Your Kingdom Come

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God's response to our prayers.

Revelation(52) (Part of the Jesus Unveiled(51) series)
by Jason Stansbury(8) on July 22, 2018 (Sunday Morning(85))

Answered Prayer(1), Mercy(4), Repentance(4)

22nd July, 2018

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Your Kingdom Come
Revelation 8:7-13

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Introduction

The Lord’s Prayer

In this prayer, we tell God that we want to see His Kingdom Come, His will be done. And as we saw in the beginning of this chapter, God answers the prayers of His people.

These trumpets and the plagues they usher in are God’s tangible answers to the prayers of His people for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done.

Here we see a God of action, in response to His people.

In the same way, the purpose of Revelation is not to promote speculation about the future, but rather to compel action in the present.

The trumpets being blown by the angels here remind us of the victory of Joshua and God’s people at Jericho. Seven priests blew seven trumpets as they marched around the city seven times. These trumpets brought both God’s judgment and the victory of His people, ushering them into His promise.

The trumpets in Revelation serve a very similar purpose, but on a much larger scale.

 

Body

    • The First Trumpet (v. 7)

      • Hail

        • Hail is also seen in the seventh plague on Egypt in Exodus 9:18-26

        • Hail is also seen in Joshua 10:11, in the story of God making the sun stand still for Joshua and the Israelites

        • In Job 38:22-23, God speaks of “storehouses of hail” which he “reserve[s] for times of trouble, for days of war and battle.”

        • In all of these instances, hail is seen as an instrument used by God to act against the enemies of His people (Exodus 9:17)

        • Keener points out that even in literary works from the ancient Mediterranean world, hail appears as a warning of divine judgment, such as in Homer’s Iliad.

        • So the hail here represents God’s power and judgment over the earth.

      • “...and fire, mixed with blood”

        • According to Osborne, fire and blood are often combined as symbols of judgment

          • Isaiah 9:5

          • Ezekiel 21:32; 38:22

        • In Joel 2:31, fire and blood are “wonders in the heavens,” displaying God’s power, as well as signs of the “coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.”

      • “...a third…”

        • This phrase occurs 12 times in verses 7-12

        • Why one third and not the whole?

          • Easley brings our attention to the fact that the destruction of one third of the earth and trees, while devastating, is not yet fatal. This is because this destruction is meant as divine warning of worse disasters to come.

          • This is because, as Osborne suggests, the purpose of these acts is to prove the sovereignty of God and give one last chance for repentance. God could have destroyed everything all at once, but systematic destroys only a portion so that the people of the world could repent before the complete and final destruction.

          • Joel 2:32--Even in the midst of this destruction, God still provides opportunity for salvation

          • In this way, God is showing mercy, even in His wrath, something only God could do.

      • “...a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees…”

        • This destruction would devastate the food supply, and create a barren, uninhabitable wasteland over much of the earth.

      • “...and all the green grass was burned up.”

        • According to Mounce, “grass” here refers to all vegetation, further limiting the supply of food on the earth.

        • Keener then observes that he destruction of all grass means the “impending death of sheep, goats, and cattle,” ending the world’s supply of meat, milk, and cheese.”

      • Already with this first blast, we see incredible destruction, but also indications of God’s M.O. His destruction is very systematic, leaving room for repentance.

Priciple One: Even in destruction and judgment, God is merciful.

    • The Second Trumpet (vv.8-9)

      • “Something like a huge mountain, all ablaze…”

        • This could be understood as a volcano. In his commentary, Mounce notes that less than twenty years before John wrote this passage, Vesuvius had erupted and destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. Because this catastrophe was widely known, this imagery would have been especially powerful for a contemporary audience.

        • It does seem, however,that John is simply describing what he’s seeing the best that he can from what he knows. John cannot say exactly what this fiery mass is, but only that it is “like a huge mountain.”

      • “A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died...”

        • Very similar to the first plague in Egypt in Exodus 7:17ff

          • The consequence of this plague in Egypt, as seen in Exodus 7:18, was that the Egyptians lost their source of fish and clean drinking water. ​​ 

        • This plague on such a large scale would deliver yet another devastating blow to the world’s food supply.

      • “...and a third of the ships were destroyed.”

        • As Wiersbe states in his commentary, “this will be an ecological and economic disaster of unprecedented proportions.”

          • As of January 2017, there were 52,183 ships in the world’s merchant fleets. Imagine the effect on the shipping industry and the global economy as a whole if 17, 394 ships were suddenly destroyed, including all of their cargo.

      • Again, each destruction is only in part, affecting one-third of the sea, its life, and commerce. The purpose here, as before, is to warn and lead to repentance.

Principle Two: It is God’s desire for us to repent, turn from our sins, and surrender to Him.

    • The Third Trumpet (vv.10-11)

      • “...A great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky…”

        • According to Easley, it’s possible that this meteor-like device began as the fiery censer which an angel hurled down to earth in verse 5.

          • We see this action replicated in all of the first three trumpets:

            • In verse 7, hail and fire mixed with blood was “hurled down on the earth”

            • In verse 8, the fiery, mountain-like mass is “thrown into the sea.”

            • And here in verse 10, this great star falls from the sky.

          • This repetition of symbolism could represent the continuing response of God to the prayers of His people through the destruction following each trumpet.

        • Despite this speculation, however, Easley concludes that John provides no clear identification of this star beyond its name. So let’s examine the name.

      • “...The name of the star is Wormwood…”

        • According to Easley, wormwood was an extra bitter, but not poisonous plant with medicinal value.

        • Aune tells us that the taste of wormwood is so potent that one ounce of it can still be detected in 524 gallons of water.

        • Wiersbe also adds that this word translated as “wormwood,” Apsinthos, is the origin of our English word, “absinthe”, which is a popular liqueur in certain parts of the world.

          • The word means “undrinkable,” and in the Old Testament was synonymous with sorrow and great calamity.

          • This word was used to represent bitterness, poison, and death by both Jeremiah (Jer. 9:15; 23:15; Lamentations 3:15, 19) and Amos (Amos 5:7).

          • In Deut. 19:18, Moses warned that idolatry would bring sorrow to Israel, “like a root producing wormwood.”

          • In Prov. 5:4, Solomon warned that immorality might seem pleasant, but in the end, it produces bitterness like wormwood.

      • “...On a third of the rivers and on the springs of water….” “A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.”

        • Once again we are reminded of the first plague in Egypt (Exodus 7:17-18).

          • Though it is not blood tainting the water now, the effects of the Wormwood are very similar, causing the water to become undrinkable, and presumably uninhabitable for any sort of creatures.

        • This event is also reminiscent of Moses’ miracle at Marah in Exodus 15: 23-26, though the two stories seem to be the reverse of each other.

          • In the story of Moses at Marah, God instructs Moses to throw a certain piece of wood into undrinkable water, making it drinkable.

          • In verses 25-26, God decrees that if the Israelites listen carefully to Him and do what is right in His eyes, He will not bring upon them the diseases He brought against the Egyptians.

          • The reversal of this story in the events of the third trumpet-plague could be an allusion to the idolatry and disobedience to which these destructive events are a response. (Deut. 29:18)

          • Osborne concludes, however, that while the parallel to the story in Marah is obvious, it is difficult to prove that John had it in mind.

        • Further meaning can be found in the phrase, “springs of water.”

          • Osborne informs us that because of that fact that much of Judah’s water stems from natural springs, this phrase was used often in the Old Testament.

          • Springs were viewed as a source of life because of the scarcity of water in that region.

          • We see this metaphorical meaning in several places:

            • “The fountain of life” (Prov. 10:11; 13:14; 14:27)

            • God as “the spring of living water” (Jer. 2:13; 17:13)

            • Isaiah 35:7 promises that God would turn “the thirsty ground into bubbling springs”

            • In Revelation 7:17, the Lamb leads the saints to “springs of living water” and in 21:6 gives drink to the thirsty from “the spring of the water of life.”

          • Osborne’s conclusion is that what has been done to the rivers and streams during this trumpet-plague may be to “heighten the great reversal of water as life to water as death in this judgment.”

          • In the fourth trumpet-plague, God continues this theme of permanently altering the essential elements of nature on which we so thoroughly rely.

    • The Fourth Trumpet (v. 12)

      • “...a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.”

        • If there is one aspect of nature on which we know that we could always rely, it is the sun and moon. We rely so much on these two celestial bodies, in fact, that we plan our daily lives according to their cycles of movement.

        • Yet here, God chooses to flip the script and change even the patterns of the sun and moon. Now “day” and “night” themselves are no longer guaranteed, at least not how we’ve always known them.

        • There definitely seems to be a connection here to the ninth plague in Egypt in Exodus 10:21-22, in which God darkens the sky over the Egyptians for three days.

        • The bottom line, according to David Platt in “Life of the Christian” is this: “Do not put your ultimate hope in created things. All things--even the most secure things like the light of the sun--all things in heaven and on earth are passing away.”

        • Osborne summarizes in this way:

          • “The purpose of the first four trumpet judgments is primarily to disprove the earthly gods and to show that Yahweh alone is on the throne. By recapitulating the Egyptian plagues, God wants to make His omnipotence known to the world and to show the futility of turning against him. Each of these judgments addresses a different aspect of life in the ancient world and in the modern world as well. The first shows that the material world is no answer; the second and third address the sea trade, including food supplies; and the fourth focuses on life itself in the heat and light of the celestial bodies. The four together prove that those who live only for this world have chosen foolishly, for only in God is there true life. Earthy things turn on us, and we dare not depend on them.” (Revelation, 357)

Principle Three: God is the only one in this universe worth putting our hope in.

    • An Eagle’s Announcement of Three Coming Woes (8:13)

      • “...I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out…”

        • According to Easley, this eagle may be an angelic being in the form of an eagle, especially considering the tendency of eagles not to speak in words decipherable to humans. He references Revelation 14:6, in which an “angel flying in midair” is also found making proclamations mid-flight. In fact, some Greek manuscripts even have “angel” instead of “eagle” here.

        • Wiersbe expands on Easley’s theory by suggesting that this was in fact the eagle-like living creature that John saw worshiping before the throne in Revelation 4:7-8. While this is an intriguing thought, Wiersbe himself admits that there is no way of saying for sure, though it is a possibility.

        • Wilcock offers yet another theory about this bird, noting that the Bible tends not to distinguish between eagles and vultures. He suggests that this bird, may be a vulture, symbolizing impending doom, “circling over the dying body of mankind.”

      • “‘Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blast about to be sounded by the other three angels!”

        • Wiersbe rephrases the words of the eagle in this way: “If you think this has been terrible, just wait! The worst is yet to come!” This seems to be the clear message of the eagle: that these first four trumpet-plagues were simply a warm-up, an introduction to what is coming.

        • Easley explains this comparison by pointing out that while the first four trumpet attacked nature, affecting humankind only indirectly, the next judgments will attack humanity directly.

          • Wilcock informs us that this shift in intensity and target (so to speak) is due to the steadfast impenitence of those remaining. God had given clear opportunity and reason for repentance in the first four trumpet-plagues, and now shifts toward directly affecting those who still refuse to repent.

          • These humans who are now being “attacked” directly are “the inhabitants of this world,” who Easley reminds us are only those hostile to God, and those, according to Wiersbe, who “live for the earth and the things of the earth.”

 

 

Principle One: Even in destruction and judgment, God is merciful.

Principle Two: It is God’s desire for us to repent, turn from our sins, and surrender to Him.

Principle Three: God is the only one in this universe worth putting our hope in.

My Next Steps:

  • ​​ Accept the opportunity to repent of my sins and turn to God.

  • Pray that others would also repent and turn to God.

  • Proclaim the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ whenever and however you can.

 

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