Hope after Hope Before Hope / Revelation 16
Our text today will show us that everything will eventually break. While this points to the end of all things, we can still ask the question about who we look to when things break.
Jacques Ellul writes that a world without God is a world full of gods. We are asking who can we trust all the time.
Judgement reveals that we need mercy now.
We are surrounded at this point with God undoing through judgement all the things that humanity has set up against Him.
Our economic systems
If we come on our terms we will break against Him
If we come on His terms we are offered mercy
Judgement is the final word that our actions are unjust. We need mercy now.
Revelation 16:7–9 ESV
And I heard the altar saying,
“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!”
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.
Because Rev 16 reminds us of Exodus, let’s look at how God brings judgment in Exodus
Exodus 3:7–8 ESV
Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
› We all have a pharaoh’s heart. And for those who have called upon Christ, that heart has broken against His mercy rather than His judgement.
Judgement is the final word that all is not yet fixed. Mercy responds to that now.
But in the middle of all this, an ensuing chaos, there is a call for the church. We see all this action and then there is a call to those who belong to Christ.
Revelation 16:15 ESV
(“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)
And the call of the church is to not be naked. Meaning that we are to be prepared, called to remain in Christ.
John 15:1–5 ESV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
What are we hoping for?
It is easy for us to get caught up in the specifics of Revelation.
Revelation 16:19–21 ESV
The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.
what does it mean for every island to flee and that there are no mountains to be found?
While I’m not always sure exactly what Revelation is saying, I can tell you exactly where Revelation is pointing to.
Judgment reveals that mercy is available now
Because we represent the mercy and the justice and the kindness of God right now. We are the outpost for the working of God in the world.
That is why the church is visible and actionable. We proclaim who Christ is until He comes again. And we proclaim the invitation to know Him in His mercy.
Christ is bringing freedom. We can’t forget that even within judgement Christ is offering oil. He is offering mercy, He is offering a way through. But just like Moses and the Israelites, the way through comes in the form of a lamb.
Luke 4:18–19 ESV
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
We are going to transition into communion as an expression of mercy.