SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The chapter opens with a dramatic silence. Just after the seventh and final seal is opened everything in heaven stops. There may be a sense that things are about to get worse... and they do.
- John continues to narrate the activities of four angels who are sounding trumpets. This results in catastrophic damage on the earth. One of the trumpets calls down an asteroid-type thing called "Wormwood"(that title means "bitterness," which is an apt name seeing as it turned a third of the earth’s water bitter).
- According to the four most common interpretations of Revelation, these events could be:
- Symbolizing what happened to Jerusalem in AD 70 (when the temple was destroyed) or to the Roman empire years later
- A future judgment of God taken literally or merely the effects of humanity’s abuse of the earth; or...
- A general symbol of God’s judgment on a defiant humanity.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- God is love. The Bible makes that clear, and at Verve we talk about it often. But God is also a perfect and just judge. If you heard about a (human) judge who had someone guilty of horrible crimes come before him, and this judge decides to ignore his guilt, pretend nothing has happened, and assign no punishment, you would not think that was loving. You would think it was wrong. And God must judge wrongdoing. God will judge sin. It's not a pleasant topic, but it's reality and we need to recognize it. All sin will be judged, and sinful people will experience the consequences of their sin. Unless (and this is huge) they choose to accept Jesus as their Savior, in which case Jesus is judged for that person's sin and, on the cross, Jesus experiences the consequences of that person's sin.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- It's awesome to know God is love, and it's amazing that God asks us to be his friend. But we need to be careful to not reduce God to some kind of warm fuzzy half-truth version of himself. God is holy, and he will judge sin. This means we need to take our sin seriously. We need to have it removed from ourselves to escape judgment, and thank God we can do that through Jesus and his sacrifice. But even if we have, we still need to take our sin seriously. We don't want to add on to what Jesus had to bear on the cross. And we want to have God's attitude about everything, which means we should hate our sin.