Pastor Mark Hudson
We are in the fifth section of seven. This fifth section includes only two chapters: 15 & 16. Remember, one way to look at this book is below. The book is 7 parallel sections: the sections are as follow:
1-3 Christ in the midst of 7 lamp stands
4-7 Vision of heaven and the 7 seals
8-11 The 7 trumpets
12-14 The Persecuting Dragon
15-16 The 7 bowls
17-19 Fall of Babylon, beast, and false prophet
20-21 The Great Consummation and the devil’s doom
This section is very similar to chapters 8-11. You can see 7 trumpets in 8-11 and 7 bowls in 15-16. You will notice what others have seen – the similarities between the two sections. But in chapter 15, in only 8 verses, we have a prelude to the seven bowls. This chapter is clearly about the wrath of God. The seven bowls that are poured out will be enumerated in the next chapter. This chapter is not merely a prelude or introduction but it serves to remind us that God’s wrath is praiseworthy.
Notice the praise from the angels and redeemed saints in verse 3 who are worshipping by singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. They are praising God for His just wrath. I would like to spend the rest of this brief devotional on that. I believe in heaven you will worship God for the damnation of your child or your spouse or your parent or anyone you love.
Great and amazing are your deeds. Just and true are your ways. For you alone are holy. (vs. 3-4) are some of the words of this song. No one in heaven questions or casts any doubt on God’s wrath. In fact, they worship God because He is finally judging the world. This is what we find in chapter 6:9-10, “. . . I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.
10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Notice, who is asking? The souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and the witness they had borne. Next, what do they want? Judge and avenge their blood.
I remember a woman talking to me at our second church. She said something like, “My God is not a God of wrath.” I didn’t say it out loud (I don’t think!) but I thought, `You are right. Your God isn’t. Because your god is not the God of the Bible.’ The God of the Bible is most definitely is.
Why is this so strange to people? We all yearn for justice. We want those who break the law, who murder, who rape, who extort to be punished. We know it does not erase the wrong or bring back the dead. But the crime demands punishment. There is a sense of justice that argues for that. We want the tyrants, the gangsters, the wealthy who prey on the poor to all receive justice.
How much more does God want justice? In fact, this is one area I think Evangelicals in North America have largely missed. Justice is a massive theme in the Bible. But churches that identify as Evangelical rarely give justice the weight it deserves. God loves justice and hates injustice. We see this in this chapter. If not here, in heaven, we will love every aspect of God’s wrath and anger. We will be joyful in heaven and God’s wrath and justice will only increase our joy. As we are in heaven, we will pray for God’s wrath, see the beauty, justice, and appropriateness of God’s wrath and we may wonder why anyone would even think of faulting God for His wrath.
Back in the 1950’s, I believe, C.S. Lewis wrote an essay called God in the Dock. The dock is where the alleged criminal sits in a courtroom. He claimed back then the “modern” man puts God in the dock as a guilty person. We judge, criticize, and point out the faults of God and His justice. Do you hear people talk like that? Do you find that people are not at all reluctant to see God as unjust to punish sinners?
As we read chapter 15, remember that there will be a day when you will love God’s wrath and properly see His wrath as a necessary aspect of His glorious holiness. In heaven, you will beg God to pour out His wrath. And when He does, you will enjoy His wrath as much as you enjoy His forgiveness.