And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments,” (16:7).
There are many who will certainly question it: These plagues are true and righteous judgments? But the graphically described plagues poured out from the seven bowls divulge the gravity of sin against Him Who Is Holy, Holy, Holy.
And it is the altar that declares His Judgments as True and Righteous. Of course it is. The altar, the place of atonement for sin, the place representing His True and Righteous Sacrifice that has redeemed mankind by His blood.
Consider His True and Righteous Judgments
It is Christmas Day, 2021. While many (myself included) had hoped this year would have turned the corner from 2020, it hasn’t exactly ended up that way. And I was really hoping that the chapter scheduled in our reading plan for this Christmas morning would feel like Christmas, filled with sights and sounds of peace on earth and good will towards men; and that perhaps, on this Christmas that winds down the end of our three year journey through His Word, we would encounter some sweet message of hope and life tucked somewhere within this chapter. But instead, we find ourselves deluged by seven bowls of wrath emptied upon the earth, one after the other, with not even a moment to catch our breath.
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God,” (16:1).
And the scene is horrific as the plagues of death, blood, scorching heat, darkness and indescribable pain spill out of the bowls onto all who have the mark of the beast and have refused to repent. And in one last pointless attempt, the unholy trinity releases its demonic forces, as the earth is prepared for the final confrontation between Him Who Is Holy, Holy, Holy and “the great dragon… the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan,” (12:9). And the way is prepared through the cataclysmic devastation of the land for “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (16:14), referred to by many as “the battle of Armageddon.”
“In the Bible, Armageddon refers to a climactic future battle between God and the forces of evil, as recorded in the book of Revelation. The word ultimately comes from the Hebrew word Har-Magedone, which means “Mount Megiddo,” the predicted location of the battle,” https://www.gotquestions.org/battle-Armageddon.html
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 like frogs; 14 for they are spirits of demons, 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. 15 (“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.”) 16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon, (16:13-16).
And with the pouring out of the seventh and final bowl, we hear His Majestically Sovereign Voice.
Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” (16:17).
It is done! Oh, what a glorious sound. And my thoughts were swiftly escorted back to Christmas, to the Holy Baby tucked in a feeding trough; not a sanitary or fitting environment for any newborn, let alone the Holy Son of God, just as our fallen world will never be a fitting environment for Him Who Is Holy, Holy, Holy. For until sin is judged by His True and Righteous Judgments, this world will never turn the corner.
But He came to earth as a Baby, the Holy Gift from the Father. And the Baby Who was laid in a wooden feeding trough would grow up and become the Man Who was laid on a wooden cross and shed His blood to satisfy the wrath of His True and Righteous Judgments; and whoevers believes in Him will be spared His wrath and receive His Gift of eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).
And the sights and sounds of Christmas emerged like a baby’s cry. For in His True and Righteous Judgments, He has judged sin through His wrath poured out on the Sinless Lamb of God Who came in human flesh as the Baby born in a manger. And when we believe in His Name and place our faith in the Lamb Who received the wrath and punishment we deserve, rather than getting what our sin deserves, we receive His undeserved and most glorious Gift of all gifts, Salvation and Eternal Life.
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God,” (John 3:17-18).
As we grow in our understanding of His undeserved Mercy and Grace, and grow in our knowledge of Him Who Is Holy, Holy, Holy, our desire for His justice to eradicate the evil forces of all sin and deception also grows.
The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous,
But is terror to the workers of iniquity, (Proverbs 21:15).
And as we consider His completed wrath against sin, we too will know joy in His True and Righteous Judgments. Not in the sufferings of others, but in Who He Is. He Is the Holy One Who cannot dwell in the presence of sin, Who must judge and punish sin. And on That Day when “It is done,” we will join together with the angels, the altar, and all of creation to proclaim that He is the Lord God Almighty Whose Judgments are True and Righteous.
And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; 6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.” 7 And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgment,” (16:5-7).
Let the sea roar and all it contains,
The world and those who dwell in it.
8 Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy
9 Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth;
He will judge the world with righteousness
And the peoples with equity, (Psalm 98:7-9).
How do we respond to His True and Righteous Judgments?
The Christmas season typically includes a lot of preplanning with decorating, shopping and wrapping, preparing food and more. And most of us take our preparations very seriously.
Right before the final bowl is poured out, Jesus delivers a message to John that is meant for all of us: He is coming; and though we do not know the hour, we must always be ready; we must take our preparation very seriously.
“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,” (16:15).
It seems that self-examination is our most fitting and needed response:
Did we spend more time in preparing our festive decorations than in preparing ourselves through considering Jesus Christ as He is revealed in His Word, that we would be conformed to His image and empowered to live in holiness?
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy,” (1 Peter 1:12-16).
Were we more concerned about our to-do list and getting gifts to please our loved ones than with pleasing Him by offering our whole lives as a fitting gift of love, obedience, and worship.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship,(Romans 12:1)
And, whatever the season, are we living prepared, watchful for His coming, or do we find ourselves consumed by fear and anxiety because things just haven’t turned the corner?
“Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand,” (Isaiah 41:10).
He has told us He is coming again, and quickly. But this time, not as a Baby in a Manger, but as the Almighty Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and end, to reward those who have believed in His Name and His Promises. But to all those who have refused to repent, He will render His True and Righteous Judgments according to what their own deeds have earned.
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” (Revelation 22:12-13).
Yes it is Christmas, and while we long for peace on earth, the truth is, we are at war, and we must never let our guard down in the fight against the enemy’s evil distractions and deceptions. Oh, let us fight the good fight of faith as we keep our eyes fixed on His Promises and Purpose, that we would always take our preparations in being watchful for His appearing very seriously.
For the day is coming when we will stand before Him Who Is Holy, Holy, Holy, to receive His rewards we do not deserve but have been guaranteed through Christ Jesus when He comes not as the Baby in the manger, but as the Righteous Judge Who will perfectly render His True and Righteous Rewards.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing, (2 Timothy 4:8).