lived in the Promised Land. The historical books of the Bible reveal their history as a continuing cycle of falling into idolatry, being invaded by a foreign country followed by a revival of true worship, and then lapsing into idolatry.

The second sin was division. God intended for Israel to be one unique holy nation on the face of the earth. The Law of Moses provided the moral, religious and social/civil structure that, if followed, would guarantee the success of the nation. It was intended that God be the king of Israel, but after generations of social indecision of the people, they demanded a human king. God gave them Saul, who was less than a desirable king, and then David, the man after God’s own heart, and his son Solomon, the wisest man on earth. Upon the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam became king in 930 BC. In the third year of his reign the ten northern tribes of Israel revolved under Jeroboam and set up a separate kingdom. The northern kingdom called itself Israel and the remaining two tribes of Benjamin and Judah were called Judah. Judah was ruled by the Davidic kings and was the place where the temple of God was located. The ten tribes, calling themselves, Israel developed their own religion combining some of the true religion with a great deal of paganism, including idolatry and human sacrifice. The city of Samaria was designated its capital and became the center of national worship.

God’s first act of judgment on the apostasy of Israel was the destruction of the northern kingdom. This occurred with the Assyrian invasion in 721 BC. The population of the ten tribes was dispersed and these tribes were never again reconstituted as a national entity.

The destruction of the northern kingdom did not deter Judah from its apostasy and God exercised His final judgment on Judah in 597 BC using the Babylonians. Captivity under the Babylonians lasted for 70 years, after which the Jews were allowed to return to Judah, but from that time on until the coming of Messiah they were always under the power of foreign empires. The greatest tragedy that faced the Israelites was their rejection of the long awaited Messiah in the person of Jesus Christ.

We first encounter the Babylon of the Book of Revelation in chapter 14:8. This Babylon is revealed under the preaching of the everlasting gospel as proclaimed in the revelation of the Lamb standing on Mount Zion. We learned that the Lamb on Mount Zion represents the understanding of the biblical church as part of the atonement. This understanding became prominent through what has been called the Primitive Church Movement. The Movement was not a movement of one particular group; it consisted of several movements and groups that believed the message of the biblical church. Because of personalities and differences in opinions on some doctrinal points, the movement never solidified and ultimately ended up as distinct and separate churches and fellowships. But, in spite of the failure of movements, the everlasting gospel was proclaimed and continues to be preached in our time.

The Babylon of the Revelation is a religious environment. As ancient Babylon was the place of captivity for God’s people, this spiritual Babylon is a place of spiritual captivity for God’s people. It consists of religions and churches that separate people from God under the pretense of offering some form of salvation.

Under this sixth bowl of wrath we see the effects of the everlasting gospel on the spirits of Babylon. The three spirits of Babylon are: the spirit coming out of the mouth of the dragon, which is Christ-less religion; the spirit coming out of the mouth of the beast, which we have learned to be apostate catholic religions, and particularly but not only, the Church of Rome; and the spirit coming out of the mouth of the false prophet, which we learned are churches and denominations that emerged from the Protestant Reformation.

These spirits are characterized as being like frogs. Where do we encounter frogs and God’s judgment? Go back to God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity for the answer.

 

And the LORD spoke to Moses, Go to Pharaoh and say to him, Thus says the LORD: Let My people go, that they may serve Me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs. (Exodus 8:1–2)

 

Applying the imagery of frogs to the Babylon of the Revelations we see a picture of the erroneous teachings found in these religions and churches. The frogs in Egypt were abundant, they affected every facet of life and they affected all the people. They are abundant in our time. People under the influence of these religions are affected by the teachings in all aspects of their lives. When presented with the everlasting gospel, a teaching from their religion opposes the gospel and holds people hostage in a religion or church that stands between them and the love of God. All the people in those religions and churches are affected: the leaders, the teachers, the practitioners, the faithful, and the casual followers. It makes no difference between pagan and Christian-like religions, the people are deceived by the spirits behind the teachings.

When the Egyptian magicians were challenged by the frogs God brought on them, through their deceptive magic they were able to produce frogs. This gives the impression that the teachings, doctrines, methods, and explanations false religions give to people tend to satisfy them. In their minds they can see no difference between truth and error. It is only a matter of believing what one wants to believe. God spoke and ended the plague of frogs in Egypt. All the frogs were killed, piled in heaps and the land stank. No matter what false religions and churches may teach, the word of God is the final and only authority. All the errors and false doctrines are exposed by the everlasting gospel and to those that hear it and take hold of it, all those false teachings stink—they have no more use for them.

In our time, the frog spirits of the dragon, beast and false prophet have one purpose in mind. This purpose as it is being enacted in our very time is leading us up to what I believe will be the end-time revival.

 

For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Verse 14)

 

Christ-less religions have always opposed the truth of God’s word, but in our time we are witnessing so much of what calls itself Christian fighting revealed truth. Ever since the early apostasy in the church that began in the third century, the church has always been attacked by promoters of heresy and false doctrine. Even before that, Paul fought against error:

 

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6–7)

 

John also fought against error:

 

Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:3)

 

In our study of the bowls of wrath so far, we have addressed the conditions we face in our time that work to separate people from the love of God—whether they be doctrines, denial of the truth of the Bible, or permissiveness with sin in the name of Christianity. In our time we are faced with 2000 years of dead frogs—religious stink.

The abandonment of the everlasting gospel in much of what poses as the Christian church separates people from the love of God and their holding on to and trusting in error puts them in the position of wrath. Unwittingly, people are being drawn into a battle of religion against God—the great day of God Almighty.

Jesus interrupts John’s recoding of this bowl of wrath in verse 15. He says, “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” This is an echo from the Olivet Discourse of Matthew chapters 24 and 25. From what Jesus says, we certainly can conclude that His second coming is close at hand, but the coming He speaks of here I believe refers to the end-time revival. The everlasting gospel is like the thief; so few are paying attention to it so that they do not notice it or recognize it. But there are those that are watching for it. There are those that have the garments of holiness and live before God without shame. While others are paying heed to the frog spirits, these people are being diligent to keep their garments spotless through obedience and by following the Lamb wherever He goes.

As this bowl is poured out, religious people draw closer to their permissive views of sin and divide themselves apart from the love of God. It is the same trait of sin and division that lead the Israelites into Babylonian captivity. The everlasting gospel dries up the great river Euphrates so that the way of the kings of the east can be prepared.

The kings of the east represent godly wisdom, as the kings of the east were guided by the star God sent to lead them to the newborn king in Bethlehem. Does the Revelation tell us who these kings of the east are? Revelation chapter 5 shows us the Lamb, the glorified Christ who is worthy to open the seals of the Revelation. Among His attributes are seven horns and seven eyes which are identified as the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. These seven Spirits are the one Holy Spirit working in all seven eras of the Revelation. Twenty-four elders are seen worshipping the Lamb, all singing a song, which is recorded in verses 9–10:

 

And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”

 

These kings and priests are also the kings of the east, who possess the wisdom and leading of God with the everlasting gospel.

This sixth bowl or wrath prepares the world for the battle of Armageddon. There are two sides in this battle: Those that are led by the three unclean spirits, and the kings of the east—the redeemed that are following the Lamb wherever He goes.