Do a word search in the Revelation and you will find that the word wrath first appears in chapter 6.
Why would that be important? Because of statements like this:
Revelation 4:1 NASB After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things."
After what things? The end of the church age. The typical religious response to this is an argument.
Ask yourself what has happened in the earlier chapters of Revelation? Some, rather in-depth descriptions of literal and at the same time, symbolic church bodies. Remember, we are the church, not where we congregate, so it would be proper to refer to our gatherings as bodies.
This phase of the Revelation ends with the last church, the Laodicean church - the lukewarm one which God threatens to spew out of his mouth in disgust. One of my typical admonitions is to look around you. Are we, the church, on fire? Hardly. Most have no idea of what the fire is and we certainly are not going to attempt to ignite any either.
I suppose most of you feel rather safe in your religious cloaks. Hopefully, yours has a hood and you can pull it up over your head to help you isolate yourself from reality, the world, and God's attempts at getting your attention. There is a problem in this though and you find it in Matthew 25.
"Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. "Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. "For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. "Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. "But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. "The foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' "But the prudent answered, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' "And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. "Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' "But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13 NASB)
Make note of some keywords and phrases:
- “ten virgins”
What does it take to be a virgin in this world today? Commitment? Certainly, but do not exclude the concepts of purity and separation from the world.
The important thing to take away from this is that God called them all and made no distinction.
We are not invited to judge their situations initially. Once they play their hands (A poker term indicating a showing of their cards to see if they win or not. Because so much of card playing involves bluffing you cannot ascertain truthfulness in the virgins) you can quickly see deeply into their hearts.
- “ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom”
All of them went and all had lamps with oil in them. What and where this meeting point is we do not ascertain from this passage. But, if I think like a Jew from this era it would make all the sense in the world. Since the groom would already have a contractual agreement with the family, he would be off building the house we would eventually be living in. This would be no secret. The idea behind what we see here is that he knows the hours it takes to do what needs to be done, especially after spending a long time working toward the goal of the wedding night. If he had hopes of being finished as the sun sets, giving him time to clean himself up and bring his betrothed home to his bed, he would have put out the word alerting her to have herself ready. She could easily be standing outside the gates waiting in anticipation, or we could find her, sitting by lamplight, in the living room of her parents. Because there are so many, let us assume a common meeting place or they are outside said gate.
- “Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.”
Is he delaying, waiting for others to join the ranks? No, the invitations have been sent, the number has been determined. Don't get sour thinking that you have the potential to be excluded. Just the fact that you are reading this tells me that you have been included. The scriptures tell us that God has no desire that any should perish. So he longs for all to come. Delays come, I experience them all the time, especially when I am working on my computer. I will often think, this will just take a minute, and forty-five minutes later, with my frustrations through the roof, I eventually get done.
Keep in mind that this young man has longed for this night for as long as it has taken to build the “house” that they will live in, and he will not wait any longer than he has to.
It says, “they all got drowsy and began to sleep.” Do you see any condemnation in that fact? No, but watch what happens next.
- “But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.”
The announcement comes, he is here, come and join yourselves to him – for eternity. What does this imply? He is now presenting himself, and, one other thing, which I am not sure why because it seems to give us the grace and time to trim a wick and refill an oil lamp.
- “Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.”
All the virgins awoke, got up, trimmed the wicks in their lamps. Those that had extra oil poured the excess into their lamps, relight them and proceeded to join the groom outside.
What did the other five do? They arose, trimmed the wicks in their lamps, noted that they did not think they would have to wait this long and therefore brought no extra oil, and so, demanded that the others give them some.
Seriously – you demand? It is midnight. It has been dark for about six hours now and everyone reasonable is in bed, so, why don't you go to the local market and see if you can buy some more oil and quickly, as the groom is out there NOW. Mind you, I see an unusual amount of grace and perhaps patience but not the time it takes to hunt for a store to be open, and this is not a society of convenience back then.
How and why all five go and come back at the same time (that is what we assume) is not known. Perhaps we have the idea that if we group together, much like the group of speeding cars I was meshed in with as we drove across the desert, that we would not get stopped since we are so many voices. We were wrong and we all got a ticket. If God is representative of the bridegroom, then it is obvious that he is not impressed by large whining crowds either.
“And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.” (Matthew 25:10 NASB)
- “those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.”
What makes the five who had to go shopping at midnight unready? A lack of lamp oil? It is obvious that the lamp oil is symbolic of something else, but what? A strong possibility is the Holy Spirit. Keep in mind that Jesus told this parable to a crowd of people who had not experienced the Holy Spirit. That tends to diminish this idea. Can I exclude sincerity and enthusiasm as the oil, not really.
Those who were ready were the ones who had extra oil. However long it took to wake up, trim their wicks and refill their lamps was apparently okay with the bridegroom.
What's the point I am trying to make, especially since there is really no wrath involved?
That those who get locked out, are now subject to the wrath that is coming, and all because they are lackadaisical and ill prepared, when they could have been. If I could reach any, or all of them I would implore them to figure out what the oil is, and then get some.
All that being said, let's move on to Revelation 16:2 and see how far we can get.
So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image. (Revelation 16:2 NASB)
The wrath started in chapter six and has been ongoing.
Note: God's wrath is not necessarily associated with man's wrath, however, the two of them will run concurrently.
I would love to tell you that the mark of the beast will be exclusive to the half way point of the seven-year period. Perhaps if we could get some response from people who choose not to be Muslims in a Muslim land, they could tell us what Islam does to those who refuse to follow Allah. I know there is something called the Jizya tax.
Qur'an (9:29) - "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."
So if you comply with a willing submission, then God will pour out upon you a malignant sore. The Hebrew Study Bible calls them, disgusting and painful sores.
The second one (an angel sent by God) poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died. (Revelation 16:3 CJB)
An April 15, 2016, article from the Daily Mail in Australia shows this picture.
While these scenes are impressive, the Red tide from algae blooms is not uncommon. I strongly suspect that the seas turning to blood may be a reality when this happens. Did this happen before? Yes, during the plagues of Egypt.
The third one poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they turned to blood. (Revelation 16:4 CJB)
If you read about the plagues of Egypt, then you know this too happened. Strangely, Pharaoh's sorcerers managed to find some clear water and turned that drinkable water into blood as well. When I read this story I cannot imagine there being any clear water. But, to take what drinkable water you can find and turn it into blood is just unfathomable.
Revelation 16:5-6 LITV And I heard the angel of the waters saying, You are righteous, Lord, the One who is, and who was, and who will be, because You judged these things, (6) since they poured out the blood of the saints and of the prophets; and You gave blood to them to drink, for they were deserving.
The words show God's judgment against those who have poured out the blood of the saints and prophets. Since you chose blood, then blood you shall drink. Question? Since the judgment is very specific, speaking of the oceans, rivers, and streams, do you think bottled water would remain untouched?
Let's end this “study” with this.
Revelation 16:7 LITV And I heard another out of the altar saying, Yes, Lord God Almighty, Your judgments are true and righteous.
I have come to the conclusion that all of God's judgments are true and righteous. It does not matter how uncomfortable they make me feel.
Don't get me wrong, pain hurts me as well. I just need to get my vision straight and keep my eyes on Jesus and his work in me.
In Recovery we make amends. We do this for a couple of reasons: to take responsibility for our own actions and the harm we have done to others, and, to do the right thing in God's eyes, no matter what the personal consequences may be.
You need to be aware, that as a follower of Christ, God is not and will not punish you. Christ took all our punishment.
(Yes, I get it and hear the rebuttals all the time. That does not mean I will back down from this point of view. Because scripture tells that Christ took all the punishment due us on the cross, then we do not have to. This also means and tells that all sins: past, present, and future sins, have been forgiven. There is nothing to forgive. So, if we find ourselves going into eternal punishment what might have happened? You completely threw Jesus in the trash and opted to follow Satan - the god of this world, to his punishment. That puts your future completely on you, not God and some irrational decision you think he made.)
God, may, however, be testing you and trying to you, to purify you, to make you more like His son.
None of this excludes you from personal responsibility for your own actions. An example: if you drink and drive, and kill someone or do some major property damage. That was all your choice and you will have to submit to man's laws. By the way – God instituted man's laws as well, to keep law breakers under control. Since we - those followers who live controlled by the spirit of God don't do those kinds of things, then we should not have a problem, should we.
But we do, and often. Why is that?
Because our central processors came damaged (we call that sin) thanks to Adam's decisions making in the garden. God saw that coming long before it ever happened and chose to give the man the freedom to love the maker. That does not seem so unreasonable because a reasonable person should see the goodness and mercy in God and then long for Him. If this was any other way then we would just be automatons with no relationship. So, even before time began God had a plan. It involved allowing the creation, man, to make his mistakes; it involved allowing Lucifer to corrupt his power and position, with the potential to damage and kill the creation. But God had a plan, and he knew it would not fail. He would bring an uncorrupted son into the earth to be the King; he would allow that son to suffer and die with the express purpose of redeeming all mankind back to himself if they chose to come. And, He would receive his only Son back to himself alive and set him victorious on the throne; all for the purpose of ending all destruction and bringing back the family that wants to live with him.
Did God know there would be repercussions for his actions?
Yes, he knew some would choose not to believe and follow him. Those choosing against God would follow the only other “leader, the god of this world,” into the judgment that awaits him.
God did not make the eternal punishment for people; my bible tells me that God loves us, so much so, that he sent his only son into the world that did not love him, to die a brutal death, so that this world could be SAVED. They, the majority, however, choose not to be, because it cramps their style. No, God does not wish for anyone to perish, and Matthew 25, in the parable of the sheep and goats at the judgment, God shows MERCY to those who simply lived outside of their broken selfish ways and helped people at times.
Since I am not a good gambler I choose to live my life in the Spirit of God.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, (Titus 2:11-13 NASB)