balancing scales December 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Revelation 15, 16, 17, 18

Divine Retribution

Have we ever experienced times this year when we felt or knew God was defending us? Perhaps someone hurt us physically or emotionally, or we were maligned and treated with harshness and injustice, or perhaps someone stole from us. They were caught by the police and put in jail, or they somehow suffered in a similar way which we suffered. The punishment fit the crime, and we experienced divine retribution. Perhaps that has not happened yet, and we wonder if next year will be different. That is unknowable, but if we live righteous lives before our Lord and suffer for it, there will be a time of retribution from God. For those who innocently suffer, this should be a great encouragement. For those who are responsible for unjust treatment, this should cause them to fear.

In the end times there will be a great time of calamity from God which falls upon the whole earth and its inhabitants. It is called the Tribulation Period. Its purpose is to sweep away all wickedness and unrepentant sinners to make preparations for the coming of his Son Jesus Christ to rule and reign on the earth. Already in the book of Revelation we have looked at the Seal and Trumpet Judgments. In today's Bible reading we read about the seven Bowl Judgments. These judgments, in many ways, resemble the plagues on Egypt which God accomplished through the hands of Moses, his servant.

The first angel will pour out his bowl, and ugly sores will break out upon those who have the mark of the beast and worship his image (Revelation 13:16). Perhaps this will be caused by some infection in their skins from the identifying mark of the beast on their right hands and foreheads, or it will come from another God-ordained source.

The second and third angels will pour out their bowls, and all the bodies of water will turn into blood. Every living thing within the waters will die. This judgment will be much more expansive than the plagues which came upon Egypt in the days of Moses (Exodus 7:17-24). The Apostle John records God's justice in exercising divine retribution:

Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”

And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments” (Revelation 16:5-7, NIV).

The fourth angel will pour out his bowl on the sun, and the sun will scorch people with fire. Old Testament prophecies and previous Seal and Trumpet Judgments seem to suggest that the protective layer of the earth’s outer atmosphere will be compromised or destroyed, and the orbit of the earth around the sun will be altered (Isaiah 13:9-13; Revelation 6:12-17; 8:7- 9:1). An altered orbit closer to the sun, or perhaps a large solar flare, or some other source of divine judgment will cause intense heat on the earth.

The fifth angel will bring a plague of darkness upon the throne of the beast and his kingdom (perhaps the new Babylon of the new Roman Empire). The people will be in pain from their sores and be burned from the sun, but it will be too dark to locate any medication for their injuries. Previous judgments state the earth will have 1/3 less daylight (8:12). Perhaps the whole kingdom of Babylon will suffer a blackout. Perhaps a blackout will occur from over taxed power generators they will use to help cool themselves from the heat of the sun and to give them light. It is fun to make conjectures, however, we are not told how these cataclysmic events will happen.

The sixth bowl judgment will bring severe drought which dries up the great Euphrates River. Most likely this is caused from the intense heat of the sun from the fourth bowl judgment. This desert-like riverbed will be the place for the battle of Armageddon. Here the armies of the earth will join forces, powered by Satan, to wage war against foreign invaders, namely Jesus Christ and his righteous army coming from heaven..

The seventh angel will pour out his bowl and bring final judgment upon the earth and particularly upon Babylon. Again, John is called to witness a future cataclysmic event which comes from within the earth and from the heavens. The earth will suffer the greatest earthquake it has ever known and be subject to the bombardment of what may be asteroids or meteorites, as well as damage from the harmful rays of the sun. In Revelation 16:20-21 John records,

Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible. (NIV)

Babylon will, at that time, be a city of great commerce, the most powerful and richest trading partner in the world. The city will be split apart into three sections and destroyed by earthquake and fire. Although world leaders hate her, the world will greatly bemoan her destruction because they profit from her trade. She will be a city, however, not only known for great riches and commerce, but also for idolatry and the most abominable sins. She will also kill Christians who are faithful to God and refuse to take the mark of the beast. John records that she was “drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus” (Revelation 17:6, NIV)…. “In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth” (18:24, NIV). For this, God will recompense her double for what she has done (18:6, NIV). The believers remaining on the earth will be encouraged to get out of the city, immediately–the day for Babylon’s mighty fall has arrived!

Lessons to Live By

  • The LORD is just in his judgments.
  • Although we live a life faithful to the LORD, we may suffer even to the point of death, but God sees all injustice and will bring divine retribution upon our enemies.
  • If we are the cause of injustice, remember that God calls all sinners to account. Repent today and receive his mercy and forgiveness while there is still time. You can enter the New Year knowing you will not suffer his retribution. You can receive his forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...) .

Today’s Bible Memory Verse

Revelation 16:7b (NIV) “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”

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A Look Ahead: We have been reading of God sweeping away all wickedness on the earth and bringing retribution. For what purpose? He is bringing in A New Year Celebration in the End Times when he comes back. Learn more in our Next Lesson.

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