Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 21 December 2022:
1 Chronicles 16:9 — Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
God wants His works in your life to be the primary topic of your conversation with others.
1 Chronicles 16:11 – Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Seeking the LORD is a continuous, wholehearted endeavor.
1 Chronicles 16:12 – Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered….
Worship should include recounting all the things God has done in your life.
1 Chronicles 16:19 – When you were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it….
God begins mighty works with the few faithful among the masses.
1 Chronicles 16:20-22 – …wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”
God protects you when you have no strength, power or status. Have comfort in knowing the no one can take you outside of God’s will or protection. Whatever happens to you is intended by God for a greater good you cannot imagine.
1 Chronicles 16:23 – Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
God expects you to tell everyone about your salvation through Jesus. God wants you involved in His mission to redeem the lost world.
1 Chronicles 16:25-26, 31 – For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens…. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
God alone has true power. God loves you unconditionally and with all power – rejoice in that! The world does not know or accept that “The LORD reigns.” This is even more reason to proclaim the truth of the Gospel today.
Revelation 15:2 — And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.
“Seven churches have received a message from Jesus, seven seals have been opened, and seven trumpets have been sounded thus far in the book of Revelation (chs. 1–14). Now, as we see in today’s passage, seven plagues are about to be unleashed (15:1). These “plagues are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.” The plague judgments represent the final outpouring of judgment, the end of the present age consummated at the return of Jesus. Revelation does not end in chapter 15, for it goes on to describe some more things that will happen before the end, but the plagues are a foretaste of a more complete description of the end that lies ahead in John’s record of his visions.
Before we learn more about these seven plagues, we see again “those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name” (v. 2). Of course, this group consists of the 144,000 saints who have been sealed with the name of God and of His Son (7:1–8; 14:1–5), the congregation that is actually much larger than 144,000 because the 144,000 symbolize the people of God redeemed from all tribes and tongues (7:9–12). This group stands beside “a sea of glass mingled with fire” (15:2). We are reminded of the clear expanse or firmament at the base of God’s throne (Ex. 24:10; Ezek. 1:22). These saints who have conquered the beast, in other words, are standing in the very presence of our reigning Lord. They have maintained their profession to the end, clinging to Christ in life and in death, and now they get to see God.
These saints do not stand idly by; rather, they “sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3). John alludes here to Moses’ song of victory over Pharaoh at the Red Sea (Ex. 15) and the new song that the same saints sing in Revelation 14:3. It is not that the song of Moses from Exodus 15 and the song of the Lamb are identical. Instead, John is saying that the songs stand in continuity with one another. The incontestable victory the Lord won at the Red Sea over Pharaoh is the paradigm for God’s final victory over all evil.
When God defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea, the surrounding nations trembled (Josh. 2:9–11). When God defeats all evil, the nations will fear and worship Him. That is what the saints declare in their new song. The great acts of God reveal His holiness and inspire the nations to come and worship Him forever (Rev. 15:3–4).
When God defeats His enemies and judges His foes, people are inspired to worship Him. Sometimes we are tempted to forget this, thinking that talking about God’s judgment will scare them away. But God’s victory over His enemies is part of the good news of the gospel. As we tell of His judgment, we are faithful to the fullness of biblical revelation, and people see that they must worship Him for His might and glory.” (Ligonier Ministries)
Revelation 15:5-8 – After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
“Pausing his introduction of the seven plagues to give us a picture of the worship of God’s people in heaven before His throne, John has reminded us that as the judgments of the Lord occur on the earth, those who die in faith are safe in our Creator’s presence (Rev. 15:1–4). In today’s passage, John returns to the seven plagues, telling us more about the angels who bear them.
The curtains of the heavenly tabernacle open, and seven angels with the seven plagues come out. Dressed in bright linen with golden sashes, they resemble the old covenant high priest when he entered the Holy Place (vv. 5–6; see Lev. 16:4). As heavenly priests, these angels are especially holy, which says something about the wrath that they are about to pour out (Rev. 15:7). God’s wrath is not the petulant outburst of an impatient being or an expression of petty vindictiveness. It is not an overreaction to minor transgressions. God’s wrath expresses His perfect holiness. It is the consequence of an infinitely righteous being encountering sin that has not been covered by a sacrifice of atonement. The holy angels pour out the holy wrath of the holy God. It is right for them to do this, and the Lord’s wrath is the perfect expression of His justice against those who deserve it (2 Chron. 36:15–16; Ezek. 36:16–21).
After the angels exit the heavenly tabernacle, the four living creatures around the throne of our Creator give them ‘seven gold bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever’ (Rev. 15:7). We will see in Revelation 16 that the seven bowls of wrath contain the seven plagues. For now, we will note that these bowls are most likely bowls that are ordinarily used for incense. When we studied 8:1–5, we saw that the incense in heaven consists of the prayers of the saints, which brought about the judgments of the seven trumpets. Something similar seems to be going on here. Bowls of incense contain the wrath of God, so we see that our prayers can bring about the Lord’s judgments. God’s final wrath and consummation are connected to our prayers. As we ask for Him to defeat His enemies and pray for the return of Christ, the day of consummation fast approaches.
Once the seven angels receive the seven bowls, God’s glory fills the tabernacle, and no one can go in until the wrath is fulfilled (15:8). The final, consummated creation where God dwells among His people in the new heavens and earth cannot occur until His wrath against sin has been fully and finally expressed.
Are you praying for the return of Christ and for the justice of God to be expressed fully and finally? Second Peter 3:11–12 says that as we live in godliness, including engaging in prayer, the day of the Lord fast approaches. Let us pray for the return of the Lord and the vindication of His name through the perfect display of His justice.” (Ligonier Ministries)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 21 December 2022: Today, proclaim the Gospel with great urgency while you pray for and anticipate the return of the Lord.