Are We Watching?

Rev 16:1-15

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth."

2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.

3 Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.

4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.

5 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.

6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due."

7 And I heard another from the altar saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments."

8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.

9 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.

10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.

11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.

12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.

13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame." (NKJ)

As the angels begin their destructive mission of punishing the kingdom of the anti-christ and bringing God's judgment on earth, we draw back in horror as to the extent of the destruction of this last seven plagues.

But in the midst of all this destruction, Jesus interjects His own words. Behold, he says, I am coming as a thief, blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.

I think that this is a message of warning and of hope. Are you frightened by the events that this chapter speaks of or are you just stupid. These words should strike terror in the hearts of everyone. The problem is, that people do not believe God as He is revealed in the Bible any more.

Do you understand that one of the main purposes of all these terrible events is so that people would wake from their stupor and recognize the hand of God on a guilty and sinful world. Don't you see this is God's last call for people to repent before the curtain falls on this age of grace.

God is a God of power and He is not afraid to use His power to bring people to Himself. He is not afraid to bring destruction to the earth and its inhabitants in order to awaken the lethargic human race from its sinful sleep of indifference toward Him.

But let us look more particularly to these plagues.

  1. The loathsome sore on those who have the mark.
    1. The first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.
    2. This plague is similar to the sixth plague on the Egyptians.
      1. Exod 9:8-9 So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh. "And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt." (NKJ)
    3. We do not know the nature of the malady but we know that it will be painful but will affect only those who have the mark of the beast.
  2. The seas become blood.
    1. Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
    2. Some have doubted the accuracy of this verse and insist that the verse be taken figuratively.
    3. The only problem is that they do not have a clue as to what it might be a figurative of.
    4. This is similar to the second trumpet judgment.
      1. In that judgment there was but one third of the oceans affected.
      2. Here we see that all the seas are affected.
  3. Next the all fresh water is affected.
    1. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
    2. As we have seen in various parts of the world where floods or wars have removed the supply of fresh water, it leads to more serious health problems.
    3. Notice also the commentary of one of the angels:
      1. 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."
      2. These people have been merciless in their presecution of two groups during the last few years.
      3. They have persecuted the Jews, for they are God's chosen nation.
      4. And they have persecuted all those who would not receive the mark of the beast, a sign of allegiance to him.
    4. Then from the altar is a confirmation.
      1. And I heard another from the altar saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments."
      2. As we said last week we must never loose sight of the fact that God is righteous.
      3. He is almighty, but He is also righteous, what a perfect combination.
  4. The next plague affects the heat from the sun.
    1. Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.
    2. When you get to the point where you are changing the events in the heavens, you have clearly stepped beyond the reach of mortal man.
    3. Man has always wondered if we are alone in the universe, and this will clearly answer the question.
    4. The fourth trumpet judgment also affected the sun and the moon but not as we have here.
    5. Signs in the sun and the moon have always been signs of the end as is seen Old Testament books as Joel, Daniel, Amos, Isaiah.
    6. Jesus had also said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Matt 24:29-30 (NKJ)
    7. We notice the effect this has on the people of earth.
      1. 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.
      2. Man in his rebellion will not give in to the heavy hand of God upon them.
      3. They will be just as people are now.
      4. They will continue in their wickedness and will blaspheme the only Name by which they might escape these terrible judgments.
  5. A painful darkness replaces the scorching light from the sun.
    1. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.
    2. This again causes them to blaspheme and curse God.
      1. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
  6. The gathering together to Armageddon.
    1. Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
    2. We do not want to comment on this for that will be the subject of next's week sermon. Earth's final battle
  7. The Blessed hope with words of warning.

"Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."

  1. Jesus is coming for His own before these terrible judgments.
  2. He will come as a thief.
    1. Matt 24:43-51 "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. "Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. "But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' "and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, "and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NKJ)
    2. Jesus was trying to tell His followers that He was going to return when no one would expect it.
    3. That is one reason I cannot accept the idea of the return of Jesus at any other time then before the great tribulation begins.
    4. Once it begins, people will be constantly looking for Him.
    5. In the account here in Matt we notice He cautions them to be watchful, for they will not be expecting Him to return when He does.
    6. Some will go so far as to think His return is far off and will act inappropriately.
  3. Paul also taught us these things
    1. 1Thes 5:2-6 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
  4. So did Peter
    1. 2 Pet 3:10-12 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? (NKJ)
  5. We have a responsibility to watch.
    1. Matt 24:42 "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. (NKJ)
    2. Matt 25:13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. (NKJ)
    3. Mark 13:33-37 "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. "It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. "Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming-- in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning-- "lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (NKJ)
    4. Luke 12:37-43 "Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. "And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Then Peter said to Him, "Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?" And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? "Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. (NKJ)
    5. Luke 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." (NKJ)
    6. 1Thes 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (NKJ)
    7. 1 Pet 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. (NKJ)  
This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com