Revelation 050 – They Did Not Repent

Revelation 050 – They Did Not Repent
Revelation 16:10-16 • Dr. Andy Woods • September 1, 2019 • Revelation


Andy Woods

They Did Not Repent        9-1-19

Revelation 16:10   Lesson 50

Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book Revelation, chapter 16 and verse 10. The title of our message this morning is They Did Not Repent.  We are continuing to move through our verse by verse study through the Book of Revelation, coming near the end of the Book, believe it or not, at least the judgment section of the book where the various trumpet judgments have already been sounded and now the bowl judgments are being poured out on planet earth.

Chapter 15 sort of prepared us with a heavenly scene for these judgments and chapter 16 they start to become a reality to the earth dwellers living on the earth at this time.  The bowl judgments we started to study last week; the first bowl was poured out and boils began to appear on the skins of lost humans.  And then bowl number two, the sea became blood.  Bowl number three the fresh water supply of the earth became destroyed.  And bowl judgment number four the sun (s-u-n) began to scorch man.

And we now move into the fifth bowl judgment were darkness comes over the entire earth.  Notice, if you will, Revelation 16:10, you’ll notice what it says there, “Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain.”  You’ll notice it kind of almost reads like a math lesson, first angel, second angel, third angel, fourth angel, fifth angel, etc.  So there’s an obvious chronology to these judgments; there’s an obvious chronology to the Book of Revelation.  And as this fifth angel pours out the fifth bowl darkness comes upon the beast’s throne and the beast’s kingdom.

It is interesting that when you look there at verse 10 it seems that this judgment is confined just to the unbelievers because it talks about this judgment of darkness coming upon the beast and his kingdom; it seems like this one, not all of them but this one is more geared towards unbelievers.   And that’s something that’s important to understand.  According to the Scripture all unbelievers as  I speak are currently under the judgment of God; the wrath of God abides on them.  Why is that?  Because the penalty for their sin has never been satisfied in the person of Christ.  It’s like having a gift given to you but you’ve never received it, you’ve never opened the package.  What good is a gift if it’s never received.  And so the lost sinner must receive what God has given and the only way to receive a gift from God is by faith alone, and that exempts people from the coming judgment and the wrath of God.

It’s interesting here it mentions the throne of the beast and of his kingdom.  You say to yourself well, you’re not really saying that Satan has a kingdom are you?  And I’m here to tell you this morning that  you bet your bottom dollar Satan has a kingdom.  In fact, not only does he have a kingdom, he has an actual real throne.   You might recall back in Revelation 2:13 when we were learning about the church at Pergamum Jesus something very interesting to that church.  He says “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.”

There are some places on planet earth that are of such a diabolical nature that literally the throne of Satan resides in that part of the world.  In the first century it was Pergamum, and it goes to show us exactly what is happening in the Book of Revelation.  There was a very real kingdom of darkness that is being evicted from the earth.  Acts 26:18 puts it this way, this is the calling of the gospel.  “to   open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to the dominion of God….”   Colossians 1:13 says this of the Christian.  “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”

The reality of the situation is you’re a resident of some sort of kingdom.   You’re either a current resident of Satan’s kingdom marching according to Satan’s drumbeat or  you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and the moment you become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ your whole identity changes, it transfers and changes.  Your citizenship, Philippians 3:20, is now in heaven.   [Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”]  And  you now find yourself on the winning side of history because what is happening in the Book of Revelation as these various judgments are taking place is the kingdom of Satan is being uprooted, it’s being thrown out, it’s being evicted.  And the world is being prepared for the glorious kingdom which is to follow, the millennial kingdom later leading into the eternal state.

I’m a member of that coming kingdom, how about you?  And it’s so enlightening, it’s so invigorating to look at live that way with all of life’s problems.  Today what are we focused on with the news?   The mass murder that happened in Odessa, or we’re focused on problems happening on the Israeli border, or we’re focused on Dorian and Florida and all of these kinds of things.  You know, if I wasn’t a Christian I would be just so weighted down with life but becoming a Christian is such a wonderful experience because you believe the promises of God, you have the promises of God but you’re not a citizen of this kingdom.  This kingdom is going down; this kingdom is being evicted and there’s a better world coming.

In fact, what it says here in verse 10 is that the kingdom of the beast and his throne will be thrown into darkness by God.  [Revelation 16:10, “Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,”]

Last week we were talking about the sarcastic nature of these judgments.  We saw the sea becoming blood like a dead man, and why God allowed that judgment to come to the earth, they had shed the blood of His servants, the prophets, the world system had, and now God sarcastically sort of says you like blood, you like to shed the blood of My people, then I’ll take  your entire ocean and fresh water supply and turn it to blood like a dead man, the sarcasm of God showing exactly who is in control of things.  Man thinks he’s in control, man thinks he’s going to have the last word but it’s not so.  God is in the heavens controlling these various judgments.  To be sure, He’s giving grace to people, opportunities to avoid these judgments, but these judgments will come to the earth nonetheless.

And isn’t it sort of a sarcastic variety for God to take the throne of the beast and his kingdom, a kingdom of darkness spiritually, and to end that kingdom with physical darkness.  Do you like the darkness you’re in God says, well then fine, here’s some darkness for you.

It’s interesting, there’s perhaps a parallel passage in Matthew 24:29, this is a passage that has always intrigued me.  Jesus, of the end times says this: “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light….” isn’t that interesting, why doesn’t it say the moon will be darkened and the sun will not give its light?

I mean, after all throughout human history until modern times people thought that the moon was just as much a source of light as is the sun.  And now we know through modern astronomy, etc. that the moon is not really a light generating source at all, it simply reflects light.  And isn’t it interesting that Jesus had that understanding 2,000 years ago?  He said, “the sun will be darkened,” the source of light, and then the moon will not be able to refract the light. In other words, Jesus… and you’ll find this many times in statements all over the Bible, is making statements way ahead of His time, way ahead of what modern day science or humanity will ultimately discover.  And you ask yourself well who is this Jesus, you get the feeling that He manufactured this universe and how it works.  That’s why He is able to make statements like this.

“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.”  In human history such a statement would seem laughable but isn’t it interesting how technology has caught up to the things that Jesus said and we now take it for a fact that the sun is the light bearing source and the moon simply reflects the light.  I find statements like this fascinating, all over the Bible.  Statements like these where God takes Abraham outside and He tells him to count the stars.  And He says as the stars are innumerable so shall your descendants be.  And God sort of sarcastically says to Abraham, “Count the stars if you’re able.”  And isn’t it interesting throughout human history mankind thought he could number the stars.  I could take you to many different ancient writers that thought that they had the number calculated and figured out.  And now with the invention of the Hubble telescope and all of these scientific advanced devices we have we learn that there are so many stars out there, they’re innumerable as far as human ability to count those stars is concerned.

Isn’t it interesting that the Bible reveals that understanding in 2000 B.C.  And you’ll find these kind of things all the way through the Bible.  God has built so many things into His Word to demonstrate to us that this book is not a normal book.  This is something that was breathed into existence by God Himself. It has within it the fingerprints of an omniscient God.  I know of no other alleged holy book that is able to do these kinds of things that the Bible does.

You’ll notice there in verse 10 that man begin to gnaw their tongues because of the pain as the satanic beast kingdom of darkness is now plunged into darkness.  It says there at the end of verse 10, “and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.”  Isn’t that sort of a preview, if you will, of what hell itself is like? How is hell described in the Bible?  It’s described as gnashing of teeth in the darkness.  Matthew 8:12 says, “but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Matthew 25:30, Christ says, “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  It’s a preview of eternal retribution.  It’s a preview of hell.

You say well, Pastor, you’re just trying to scare everybody.  The reality of the situation is I’m just as scared by these predictions and prophecies as you are.  And that’s why we are proclaimers of the gospel; here at Sugar Land Bible Church there’s a way out.  We talk about being saved all the time; what are we being saved from exactly?  These very severe kinds of judgments in the eternal realm that are destined to come to planet earth.  Yes, those things are a reality but there’s an escape.  The escape is through the cross of Jesus Christ, where Jesus Christ entered history and bore our wrath in our place.

And you’ll notice the reaction of humanity there in verse 11, it says, “They also blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores” and watch this, “they did not repent of their deeds.”  You would think by this particular time in the various judgments that we have studied that the human heart would be softened and  yet it typically does not work that way.  The longer a person stays away from God the more difficult it is to reach that person with the gospel.  Why is that?  It relates to the hardness  of the human heart.  The human heart becomes progressively harder and harder and harder against God as one moves through life.  This is why the Bible says today is the day of salvation.  [2 Corinthians 6:2, “for He says, ‘At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.  ‘Behold, now is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,’ behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF SALVATION .”]

We think we’re going to postpone a decision for Christ, postpone believing in Christ, I’ll do it next month, I’ll do it next  year, I’ll do it next decade, I’ll do it in the final third of my life, completely oblivious to the fact that as time unfolds the opportunities start to decrease, not because of God and His grace but because of the nature of the human heart.  That’s why at this church we emphasize children’s ministry; this is why we have a fulltime children’s minister, Casey Cunningham.  That’s why my wife, as we’re speaking today is not here in the auditorium, she’s teaching the children.  That’s why we promote Vacation Bible School, because our goal is to get to these kids before the world system can get to them.

And I praise the Lord that I had somebody share the gospel with me in my teen years.  God only knows, as I think about it, what could have happened to me as I moved on from my teen years into my college years and beyond.  What would have become of me had I not trusted in Christ at an early age.  That’s why I’ve entitled this sermon They Did Not Repent.  Because you see that showing up in this series, particularly Revelation 16, over and over and over again.

Not only did they not repent but they blasphemed God.  I’m not sure we understand what that word “blasphemy” is.  In Greek this is the definition: to speak against someone in such a way so as to harm or injure his reputation.  In the legal system we might call this slander,  you speak a harsh word, you speak an evil word, you speak an untrue word against somebody and your intent in doing so is to damage that person’s reputation in the eyes of other people.  If you do it in writing the legal system will call it liable.  And here humanity in its hardness against God is doing that very thing against God.  It’s not as if, as we’ve studied this book, God hasn’t given multiple chances to people.   But as the judgment continues the human heart continues to grow worse and not only are they in a state of non-repentance but they’re actually speaking harshly against God with the purpose of being derogatory towards His reputation in the eyes of other people.

“They did not repent,” now there’s a word that needs some unpacking today.  What does that mean, to “repent”?   The Greek word for repent is μετανοέω (metanoeō).   It’s a compound word, two words making up a single word.  You might recognize the word meta as in change.  Metamorphosis, change.  If  your cancer has metastasized it’s changed from one part of the body to another; meta means change, noeō simply means mind because from the word noeō you get the word notion or ideas that come from the mind.  Repentance is commonly mistaken today as penance.  After all repentance sounds like penance doesn’t it?  So they think it’s some sort of religious activity that you have to put yourself through in terms of works to make yourself right with God.

That is completely foreign to the Greek definition of repentance.  Repentance literally is to change  your mind.  It’s to change your mind about the person and the work of Jesus Christ.  And it occurs simultaneously at the point of initial faith in Christ. You say well do you believe people should repent or should they believe?  Or should they believe or should they repent?  My answer is yes, because they are two sides to the same coin.

You know, when I was sixteen years old I, at that particular point in my life as an unsaved religious person was trusting in my own works to gain salvation.  In fact, I was asked at the age of sixteen if you were to die today how would you get to heaven?   I mean, what would you say at the pearly gates; let’s pretend there are pearly gates, people think Saint Peter is at the gate, right?  I’m not sure the Bible really teaches that but let’s pretend.  What are you going to tell Saint Peter to get in?  Well, I’m a good person, look at me!  It’s all about me, right?  I mean, I’ve done this and I’ve done that and I’ve done this and I haven’t done that, and I haven’t done that and I haven’t done that, and how faithful I am at the point of that works mindset that somebody recognizes the deficiency in my thinking and shared with me the gospel, where Christianity is not about what man does for God .  The world of religion teaches that.

What the Bible teaches is what God has done for man.  And you hear the gospel and you understand the gospel and you trust in the gospel.  And the moment I trusted in the gospel in its purest form or sense, not the gospel of works, the gospel of grace, I believed, which means I trusted in Christ and something happened in my mind; my mind changed!  No longer was I trusting in self and religiosity but I was trusting in Christ.  I believed and I repented; I repented and I believed because they happen simultaneously.  And this is what is necessary for people to enter into a relationship with God and be spared from all of these horrific judgments that we’re reading about.   They need to repent, change their mind.  I don’t know what it is in your mind that’s a roadblock; maybe you think Jesus is just a good man and not God.  Change your mind about that!  Maybe you think you can save yourself.  Change your mind about that in an authentic way; you go from lack of trust to trust, repentance, change of mind and consequently a person is saved.

By the way, it’s not a repentance from something, it’s a repentance to something.  It’s a repentance to God.  I used to think repentance meant I’ve got to turn away from this sin or that sin or that sin or that sin and believe me, that’s appropriate to do once a person is saved.  But your capacity to turn away from a sin or two doesn’t save anybody.  Alcoholic synonymous is filled with unsaved people, many of them I would assume, who were successful at turning away from certain sins that were debilitating to them, and yet they’re still not saved!  Turning away from alcohol doesn’t save anybody; it’s changing your mind about Christ and resting your assurance on Christ—that saves!  And then my goodness, do you know what happens?  The Holy Spirit comes into you and you start to receive a new nature.  And then  you go back to your alcohol and the Holy Spirit all of a sudden starts to nag at you and says that’s not a good idea, you don’t need to go back to that anymore, I’m your safety, I am your security Jesus says.

Turning from alcohol or whatever it is doesn’t save anybody.  That’s something that God will work in your life in the area of growth in Christ once you are in Christ.  And so many people want to get the cart before the horse and they turn the gospel into a gospel of works, don’t smoke or chew or go with girls that do, when in reality abstaining from those things doesn’t save anybody.  There are an awful lot of people on the day of judgment that are going to plead their self-righteousness before God.  I was doing the same thing up to the age of 16.  God, I turned away from this and I turned away from that and I did this and I did that and yet it’s not until a person understand the grace of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ and are changed their mind about that; that in and of itself alone saves and humanity will not do that because of the increasing hardness of the human heart.

This, of course, is not something that we’ve seen for the very first time; this phrase, “they did not repent” shows up many, many times in the Book of Revelation.  Revelation 9:21 says, “and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”  They “loved the darkness rather than the Light for their deeds were evil.”  [John 3:19, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”]

Those who love the darkness rather than light hate the light for the light exposes.  The light will expose what’s wrong with our lives; it will expose our condition but then it will give us a solution for the answer, which is faith alone in Christ alone, a faith unto repentance which is the only kind of faith you can have, an authentic change of mind.  And then all of a sudden  you’re regenerated and your body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit and now you have a new mind with new thoughts and new ambitions and new desires and the Holy Spirit will start to clean up things in our lives little by little.  I’m glad He doesn’t do it all at once or I probably would have been killed by the process a long time ago.  God is so gracious in how He works with us and deals with us and yet you can’t even experience that initial grace unless one’s mind is changed, a repentance unto God through alone in Christ alone.

So the kingdom of the antichrist has now plunged into physical darkness and notice, if you will, the six bowl judgments, verses 12-16, you have the drying up of the Euphrates River.  Notice, if  you will, verse 12, “The sixth angel” so there’s a  chronology, “poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.”  Now I believe that this judgment is not the same as trumpet judgment number six that we studied earlier but it’s highly related.  Trumpet six happens earlier, bowl judgment number six happens later but the two are highly related in this sense: what is happening in trumpet six is there was a summoning of the kings of the east into moving their way into northern Israel, a place that’s geographical identified here as Armageddon, for the final battle.  We’re going to learn in this paragraph that it’s demonic forces assembling that army in that part of the world.

And now as a giant army is moving from the east it’s expedited, chapter 16 verse 12, the way is prepared by the drying up of the Euphrates River.  The Euphrates River is now dried up to prepare the way for the kings of the east that were already spoken of in trumpet judgment number six.  So the pathway is already coming and now the pathway is sort of leveled, making the journey all the more easy.

You’ll notice here it says “kings of the east,” plural, that’s an army that John earlier describes as something that can’t be counted it’s so high, ten thousand times ten thousand times two, sometimes translated two hundred million.  That’s what this army represents.  And you have to understand something about the Euphrates River.  Iraq in between the Euphrates and the Tigris is located in a part of the world called Mesopotamia.  Potamia in Greek means river or rivers.  You’ll recognize in our county the Potomac named after that Greek expression Potamia, river, Mesopotamia literally means between the two rivers.  Which rivers are we talking about?  The Euphrates and the Tigris.  As that giant army is moving from the east into northern Israel suddenly the Euphrates River itself is dried up to prepare the way.  The Euphrates River separates, therefore, the Middle East from the Far East.  It’s the natural boundary between the two, and now that boundary with bowl judgment number six has been removed.

And I believe that there is a case to be made that somebody is controlling the armies of the world from that region.  Do a word study on “east.”  It’s sort of interest; east in the Bible always refers to Babylon. In fact, the Garden of Eden, assuming the flood didn’t alter some of the geography that we understand, the Garden of Eden was most likely in that part of the world, in the east.  In fact, in Genesis 2 you’ll read about the Euphrates and the Tigris, that’s the same Euphrates and  Tigris that we have today, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, that’s not something worth starting a new church over.  The Garden of Eden was probably in Babylon or modern day Iraq.  The tower of Babel once stood in that part of the world.  That was where Satan launched his first attempt at one-world government. The New World Order, a one world system of economics, politics and religion that excludes God, a building project that God stopped dead in its tracks, Genesis 11.  If I’m understanding my Bible correctly that’s the same venue where Satan will try this again and ultimately succeed for a season.

You say well, is that really taught in the Book of Revelation?  You’ll see it when we get to Revelation 17 and 18.  The east is also where the magi came from.  Remember on all our Christmas cards the magi?  I  like the bumper sticker “Wise men still seek Him.”  Matthew 2:2 says they came from the east.  What’s in the east?  Babylon.  [Matthew 2:2, ““Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”]  In fact, they were most likely people who had been influenced by a prophet who had been there, I don’t know, 600 years earlier, named Daniel.  When Daniel successfully interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2, at the end of Daniel 2 Daniel was elevated into the ranks of what we might call the Magi.

And centuries later I believe these magi had an understanding of Daniel’s prophecies.  They understood Messianic prophecy. That’s why they were seeking Him at a particular time in history following a star.  But the Magi came from the east and when this giant army comes from the Far East into the Middle East I believe that it’s being summoned from what we would call modern day Iraq or Babylon or the capital of the antichrist which is destined to be built in that part of the world.

So we haven’t gotten to Revelation 17 and 18 yet and we haven’t even seen Babylon destroyed  yet but already in the Scripture you’re seeing certain evidences that Babylon has to be rebuilt.  You see it sort of hinted at in trumpet six, and bowl six.  Babylon has already been spoken of prophetically in Revelation 14:8. [Revelation 14:8, “And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”]  And there’s a lot more to come on the whole subject of Babylon.

Now people say well, the Euphrates River, east of the Euphrates River, you don’t take that literally do you?  I mean, isn’t the Book of Revelation a book of symbols?  The truth of the matter is Revelation is a highly symbolic book but not everything in the book is a symbol.  Typically speaking when symbols are used in the Book of Revelation it will alert you to the fact that it’s a symbol by saying a sign, or something of that nature.  But when you study the pieces of geography in the Book of Revelation my understanding is every single one of them is a literal place.

Asia, chapter 1, verse 4, literal.  [Revelation 1:4, “John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come,….”]  The seven letters to the seven churches, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum,  Thyatira, Sardius, Philadelphia Laodicea, all literal places that you can visit even today.   So why should the Euphrates River that’s going to be dried up be understood symbolically”  Jerusalem is literal.  Armageddon, we’ll mention it in just a moment, is an actual place on planet earth in northern Israel, a literal place.  And the millennial Jerusalem, the beloved city, is very literal as well.

Now if I can confuse you a little bit more one of the things that we’ve talked about in this series  is the Book of Revelation, when you get into that futuristic section is typically chronological.  That’s why it keeps saying first bowl, second bowl, third bowl, first trumpet, second trumpet, third trumpet, first seal, second seal, third seal, and these trumpets and seals and bowls they had to pull out like a telescope.  In other words, seal seven launches the trumpet judgments; trumpet seven launches the bowl judgments.  And so you can sort of follow a basic chronological structure in the Book of Revelation but where it gets confusing is there’s five times the chronology stops to give you a hint or more information about something that’s happening in the sequence.  The chronology stopped in Revelation 7 alerting us to more information about the 144,000 Jewish evangelists.  The chronology stops again, Revelation 10 and 11, and then it stopped again in chapters 12-14.

And you say well, this is getting confusing, we’re going and breaking, going and breaking.  Well, try the brakes one more time… we just came to another one.  The chronology just stopped.  It typically stops in between the six and a seven in a series.  We just finished, didn’t we, where we’re reading about the sixth bowl judgment, now the chronology sort of stops to describe a little bit more about that bowl judgment, number six.  And it starts to describe the gathering of the nations, how these nations of the earth are actually going to be gathered into northern Israel.

And take a look if you could at verse 13, Revelation 16:13.  Notice what it says here.  “And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon” who’s the dragon?  Satan, Revelation 12:9, Revelation 20:2.  [Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  Revelation 20:2. “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;”]  “And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast” who’s the beast?  That’s the antichrist.  “…and out of the mouth of the false prophet,” who’s the false prophet?  That’s the antichrist’s assistant, beast number two. “And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits” look at this, “like frogs;”  doesn’t that remind you of the Book of Exodus.

In fact, when we get to the seventh trumpet, towards the end of it, I’ll be showing you the parallels between the Book of Exodus and the Book of Revelation and explaining why there’s a deliberate paralleling between the two books. What is God doing in the Book of Exodus?  He’s taking His people out of four hundred years of bondage in Egypt.  What’s He doing in the Book of Revelation?  The ultimate exodus, He’s taking this whole world out of the satanic bondage that it’s currently in unto the kingdom of His Son,  Jesus Christ, a kingdom that you’re part of will be reigning in.  That’s why I think it keeps paralleling with the Book of Exodus.

But it’s interesting here, what you see developing in verse 13 is what I would call a satanic trinity.  We have a trinity, don’t we.  God is one but He has expressed Himself in three personages, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.  The Son is not the Father, the Father is not the Holy Spirit, etc. they’re unique in their personages but they all share the same essence of deity.  Now try explaining this to your thirteen year old at home during your devotional time; I can’t explain this.  This is one of the great mysteries of Scripture, how God is one but He’s expressed Himself in three personages.

And I know this much about Satan, he’s a cheap counterfeit.  What God has Satan wants.  What God has Satan aspires to, after all, isn’t it Satan who said he would be like God?  Isaiah 14:12-15.  [Isaiah 14:12-15, “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! [13] You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. [14] I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” [15] But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.”]

So God has His trinity, Satan has his trinity, not the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, but the beast,  the dragon and the false prophet.  Why is it that Satan seeks to take his program and parallel it as close as he can to God’s program?  There’s a very simple reason, it’s harder to recognize a wrong if you do that.  Not only does it relate to Satan’s ambition to become God but when he makes his program look almost identical to God’s program he pulls people in because it looks so real.  It looks so spiritual.  It looks so heavenly.  And there are many, many people in this world that have bought into false religious systems because those systems use the name Jesus and they don’t know enough about the Bible related to how to identify a counterfeit and it looks good and it looks real.  The Bible says “there is a way that seems right unto a man but ends in destruction” or death.  Proverbs 14:12.

That’s why Satan does this.  In fact, Satan’s program is so real that he even has the ability to perform signs and wonders.  Notice, if you will, verse 14, “For they are spirits of demons” watch this, “performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.”  Am I reading this right?  Satan or the dragon is performing signs?  In fact, when you look at this slide I have on the screen, I’ve used this many times here before but it’s a record of every miracle that happens in the Bible that God has nothing to do with.  Does God perform miracles?  Of course He does.  But there are miracles transpiring in the Bible that are not rooted in God.

And the culture today is being prepared for this end time program through the false belief that if I have an experience it must be from God.  I’m here to tell you that not all experiences are from God.  Satan can perform counterfeit experiences.  That’s how Islam started.  Mohammed allegedly had an angelic visitation.  That’s how Mormonism started.  I mean, think about those two systems; Islam and Mormonism.  It’s so interesting to study the commonality between the two.

And how many people around the world march to the drumbeat of those two systems steeped in a works oriented mindset, not in the grace of God  because they believed something that sounded right?      If we’re going to emphasize anything in these last days of the church we’re going to emphasize the Bible because the Bible and your understanding of it is basically the only thing you have to keep you out of that ditch. That’s why the Bible is called, as part of our spiritual warfare, The Sword of the Spirit.  This why Jesus when tested in the wilderness by Satan quoted the Scripture three times.  And yet many, many people don’t know much about the Bible.  I have people that say to me all the time I don’t know much about the Bible. Well, there’s an answer to that… READ THE BIBLE!   Well, I can’t, because I get hung up on this one thing and I get confused and so I give up and I quit.  Is that how you learn geometry?  Is that how you learned algebra?  Is that how you learned anything in life, you just quit when you can’t understand something.  If you don’t understand something move on to another part of it but keep moving through it.

You know, most Christians by way of statistics have never really read the Bible.  I mean, I’m talking about reading it from cover to cover.  And there are a plethora of programs and plans that you get on today, calendars where you can actually read through the Word of God.  And the more you do that the more your mind is being insulated from the satanic deception that already is in the world and is likely to increase. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God for many false prophets have gone into the world.”  What if Joseph Smith or Mohammed had done that at an early age?  The world could have been spared from two diabolical works oriented systems.

I hope you test everything that is said to you from this pulpit by the Word of God because for all you know I could be a false teacher too, couldn’t I?  I could say something wrong, I’m not an infallible interpreter.  I’m not the authority here folks.  The authority here is the Bible. Sugarland Bible Church, doesn’t that make “Bible” our middle name?  Make the study of Scripture a priority in your life.  That’s how you grow.   That’s how you develop as a Christian.

So Satan is performing these signs and he’s summoning these nations from the East (plural) into this place called Armageddon. You’ll see it there in verse 14, “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go to the kings” plural, “of the whole world to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.”  You might want to jot down Zechariah 12:2  which teaches basically the same thing as a parallel passage.  It says, God speaking through Zechariah says, “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah.” Jerusalem will be a cup that causes the reeling of the nations.  The imagery here is drunkenness, that’s what the cup means, intoxication.

Charles Feinberg in his very excellent commentary on the Book of Zechariah says, “In the time of our passage all the nations will be  bitten by the virus  of anti-Semitism.  There will be in the world an irrational hatred for the Jewish people.”  And this is what gathers, this is the demonic instigation and inspiration that gathers these nations into that part of the world to shut down Israel and to shut down even the return of Christ coming to Israel.

Is our world being set up for that?  Who’s on the TV all the time today?  Four women in Congress, the President calls “the squad.”  I love that name.  And what are these four women about?  I mean, the statements that they make don’t come from somebody that’s hosting a website, some professor in a college somewhere.  I mean, these are statements coming from duly elected members of the House of Representatives and to be completely accurate with you I am absolutely shocked at some of the things they say about the Jews and the Jewish people..  I mean, I can’t even believe they’re saying these things let alone acting representatives of the American government speaking this way.  What does [small blank spot on tape] say?  In the time of our passage the issues of the earth will be smitten by the virus of anti-Semitism.  The world is being set up for the very things that the Bible predicts the things that are coming.

Look, if you will, at Revelation 15: 16, “Behold, I am coming like a thief.  Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”  For years and years and years and years and years I thought that was the rapture.  I have people writing to me all of the time that want to post on our SLBC Facebook page their own rapture beliefs, telling us how wrong we are in believing that the church will be removed from the earth before the tribulation starts; we’re going to be here for most of it they tell me.  And they want to use the Sugar Land Bible Church Facebook page as their platform to do it, in which case I just hit delete, delete, delete, delete, delete.  [Laughter]  Start you own Facebook  page.  Why are you hijacking our Facebook page.  That’s not what we believe here!  And essentially what they’re saying is this is the rapture, He’s coming as a thief in the night.

Folks, this is not the rapture.   You know how I know that?  Because the rapture is a comfort.  Every time the rapture is described in the New Testament it’s a comfort.  John 14:1, the first reference to the rapture, “Do not let your heart be troubled….”   1 Thessalonians 4:18, “Comfort one another with these words.”  Titus 2:13, “Looking for the blessed hope.”  Can I ask you a simple  question?  If a thief breaks into your house in the middle of the night, which is the imagery here, are you comforted by that?  There’s no comfort here at all.

Dr. Thomas Ice says, “Some become confused how the rapture could possibly be comfort since they incorrectly associate the thief in the night imagery with the rapture.  Such a thief breaking into one’s house in the middle of the night is harmful and a negative occurrence.  People disassociate such negativity with the rapture.  However, the New Testament never analogizes the rapture with the coming of a thief.  While the New Testament uses “thief” in imagery seven times none of those references contextually allude to the rapture.

Now I’m really on thin ice because I grew up with a video series called The Thief in the Night.  And the premise of the series is that Jesus in the rapture is coming back as a thief in the night.  And now I’m learning that that whole series is wrong.  If this is not the rapture what is this “thief in the night”?  Here’s what it is; it’s the world in their unrepentant state, doesn’t it keep saying “they did not repent”?   The world in their unrepentant state being caught off guard by the return of Christ and experiencing His judgment.  And they’re going to be caught off guard, let me tell you, because Revelation 19:17-18 says there’s going to be so many dead bodies that the vultures will come and gorge on the flesh.

[Revelation 19:17-18, “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, [18]  so that you may eat the flesh of kings and  the flesh of commanders and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”  [Times New Roman”]  Malachi 4:5 describes the second advent of Christ as the great and terrible day of the Lord.  [Malachi 4:5,  “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.”]    Think about being in a godless state when the second advent hits planet earth.  And think about being caught off guard like a thief in the night.  And people say to me well, they’re going to know it’s coming because it’s in the Bible.  You mean to tell me that the people in the tribulation period that are non-repentant have their prophecy charts all organized?  I mean,  you’re dealing with people that are just shocked at the return of Christ.

And that’s why when you to go verse 15, the one we just read,  it says, “Blessed is the one who stays awake.”  Now there are in the Book of Revelation seven blessings, the Greek word makarios, translated “blessing.”  And here’s the third of the seven.  There’s a blessing upon the spiritually prepared.  If you’re spiritually prepared you’re blessed because you won’t be caught off guard by this.  You know why you’re prepared?  Because you’re clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  And you are not a candidate for God’s wrath because God can’t judge righteousness.  And so there’s a blessing, number three of the other blessings we’ve studied thus far, now number three, of spiritual preparedness.

Verse 16 and we’ll conclude there; you’ll notice what it says there in verse 16.  “And they gathered them together in the place which in the Hebrew is called Har-Magedon” or Armageddon.  Where are these nations going as they’re summoned by antichrist from Babylon, from the Far East to the Middle East as the Euphrates River itself is dried up to expedite the path.  Where are they going?  You’re given the place of geography here, Armageddon, the place where the nations will be gathered.

Now, just like the word repentance is a compound word the word Armageddon is a compound word.  It comes from the Greek word Har meaning mountain, and Megiddo meaning valley of Megiddo.  It’s the mountain and the valley in northern Israel where this final battle is going to be fought.  And the blood is going to flow as high as the horses bridles for two hundred miles.  It’s where human history is going to end in this area.  I’ve stood there myself, been there myself.  In fact, Napoleon, one of the greatest battle strategic strategists of all time said this, as David Jeremiah, in his book, What in the World is Going On quotes Napoleon.

Jeremiah says: Why Megiddo?  Why would this be the location of the world’s final conflict?  One of the world’s greatest military figures gives us the answer.  In 1799 Napoleon stood at Megiddo before the battle that ended his quest to conquer the east and rebuild the Roman Empire.  Considering the enormous plan of Armageddon he declared, (quote) “All the armies of the world could maneuver their forces on this vast plain.  There is no place in the whole world more suited for war than this.  It is the most natural battleground on the whole earth.”  (close quote) WOW!  The things in the Bible make sense why this battle is going to be fought there.

You say well, pastor, this is just crazy the way you’re talking.  You mean to tell me that all the nations of the earth are going to very rapidly conglomerate in that part of the world?  I have to be honest with you, as a young Christian when I heard preachers talking the way I’m talking I sort of mentally dismissed it; it just couldn’t be that way.  And then the gold forehead, do you remember that?  1991, Saddam Hussein, how he annexed Kuwait and you remember how it got the world’s attention, just like that.  And you remember how fast all the nations of the earth, George H.W. Bush was our President at the time, gathered into that part of the world just that fast, lickety-split!  And I thought to myself wow, the Bible is not far from wrong.  And we see evidence of how that could happen so fast if you look at recent history.  And then we come to the seventh bowl judgment and I’m glad we’re stopping here because that one… let’s just put it this way, there’s “a whole lot of shaking’ going’ on.”  [Laughter]

So next week we’ll take a look at that final bowl judgment.  But the reality of the situation is the judgment of God is coming.  And the only thing which spares a person from the judgment of God is the applied righteousness of Christ. God will judge every person He sees that is not clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  It’s that simple!  And how do you get clothed in the righteousness of Christ?  You repent or simultaneously trust in what Jesus has done and the moment that happens God looks at you as if you’re just as righteous as His Son.  And that’s something you could do right now as I’m talking.  It’s not a matter of walking an aisle, joining a church, filling out a card, giving money, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you trust in Him and Him alone for salvation.  You receive a gift that you’re not worthy of, none of us are!  But it’s real; your position has changed!  And consequently there is no longer condemnation for those that are “in Christ Jesus!”  If it’s something you want to do now you can do it right now as I’m speaking, in privacy.  If it’s something that you need more explanation I’m available after the service to talk.

Shall we pray!  Father, we’re grateful for the Book of Revelation and the things that it speaks to us and reveals to us.  Help us to be people here that embrace the council of Your Word and walk accordingly.  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!