Revelation 049 – Divine Sarcasm

Revelation 049 – Divine Sarcasm
Revelation 16:1-9 • Dr. Andy Woods • August 25, 2019 • Revelation


Andy Woods

Divine Sarcasm        8-11-19

Revelation 16:1-9   Lesson 49

Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book Revelation, chapter 16 and verse 1. The title of our message this morning is Divine Sarcasm.  Of course little kids, their mother says don’t be sarcastic, I guess they could say well God is sarcastic and we’re going to see a little of that today here in Revelation 16.  I want to thank Gabe Morris for filling in last week, I trust you enjoyed his ministry.

We are in a point of the Book of Revelation there in the second half of the tribulation period where what is beginning to happen is the last set of judgments is about to be poured out with the seven golden bowls of wrath.  Chapter 15 you’ll recall was preparation in heaven for the final series of judgments.  We saw the heavenly scene, we saw tremendous worship taking place, all in preparation for this next and final set of judgments and now this morning we move into chapter 16 where the judgments actually transpire.

Here is sort of our outline that we’re going to be working through both this morning and probably next Sunday morning as we take a look at these golden bowls of wrath.  Notice, if you will, verses 1 and 2, the first judgment is poured out and notice what it says there in verse 1.  “ Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”  Immediately our attention is drawn to the temple in heaven.

[1.] 1st Bowl (16:1-2) Boils.  2nd Bowl (16:3) Sea becomes blood.  3rd Bowl (16:4-7) Freshwater destroyed.  4th  Bowl (16:8-9) Sun scorches man.  5th Bowl, Euphrates dried (16:13-16.  6th bowl (16:13-160 Euphrates dried.  7th bowl, (16:17-21) Greatest earthquake.]

As we have studied there is a parallel going on between the temple in heaven (and there is one apparently) and the temple on the earth.  What’s in heaven has an earthly parallel and what’s on earth has a heavenly parallel.  And we are focused on that because that is the location, that’s the venue  that these seven bowls of wrath will ultimately come from; they come from God to the earth.

You’ll notice it says here, “ Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”  [Revelation 16:1]  Seven angels, so as each angel pours out a bowl another judgment will come to the earth, sort of like at the beginning of the Book of Revelation the seven sealed scroll has, as each seal on the seal is broken another judgment comes to the earth, sort of like the trumpets that we read about in chapters 8-11; as an angel sounds a trumpet another judgment comes to the earth where at the last set where each angel will pour out the contents of their bowl bringing another judgment to the earth.

And you’ll notice this expression there “on the earth.”  That’s very important because what is happening in the Book of Revelation is the earth is being reclaimed; Satan’s grip over the earth is becoming progressively weaker until finally the judgments will be complete and the earth will be liberated from its bondage as the Kingdom of God breaks forth.

Revelation 1:6 tells us that we are “a kingdom of priests” as the church.  [Revelation 1:6, “and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”’  Revelation 5:10 says we will reign where…  “on the earth.”  [Revelation 5:10, “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”] We’re not going to reign up in the clouds somewhere; we’re not in some kind of never-never world.  Jesus is coming back to reign on this earth; we as the church are coming back to reign with Him on the earth and so what is happening is the earth is being prepared for that future reign as Satan is being evicted through these various judgments.

You’ll notice what it says here, that in them, the bowls, we have “the wrath of God.”  The fact of the matter is a lot of people will try to sell you on the idea that the wrath of God is just in the bowls but as we have carefully studied the wrath of God is in the seal judgments and also the trumpet judgments.  And it is true that the judgments are getting more and more severe but all of it represents the wrath of God and that is one of many reasons why the church (that’s us) cannot and will not be on the earth during any of these things.  Why?   Because the church is promised an exemption from divine wrath.  There’s all the verses there that we’ve gone through. [The promise (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 5:9; 8:1, Revelation 3:10.  Tribulation = divine wrath, (Revelation 6:16-17, 11:18, 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19.]  There’s all the verses there that we’ve gone through.  We don’t have time to read them all today but you’re familiar with many of those verses.

We’re specifically told to wait for our Savior from heaven who rescues us from the wrath to come.  And so how could the church be here for any of this if the whole time period represents the wrath of God.  We believe in the fact that the next event on the prophetic calendar is the catching away of the church; the translation of the church in what is called the rapture.  And so we are not looking for an antichrist; many people are out there doing that.  We’re not doing that, we’re looking for Jesus Christ.  Amen!  Who comes and removes us from the wrath which is to come.

And so it’s very interesting that as this judgment is poured out what begins to take place there in verse 2 is boils or some sort of skin malady begins to appear on the inhabitants of the earth.  Look at verse 2, “ 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.”  You’ll notice that immediately what happens is boils, skin problems appear on people.  You say well God doesn’t do that to people does He?  Read the Book of Job sometime; God gave Satan permission to touch Job’s very skin.  It says in Job 2:7-8, “Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job” of course Job, as you probably know, is the oldest book of the Bible, “smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. [8] And he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes.”

It’s interesting to me how they, having just returned from southern California for the last couple of weeks how much our culture, in terms of emphasis, places on  youth and beauty.  You know, the beautiful people are always in the magazines, they’re always the ones in the movies, Hollywood, they’re the ones that everybody wants to emulate, everyone wants to be like, everyone wants to look up to.  As you get older you’re kind of discarded because the good looks that we once had (if we ever had them at all, a lot of times we’re deceived into thinking we had them) really aren’t there any more.  And the whole culture is sort of aimed at physical appearance and  youth and beauty.  And it’s interesting to me that that’s the first thing the Lord takes away here, as now boils of a malignant and loathsome manner begin to appear on people.  We shouldn’t take our physical appearance to seriously since God is sovereign over that as well, isn’t He?  We should submit all things unto God.

And it says here, the end of verse 2, “who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.”  Now this is very interesting because it appears that this particular judgment only comes upon unbelievers; saved people at this particular point don’t experience that judgment.  Now this is not true through the whole Book of Revelation but through some of the judgments in the Book of Revelation there is an exemption for those who happen to be unbelievers at the time.

You’ll see the same thing in the Book of Exodus, chapter 9 and verse 6, the various plagues in the Book of Exodus it says, “So the LORD did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died.”  You see the same thing in the Book of Revelation, chapter 9 and verse 4, that particular trumpet judgment says, “They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”

It’s interesting that being “in Christ” exempts you from a lot of things.  If you’re on the earth at the time (you won’t be here but those that are believers are exempted from certain things simply by believing in Christ.”  It’s interesting to me that when God came to destroy the wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah the destroying angel said to Lot, a believer, I cannot do anything until you are removed.

And you know, I praise the Lord that I came to the Lord at a very early age, there are so many things that I have been exempted from and protected from simply by being in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  The ultimate thing of course that I’m protected from is hell itself.  But even as we continue here on the earth there’s so many things that we’re shielded from, maybe not even recognizing, simply because the Lord is walking with us. Now this isn’t true with all the judgments, as I’ve said, but some of them are aimed only at the unbelievers.  And so the first bowl  is poured out and these loathsome boils, skin issues, begin to appear on people.

Now we move into the second bowl judgment there in verse 3, and notice what it says there in verse 3, “ The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like” a very important word, “like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.”  You’ll notice it says there in verse three “The second angel,” and you’ll see that all the way through Revelation 16, first angel, second angel, third angel, fourth angel.  It’s very obvious that what is being given to us here is a chronology.  Largely speaking what you’ll find is the Book of Revelation will flow in chronological order, first seal, second seal, third seal, then you get to the trumpets, same pattern.  You get to the bowl judgments, the same pattern.

As we’ve tried to communicate there are about five times where the chronology stops, usually after    a sixth in a series, to explain a little more of what is happening in the series.  These insertions are not chronological but they don’t interrupt the chronological flow of the entire book.  The book is meant    to be understood chronologically.  There are five times the chronology stops, we’re about to hit a little one, probably next week, in Revelation 16:13-16 and then we’re going to hit our final one, number five, once Babylon is destroyed in Revelation 17 and 18 and we may never get out of that one until the rapture, [laughter] because there’s a lot of misunderstanding about Babylon and so we’re going to be going into depth on the whole subject of Babylon once we hit Revelation 17 and 18.  But other than these brief interruptions the chronology continues.  It’s sort of like the days of creation in Genesis 1; God created the entire world in six days. But what you have in Genesis 2 is some information about day six.  The whole chapter really is about day six.  So chapter 2 of Genesis starts to interrupt the chronology and give you more information about what happens on one of those days, day six.  But that isn’t to subtract from the fact that the days are meant to be understood, Genesis 1, in a chronological manner.

That’s sort of the same pattern that you find here in the Book of Revelation, but you’ll notice here in the second bowl judgment that the ocean turns to blood.  [Revelation 16:4,  “Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood.”]  And it’s very interesting that he uses, John does, the word “like,” it was like that of a dead man, the blood or the red in the ocean was like that of a dead man.  Now he uses “like” or “as” many times in the Book of Revelation; we call that a what?  What kind of a figure of speech?  That’s a simile.  Why does John use so many similes when he’s given this vision that we call the Book of Revelation?  It relates to his assignment.  He thought his life was over, he was marooned, as we have studied, on the Island of Patmos at the end of the first century and then Jesus shows up on his island.  Can  you imagine that?

See, a lot of people think their life is over, God has used them, but as the saying goes, “it ain’t over till it’s over!”  I mean, you really have no idea what God is going to do through your life and as long as you’re alive God has you alive for a reason and He wants to use you for a purpose.  John was the last living apostle; they actually tried to boil him to death and this guy wouldn’t die.  So they really didn’t know what to do with him other than to maroon him out there on the Aegean Sea and on an island called Patmos, and they left him out there because that’s the way Domitian, at the time, handled troublemakers.  So you can imagine John being out there on this island thinking God had no more purpose for him.

In fact, his greatest purpose was right around the corner because Jesus appeared to him in His glorified state, scared John half to death (Revelation 1) and John is given his assignment.  He’s going to be shown a vision.  And the Lord says to him, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches.”  [Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, [11] saying, ‘Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”]

The problems is when John is trying to write down things it’s describing realities that wouldn’t happen for two thousand  years or more.  So how would he explain 21st century phenomenon or beyond?  He would have no vocabulary for it.  So he keeps saying it was “like,” it was “as,” and so John sees the ocean turning to red like that of a dead man.  And you’ll notice what it says there in verse 3, it says “every living thing in the sea died.”  [Revelation 16:3, “The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.”]

You might recall the trumpet judgments, Revelation 8:8-9, earlier in the sequence we read these words.  “The second angel sounded, and something like” there’s a simile again, “a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, [9] and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed.”  That’s an earlier trumpet judgment but now with this second bowl judgment every­thing in the turns blood red, everything dies.  And so it is quite obvious what God is doing here; as humanity is continuing on in its rebellion, despite the fact that they’ve been given multiple opportunities to repent, what does the Lord do?  He keeps turning up the temperature; He keeps turning up the thermostat.

You’ll actually sense that same pattern in your own life as a child of God.  When God puts us under discipline he is trying to get at some result in our lives, trying to get us to change in some way.  And given the depravity of our hearts we oftentimes push God out, push away His perspective and ignore the  convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  And what does God do?  God says you want to play that way I’ll just turn up the temperature a little more.  You see that same pattern in divine discipline.  The same thing here is happening with divine judgment.

It’s sort of like Pharaoh in the Book of Exodus where it says of Satan that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.  [Exodus 9:12, “And the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses.”]  Most people camp on that part of it but they forget the six times earlier in the Book of Exodus where Pharaoh hardened his own heart against God.  Pharaoh hardened his heart and he hardened his heart and he hardened his heart at least six times and then finally God turned up the thermostat and said okay, I’ll give you what you want.  And God got involved in the hardening process until God finally got the result He wanted from Pharaoh which was the release of His people from Egyptian bondage and captivity, a captivity that they had been in for four hundred years.

God, one way or the other, is going to get His way.  The only question is are we going to take the path of least resistance or not?  And often times humanity in its depravity does not take the path of least resistance and we think somehow we’re fooling God when the reality of the situation is God, at the end of the day, is going to get His way.  Why not just repent at the beginning?  Why not just say to the Lord, Lord, not my will be done but Thy will be done!  It’d make life so much simpler wouldn’t it?  But at any rate, God is going to get His way.

And this is where verse 3, being a preterist becomes very difficult.  Preterism is the doctrine that the Book of Revelation already happened in the first century.  The late R. C. Sproul believed that doctrine, the Book of Revelation already transpired.  And you can see the linguistic gymnastics you have to pull to get that to work.   When exactly did the entire ocean turn to blood red in the past?  The moment you begin to take these things literally, as we do here, is the moment you see that the Book of Revelation and its fulfillment of prophecy is not in our past; it’s obviously yet future.

And now we move into the third bowl judgment verse 3 God not only destroys the ocean but He destroys the earth’s fresh water supply.  Notice, if you will, Revelation 16 and notice verse 4, “Then the third angel” see the chronology, “poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood.  First God destroys the salt water of the entire earth and now He is destroying the fresh water supply of the entire earth.  Back in Revelation 8 he destroyed a third, now once again He’s destroying all of it.  And how easy it is for the human race to look up at God and say You’re just not being fair, I mean, how dare  You do this to our echo system and our solar system and our planet?  Who do  you think you are?  God or something?

And so what you have here, verse 5, is a testimony by an angel, untainted by a sin nature, that God has a right to do exactly what He’s doing.  Notice, if you will, verse 5 of Revelation 16.  “And I heard the angel of the waters” now that would be the destroying angel because God uses angels.   He delegates tasks of destructions just like He did Sodom and Gomorrah, to angels.  This angel apparently had jurisdiction over the waters that had been just destroyed, and so now we get the angels commentary on this judgment.  “And I heard the angel of the waters saying, ‘Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things;” people question God all of the time but an angel who is untainted by a sin nature does not question God,  he simply magnifies God’s attributes of might, omnipotence, righteousness and holiness.  God has a right to do what He is doing because He is bound by those attributes.

Whenever you get yourself into a situation where you’re reading something in the Bible and you’re saying God is unfair you have to understand that God is perfectly fair.  Everything God does is  upright because He is bound by His perfect character.  And people under the judgment of God will always say God is not fair because they’re getting the raw end of the deal.  They’re getting the difficult end of the stick.  But angels who are untainted by a sin nature fully recognize that God has an absolute right to do what he’s doing, even tampering with in a progressive fashion the environ­ment of the earth itself.

And I just find it very, very interesting that as our culture moves into more of an environmental mindset, and there’s nothing wrong with being an environmentalist if you define it correctly.   We’re not here to trash the planet, we’re here to be good stewards of the earth for God.  We’re not here to be irresponsible but so much of environmentalism has drifted today into what’s called pantheism where you worship the created thing or the creature rather than the God Himself.

And it’s very interesting to me how uptight people are about the environment as our culture drifts more and more into pantheism.  And you can imagine the outrage of people, when God is tampering with the ocean, tampering with the earth’s fresh water supply, even tampering with the health and the beauty of the human race, how defiant people would become towards God, recognizing that it’s God who is controlling these various judgments calling into question the character of God.  And thus God here introduces His own character witness through an angel, indicating that God is absolutely upright in everything that He is doing here in the Book of Revelation.

Notice the angel’s testimony continues on into verse 6, and this is where the divine sarcasm comes in.  Verse 6, “for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink.”   Look at this, look at what it says there at the end of verse 6, “They deserve it.”  That’s what the angel says.  The inhabitants of the earth are getting exactly what they deserve because they are the ones who have spilled the blood of God’s prophets and saints, so why is it so problematic that God would turn the ocean to blood red?

You’ll notice, first of all, this word “saints.”  “They have spilled the blood of the saints,” it doesn’t say they spilled the blood of the church.  The Book of Revelation, as we have talked about, has three parts to it, Revelation 1:19, John is told to write the things that he has seen.  [Revelation 1:19, “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”]  That’s chapter one, a division of the glorified Christ.  Then he’s told to write the things which are, that’s Revelation 2 and 3, the letters to the seven churches.  And then he is told to write down the things which will take place after these things, that’s the futuristic section of the Book of Revelation that we are studying.  It begins with Revelation 4:1 and really goes to the very end of the book.

And it is very interesting, and I’ve noted this several times, how lopsided the word “church” is in the Book of Revelation, the Greek word ekklesia, it occurs 19 times in Revelation 2 and 3.  And then all of a sudden you get into the futuristic section of the  book and the word “church” or ekklesia virtually disappears from the book.  It doesn’t even recur again until Revelation 22 where Jesus says, through John, preach these things in the churches.  It doesn’t even call the church “the church.”

It calls God’s people things.  Why is that?  I think there’s a very simple explanation; the church has been taken out of the earth before these judgments hit the earth.  Jesus has made good on His promise given to the church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10, that they will be kept from the hour of trial, which is coming on the whole earth.  [Revelation 3:10, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”]  There are built in in proofs every ­where in the Book of Revelation that the church, pre-tribulationalism will be removed from the earth before the tribulation period even starts; nineteen times the word “church” appears in chapters 1-3 but no more references to the church in chapters 4-22.

And you say well it says “saints,” isn’t the church the saints and saints the church?  Not necessarily because those in Old Testament times, long before the church existed, were called saints.  Psalm 50:5,  Psalm 149:1.  [Psalm 50:5, “Gather My godly ones to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”  Psalm 149:1, Praise the Lord!  Sing to the Lord a new song,  and His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.”]

And so I bring these various things to your attention because there’s going to be a lot of people out there that will try to talk you out of this doctrine, pretribulationalism.  And yet the more I study this the more convinced I am that pretribulationalism is a biblical true doctrine.  And in fact, what God is doing here in Revelation 16:6 is He’s answering prayer.  [Revelation 16:6, “for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.”]

Do you remember what the martyr said very early on in the Book of Revelation?  Revelation 6:9-11.  Do you remember what they said.  “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; [10] and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth.   And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”

Here are all these martyrs at the beginning of the tribulation period in the presence of the Lord under the altar saying Lord, how long are You going to allow this to happen?  I mean, we’ve been killed and martyred unfairly.  And God says wait a little while because one of these days the vengeance will be completed.  And what you’re seeing here in verse 6 is God is now answering their prayer request.  They spilled the blood of My saints and prophets and I will turn around and turn their entire ocean and arguably their fresh water supply to blood as well.  All the waters are now contaminated, ocean water, fresh water… why is that?  Because the people on the earth deserve it.

You know, it’s so tempting to think that because a  prayer request is delayed that somehow it’s denied.  I mean, no doubt that that’s what the martyrs under the altar in Revelation 6 were thinking, that God had forgotten about their predicament, and yet God had not forgotten.  He answered in His providence, He answered in His timing, He answered in His own time table!  And that’s one of the things that you discover as you walk with God  you discover that He doesn’t do things on our time table.  Have you noticed that?  I mean, God, what’s the matter with You,  You should have done this by now and this by now and this by now.  What does God tell us to do?  Whatever the issue is He just says wait a little while.

And yet what did Jesus say?  When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?  When He returns will He find people that are still trusting in God, even though God hasn’t vindicated everything in their life during the time in which they thought it was appropriate.  Are we becoming impatient with God and throwing up our hands and giving up on God, or will Jesus find faith on the earth when He comes, a group of people who are saying yes, the request has been delayed but it has not necessarily been denied because “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  [Isaiah 55:9]   Your timing is different and so in those times of delay we simply have to continue to trust Him, the perfect character and the timing of God.

It’s very difficult and that’s why I’ve entitled this sermon Divine Sarcasm to miss the sarcasm in all of this as the earth dwellers had shed the blood of God’s servant, God turns around and damages the earth’s water supply by turning it to blood.  Do you see the sarcasm in that?  It’s interesting as you go through the Bible God can be very sarcastic.  I was reading this week about the prophet Elijah.  Remember him?  And how he was sort of taunting the prophets of Baal and how their god wouldn’t answer a prayer request concerning the fire coming down from heaven and yet Elijah’s God did answer that prayer request.  And the more the fake god, the phony god, the false god didn’t answer the prayer request the more Elijah, being directed by the Holy Spirit, taunted the prophets of Baal through sarcasm.

1 Kings 18:27, this is a translation that comes out of what’s called the CEV, [Contemporary English Version]  and notice what it says:  “At noon, Elijah began making fun of them. “Pray louder!” he said. “Baal must be a god. Maybe he’s day-dreaming” catch this next line, “or using the toilet” talk about sarcasm, “or traveling somewhere. Or maybe he’s asleep, and you have to wake him up.”  Jesus became very sarcastic with the religious leaders of his day, Matthew 23:24, He says, “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”  We know that God was very sarcastic in His dealings with the ten plagues.  There were ten plagues in the Book of Exodus that come upon Egypt and it’s sort of shocking to discover that each of those plagues were designed to mock a deity of the Egyptian polytheistic pantheon.

The water to blood was a mocking of two Egyptian deities.   The frogs mocked Egyptian deities, they worshiped frogs.  God says you like frogs, I’ll multiply them all over Egypt.  The gnats, the plague involving the gnats mocked a deity, the flies, these disease on the cattle, the boils, the hail, they worshiped the sky, they worshiped the weather.  God says fine, here’s some weather for you.  They worshiped  the locusts, God multiplied them everywhere.  They worshiped the sun, not the S-o-n, the s-u-n, sun.  And God turned everything into darkness.  They worshipped Pharaoh, the worshipped Pharaoh’s firstborn, they worshipped the firstborn all over Egypt.  So what did God do?  He killed all of the firstborn all over Egypt.  This is an attribute of God, a part of God that we really don’t hear much about because our view of God is so limited.  We view Him just as a God of love and grace and He is all of that but there’s also this very sarcastic element.  You see it in Romans 1 where it talks about humanity gave up on God, they turned God over.  And God says in Romans 1 okay, you’ve turned Me over, I just turned you over.   And He gave them over to all sorts of licentious wicked sexual practices.

[Romans 1:21, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing to be wise, they became fools, [23] and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.  [24] Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. [25] For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  [26] For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, [27] and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. [28] And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, [29] being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, [30] slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, [31] without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; [32] and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”]

You quit on Me, God says, I just quit on you.   You gave up on Me, I just gave up on you!  Have you ever studied this, Genesis 12:3, God’s dealings with Israel.  “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”  Have you ever thought about this part of it here, “the one who curses you I will curse”?  Have you ever asked yourself just this very simple question?  In the Red Sea crossing why did God drown the pursuing Egyptians?  He could have destroyed them any way He chose; He could have opened up the desert before they got to the Red Sea and killed the Egyptians that way.  You’ll find the answer in Exodus 1:22, which says, “Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.”  So the Egyptians took God’s people and drowned them in the Nile.  So what does God do?  A literal outworking of Genesis 12:3, “… the one who curses you I will curse,” then I will drown the Egyptians.  That’s what you call divine sarcasm.

Or what about the whole scenario where God, as the nation of Israel is coming out of Egyptian bondage in plague number ten, God kills the firstborn all over Egypt.  Why did God kill the firstborn all over Egypt?  Well no doubt, as we saw a moment ago, it was to mock one of the Egyptian deities but you see, the nation of Israel is called God’s firstborn.  Exodus 4:22 says this: “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn’ son.”  My son, My firstborn’ son.”  So for four hundred years the Egyptians abused God’s firstborn son, the nation of Israel.  And so God turns around in the final plague, in plague number ten and says you tamper with My firstborn, now I’m tampering with your first born.  A literal outworking is it not, of Genesis 12:3.

The sarcasm of God, even in judgment itself revealing His sovereignty and His authority.  You know, Psalm 2 talks about how the nations are conspiring against God and trying to remove the yoke of God.   And Psalm 1, in that particular psalm, gives the reaction of God, it says God in the heavens laughs, He just laughs at this because to Him that’s how silly it looks.   [Psalm 2:1-4, “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing?  [2] The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, [3] “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!”  [4] He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.”]  You want to be silly, I’ll be silly God says, until the human race finally understands who exactly is the boss and who exactly is in charge.

And then you move away from an angelic testimony and  you look at verse 7 and now the altar gives a testimony, an inanimate object.  Look at what it says in verse 7, “And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”  Humanity won’t submit to God.  Humanity second guesses God so now we have an angel backing up the character of God that what God is doing now is right and now  you have an altar in addition, testifying to the fact that what God is doing is right because He’s righteous.  He’s righteous and His judgments are righteous and His judgments are true and He’s the Almighty and He’s operating within the limits of His character.  And it’s all designed to show the foolishness of man who seeks to second guess God.

And now we move away from the third bowl judgment and we move into the fourth bowl judgment and people ask me do you believe in global warming?   Well, first of all of course I believe in global warming, I live in Texas.  Secondly, I believe in global warming, look at what God does here with judgment number four where He unleashes the sun, not the s-o-n, that’s coming later, the s-u-n, sun to scorch man and notice what He says there in Revelation 16 and notice what He says in verse 8.  “The fourth angel,” see the chronology, “poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire.”

Now you’ll notice in verse 1 God poured out His judgments upon the earth because it’s the earth that’s being liberated in preparation for the kingdom. But you’ll notice that God is not limited to judging the earth.  God is not limited to controlling what’s taking place on the earth.  Now He’s controlling something at the center of our solar system, the sun itself.  And again man would say who’s God to do this, but let’s remind ourselves of something—the earth came into existence through the creative decree of God on day three of the creation week.  And if God created the earth how can we say God has no right to judge the earth?  Doesn’t the Creator have the right to do what He wants?  And the sun, the s-u-n, sun came into existence on day four of the creation week.  So can’t God tamper with the son as any way He sees fit?

Man came into existence on day six of the creation week.  So doesn’t God have the right to put boils on man as He sees fit?  I mean, the fact that you’re the Creator of the heavens and the earth gives you that right.  The altar testified that that is true.  An angel testified that that is true.  And understanding the creation week itself testifies that this is true.  And it’s sort of interesting to me that God has always protected man from the sun, s-u-n.  Genesis 1:6-7 says this: “Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” [7] God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse” watch this now, “from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.”  So we have an expanse, that’s easy to identify, that expanse is the sky, and then we have waters below the sky, that’s easy to identify, that’s the oceans.

But what in the world is this talking about here, waters “above expanse,” waters above the sky.  What is that talking about?  Now here’s my view on it, I don’t know if this is worth starting a new church over necessarily, but at one point in time this earth, there was a water canopy that surrounded the entire earth and it had the effect of filtering the sun’s harmful rays which allowed people to live very long life spans.

Genesis 5:5 of the man Adam, it says he “lived nine hundred and thirty years.”  [Genesis 5:5, “So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.”]  Do you know any nine hundred and thirty year old people?  Genesis 5:27 of the man Methuselah, the oldest living man that we have record of, he lived nine hundred and sixty-nine years.  [Genesis 5:27, “So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.”]

And you say well, this is really strange.  Well, I think the reason people lived so long in Genesis 5 is at that particular point in time this water canopy surrounded the earth and it filtered the sun’s harmful rays post fall and allowed people to live abnormally long lifespans.  And they have found in the fossil record animals and large skeletons and things of that nature that really don’t have a parallel with animals of today.  I think it largely relates to this canopy that once surrounded the earth.

And when God brought the flood I think what happened is He simply released the water canopy, because you run into people today that say you don’t believe in a global flood do you?  There’s not enough moisture in the clouds to flood the earth.  Well you’re assuming a lot; how do you know God used the clouds?  Doesn’t it talk about waters from below and waters from above?  And perhaps part of this flood was simply unleashing or releasing the canopy and then the harmful rays of the sun had greater access to human beings and that’s why post flood, Genesis 11, you don’t have nine hundred year old people anymore; a hundred seventy-five, two hundred and five,  and what happens is the lifespan of people starts getting dramatically cut back to the point now Psalm 90:10 says if you reach seventy to eighty you’re considered lucky.  [Psalm 90:80, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.”]

And yet what was normative prior to the flood were people living into their nine hundreds.  You say well, why are  you telling us all of this?  It’s interesting to me that God has always protected people from the effects of the sun.  In fact, Genesis 8:22 says, “While the earth remains seed time and harvest,” look at this, “cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.”  That’s part of the covenant that He made with Noah and He describes here four contrasts: seed time and harvest, contrast number one; summer and winter, contrast number three.  Day and night, contrast number four.  Then He mentions cold and heat.

Are  you telling me God that the earth is going to go through normal rhythms of cold and heat that have nothing to do with my SUV.  And God says that’s exactly what I’m telling you, because I put into motion forces which protect humanity, in My grace, from the elements.  And what is happening here in this particular bowl judgment, bowl judgment number four, is God removes the protection.  The protection’s gone.  And the sun itself, verse 8, begins to scorch people, something it’s never done before.  2 Peter 3:10 reminds us of these words,   “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”  In other words, what is normal today may not necessarily be normal at the end of the age.  And part of the judgment itself is the removal of the protection that God has always given from the sun.

It’s interesting that when you go back to trumpet judgment number four, Revelation 8:12, it says this: “The fourth angel sounded,” watch this, “and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way.”  In that particular trumpet judgment God darkened the sun. What’s He doing here?  He is intensifying the sun.  You mean God can darken the sun or lower the sun and He can intensify the sun at the same time?  That’s who He is!   Because He is perfectly sovereign over creation He can use His creation any way He wants to use it.

In fact, I was sort of shocked to discover this, in the millennial kingdom, the thousand year kingdom, the sun, s-u-n sun not to be confused with Jesus, S-o-n, the sun is going to be seven times brighter than it is right now.  Did you know that?  Isaiah 30:26, of the millennial kingdom says, “The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the Lord binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.”  You say well, come on, you don’t take that literally do  you?  I mean, the sun is really going to be seven times brighter than it is now?  How’s that going to work scientifically?  I don’t know,  you figure that out!  I don’t God really cares about our scientific formulas.  I think He’s capable of doing anything He wants to do.  That’s my point.

I believe the sun is going to be seven times brighter just like I believe people were living into their 900’s prior to the flood.  I don’t have to understand everything from a scientific perspective to believe it.  God said it, I believe it, that settles it!  In fact, let’s rewrite that, shall we?  “God said it, that settles it.”  Whether my peanut brain believes it or not that’s my problem.  If God says it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.  God is in bowl judgment number four totally sovereign over the son, s-o-n.  In fact, look at this, Genesis 1:3, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.”  I believe that’s on the opening day of creation, day one.

 And yet it’s not until day four that we read these words:  [Genesis 1:14] “Then God said, ‘Let there be light in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years.  [15] And let them be for ]lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so. [16]  God made the two great lights, the greater  light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. [17]  God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, [18]  and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. [19]  There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.”  This was the fourth day.

Well, Mr. Wise Guy, people say, how did God say “Let there be light” in Genesis 1:3 on day one and yet the sun, s-u-n doesn’t show up until day four?  I mean, how’s poor God going to light up everything without the sun?  And the answer to that question should go to the fact that the question is built on the wrong premise; the premise is that God is somehow dependent on some secondary source.  Do you think God needs the sun for light?  Of course not, He Himself, 1 Timothy 6, I want to say this is around verse 15 or verse 16, is clothed with unapproachable light.  [1 Timothy6:16, “ who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion!]

God doesn’t need the sun, He Himself is light.  In fact, when you get to the last two chapters of the Bible, following the millennial kingdom, following the Great White Throne Judgment and we move into the New Jerusalem and the eternal state, the whole eternity won’t even need the sun.  Why?  Because who is illuminating everything?  Not the sun, s-u-n, but the son, s-o-n.  You say well is that in the Bible?  Jot these verses down: Revelation 21:23, “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it for the glory of the LORD has illumined it and its lamp is the Lamb.”  I don’t need a lamp when I’ve got the Lamb.

Revelation 22:5 of the eternal state, the New Jerusalem, John says this: “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.”  Have you ever asked yourself this question—why did God say “Let there be light” on day one, and yet the sun doesn’t come into existence until day four?  I mean, I know God can do anything He wants but why did He do it that way?  Why not just create the sun first?  The answer to that question is God is smart enough to know throughout human history what people will do.  People have a propensity to worship the creation rather than the Creator.  There would be sun worshippers throughout history, just go to southern California, you’ll see them there on the beach.  Sun worshippers, not S-o-n, s-u-n worshippers.

In fact, Deuteronomy 4:19, God says this: “And beware” Israel, “not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.”  God is smart enough to know what humanity ultimately would do, they would worship things rather than God.  And as a perpetual reminder that light doesn’t come from some secondary source God allows light to exist days one, two and three of creation before day four, the sun came into existence.  If humanity ever got to the point where they are worshipping the sun rather than God, God would say go back and read the first chapter and you’re going to see who is in control.

And so what does man do when these rays of the sun begin to scorch him? Does he prostate himself before God and say okay God, I’ve had enough, You’re the boss, not me.  Look at this reaction in people.  Revelation 16:9, “Men were scorched with fierce heat;” look at this, “and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and did not repent so as to give Him glory.”

The environment is not the problem; it’s man’s heart that’s the problem!  And these are people that we’ve studied that have had multiple opportunities to get right with God.  An angel was flying to and fro in Revelation 14 giving people the eternal gospel.  The 144,000 had evangelized the entire earth.  No doubt the two witnesses of Revelation 11 have played some kind of role in dispensing the message of grace to the entire human race.  And yet man, by and large with some exceptions, goes back to his stubborn ways and recognizes that God is controlling these judgments and they begin to blaspheme God.

What does that word “blaspheme” mean?  It means in Greek to speak against someone in such a way as to harm or injure his reputation occurring in relation to persons as well as divine beings, to revile, to defame, to blaspheme, reviling, it’s what in the legal system today we call slander.  You speak a lie against someone with the intent of destroying that person’s reputation, If you do it in writing it’s called liable.  And that’s what the human race is doing to God.  It’s more than simply profanity, although no doubt that would be a part of it.  But it is the recognition that God is controlling these judgments and they are in a vile sense, despite having had multiple opportunities to repent, slandering through blasphemy the very character of God.

This, of course, is not the first time this has happened.  Back in Revelation 9:20-21 it says, they “did not repent of their murders, nor their sorceries, nor their immorality, nor of their thefts.”

[Revelation 9:20-21, “The rest of]mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; [21]  and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”]

And as this mindset continues you can see why God keeps turning up the temperature and turning up the thermostat.  In fact, it says there at the end of verse 9, they did not glorify Him”  [Revelation 16:9,  “Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.”]

They did not give Him glory.  In a message we did a few weeks ago entitled Three Essentials, Three Essentials to a spiritual life from Revelation 14, I believe it’s in verse 7 that one of the essentials of life, and if you’re not doing this regularly you miss the point of being alive, is to glorify Him.  What a tragedy it is to go through life not glorifying God and therefore living outside of your intended purpose!

Romans 1:21-22 says, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22]  Professing to be wise, they became fools.”  That’s sort of the thing that’s being highlighted here is the foolishness of people, simply by their not submitting to the authority of God.  You know, it’s interesting to me that the secular world portrays themselves as being so wise and knowledgeable.  If someone calls themselves an atheist or writes a book defending atheism the culture will sort of look at the person as being such a free thinker when your Bible says the opposite.  Your Bible says “the fool has said in his heart there is no God.”  [Psalm 14:1]

In fact, these people in verse 9 are not even atheists, they know God is there, they’re just denying His right to do what only God can do.  In fact, if I’m understanding my Bible correctly there is no such thing as an atheist.  We know there are no atheists in foxholes, Amen!  But what your Bible says is man takes the knowledge of God and suppresses it.  And that masquerades as atheism but every single human being in the deep dark recesses of their heart knows God is there.  And yet here in these judgments humanity has not responded.

We will leave the fifth bowl judgment for next time.  Some of you are saying praise the Lord, it’s over!  [Laughter]  But you know, we’re talking here about the response of man to God. Wouldn’t it be a tragedy to leave a group like this today, a service like this today having heard this and never responded to God?   How do you respond to God?  Well, you respond to the gospel.  The gospel is called the gospel because it’s good news.  Jesus stepped out of eternity into time and bridged the gap between a holy God and sinful humanity, through His death, burial and resurrection and ascension He did everything possible to make us right with God.  There’s nothing more that can be done to bridge that gap and all He asks us to do is to respond.  He asks for our volition, and how do you respond to God?  You believe, which means to trust or to rely on, or to depend upon what He’s done for you.  That’s it!   You don’t walk an aisle to join a church, fill out a card, raise  your hand, that’s all man-made stuff.  The church world tells you to do all that stuff.  That’s not what the Bible says.  Jesus was asked in John 6:28-29, “What must we do to do the works of God?”  And he said this is the work of God, to believe in the One He has sent.  That’s it!  It’s that simple!  So if the Holy Spirit is convicting anybody, either here in the building or are listening via social media and we know the Spirit is likely doing that because we’re told in the Upper Room Discourse that that’s what the Spirit does in the present age, He is busy convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.  He can even take a man-made human based effort like I’m trying to put forth today and use it for His glory.

And if the Spirit of God is convicting anyone of their need to respond our exhortation to you here at Sugar Land Bible Church, this Sunday, the last Sunday, every Sunday, is to respond through faith the best you know how in the quietness of your own mind to the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Say yes to the Lord by receiving that free gift of salvation which can only be received by faith alone. If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service. Shall we pray.

Father, we’re grateful once again for passages of the Bible that are in some ways frightening but in other ways helpful in reminding us who You are and who we are.  Help us to walk out this week a walk with You, submitting to  Your will and Your authority to reign and rule in our lives.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!