Today’s Bible Reading: Zechariah 6-7:14; Revelation 15:1-8; Psalm 143:1-12; Proverbs 30:24-28
Every being that God has or will create exists to serve Him. God employs angels, spirits, and humans to do His work (Zechariah 6:5). Angels in heaven got to initiate the seven trumpet judgements and, as we’ll read over the next few days, the seven bowl judgements also. God’s plan for all of His creation is not a life of idle laziness floating on clouds playing harps. God is a worker and we, too, are to be active by serving Him, albeit with necessary periods of rest.
An interesting prophecy about Jesus is recorded in Zechariah 6:12-13. In ancient Israel kings were forbidden to act as priests and priests were forbidden to act as kings. But Jesus is special. He is both king (governmental leader) and priest (spiritual leader).
Religions institute rituals under the misguided assumption that routinely performing certain functions pleases God. It does not. Rituals are created by man to please man – to make us feel better about ourselves. They don’t impress God at all (Zechariah 7:1-7). What pleases God is a constant lifestyle that demonstrates mercy and kindness and which does not take advantage of other people (Zechariah 7:8-10).
Notice that it is possible for a person to turn their own heart to stone when it comes to God (Zechariah 7:12). This happens by a series of steps. First they refuse to pay attention to God’s message. Then they turn away from God. Finally, they stop listening altogether (Zechariah 7:11). The decision to hate God is an intentional decision that is arrived at progressively.
We read about the seventh trumpet judgement in Revelation 11. The events in Revelation 15 are the preparations for the final seven judgements upon the earth. In between God gave us a very vivid picture of what life on earth will be like during the reign of the antichrist. I think this literary break in the judgements holds an important lesson. God isn’t anxious to pour out these events. He is full of love for the people He created and does not want to see us suffer; He does not enjoy punishing people. Rather, He wants everyone to have a chance to come to know Him and choose an eternity with Him as opposed to one apart from Him.
Revelation 15:2 references those who were martyred during the Tribulation – those the antichrist kills because of their profession of faith in Jesus. The world will consider these people to be nuts… failures who died for believing an alleged fairy tale. But that is not how God views them Notice that He calls them “victorious”. When the Jews and the Romans nailed Jesus to the cross they thought they had won and He had lost. They mistakenly viewed Jesus as their enemy. Their real enemy was sin and Jesus proved His victory over sin by raising Himself from the grave three days later.
Events during the Tribulation will be similar. The antichrist will think he has “won” by killing Christians. But he will be wrong. Christians will not be enemies of the antichrist. Neither are Christians the enemy of the government today. As Paul told us in Ephesians 6:12, all people are in the same boat. Our battles are not amongst each other but against the evil spiritual forces that roam this planet dividing us.
When we approach life atheistically – disbelieving in God – we lose sight of the truth about what is going on here on earth and as a result we create all kinds of problems between people that don’t need to happen. Satan is a deceiver. His one-and-only tactic is to deceive people into believing lies. Lies about God. And lies about each other. If we believe lies we will have faulty information. And if we have faulty information we will make poor choices. And if we make poor choices we will have constant problems. I’d say we’ve fallen for Satan’s trick.
These Christians who are martyred during the Tribulation will receive a special eternal reward from God (Revelation 15:2). We also saw this in Revelation 14:13. Since they will face much more persecution than any of us, they will deserve this honor.
Heaven is a real place with real things, including a Temple (Revelation 15:5). The plans Moses was given for building the tabernacle (which later became the Temple) were based on this heavenly Temple (Exodus 25:8-9, Hebrews 8:5).
People have had plenty of time to repent and be saved. But they chose not to. After patiently waiting, God is now ready to initiate the final judgements on the earth (Revelation 15:5-8).
Life could be so much better if we just trusted God and followed the path He has set out for us (Psalm 143:8). This is what He wants to do. He knows more than we do and desires to guide us on the right path.
We’re now in the homestretch. We’ve been reading the Bible for 51 weeks. Just one week to go.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.