Today’s Bible Reading: Zechariah 8:1-23; Revelation 16:1-21; Psalm 144:1-15; Proverbs 30:29-31
God is absolutely crazy about His children! He loves them passionately (Zechariah 8:2). There are only two categories of people in the world: those who are God’s children and those who are not. In the Bible Jerusalem/Israel represent those who are. The Gentile nations represent those who are not. Anyone can chose to become one of God’s children – He invites everyone into His family.
There are many benefits to belonging to God’s eternal family including safety (Zechariah 8:8) and prosperity (Zechariah 8:12). Just as the land that was Israel was once a desolate wasteland that was revitalized by God, so too are each of our lives dry and barren by nature. But God wants to change that. He wants our lives to be peaceful and full of blessing (Zechariah 8:11).
Many who don’t believe in God or who don’t believe in the true God of the Bible may experience success. They may feel that their lives are “blessed”. But but what they have is nothing compared to what God has to offer. But just like parents don’t take care of children that are not theirs, God does not bless those who don’t belong to Him (Zechariah 8:21-22). Atheists and non-believers may achieve worldly wealth and success but they are really settling for “good enough”.
Previously in our reading of the prophecy of Revelation, the earth has given power to an initially-benign ruler, known as the antichrist, who later reveals his true, egomaniacal nature and leads the world into complete rejection of Jesus. Almost 7 years of chaos and turmoil result from this decision. Today in our passage the final seven judgements are released upon the earth ushering in the return of Jesus, which we’ll read about in a couple of days.
At this point there are very few Christians on earth. Prior to this Tribulation period all believers were removed from the earth in the Rapture. While some people will come to faith in Christ after that, the number will be very few. Most of those that do will be killed by the antichrist who will declare himself to be god and will demand the world worship him as such or die. To pledge allegiance to the antichrist will be to declare oneself an enemy of God.
In response God will inflict these enemies with painful sores (Revelation 16:2). He will then complete His destruction of the earth. Back in Revelation 8 God destroyed 33% of the world’s ecology. This was a warning – He could have destroyed 100% of it. But in His mercy He keeps well over half of it hoping that people will take notice and repent. As we know, they will not. They will dig in their heels against Him even more.
God will then destroy the rest of nature (Revelation 16:3-4) and will cause the sun to become so hot that people will be scorched by it (Revelation 16:8-9). Notice response of these people: rather than believe God and admit their sin, they will curse Him. Its not like they didn’t have advance notice. The Bible was written thousands of years ago and I’m sure copies will be available during this time. Yet they will choose to ignore it because of their own pride and arrogance.
With so much of the ecology destroyed, human beings won’t be able to survive much longer. Hence, the return of Jesus must be near. Sure enough He will return in Revelation 20.
The next two judgements are against the antichrist, who has lead people into spiritual darkness, and his kingdom. As we’ve read numerous times this year, God holds leaders accountable for how well of a job they did leading people to Him (or at least not leading people away from Him). Needless to say the antichrist will fail this test miserably. God will respond by plunging the antichrist’s kingdom (since He will rule the world I believe this refers to all of earth) into darkness (Revelation 16:10). Again, the people of the world will curse God and refuse to repent.
The next thing God will due is miraculously dry up the Euphrates River so that a huge army can march west (Revelation 16:12). joining the armies of the rest of the world in a war against God (Revelation 16:14). For centuries people thought the drying up of this mighty river was fantasy. But with the modern invention of damming rivers, this is a reality. The Atatürk dam in southern Turkey can easily stop the flow of water drying up the river in a matter of days.
These armies will come to do battle against God at a place called Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). Contrary to popular misunderstanding, Armageddon is not an event in which the world is destroyed. Armageddon is a place. Its Anglicized name comes from the combination of two Hebrew words: “Har” (mountain) and “Megiddo” (a town in Israel). Properly translated Armageddon means “Mountain of Megiddo”. It is the place where all the armies of the world will gather in a final battle to wipe Israel off the map.
The drying up of the Euphrates River will seem like a blessing to these armies. But their thinking will be ignorance. The reality will be that God is gathering all His enemies in one location so He can destroy them, which He does with another world-wide earthquake (the fifth in less than seven years) and hailstorm (Revelation 16:17-21). But notice that once again, people will blame God rather than taking responsibility for their own decisions and actions.
After seven terrible years God’s enemies are defeated and Jesus can come and judge people for their eternal destiny and rule the earth for 1,000 years. We’ll read about all this in the next few days.
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