Revelation 16

Revelation 16 … The chapter before us is a symbolic representation of the wrath of God, now poured forth in the end-times in His judgment on sin and the satanic influences that are thriving among mankind during the Tribulation. As awful as this judgment appears, recall that the wrath of God was poured out upon Christ, as He bore the penalty of our sins on the Cross of Calvary and gave us His righteousness in exchange. God’s anger and the penalty of sin are before us in Revelation 16 as the terrible time of Tribulation comes to a close.

Frankly, many people have difficulty even acknowledging that God can be angry; it just doesn’t fit with their concept of a loving, compassionate, merciful God. But we have to encounter and acknowledge God as He is. This isn’t the first time in Scripture we’ve encountered God’s wrath. But why such anger? I think the answer lies in His love. Sin destroys his creation and destroys those God loves. Sin robs souls of salvation, and so God hates sin. He sent His Son because of sin for the salvation of the world. How could He not be filled with anger and pour out His wrath toward those who reject His gift of eternal life in His Son and who prefer sin to God? As much as our hearts detest the thought of damnation and destruction, we ought to be thankful that one day God will destroy sin and death and that destruction will come in a visible and awful manifestation of His holy wrath.

Revelation 16:1-12 reflects a rapid succession of death, destruction, and retribution poured out on those who hate God. The representatives of Satan are next in view (v.13) accompanied by some kind of demonic presence (v.14). Verse 16:15 should be significant to us as it shows that even toward the end of the seven-year Tribulation, God’s grace is extended to those who repent of their sins and turn to Him. But, even as God’s grace continues to be available, the hardened hearts of the Tribulation are gathering to conduct war against Israel and the people of God in a place called “Armageddon” (v.16). This is the only mention of Armageddon in the New Testament. There have been numerous references to a great “Day of the Lord” and of a gathering of the forces of evil in the end-times, but the only use of the term “Armageddon” is here. We’ll see Christ’s victory over this evil when we get to Revelation 19, but only note here the gathering of evil forces for battle.

The end announced in 16:17, “It is done,” refers to God’s judgment. In the book of Hebrews, the question is asked (Hebrews 2:3): “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” The answer of course, for those who ignore, who neglect, who can’t be bothered, is that there is no escape. That’s why the proclamation of God’s love is so prominent throughout the Scriptures. There is no escape for those who reject God’s love, extended in Christ, to all.

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