Series: The Radical Call of Jesus
Message: Radical Implications
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 105:26–36.
Read: Revelation 15:5–18:24 (NIV). As you read the New International Version, note 1–3 insights.
Reflect: We close off this section on wrath as we return to again to N. T. Wright’s practical illustration offered in Revelation for Everyone:
The story of the twentieth century was in part the story of just that, as new ways of being—Communism, Fascism and Apartheid being the three most obvious—reared their ugly heads and did untold damage to people and societies, until eventually they collapsed under their own weight, not least the weight of the lies which were needed to sustain them. It was partly because H. Richard Niebuhr could see this going on that he warned against a wrathless, sinless, crossless message. It might lull us to sleep just when we needed to be wide awake.
The “wrath” of the creator God consists of two things, principally. First, He allows human wickedness to work itself out, to reap its own destruction. Second, He steps in more directly to stop it, to call “time” on it, when it’s got out of hand. If we knew our business, we would thank God for both of these, even though both can appear harsh. They need to be. If they were any less than harsh, the wickedness in question would merely pause, furrow its brow for a moment, and then carry on as before. What we see here, in the first four plagues, is a mixture of both types of “wrath.”
. . . These judgments are total. Before, with the seals and the trumpets, only a part of the world was harmed or destroyed (remember, again, that all this is symbolic), sending a warning signal to those who need to repent. Here that note is absent. This time, everything in the sea dies. All the rivers turn to blood (again, John is drawing on the plagues of Egypt). There is no more space for repentance.
. . . Because of the nature of His love, He will not always be stepping in and calling “time” before the appointed moment. If He did, too many, who might yet repent and be rescued, would be caught in the middle. But He will let evil take its course and bring its own nemesis; and, at a moment which only He is in any position to judge, He will bring the necessary closure on the world’s wrongs. This He must do if He is, indeed, the father of Jesus the Messiah. This is what it means that the angels pour out the bowls of His wrath upon the earth, the sea, the rivers and the sun (pp. 142-144).
Recalibrate: Does N. T. Wright’s illustration help you or create more dissonance in your understanding of the complete picture of the character of God as revealed in the Bible?
Respond: Pray for the Spirit to lead you into truth.
Research: Why is Revelation 16:15 so important to the message?