God’s Goodness and Power

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The proof of God's goodness is His restraining power.

Revelation(50) (Part of the Jesus Unveiled(49) series)
by Stuart Johns(62) on August 5, 2018 (Sunday Morning(78))

Gospel(10), Power(2), Promise(1)

Jesus Unveiled

God’s Goodness and Power

(Revelation 9:13-21)

 

INTRODUCTION

VIDEO – “Does Neil deGrasse Tyson Believe in God? | Netflix [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXAokvnv7Mc].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Healed shoulder

        • When Wade and Seth were much younger, I would wrestle with them on the floor

          • I would take on both of them at the same time

          • Once, while I was doing this, I had one of them over my left shoulder holding on to them while I attacked the other one with my right arm

          • The boy who was on my left shoulder started to fall and would have landed on his head if I wouldn’t have grabbed him tightly and held on

          • The result of saving my son from landing on his head was that I hurt my rotator cuff

          • It ached most of the time, but wasn’t too painful

        • God’s goodness and power

          • I had been to the doctor at least one time before about the pain in my shoulder

          • When I went back, probably a year later, the doctor said that if I was still having pain in a couple of months, he would recommend a cortisone injection

          • I don’t like needles and I was too young to start getting injections

          • Judy and I began to pray and at the same time we started taking some nutritional supplements

          • I’m here today with a left shoulder rotator cuff that is perfectly fine

          • I never had to have any injections or surgery to repair the rotator cuff

          • God’s goodness was displayed to me through His healing power

    • Salvation

        • I have seen God’s goodness and power in saving me from my sins

        • I accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at the age of 4

        • While I didn’t understand everything that my decision entailed, I can look back on my life and see how God’s sovereign power has protected me as I grew and learned more about Him

        • I see how He directed my path through my education, work experience, and life circumstances to bring me to this time in my life, right now

        • For me, that is proof of God’s goodness and power working together simultaneously

 

  • WE

    • Healing

        • Perhaps you have experienced God’s goodness and power through a healing you have experienced in your own life

        • I know there are those in our congregation who have experienced that firsthand

        • Maybe you’ve experienced it through a family member or close friend that God healed

        • God’s goodness and power can also be seen and experienced through the healing of relationships – that may be your experience instead of a physical healing

    • Salvation

        • If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then you’ve experienced God’s goodness and power working together

        • Think back to your conversion experience

          • What kind of sin were you embracing when Jesus arrested you and set you free from the slavery to sin?

          • For some individuals the desire to continue to pursue certain sins completely left them at the moment of conversion – that is God’s goodness and power at work!

 

Throughout the seven seals and the first five trumpets we saw that God’s goodness and power are true, simultaneously. ​​ This has been true of God from the very beginning. ​​ John wants us to understand that...

 

BIG IDEA – The proof of God’s goodness is His restraining power.

 

Unfortunately, not everyone will see and understand that. ​​ Those who believe like Neil deGrasse Tyson does, don’t understand that God in His goodness has been using His power to restrain evil from having full sway in our world. ​​ We have seen through Revelation so far, that God, in His sovereign power, has limited His wrath and the power of Satan and His demons. ​​ He has not allowed them to do everything that’s in their heart to do. ​​ They want to completely destroy anything and everything that has been created in God’s image.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Revelation 9:13-21)

    • Demons released (vv. 13-16)

        • When the sixth angel sounded his trumpet, John heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar

          • Golden altar

            • This golden altar is the same one we were introduced to in Rev. 6:9 (souls of those who had been slain were under it)

            • It was also mentioned in Rev. 8:3 (angel with golden censer stood at the altar and offered up the prayers of the saints)

            • Here the horns (projections) of the altar are mentioned

              • They were on the four corners of both the altar of incense (Ex. 37:25) and the altar of burnt offering (Ex. 38:2)

              • Throughout scripture, when the term “horn” is used it traditionally signified strength and power

              • The horns on the altar would represent the strength and power of Yahweh (God)

          • Voice

            • The voice comes from the horns of the altar

            • It’s interesting that John would say that an inanimate object would speak

              • We know that Balaam’s donkey spoke

              • We also hear Jesus tell the religious leaders, who are instructing Him to silence His followers when He’s entering Jerusalem, that if they remain silent even the rocks will cry out

              • So, it’s not impossible for God to give a voice to an inanimate object

            • Two good potentials emerge from what we have previously seen in Revelation

              • It could be the souls under the altar who have been lifting up prayers

              • It’s probably better to see it as the angelic-priest who offered up the incense and prayers of the saints in Rev. 8:3

            • Whomever the voice represents, we know that they are not speaking outside of the will and plan of God as we’ll see in a moment

          • The voice speaks to the sixth angel who blew the trumpet, and gives him a command

        • Command

          • The sixth angel is to go the great river Euphrates and release the four angels that have been bound there

            • This is the one and only time that one of the angels who blows a trumpet or pours out a bowl is asked to do anything else

            • There is probably no significance to this angel being asked to do this while the other angels haven’t been asked to do anything extra

          • Euphrates River

            • “The Euphrates, originating in Armenia, is the long river winding steadily across the face of the Middle East and touching Turkey, Syria, and Iraq until uniting with the Tigris and together reaching the Persian Gulf.” ​​ [Patterson, The New American Commentary, Revelation, 224]

            • This river is fairly significant throughout Scripture

            • In the New Testament it is only found in Revelation at two places, 9:14; 16:12

            • This river was the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire

            • The Parthians lived on the other side and had breached the river and successfully defeated those on the western shore, twice

            • In the Old Testament we see the Euphrates River mentioned several places

              • In Gen. 2:14 it is listed as one of the four rivers flowing out of Eden (Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates)

              • Gen. 15:18 has it as part of the boundary line for the covenant that God was making with Abram

              • In Deut. 11:24 it is mentioned as part of the boundary line for the Promised Land

              • There are many other Old Testament references to the Euphrates River

            • It’s significance in the Old Testament is primarily as the eastern boundary for the Promised Land

            • This river is still an important part of future history as there are four angels bound there

          • Four angels

            • “Evil angels were thought to be bound in various places (9:14; 20:2, 7), including subterranean chasms (1 En. 10:4-6, 12-13; 88:1-3; Jub. 5:6) and bodies of deep water (Test. Sol. 6:3-6; 25:7).” ​​ [Keener, The NIV Application Commentary, Revelation, 271]

            • The fact that these four angels are bound, is a good indication that they were evil angels being restrained by God’s power

            • God is in control of every created thing, including evil angels

            • They should not be associated with the four angels in Rev. 7:1 that are standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth – these were four good angels acting with God’s power

            • The four angels that are bound are probably the leaders of the 200 million strong demonic force that is unleashed, after these angels are released from their restraints

          • God’s perfect timing and plan

            • God had a specific timeframe established, when these four angels were going to be released

              • That is the significance of the reference to the increasing time frames – hour, day, month, and year

              • PRINCIPLE – God’s timing is perfect!

                • God has prepared His plan for the end of the world and has bound these four angels in advance for this specific time and purpose

                • He will not be caught off guard by the events of the end of the world, because He planned them

                • He is not caught off guard by the circumstances of your life either, because He is always present (omnipresent) and all-knowing (omniscient)

                • Whatever difficulty you are currently facing, He is aware of it (spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, or relational)

                • He knows how long you will be going through it and how long you need to go through it

                • His timing is perfect, so trust Him and rest in Him

            • God’s plan to avenge the blood of His saints is perfect

              • He hadn’t forgotten the prayers of the souls under the golden altar

              • He had given them white robes and told them to wait a little while longer until the full number of martyrs had been reached

              • Now His plan to deal with those who had killed them was beginning

              • His plan was limited to a third of the unbelievers who were still on the earth

                • A fourth of the unbelievers had already been killed by the rider of the pale horse (Death) when the fourth seal was opened

                • Now an additional third of unbelievers will be killed, which means that half the population of the earth, at that time, will be gone

                • PRINCIPLE – God is the only One who knows how to judge mankind rightly.

                  • Since God knows our heart, the part of us that thinks and feels, He knows our true intentions in every situation, circumstance, conversation, and interaction

                  • We can hide our true intentions from other human beings, but we can’t hide them from God

                  • We may think we know what someone is thinking and why they are acting the way they are, but we can be wrong

                  • That’s why talking to them is the best way to know what’s going on

            • God has a perfect plan worked out for the end of the world and He will execute that plan at the perfect time

            • As we saw last week, and now again this week, He can and will use evil to judge evil

          • Demonic troops

            • Behind these four evil angels is a mounted demonic force of 200 million troops

            • John heard the number clearly, so it must have been announced

            • There have been attempts to connect this to our modern world

              • Some point to the fact that China could rally a military force of 200 million soldiers

              • We have to avoid the temptation to try to connect John’s vision to our modern culture

              • When we do that we can add to Scripture what was not intended to be there

              • The force that John sees is a demonic one

              • God could certainly use this demonic force to influence governments and nations to join together to form a force of 200 million mounted soldiers

              • We may not know how this force will be formed, but we know that it will be formed and will fulfill their purpose of killing a third of unbelievers who are still on the earth

        • John moves from describing what happens, after the sixth trumpet is sounded, to describing what this mounted force looks like

    • Demon force described (vv. 17-19)

        • John again uses the word “like” and “resembled” in describing what he saw in his vision of this mounted force

        • Breastplates

          • Most translations of the Bible translate the Greek text to read that only the riders of the horses have the breastplates on

          • These riders have these beautiful tri-colored breastplates that are fiery red, smoky blue, and sulfury yellow

          • The tri-colored breastplates match what comes out of the mouths of the lion-headed horses

          • The riders are not the ones who are killing a third of mankind, but rather the three plagues that come out of the mouths of the “horses”

        • Horses appearance

          • These are probably not horses at all, but that is the closest thing, from John’s experience and knowledge, to compare them to

          • Heads resembled the heads of lions

            • John is trying to explain what he is seeing, so he says the heads of the horses resemble the heads of lions

            • Their heads are not actually lions’ heads

          • Tails like snakes

            • Their tails were like snakes

            • They were not actually snakes, but they appeared to be snake heads that could cause injury

          • This mounted force was able to inflict injury and death from both directions (front and back)

          • In the second half of v. 17 and v. 18 we see that what came out of the mouths of these demonic creatures is what caused the death of a third of mankind

        • How a third of mankind dies

          • What came out of their mouths was:

            • Fire – we all know that fire can kill a person

            • Smoke – we also know that inhaling smoke from a fire can also cause death

            • Sulfur – we need help from the Old Testament to understand that God used burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24, 28)

          • In an effort to understand what John is seeing, there have been two ideas presented

            • Neither of these seem viable to me

            • If God wanted us to know exactly what this mounted force is supposed to be, He would have explained it in His Word

            • The closest comparison that John would have had to a fire breathing creature would have come from Greek mythology or from Job’s description of the Leviathan

              • Keener points out that in Greek mythology there was a horrifying creature called the Chimaera (it had the head of a lion, the tail of a dragon or serpent, and the body of a goat). ​​ This creature would belch fire [Keener, 271-72]

              • Listen to how Job describes Leviathan, Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. ​​ Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds. ​​ His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth (Job 41:19-21)

            • In our modern era, there have been individuals who have tried to connect events and images from Revelation to what we are familiar with, in an effort to determine the time of Christ’s return

              • In that vein, they will say that John was seeing modern forms of warfare and was trying to explain, in 1st Century terms, what he was seeing

              • Those who hold to this kind of application believe that John was seeing tanks, cannons, battleships, missile launchers, flame throwers, etc.

              • Modern instruments of warfare could certainly be described as shooting fire, smoke, and burning sulfur out of their mouths, but John likens then to a horse with a head like a lion and a tail like a snake

            • I believe that God has purposely allowed John’s description to sound supernatural so we won’t become obsessed with trying to connect it with something we are familiar with, but rather so we will remain focused on what this mounted demonic force is doing – they are executing God’s judgment on those who have continued to reject His grace and mercy

          • A third of mankind will be killed

            • This proves God’s goodness to humanity

            • He could have allowed this demonic mounted force to wipe out all of the remaining unbelievers on the earth, but He restrained His power out of love and a desire for them to repent

            • The proof of God’s goodness is His restraining power.

        • The final two verses in this section are heart breaking!

    • Demons worshiped (vv. 20-21)

        • The remaining two-thirds of unbelievers, who’ve just experienced the death of a third of the population, still reject God

        • They refuse to repent of two things:

          • Sins directed against God

            • They didn’t stop worshiping demons, the very beings that had tortured them for five months and have now killed a third of the population

            • They continue to worship the idols they’ve made, with their own hands, out of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood

            • The deception of Satan is thorough when human beings make their own idols, knowing that they are lifeless (can’t see, hear, or walk), and continue to worship them

            • Easley directions our attention to the first four Commandments found in Exodus 20:1-11 – these are sins directed against God [Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary, Revelation, 161]

            • Read Exodus 20:1-11

          • Sins directed against God’s creation (other human beings)

            • They were still murdering, practicing magic arts, participating in sexually immoral acts, and stealing

            • We see these four and more in Exodus 20:12-17, the last six Commandments

            • Read Exodus 20:12-17

        • You would think that after God gave His Commandments and then executed His judgment on sinful humanity that they would repent and turn to Him, but that’s not the case

          • God’s judgment appears to drive them deeper into rebellion against Him

          • PRINCIPLE – The depravity of humanity blinds them to the truth of God’s heart.

            • 2 Peter 3:8-10, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: ​​ With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ​​ The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

            • “One of the strangest things about human nature is that man has not changed because of punishment. . . . He may desist from evil because he is afraid, but his heart is still evil. ​​ He would do evil if he could get by with it. ​​ A man is really changed only by the Gospel of the grace of the Son of God. (Sermons, 3:192).” ​​ [W. A. Criswell cited by Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, 186]

            • “Those who love God will be made more godly by suffering; those how hate him will become more rebellious.” ​​ [Easley, 162]

            • Romans 1:32, Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

            • 1 Timothy 4:1-2, The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. ​​ Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

          • Here’s the kicker for me, and we saw it in the video at the beginning, humanity wants to be able to do whatever they want without any consequences and then be accepted by God solely on His attribute of love

            • When they are told that God can and will judge them, they refuse to believe in Him, because His lack of love, long-suffering, and tolerance somehow negates His deity [Patterson, 227]

            • If God will not accept me, without me repenting of my sins, then He is not all-powerful or all good and therefore not important

            • God is perfectly good and perfectly just at the same time, therefore He is all-powerful

            • “For God to fail to judge when – despite the fact that people continue in their iniquity – he has given every conceivable warning of what it means to be the recipient of divine judgement, is unthinkable. ​​ Such inaction would present to the world a God who is powerless in the face of evil.” ​​ [Patterson, 227]

            • We saw today that God is all-powerful

              • He is able to bind evil angels until His perfect timing for judgment arrives

              • He is able to restrain a demonic mounted force to only kill one third of the remaining population on earth

              • He did this so that the other two-thirds would repent and turn to Him for salvation, but they refused

              • The proof of God’s goodness is His restraining power.

 

  • YOU

    • God’s timing is perfect

        • Do you need to claim that promise for yourself today?

        • God is fully aware of the circumstances you are currently experiencing

        • He has not been caught off guard

        • He knows what’s best for you and how long you need go through this situation

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Rest in God’s perfect timing and plan for me.

    • Let God judge

        • Perhaps you’ve been dealing with a situation where you think you know the intentions of a family member, coworker, neighbor, or fellow Christian

        • God is the only One who knows how to judge mankind rightly

        • Perhaps you need to go to the individual you are currently judging in your heart and have a conversation with them

        • I can almost guarantee that it will clear up whatever ideas you may have about the situation and/or the individual

        • Prayer is a key factor in being able to move beyond preconceived ideas and feelings associated with those ideas

    • God’s heart

        • We know from Scripture that God’s desire is that everyone will repent and turn to Him for salvation

        • He is infinitely patient with us, but a time is coming when He will have to execute judgment on those who refuse to repent

        • His judgment is evidence of His infinite power over evil

        • Gospel (Admit, Believe, Choose)

        • Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Accept God’s free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

  • WE

    • When we rest in God’s perfect timing and plan and when we let God judge rightly instead of us judging, then the world sees us a unified body of believers – that testimony alone speaks volumes

    • We are also commanded by God to share His heart with the world – that means telling others about the Good News of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, and God’s grace extended to us

 

CONCLUSION

“The gospel is not a tranquilizer for worried weaklings to help them sleep at night. ​​ It is not a mass of dead dogmas, deep frozen in some ancient cathedral to be carried as a burden through life and thawed out five minutes before death. ​​ The gospel is not a list of religious rules and regulations to be strung around the soul like a lucky charm in case of accidents. ​​ No, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a message – and what a message! ​​ It is a living message from the living God for living people, just like us, for people with sins just like us, for people with sorrows and heartaches just like us. ​​ It is the only message on the face of the earth with concrete promises and absolute assurances of an eternal inheritance that will withstand the impact of death and the collapse of the universe. ​​ (Uplook, 11)” ​​ [J. Boyd Nicholson cited by Akin, 184].

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