This past Sunday, we launched our new series “The Lord of the Earth,” looking at Revelation 6-18 where we see Jesus as the Lord of the planet we currently call home. This past Sunday, we did a survey of 5 chapters (Revelation 6, 8-9, 15-16), and saw Jesus revealed as the King and Judge of the earth and how He desires you and I to respond to Him before the judgment of God comes.
There are a couple more points I want to reflect on mid-week in light of the verses we looked at last Sunday:
1. Jesus as the King and Judge is (largely) a forgotten concept today. We are far more likely to imagine Jesus as our Savior, friend, or brother than we are to imagine Him as our King or Judge. We emphasize the grace and mercy of Jesus, not His justice and wrath. We emphasize His accessibility, and minimize His holiness. I don’t mean to imply that ALL do this, or even that you personally do this (you may not) but as a contemporary evangelical non-denominational church in the American Bible-belt, I think it is a very real tendency.
Now here is an important point. Jesus IS gracious merciful, accessible, our Savior, our Friend, and our Brother. He is! However, He is ALSO (simultaneously) just, deliverer of God’s Wrath, holy, and our Judge and King. And (are you ready for this) … He is all of those things all the time. They are not just different hats He wears. He possesses all those attributes concurrently. This is the mystery of the “God-Man.” Jesus (fully God) took on flesh (fully human) and dwelt among us so that He might explain God to us (making the holy accessible). – for more on this, see John chapter 1.
So, when we think of Jesus, we should think of Him as ALL of these things. We obey Him and follow Him as our King, while also knowing that He loves us. We thank Him for the forgiveness He provides on the cross for all who believe in Him, while knowing that He will come again to judge the earth and all who do not embrace Him in faith.
Quite simply, our vision of Jesus needs to expand. He is greater than we have previously known.
2. Historical Patterns in the judgments of God. On Sunday, I put up the chart of the judgments of God that come in three movements (Seals, Trumpets, Bowls) and 21 waves (7 for each of the movements). As you have looked over these 21 judgments this week, did they ring a bell to you? Do they look familiar? If you have recently read other books of the Bible they should. Just a few examples …
There are a NUMBER of parallels with the judgments of Revelation 6-18 and the judgments that came to Egypt at the time of the Exodus (see attached chart).
Another clear example of this is found in the judgment Jesus describes in Matthew 24 … it fits precisely in the context of Revelation 6-18 – particularly the Trumpet and Bowl judgments.
Incidentally, my wife has been studying the book of Ezekiel in her personal study the past few months, and she has commented repeatedly on the common language and themes between Ezekiel and Revelation. The same could be said about many of the other prophets of the Old Testament when they write about the “Day of the Lord” events related to God’s judgment.
So, what do we make of these parallels? Well, I think it is just another evidence of the fact that though there are many human authors God used to bring us the Scripture (John, Matthew, Ezekiel, Moses, etc.) there is only ONE TRUE AUTHOR of Scripture … God Himself. The Scripture truly is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Though these passages of Scripture were delivered over more than 1,500 years, they have a common voice because they came from a common Source – God Himself. God is the only one who clearly sees the end, and He is talking consistently about where things are headed throughout His Word. The wise person takes note!
Additionally, I think it is fascinating when looking at the comparison of the judgments upon Egypt at the time of the Exodus and the judgments upon the world at the end of the world, we are reminded of part of what God was doing through these judgments … He was calling His people Israel BACK front and center.
When God judged Egypt in 10 judgments years ago, He did so with two audiences in mind: (1) He was demonstrating His power and sovereignty to Egypt, giving them a chance to repent. (2) He was demonstrating His power and sovereignty to Israel, inviting them to recognize Him as the ONE TRUE GOD, so they would trust Him and follow Him back to the land He had promised their ancestors.
During the tribulation judgments of Revelation 6-18, the church is conspicuously missing on the earth (something we will talk more about in this Sunday’s message … an indication of a “pre-tribulational rapture”). With the church gone, the Lord resumes relating specifically with ethnic Israel. After all, God had made Israel a number of promises for land, throne, and blessing. Would God make good on those promises? The answer from Revelation is clearly YES, but first God has to call Israel BACK TOGETHER as a spiritual entity. This is what is talked about in the early verses of Revelation 7 (which we will look at Sunday), BUT, as He calls them back, God “signs them a letter” using His personal signature moves demonstrated thousands of years ago in Egypt. The events of the Exodus are the most precious in Israeli history … they are remembered consistently in the festivals that they celebrate as a people each year. So, God goes back to the time commemorated from these festivals and begins to act upon the earth in similar ways (darkness, boils, bodies of water turn to blood, etc.) to get their attention. It is like a the signature on the back of your credit card that verifies you are its rightful owner … when the new plagues come upon the earth, the nation of Israel should recognize the author. Again, we will talk more about that this coming Sunday. Isn’t it amazing though, to see God at work THROUGHOUT HISTORY to work His purposes? We sometimes forget that, and think God only lives in Sunday school classrooms or worship services. God is at work in history. Jesus is the Lord of the Earth, not just the Lord of the Church or Lord of Heaven … but He is the Lord of the Earth – His story is our history.
I simply wanted to extrapolate a bit on a couple of points bridging last week’s sermon with this week’s message. Hope you find it helpful!