Denial is dangerous.
My husband was a wonderful optimist, and that made him a joy to be around. He loved people, he laughed a lot, and he saw the best in everything and everyone. He was Barnabas t0 my Jeremiah, and I loved him so for it.
But his optimism had a downside. When his stomach pains began, he was in denial that anything could be seriously wrong. I pleaded with him to get a colonoscopy, and he obliged me, going through the prep. But just before he was to get it, an emergency call came in from one of his patients. He settled for a “partial” colonoscopy so that he wouldn’t need anesthesia and could go help his patient. He was sure he would be fine, sure the partial scope would do.
It didn’t. He was gone two years later.
I have found solace in the sovereignty of God, yet I still realize denial is dangerous. This is particularly true with the doctrine of God’s wrath. Why does Revelation spend ten chapters on it? Because it matters — it helps us realize the holiness of God, the patience of God, and the urgency of living wholly for Him.
The world is in denial about the judgment of God. Even when an unbeliever dies, they say: “At least they are not suffering now.”
Really? That’s a faith-based statement based on absolutely no evidence.
That is a complete denial about the holiness and justice of God.
Perhaps the most famous sermon ever preached was Jonathan Edward’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Its truth lit the flames of revival.
I remember studying it in high school, but the textbook mocked it. As Edwards said: “Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it.”
The evidence for a loving but holy and just God is ENORMOUS.
Do we hear sermons about hell in our church? As our own Sharon said, when her own father-in-law did a series of sermons about hell, it woke up the church. I know it’s hard, but I also know we need it, so I applaud every one who persists and does the lesson this week!
At the end of the week, I’m going to give you an option between two sermons: Jonathan Edwards or a contemporary one you’ll need to buy from Gospel in Life. Both excellent, yet both like bitter medicine that does our souls GREAT good. (Even if you can only bear half of Edwards, it will be good for your soul.)
Revelation does deal with the very end times, and that is where we are when we get to the end of these four different perspectives of God’s judgment of the world. This week we see hell unleashed on earth with trumpets 5 and 6. Then there is a pause before the 7th trumpet, but by then it is too late to repent.
God allows the same prince who controlled the world during the church age to unleash fury on the world, but the ones who bear his mark will be protected — spiritually, definitely, and perhaps more.
Like the Israelites who put the mark over their doors, the blood of the lamb, we who are under the blood of lamb have an invisible mark as well. One sermon I heard thought the symbol of the mark on our foreheads, whether it is the mark of God or the mark of the beast has to do with the connection foreheads have with our mind. What do we believe? Do we believe God is holy and just as well as merciful and forgiving?
We can be so thankful we are children of a God who is both just and merciful.
My daughter Sally, who is a Christian counselor, and hears so many tragic stories, says, “Now that I know we are in the tribulation, this should not surprise me.”
I can’t really imagine what the very end times will be like, but they sound terrible. I am so thankful that God will not allow Satan to inflict those who bear God’s mark, yet still, I think it will be terrible, and am thankful that for the sake of the elect, he will cut those times short.
There are many opinions from people I respect on what these pictures of stinging, whirring, locusts represent, these pictures which seem like they come from a Stephen King novel. I doubt they are helicopters, as the movie “A Thief in The Night” imagined, but it’s possible. Are they literal locusts as they were in Egypt – locusts who make people want to die but cannot? Maybe — that’s terrible too. It reminds me of the videos I’m seeing of the mouse plague in Australia — where they absolutely are covering the whole floor. (I can’t even bear to show you a video – a mouse plague would be my worst nightmare.) Or they may be, as Dr. Campbell, believes, based on allusions to Joel, a literal army. G. K. Beale’s interpretation, in his commentary that he did with Dr. Campbell is that these verses present a picture of ferocious creatures representing demonic spirits who bring torment on unbelievers. Michael Wilcox sees it as all the evil that the sin and Satan have brought, but which God has allowed, from cancers, to car accidents, to wars. These all, before the 7th trumpet, still can bring man to repentance. Wilcox quotes C. S. Lewis in how God shouts to us in our pain, and then asks: “If we will not hear the tremendous voice of the pain of bereavement, then there can be no hope for us.”
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday: Woe, Woe, Woe
2. Read Revelation 8:13. What do you see and what does it mean?
3. Read Dr. Campbell’s Introduction to the Last Three Trumpets
A. What is the significance, often, of eagles flying overhead?
B. How are the 5th and 6th trumpets different in their attack than the first four?
C. Has God spoken to you through the tremendous pain of bereavement? Share, if you choose.
4. Are you finding these passages difficult to study? If so, why do you persist?
5. Read Revelation 9:1-2. What do you see and what does it mean?
6. Read the first two paragraphs under the fifth trumpet (in kindle end with the sentence “sin is its own punishment.”
A. Who is the angel who fell like lightning what do you learn about him?
B. What cost have you or might you pay for refusing to compromise with the culture?
C. What does smoke signify?
D. How has sin been its own punishment in your life?
Tuesday: The Fifth Trumpet
7. Read Revelation 9:3-11 and describe what will happen with the fifth trumpet (and first woe.)
8. Under the fifth trumpet in Mystery Explained, read the rest of the section beginning with the paragraph that starts “The locusts come upon the earth.”
A. In this paragraph, what is different and what is similar to the plagues of Egypt?
B. In the paragraph that begins “The limits of the powers…” – why won’t believers experience confusion and madness of mind?
C. In the paragraph that beings “Next comes a detailed description” –what support does Dr. Campbell give for this being a literal army?
D. What do you think of G. K. Beales’ interpretation that these are demonic spirits inhabiting false teachers?
E. Read up to THE SIXTH TRUMPET and share anything else that stands out to you.
Wednesday: The Sixth Trumpet
9. Read Revelation 9:12-21
A. What were these demonic angels allowed to do according to verse 15?
B. Dr. Campbell says the river Euphrates “is a biblical code” for the spiritual (not literal or geographic) place from which demonic forces come. (It is also true that the literal area of the Euphrates, as Michael Wilcox points out, was the scene of much evil for Israel.) How does this passage say they will they kill people?
C. Though it seems the rest of mankind could still repent, they will not according to this passage. What is their basic sin and why would this cause them not to repent do you think?
10. Read Dr. Campbell’s whole section under the sixth trumpet and share what stands out to you.
Thursday/Friday Sermon Choice
Here is a link to a contemporary sermon from Scot Sherman at Redeemer in New York that is a bit easier to listen to than Edwards, yet has the same truths. You’ll need to buy it, however, for 2.50. https://gospelinlife.com/downloads/the-seven-trumpets-6267/
Here is a link to Edward’s sermon, which you can also find online in print if you prefer to read it. Or there are other narrators if you don’t like the Scottish accent. I like, however, his introduction.
11. Share your comments or notes.
12. What is your take-a-way and why?