John Bradshaw - Plagues and Promises
We're so glad that you have joined us. I am your host, Joseph Ikner, and I welcome you to Answers in Prophecy, brought to us by It Is Written. Today we have a very intriguing message that John is gonna share with us: "Plagues and Promises". Now, I don't know about you, but "plagues" and "promises," they're just two words that don't seem to go together, but we're gonna see how John is going to allow plagues and promises to work together to bring us a message of hope. I'm so glad that you have joined us. Welcome to Answers in Prophecy.
Welcome back to Answers in Prophecy, brought to you by It Is Written. I am your host, Joseph Ikner, and I'm so glad to have our speaker, John Bradshaw, with us. John, how you doing today?
— Doing great, good to be here. You're doing okay?
— Hey, I'm doing amazing. I hope you're ready for me tonight.
— I hope so, too. You know, you realize this is second-to-last presentation.
— It is.
— Yeah, we're getting close to the finish line.
— I've enjoyed it so much.
— It's been great.
— Now, this kinda thing, this thing has revved up toward the end. I mean, you were talking about earth's final warning, and today you're gonna be talking about plagues and promises.
— Oh yeah.
— Whew, that sounds heavy.
— I'm looking forward to it.
— Plagues, John?
— Oh yeah. Listen, this is one of the things that blows some people out of the water. Open up the Bible, look at a passage...plagues. Automatically, "Oh, that sounds bad".
— It does.
— Or, or God sounds bad.
— Flood destroyed the earth. "Well, God is a meany; God is a bad guy. How could that happen"? Child gets sick. "It's all God's fault".
— Yeah, that's what the devil wants you to think. No, God is a loving God, wants the best for us. When you read about plagues, you say, "Okay, God has a purpose here". God wants us to work out... He wants this to work out for the best and for our good. So we can approach any subject like this really optimistically.
— So there's a purpose in the plague?.
— But how does the promises fit in?
— You know, when God sends plagues, inherent in there is a promise from God. That is, "I am God. I'm in control. I have something good for you. I have a way for you to avoid this". And all through the Bible, there are promises that God makes to us that we can just, that we can hang on to and claim and believe and expect to be fulfilled.
— This is extremely interesting. So you're gonna be talking about the seven last plagues of Revelation?
— Uh-huh, among other things, but absolutely.
— Among other things. Among other things. And those plagues in Egypt were something, but the seven last plagues of Revelation are a whole 'nother story, and John is gonna talk to us about it, and remember he said earlier, there is a purpose in the plagues. and yet God also gives us promises. Purposes, plagues, promises. I'm excited about today's subject, and John is getting ready to share it with us now. John?
— Thank you very much. Great to have you here. We're gonna begin with questions, and as usual, my friend Doug Na'a is gonna be asking questions. Thanks for being here, Doug. What do we have?
— Hey, John, good to be here. And this is how our first question reads: "If judgment is going on right now, does that mean that a person cannot know that they have salvation, and therefore they have to wait until the judgment is over before they can be certain and sure of salvation"?
— I shall begin my answer by reading to you from 1 John 5 and verse 13. This is a verse you must remember. You oughta memorize it, mark it in your Bible, if you have not done so. It says, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God". 1 John 5:13, great verse. So, no matter what, if you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you can know that you have the gift of eternal life. Here's what the judgment does. The judgment simply is an audit process. It looks back over the record of my life and yours, and God there validates or accounts for, or audits, the decisions that we have made for Him, or against Him...or might I say, the decision. You have claimed to be a believer, but while you were living your life in front of others, God was taking careful record of what was really going on in your life. I don't want you to think that He was looking for where you slipped up or tripped up. That's not the case. God simply is recording the state of your heart towards Him. And He's not looking for highs and lows. He's simply looking to see if you're surrendered to Him, if you're living in God's grace and growing in His grace. So, although there'll be a judgment, you don't have to say, "Oh, that might undo everything that I've done in my walk with God". It's simply going to certify what you have done. I don't want you thinking that you have eternal life... if you don't. I don't want you having security of salvation if you don't have salvation. If you are not connected with God, don't fool yourself. You need to say, "Well, you know, right now I'm outside of Christ. I don't have everlasting life, and I need to do something about it". If you are in Christ, and you've given your heart to Him, then you ought to be able to say as you lay your head on your pillow every night, "I know whom I have believed. I am confident that God has given me the gift of salvation". Judgment is only recording the reality of what is going on now. So the fact that there is a judgment doesn't take away any security, any certainty, any nothing at all. It's just recording whatever the truth is. So, if you're outside Christ, get on in. If you're walking with Jesus, keep on hanging on. If you're not sure, have a talk with Jesus, and then believe in Christ as your Savior; grow in Him. You can know you have eternal life.
— That's very good. Here's our next question: "John, the Bible says that God is love, and yet the same Bible says that God is going to send seven last plagues. Now, how do we understand that as being love"?
— Yeah, very good question. The question is this: What's the purpose of the plagues? Now, you might have disciplined a child if you are a parent. If you are a child, you might have disciplined a dog, or you might understand discipline. What's the purpose of discipline? That word, "discipline," it's really exactly the same word as "disciple". The purpose of discipline is to make the... one being disciplined, to form the one being disciplined, into a follower of the right way, whatever that right way is. So, the seven last plagues are not a manifestation of the hate of God or the malice of God. They are of the wrath of God, but a loving God has the right to be wrathful at times. He's pouring out judgment on those who have said, "No, I'm not following You. I want nothing to do with You". God is love anyhow; 1 John, again, chapter 4, verse 8: "God is love". Chapter 4, verse 16, of 1 John, twice in the same chapter: "God is love". God emphasizes that, wants it to get through our heads: God is love. The fact that there are plagues being poured out, or the fact that God... what did He do? He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. What did He do? He flooded the earth in the days of Noah. What did He do? He had cities and people groups pretty much wiped out. These were a manifestation of God's love, of His purity, of His righteousness, of His desire to protect and prosper His people. So, we need not think that any of these things undo the fact that God is love. They do not. They support that fact.
— "Now, John, why are there so many different interpretations to Bible prophecy"?
— There's a really good question. Now, the reason is people are different. One...let me, now let me narrow that down. One reason is you and I just might see something differently. We are wired differently. We're at different stages of our spiritual growth and understanding. You see it meaning this; I see it meaning that. That's that. Another reason is this: The devil wants there to be confusion. That's why there are so many different churches all claiming to believe the same Bible, all claiming to have the truth, which cannot be possible. Now, that doesn't mean that if you're in a church that doesn't have all the truth, then you're going to hell or anything like that. I don't mean that, but it might, inasmuch as you can be led into rebellion against God rather than faithfulness to God. And you want to be led into faithfulness to God. I'll be honest with you. Some people just have an agenda. The devil has introduced interpretations of prophecy that lead people away from the truth, because he doesn't want them to know the truth and be saved. Let me share this with you. We'll go back in time. Martin Luther picked up a Bible, started to read it, started to read the prophecies, and he said, "You know what, you know what that means"? And he interpreted the prophecies in a certain way. Well, the ruling church of the day did not like the fact that Martin Luther was interpreting the prophecies in a way that implicated them and positioned them in a negative light. And so they even commissioned people to reinterpret those prophecies to see if they could somehow spin them in a way that gave the prophecies a different meaning and got the church of Rome off the hook. You see? So that's one reason we have some interpretations of prophecy that we have today. Here's what I would encourage you to do. Instead of saying, "Oh, the preacher said that. So all right, that's it, I'll just swallow it down". Instead of saying that, why don't you follow the history of the prophetic interpretation? Find out where it came from. How did it come into view? Who promulgated the idea? There are some prominent interpretations of prophecy that go back not very far at all. Look into that; find out if the people who interpreted that thing in the first place really did it by carefully studying, interpreting, reading prayerfully the Word of God.
— Mm. "You know, John, so many people, sincere people, are afraid of this thing called hell, or this place called hell. But is there really a hell"?
— Yes, there really is. I'll tell you why. We know that because Jesus said, don't fear the one who is able to "kill the body but cannot kill the soul". Fear the one "who is able to [kill] both body and soul in hell". Jesus believed in a place called hell, but here's the thing. You've gotta find out what that really means. What's hell really like? You know what I would encourage you to do? Go online to ItIsWritten.study. Study your way through those online Bible studies we have. They are terrific. You'll find the study on hell. It will take you to places in the Bible that will thrill you. Yes, there's a hell, but it's important to know what it's really like. So check out ItIsWritten.study. You'll find that study, as you go through the series, it'll bless you and answer lots of questions and resolve some real, real difficulties that a lot of people have.
— Mm. "Now, John, you know, the Bible speaks of a 1,000-year period, what's also known as a millennium". The question here asks, "Will there be people on earth during this millennium"?
— Well, yes and no. Will life be going on as usual during that 1,000-year period? No. Read about it in Revelation chapter 20. It's important you do. There'll be people on the earth, but will they be in very good shape? Question: Will they even be alive? So, this is another one of those prophecies that have been, has been misconstrued. Go to Revelation 20 and read the passage. Read a little before, read a little bit afterwards, and you'll see what God is getting at there. It's important that we study, really wanting to know what the Bible says. Good to have questions. And we'll do that one more time before Answers in Prophecy is over. So let's pray and dive into the Word of God.
Our Father in heaven, guide us now by Your Spirit, we pray. Lead us into all truth, as Jesus said You would do. Speak to our hearts, we pray. In Jesus' name, amen.
Our title is "Plagues and Promises". This year has seen the idea of plagues take on a whole new meaning for us. COVID-19 has been a plague. It's been a strange thing in that some people get the virus and go right on as though there was never anything wrong. For other people, deadly. Now, we know that preexisting medical challenges complicate matters, and we know people who have had serious medical challenges that have come through COVID-19 without a great deal of stress. It's a medical mystery, and it would be great to know just what the reason for that is. The CDC says that around half the people who get the virus go right on without even realizing they contracted it. No fever, no chills, no loss of taste, no loss of smell. But on the other hand, a lot of people have died. By now, we all know the meaning of words like "asymptomatic" and "comorbidities," and we're familiar with Zoom meetings and mask wearing and social distancing. But the shocking truth is COVID-19 is a fairly minor challenge for the world.
Now, I hope you'll understand what I'm saying. Most people survived without too much trouble. I don't mean to be insensitive, because I know a lot of people have suffered. Life has been difficult. We've all driven past residential care facilities and seen people standing outside windows talking to their loved ones on their phone through the window because those inside can't come out, and those outside can't go in there and hug their loved ones. It's been tough. Think of the weddings postponed, funerals that couldn't go ahead. I had a niece who died during the pandemic... not from the virus, from other things altogether. My sister's daughter, she died. My sister was with her at the time. Her body was taken away within minutes. My sister never saw her again. An urn was delivered a few weeks later. "Here's your daughter". That's tough.
My own mother's memorial service couldn't go ahead because of the pandemic. No idea at all when it will happen, but here's what I want us to keep in mind. This was a virus that most people... I should say this is a virus most people survive with no trouble. Now, if you want to, you can avoid it. Stay home; don't mix with others. I'm not saying that's fun. I'm not saying that's desirable. I'm simply stating that it is possible to avoid COVID-19. But what we're approaching is a time when there'll be plagues that you simply won't be able to avoid, no matter what, apart from just one way. We're all familiar now with the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. A third of the world's population was infected, one in three people. As many as 50 million people may have died worldwide: 675,000 in the United States, 50,000 in Canada; 228,000 people died in Great Britain, where children jumping rope had a little rhyme they would say as they played: "I had a little bird, its name was Enza, I opened the window, and in flew Enza".
Can you imagine that? Fifty million people, that's a lot of death. And in a time when we knew much less about illness and treating illness, and if one in three people got it, it was certainly harder to avoid than COVID-19. In the mid-1300s, the Black Death, or the bubonic plague, killed a third of Europe's population. The disease originated in Asia, and it was spread by trading ships. And it spread. An Italian poet by the name of Giovanni Boccaccio wrote, "In men and women alike, at the beginning of the malady, certain swellings, either on the groin or under the armpits, ... waxed [to] the bigness of a common apple, others to the size of an egg, some more and some less, and these the vulgar named plague-boils". It was said that people who were perfectly healthy when they went to bed at night could be dead by morning.
It's interesting to see how officials responded to that disease. In one Italian port city, the disease was slowed by keeping arriving sailors in isolation until it was clear they were not carrying the disease. Initially, the sailors were held on their ships for 30 days, which was known as a "trentino," which was later increased to 40 days, or a "quarantena," which is where we get the word "quarantine," which, of course, is another term we've become very familiar with in recent times. There have been all kinds of plagues throughout history, but the plagues that should really concern us the most are plagues that we've not yet seen, but which the Bible says are yet to come.
I want to open to Revelation chapter 16, and when we do, we find the chapter starts like this: "And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, 'Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.'" What's interesting about the book of Revelation is that it is made up primarily of a series of temple scenes. Now, you'll recall the last time we were together we talked about how we're living in the judgment hour; that in the sanctuary in heaven, Jesus is now acting as our heavenly High Priest. That subject puts the focus of Revelation on the temple in heaven. The word "temple" appears in various forms many times in Revelation, which is understandable, because the temple, or the sanctuary, in heaven is God's throne room. It is from there that God reigns. It's heaven's control room.
So let me elaborate on that for you. In Revelation chapter 1, Jesus is dressed as High Priest, and He appears, walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, which are located in the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. In Revelation 4 and 5, a door is opened in heaven, and you see the seven lamps again, a lamb, and golden bowls full of incense. In Revelation chapter 8, you see more features of the sanctuary, with golden censers and the altar of incense. In Revelation 11, the Ark of the Covenant is seen, which is in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. In Revelation 15, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened, placing the focus on the most holy place of the temple in heaven, and signaling that this is the time when Jesus' ministry as High Priest comes to an end.
The last two chapters of Revelation have no temple imagery because Jesus is no longer in the temple in heaven, but is with His people in the earth made new. So Revelation focuses on what takes place in heaven, as it relates to events here on earth, Jesus' role as our High Priest being of supreme importance. We are reminded of the reality of a heavenly sanctuary and a heavenly High Priest, reminding us of God's sovereignty, His power to judge, and the ultimate completion of atonement between God and humanity. If the temple is being emphasized, then very clearly this underscores the great importance of the law of God, the Ten Commandments, because as we saw, the Ten Commandments are in the temple in heaven.
Remember Revelation 11:19? "Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple". This is how clear God makes it, that the people who say that keeping God's law isn't important are demonstrating their utter lack of understanding of the real issues involved in the last days of earth's history. Satan came to the earth and inspired rebellion. Adam and Eve turned from God, but God, in His mercy, called them back to faithfulness to Him. However, the human family has been fighting against its own selfishness ever since. Sin is a great deal of fun in the short term, but, of course, it's utterly ruinous. Hebrews says that Moses chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season".
In this sinful flesh, we war against selfish desires, loving sin instead of hating sin, deceived by sin into thinking its wages to be something less than death. So if you're following through Revelation, we've had the messages given by God, the messages of the three angels in Revelation 14, where we are urged to allow God to reign in our lives, to worship Christ as the Creator, to come out of false worship, to shun the mark of the beast. And to remember, in all of this, that it is the time of heaven's final judgment. So we take serious our faith in God. The things going on in the world are telling us that we should be taking things very seriously. Life is fragile; the planet is fragile. Things can change very quickly. And what matters far above everything else is that God is honored, and that we connect our lives to the One who is life.
God is urging us to prepare for the final moments of earth's history. How's it working out with you, friend? Are you walking into the future, knowing that you and God are linked together? To see each calamity, each disaster, each tragic episode unfolding around us as a call "to make [our] calling and election sure" is right. The plagues begin to be poured out in Revelation 16. They are God's judgments on those who persist in ignoring Him; they turned their back on Him. They heard the messages of the three angels. Remember, those messages go to every nation and kindred and tongue and people. They go to the whole world. Everybody hears, and yet, the vast majority of people do not surrender their lives to God, and they choose instead to dedicate their "threescore and ten" on this earth to doing their own will. Life is so short, and yet most people opt for the futility of our short time on earth, instead of enjoying life forever without sin or pain or hardship or injustice.
That's what God offers. Eternity is a long time. No matter how many toys you accumulate during your time on earth, life is short. And without heaven, you're missing out. From the control room of the universe, God issues a divine command: "And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, 'Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.'" You're gonna find that six of these plagues will be literal. One of them is symbolic. And you're going to wonder why, and I'll tell you. First, the seven last plagues. I mentioned to you earlier in Answers in Prophecy that John wrote the book of Revelation basing it on the Old Testament. He borrowed imagery from the Old Testament. Babylon, Old Testament; beast, Old Testament. The leaves from the tree of life being for the healing of the nations? Old Testament, Ezekiel wrote that. "Him that made heaven and earth, and the seas and the fountains of waters"?
Old Testament, Ten Commandments. All of that sanctuary imagery, Old Testament again. So when John writes Revelation chapter 16 down here, he borrows imagery from the Old Testament back here. Where do you see plagues in the Old Testament? Well, you see them in Egypt. How many plagues were there in Egypt? Well, they were 10 plagues. Of those 10 plagues, how many of them affected God's people? Three. The first three of those plagues fell on Israel and Egypt. The seven last plagues affected only Egypt, the enemies of God. Here, in Revelation chapter 16, we are looking at the seven last plagues, meaning that in the end of time, they're only gonna fall on the people who have arrayed themselves against God and have rejected faithfulness to Christ. So here's that first plague, Revelation 16, verse 2: "And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped [the] image".
Now, the Greek word used there indicates that this is a wound, a festering wound, something like an ulcer. Later in the chapter, it says that during the fifth plague, the people who received the plagues "gnawed their tongues for pain". So none of this sounds like it's gonna be remotely easy to endure. Two things we must notice: The plague is poured out on those who receive the mark of the beast, those who've chosen not to surrender to the will of God, and the plagues are worldwide. This isn't local. It's not just in one country or on one continent. It is global. The first plague is very similar to the sixth plague in Egypt, when people were afflicted with boils, and it's worth noticing that back in Exodus 9, it says that this plague was "upon all the Egyptians". Now, the second plague is next: "And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea".
This plague affects the oceans. Think of how terrible this must be, when the Atlantic Ocean turns to blood, not just blood, but the blood of a dead man. The Pacific Ocean, blood, the Indian Ocean, the Arctic Ocean. The one great global ocean covers 71% of the surface of the earth. Marine life is going to die. The air will be foul. No one will want to be near the coast. And by now, global commerce has come to an end. Supertankers are unable to transport oil around the world. Container ships are no longer loading and unloading at the world's busy ports. The world is screeching to a halt. And what's fascinating is that those who've promised you that you'll be able to buy and sell, if you receive the mark of the beast, find themselves in a place of financial ruin. And we can only wonder what people will be saying. You know, in Egypt, Pharaoh's magicians were somehow able to imitate several of the plagues, leading Pharaoh to think that, well, maybe these plagues weren't sent by God. Perhaps, now, there will be voices denying the divine origin of these plagues, explaining them away as natural phenomena.
I can imagine people claiming this is simply red tide, which, you know, happens every so often. Enormous amounts of algae bloom and turn the water red or a brownish sort of color. I can imagine somebody saying, "Oh, the water turning to blood, that's not the hand of God, but that instead is natural". Well, no, it certainly is not. Revelation 16, verse 4: "And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood". Now it's the drinking water that becomes nasty. It's undrinkable now. The water turning to blood was the first plague back in Egypt. Now, there's no clear reason given as to why the order is different in Revelation to what it was in Exodus. So there's probably not a lot of point in speculating, but imagine the desperation now when someone turns on a tap and the water that flows out isn't water but instead is blood...imagine that! The Bible says, "And I heard the angel of the waters saying, 'You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.'" Another translation says, "For they are worthy," or, "They deserve it".
Here we see the reason God pours out this plague. In a time when the planet has been divided between those who choose to be faithful to God and those who refuse to be faithful to God, there have been people committed to the destruction of those who have chosen God's way. And so God says, if it is blood you want, then it is blood you're going to get. I can imagine someone saying, "Why would a loving God choose to cause human beings to suffer? What could be gained by that"? You're gonna see the answer to that question in just a moment. But think with me. It was God who Himself suffered more than any human being could ever suffer. Jesus, the divine Son of God, died on the cross in agony, and the worst of it was the agony of being separated from His Father by sin. Jesus took our sin upon Himself. The Bible says He was made "to be sin for us," the divine Son of God nailed to a cross. He died a terrible death for the very purpose of keeping us from suffering in this world. God has done everything to communicate to us that going without God in this world is simply not in our best interests.
God said in Deuteronomy 5 and verse 29, "Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear me and always keep all my commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever"! Here's what we have to understand. God calls us to Himself, not because He's a megalomaniac who gets a thrill out of hearing us say His name. As Paul wrote, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". God knows that when sin entered the world, Satan was going to be a brutal taskmaster. Satan was gonna cause people to suffer, Satan was gonna lead people to ruin. Jesus came into the world, in His own words, "that [we] might have life, and that [we] might have it more abundantly". God knows that the only way you and I can be eternally happy and fulfilled is by following Him. And so He urges us, "Follow me; honor me".
God is your Father, and if you're a parent, or if you've ever had parents, then you know how it goes with parents. "No, you can't have ice cream for breakfast because it's bad for you". "Yes, you really must eat your broccoli because it is good for you, and it will fight disease and help you to be well and healthy". "Yes, you really do have to do your homework, because if you don't, you won't learn like you should, and you won't get good grades, and you won't be a success in this world, the success that you were created to be". "No, you cannot stay up all night watching movies for more reasons than I have time to enumerate". You know how that goes. "No, I'm not gonna allow you to play video games, and it is of no consequence that all your friends are allowed to play them".
Do children appreciate that? Usually they don't, not at the time, not very much. Most children press back a little on restrictions. "Oh, why can't I? All the kids in my class are allowed to". Parents restrict their children, discipline their children, guide their children, because parents know that if a child doesn't eat well or sleep well, or do their homework, or use their manners, or do nice things for the old lady who lives two doors down, the kid will not only turn out to be useless, but won't enjoy life as much as the child should. And do you know something? Later in life, later in life, we look back on the discipline we got, and we say, "Oh, but my mother loved me, and she was just doing her very best for me". It never ceases to amuse me. My father-in-law and his brothers would tell the story about how "Yeah, Mama tell us, 'Go on, go on down there, and get a switch off the tree,' and then she'd give us a whoopin'".
I wouldn't find that amusing, I don't think, and they'd laugh about that, and, "Remember that time she whacked you"? It wasn't because mother was a tyrant. It's what she knew, it's what she hoped worked, and judging by the way those four men turned out, it worked pretty well. And they look back on that today: "Oh, it wasn't, it was no fun at the time," but now, now they look back and say, "Thank God our mother loved us, to discipline us". It's what God does. He wants it to be well with us and with our children forever. While God destroyed the earth with a flood, He also saved Noah and his family. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram lost their lives so the rest of the nation would learn from their rebellion. Everything God does is redemptive. Everything. God is love. He's not into cruelty. And even now with the plagues, this is God demonstrating to the universe that heaven has done everything it could possibly have done to save people who are now very much lost. A voice speaks from heaven: "And I heard another from the altar saying, 'Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.'"
You see, heaven testifies that God's method of dealing with this world is true and righteous. The water has turned to blood. No one wants to drink this awful stuff. But the fourth plague is going to leave people with very little choice. This is Revelation 16 and verse 8: "Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire". Do we call this a heat wave? I guess we do. But what usually happens when there's heat like this? You turn on the air conditioning, but life isn't going on as usual. Air conditioning isn't working. If the water is all turned to blood, you know that power stations are more than likely not operating now, refrigeration isn't working, and people who would normally find relief by going to where the water is, don't, because the seas have become like the blood of a dead person. No one wants to be there. Drinking water, it's all turned to blood. There's no relief to be had.
So is this God simply being vindictive? Oh, no, far from it. These people are lost, and they're soon to be eternally lost. You know, God is doing something for the universe in this. You've heard, just like I have, about people who have been sentenced to death, and they've maintained their innocence all the way to the very end. But this is different. The plagues bring something out of the lost. I heard someone say that character is revealed in a crisis. And while the lost are on the receiving end of the seven last plagues, we find this: "And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent [and] give Him glory". So notice, they're lost. They're as lost as lost could be, and they know they're lost, and when the plagues are poured out, not a single one of them repents. Not a single one says, "How foolish was I? I've been fighting against God". Not one of them has had a change of heart. Not one of them calls out to God to confess their wrong course of action. Instead, the Bible says, "They did not repent [and] give Him glory".
What the plagues demonstrate is that the lost are truly lost, and that if they were to find themselves in heaven, they simply wouldn't even be happy there. This isn't the murderer on death row acknowledging what he or she did and apologizing to the family concerned. This is the rebel who won't change, won't admit wrong, won't come 'round even suffering the wrath of God. The entire universe knows that these lost people are rightly lost and would never even be happy in heaven. Meanwhile, the saved are protected from all of this, just as God's people were protected from the seven last plagues in Egypt. We read this in Psalm 91: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and [strength] my fortress; ...in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence". It goes on to say, "Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling".
And we see this promise fulfilled here. In the wilderness, water came from a rock. God carpeted the ground with manna. In the time of Elijah, there was no DoorDash, So God had a bird deliver food to Elijah. God saw to it that the little bit of flour and oil the widow of Zarephath had, never ran out. He can do all of that again. When Elisha was in Dothan, his servant saw that the city was entirely surrounded by an army with horses and chariots. Elisha prayed God would open the young man's eyes, and when he looked again, the young man saw that the mountain they were on was surrounded by horses and chariots of fire. God is a deliverer. You can trust Him to be your deliverer. The Bible says that "the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run [into] it and are safe". Safe! You don't need to live by appearances. Elisha didn't. This is why the Bible says that we are "saved by grace...through faith". Faith doesn't accept what it sees as being the final word. Faith believes that God's Word will always be the final word. Now, I want you to see a transition here.
The fifth plague, the fifth plague, notice this: "And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds". Notice again, five plagues have fallen; not a soul has thought to say, "I'm sorry for what I've done". And this one is targeted directly at the seat of rebellion against God.
Plague number six: "And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the East might be prepared". This isn't the literal Euphrates drying up, and here's why we know that. That happened back in ancient Babylon. Babylon sat on the Euphrates River. And the reason the Medo-Persians were able to march right into the city back then was because they had diverted the River Euphrates, and they were able to march right into the city without having to negotiate the city walls. They marched in on the riverbed. In the sixth plague, we would suggest the river has a different meaning. Just as all Babylon sat on literal waters, spiritual Babylon, false worship, false religious teaching, false systems of worship rest upon multitudes of people. That's how they have any influence at all, because people afford them influence. Remember, "waters" in Bible prophecy represents multitudes of people. Take that support away; if that support dries up, they have nothing.
You see this same scenario playing out in Revelation chapter 17. It's repeated over there or spoken of over there as well. So we read in Revelation chapter 16, "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty". Here we see unclean spirits, demonic activity. It is apparent that we are gonna see spiritualistic manifestations confusing and deceiving people, preparing them to be lost in the end. This is why it is so important to understand that those voices from the dead are not voices from the dead. Those are demonic deceptions. Somebody appears. Was it a ghost? No, of course it wasn't a ghost. It was either something you saw, maybe your eyes were blurry, or that's the devil deceiving you, something you imagined. It certainly wasn't a ghost.
In the end of time, our predilection as a human race for the occult and for spiritual manifestations will have set us up to be swept away in an overwhelming tide of deception. Look what happens: "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon". Armageddon. Now, it says "in the Hebrew tongue"; Revelation was written in Greek. So evidently we need to really understand what this means. The word "Armageddon" means "Mountain," or mount, "of Slaughter" or "Mountain of Destruction". They gathered to a place, which need not be one literal location. They are prepared for final destruction. Rebellion hardens them completely and utterly.
The sixth plague sees people prepared for the very end. Now, you'll find some who want to say that the focus here is going to be on a little place, the Plain of Megiddo, which covers an area of about 200 square miles, about the size of Lake Tahoe. But Megiddo isn't Armageddon. And we don't interpret the Bible like that. We don't interpret the Bible to mean something because it just happens to sound like something else. Armageddon sees the lost of the world arrayed against God, battling against the Majesty of the heavens. This is the peak of rebellion. Remember, we had something similar in heaven.
In Revelation 12, we read that "there was war in heaven: Michael and His angels fought against the dragon"...Satan... "and the dragon fought, and his angels". Satan was unsuccessful in that war in heaven, in that battle. And he will be unsuccessful in the Battle of Armageddon. The character of those on both sides of this spiritual issue is now plainly seen. The harvest has ripened. Jesus and the angels will come back to the earth as the kings of the East. This is why you read Jesus saying in Revelation chapter 22, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be".
The seventh plague, the seventh plague is also ominous. Here's what the Bible says: "And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, 'It is done.' And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great".
The earth is destroyed. A talent is close to 70 pounds, almost 32 kilograms. Hailstones that big fall to the earth. You can imagine the destruction this will cause. All the monuments human beings have built for their own glory will be destroyed. Islands will sink; mountains will disappear. This is going to be destruction on a grand scale. And yet, through it all, God's people will be kept, they'll be protected, they'll be enfolded in the presence of the Almighty. The seven last plagues show us that one day mercy will run out. Today, we can still come boldly to the throne of grace and find mercy and grace to help in time of need. "But one day," Jesus said, "no more, that's it. I'm coming back to the earth". He demonstrates to the universe through the seven last plagues that the lost simply won't repent, which means every lost person is rightly lost.
You can't have questions like that through eternity. Maybe this person should've been saved. No, they repented not; they're rightly lost. The plagues show the goodness of God. God has been merciful, but that mercy has been slighted. Ecclesiastes 8, verse 11 says, "Because sentence against an evil work "is not executed speedily, "therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil". God waits until the end to do this. But look at what's happened as a result of Him being so merciful. People chose to do evil, thinking it was of no consequence, thinking they could get away with it, but they could not. This is serious. Salvation is serious. Jesus is returning to this earth. This life is designed to be a time for us to surrender our lives to Him. Jesus came into this world to give us life. That's what He came here for, so that we could live based on love, loving our neighbor, being loved by others, exemplifying the principles of heaven. Everyone believes in love, but the challenge we have is that many people define love on their own terms. Only God's terms really work. And I know someone wants to know how long the plagues will last. We're not told.
Revelation 18:8 says, "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day". Now, does that mean a day equals a year? It might. But we're probably wisest not to be too dogmatic about that. Let's reconsider the big picture. There was a perfect universe. Satan rebelled. Jesus stepped in to provide a pathway to eternal life. But Satan has spent the last 6,000 years convincing people to do their own thing. He doesn't even mind if you go to church or if you read your Bible, just as long as you don't choose to do things God's way. Of course, Satan would want that. He hates God, and he wants you and me to be lost and not saved. And so he deceives, and he inspires us to please ourselves, to live for ourselves. Then he tells you that God won't forgive you. He tells you God is harsh. He tells you God couldn't love you after all that you've done. He says, "Live your own way". He'll even tell you that people who point you to Jesus are judgmental. You can focus on the seriousness of the plagues. That wouldn't be bad, but right now I'd encourage you to focus on the seriousness of God's promises.
Psalm 34:7, "The angel of the Lord encamps around all those who fear Him, and delivers them". Psalm 37:25, "I have been young, and now [I] am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread". Daniel 12:1, "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great Prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book". And we've seen Psalm 91: "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling". Revelation 22:12, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be". Jesus is coming back to this world. That's a promise. God appeals to us to be ready for that day. And we can be ready. You can be ready now. You know that. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life". Look at the next verse, John 3:17. "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved".
God wants you to be with Him for all eternity, more than anything else. I'd love to give you the opportunity right now to make a decision that will see to it that you spend eternity with God. Would you send me a text message? Grab your device, your phone, and text me. Here's my number: 423-264-2575. 423-264-2575. And when you got that number in, text me the word "power". That's the message you're gonna send me. Don't say, "Hi, John". Just text "power". And the number again is 423-264-2575. When I get that text from you, I'm gonna text you right back. You'll get a link. Click that link, and you'll see a form in front of you. And I'd love for you to fill out that form. I wanna give you the opportunity to make a decision for Jesus. If you've not made a decision so far during Answers in Prophecy, please go ahead and make one now. If you're thinking to yourself, "Eh, why bother"? No, no, I want you to wake up in the morning knowing, "Yeah, last night, yesterday"...whenever it was... "I made a decision for Jesus".
You make a decision for Jesus; you're raising up an "Ebenezer," a memorial. You're saying, "Oh yes, every time I think about that, I know, I know I gave my heart to God; I'm a child of God". So text me, send me a text. Here's the number you wanna punch in: 423-264-2575. Just send me one word: "power". Don't put it into Facebook or any other place. Don't type it into your computer screen. Text it to me. I'll text you a link; click the link. And here's what you're gonna see. You'll see number 1, line number 1; it says, "I do not want to receive the seven last plagues". I feel like I could just about check that one for you. No question. We don't want to receive the seven last plagues. Number 2: "I want to know my Bible better". Oh, let me get out my phone. I wanna check that. Of course we wanna know more and more of the Word of God and know God more. And number 3 says, "I want to completely surrender my life to Jesus".
So the number is area code 423-264-2575. Send me the word "power". I send you a link right away. Take moments. Click the link, number 1: "I do not want to receive the seven last plagues". Number 2: "I want to know my Bible better". And number 3: "I want to completely surrender my life to Jesus". And then would you do something? Let me know if we can pray for you. Let me know, if you have a prayer request for you, for somebody else, you put in that form, and it'll be prayed for, and God will hear that prayer. And then fill out the rest of the form so we can pray for you, and if we need to follow up with you and get in touch in any way, we'll be able to do that. Would you do that? 423-264-2575. Someone ran off and got their phone, came back, and said, "Will you say the number again"? 423-264-2575. Send me the word "power". You'll get a link back. You fill out that link or fill out that form, and would you tonight make a decision for Jesus? Would you do that? Come on, I'd like to pray for you. Pray with me now. Let's do that.
Our Father in heaven, we thank You that we have the opportunity to decide for Your Son. Thank You for salvation in Jesus. You have alerted us that we are on the precipice of very, very serious times. And we want to know that our calling and election are sure.
Friend, if you are wandering, halting between two opinions, if you haven't decided for the Lord Jesus, would you do so now? He calls you; angels seek to influence you; His Spirit speaks to your heart.
Lord, seal every decision made. Call us all to surrender to Jesus. We thank You, dear Father. In Jesus' name, amen.