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The Christian Counter

     
THE LAST SEVEN PLAGUES
Lesson 22
page 1 of 2

Review

The close of mercy will be like the closing of Noah’s door.  When the door of the ark was closed, those inside couldn’t go outside and those outside, couldn’t get inside.  Every decision was forever sealed with the closing of the door.  Jesus says of Himself, “These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the keys of David.  What he opens, no one can shut; and what he shuts; no one can open.”  Revelation 3:7 As it was in the Noah’s day – “so shall it be.”

All inhabitants of the earth will receive the mark except those keeping the commandments of God and having the faith of Jesus.  The mark will be necessary for survival.  No one will be able to buy or sell except those having the mark.  The remnant will be cut off from any and all earthy support.  They can only live if they live by faith.  What a time to be upon the earth!

The emotional distress during the time of wrath will be overwhelming for those who have not made it a practice to place their faith in Jesus.  The coming tribulation will be greater than anything ever known upon the earth, but Jesus has promised to provide the necessary grace we need to endure this awful time.  No wonder Zephaniah said, “Listen!  The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there.  That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpets and the battle cry against the fortified cities.  Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath.  In the fire of his jealously the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.”  Zephaniah 1:14-18

Luke adds to Zephaniah’s description of the last day’s saying, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.  On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”  Luke 21:25,26

Don’t be overwhelmed!  Paul says, “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  I Corinthians 10:13

Joel, speaking of the great testing time at the end of the world, said, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!  For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.  The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine.  The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble.  But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.”  Joel 3:14-16

Babylon’s reward

Just as we cannot understand the depth of God’s mercy, we cannot understand the severity of God’s wrath contained in the 7 last plagues.  To understand why Jesus is so angry at Babylon and those who receive the mark of the beast, we turn to Revelation.  Notice:

“He (the seven-headed, ten horned beast, Babylon) was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.  And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.  All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast – all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb.”  Revelation 13:7,8

“He (Satan, the lamb-like beast) ordered them (the people of earth) to set up an image in the honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.  He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.”  Revelation 13:14,15

“I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.”  Revelation 17:6

“They (the leaders of Babylon) will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”  Revelation 17:14

“In her (the harlot, the one-world congress) was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth.”Revelation 18:24

These verses contain a great deal more information than you would casually notice.  On the surface, these verses describe a one-sided conflict between people.  The saints don’t kill people!  However, the larger issues in these verses focus on the cumulative effects of sin and rebellion within the human race.  These verses describe an open, willful and explicit rebellion against God, His gospel and His messengers.

Psychologists and social scientists have written extensively on the cumulative nature of behavior.  For example, the abused child often becomes a child abuser.  The child of an alcoholic often adopts the attitudes of his parents and in adulthood either becomes drug dependant or manifests a co-dependant attitude about life.  In simple terms, the effect of sin upon succeeding generations is degenerative.

The second commandment addresses this very point!  Jesus says, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for their sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.”  Exodus 20:4-6

Two important points must be made from the commandment:

1.      Jesus is a jealous God.  He is jealous for our happiness and well-being.  He is jealous for our sakes and not His. Human jealously means burning with selfish interest, but in God’s case, as in any loving parent’s heart, He is jealous for the benefit of His children.  Just as a loving parent deeply wants his or her child to succeed and be happy, Jesus wants no less for His children.

2.      Does Jesus punish the children of sinful parents because their parents were evil?  A surface look at the second commandment would so indicate.  But look again at the commandment.  Jesus does not unjustly punish the descendants of sinful parents.  Rather, this commandment affirms that the Creator grants the power of choice.  Because human beings have reasoning powers, we can make choices that lead to destruction and choices that lead to life.  Jesus allows the inheritance of sin to continue within a family or society until it self-destructs.  However, when the world in a corporate sense reaches this point, He steps in.

We see these two points demonstrated before the flood.  “The lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the heart was only evil all the time.  The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.  So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures, for I am grieved that I have made them.”  Genesis 6:5-7

Entertainment tonight?

Today, we shudder at the thought of lions eating Christians in Roman amphitheatres in the name of entertainment.  We call gladiators fighting to death before a bloodthirsty crowd “barbaric.”  But are we any different than the ancient pagans when it comes to entertainment each evening?

In the past forty years, TV has played an enormous role in destroying our social values.  Generations of children have grown up watching violence, murder, theft, rape, lying, cheating, deception and illicit sex.  Is there any wonder that beholding these values has corrupted us?  Take sin out of television programs and who would watch them?  What would be entertaining?

Ask most young people why they are attending school and the usual answer will tell of materialistic goals rather than service to others.  This generation is the “me generation” and it is more self-centered than the preceding one.  Parents can’t blame their offspring for having these values either.  The older generation bears a great responsibility for the present condition.  Today, most of America’s children are reared in human farms we call “day-care centers” while both parents work to possess the materials things of life.  The family unit has disintegrated because we deem the things of this life more than our children!  The most important things in life aren’t things!  Think about tomorrow.  What will be the cumulative effects of our sins?

The root problem is that we have broken all Ten Commandments especially the first four commands that tell us how we should love our Creator.  When we forget God, we forget our neighbor.  We become self-centered.  By neglecting the first four commandments, we have made void the last six commandments.  The royal commandments have been set aside.  We now love ourselves as we should love our neighbors!

Jesus, talking about the last days, said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”  Matthew 24:12 Paul, talking about the last days, said, “But mark this:  There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.”  II Timothy 3:1-5

Consolidation

The socio-political changes happening around our world appear positive at the moment.  Reduction in armament, increased trade among countries and open dialogue seems in vogue.  But a dangerous process is taking place.  World control is being consolidated into the hands of fewer and fewer people.  For example, in this country, 5% of our population owns more than the remaining 95%!  The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting more numerous.  In just a matter of time, the wealthy and the politically elite will form a global economic body to control the world.

What does this have to do with Revelation?  Revelation indicates there will be a global consolidation of wealth and power.  Notice that when Babylon collapses, it is the merchants and the kings of the earth that are crying!  “When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.  Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry ‘Woe! Woe!, O great city, O Babylon, city of power!  In one hour your doom has come!’  The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no buys their cargoes any more.”  Revelation 18:9-11

When the trumpets begin, the current leadership of the world will be able to respond quickly through the various communication links established through trade.  The first four trumpets bring horrific destruction and each government will quickly implement contingency laws to deal with the state of emergency.  In this setting, freedoms all around the world will be restricted in the name of survival.

Since the trumpets will be duly recognized as acts of God, religious leaders will become very powerful because they will have direct influence upon lawmakers.  Lawmakers will cooperate with the suggestions of clerics because they know that in a state of emergency people are spiritually inclined.  “Appease God,” the clerics cry.  And lawmakers respond with a flurry of laws requiring righteous behavior.  As nations all over the world attempt to deal with the multitude of problems associated with the trumpets, they quickly turn to legislation for economic stability.  The laws will appear reasonable to the majority of people and penalties for civil disobedience will be severe.

In America

Laws establishing reverence for Sunday will be enforced in America.  (Most states already have laws regarding the sanctity of Sunday observance on their legislative books.  However, these laws are not uniformly enforced at this time.)  At first, Sunday laws will be defended in the name of economic necessity, but as time progresses, the cry, “we have forgotten God” will be loudly proclaimed as the reason for the trumpets.  The irony of this matter is that man’s solution to the trumpets will be the opposite of the gospel invitation!  At the very time the gospel is proclaiming, “Worship the Creator on His holy day” men will be making laws respecting a day of worship contrary to God’s law!  Because the majority of people in America think Sunday is the Lord’s Day, laws will be respecting the sacredness of Sunday.  Thus reverence for Sunday will appear to be a reasonable solution to the problem.  It is interesting to note, that today, very few people actually feel Sunday is all that sacred and thus keep the day holy.  The trumpets will change this attitude overnight!

The centerpiece of Revelation’s story for America is that Sunday is not, nor has it ever been, the Lord’s day.  There is no support for the sacredness of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or any other day in the Bible except the seventh day.  Even more, there is no commandment explaining how another day is to be kept if it is indeed a day of worship.

When the laws are made respecting Sunday as a day of worship, a number of dissidents will arise.  Some will argue the loss of “constitutional right” and others will intellectually argue for “freedom of worship.”  However, neither of these groups will be able to hold back the tide of religious zeal.

Another group will argue that the trumpets have a specific purpose.  That purpose is to call attention to the worship of the Creator of Earth on His holy Sabbath, the seventh day of the week.  The resulting controversy that attends the issue of worship will totally eclipse all the controversies in America such as abortion, human rights and environmental problems.  (These current controversies are nothing compared surrounding the gospel!)  As a result of the trumpets, America will experience economic, religious and civil anarchy.  Under the guise of patriotism, America will repudiate its Bill of Rights!

As the controversy matures, the issues become clearly stated.  By the time of the fourth trumpet occurs, survival will be the all-consuming issue before every mind.  All over the world, the story of Revelation will be told.  Americans will hear why the seven first plagues are falling and why they should obey the Law of God.  They will hear the first angel’s message that says, “Worship the Creator according to His holy law.”  All will be invited to receive the everlasting gospel and live by faith.  The clarity of Revelation’s story and the power of the Holy Spirit will attend these presentations.  The Bible and the Holy Spirit will witness to every man, woman and child.  The gospel will reach 300 million Americans in a very short period of time.

America chooses the lamb-like beast

In spite of the unmistakable evidence provided from scripture and the power attending the first angel’s message, America will continue her downward course.  She will make more laws regarding the sanctity of Sunday and increase the penalties for disobedience.  Satan personally arrives upon the earth during the fifth trumpet claiming to be God. Most Americans (and the world) will ultimately accept this villain of mankind as the true God.  The great American motto, “In God we Trust” will be dedicated to the lamb-like beast.

Satan knows all about Revelation’s story.  His greatest thrill will be to deceive people at a time when the truth was never so clear.  His goal is simple.  He wants to destroy the world before Jesus returns.  Over a hundred years ago, a great author summed up the devil’s great plan saying,  “the first day will be extolled, and the Protestant world will receive this spurious Sabbath as genuine. Through the nonobservance of the Sabbath that God instituted, I will bring His law into contempt.  Thus the world will become mine.  I will be the ruler of the earth, the prince of the world.  I will so control the minds under my power that God’s Sabbath shall be a special object of contempt.  A sign?  I will make the observance of the seventh day a sign of disloyalty to the authorities of earth.  Human laws will be made so stringent that men and women will not dare to observe the seventh day Sabbath.  For fear of wanting food and clothing, they will join with the world in transgressing God’s law.  The earth will be under my dominion.”  Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, page 184.

The wrath of God – full strength

By the time probation closes, every person on earth will have heard the arguments of the everlasting gospel and made a decision.  The people of earth will stand in two camps: those obeying Jesus and those obeying Satan.  Those obeying Satan have put their faith in him, and they will join with Satan in warring upon those that refuse to go along.  Those receiving the mark of the beast rejected the clearest presentations of Bible truth.  These will turn their backs upon God’s mercy.  Even worse, these people will passionately work to destroy the saints and covet the commendation of the devil!

Even though Satan and Babylon conquer the world (Revelation 13:7), John saw the victory of the saints over Satan and his followers.  “And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and the image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb.”  Revelation 15:2,3 In losing, they win!  Jesus said, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Matthew 10:39

The seven last plagues

The seven last plagues fall upon all who receive the mark of the beast.  The seven last plagues will be a horrible reward for the wicked.  They will be rewarded for their cruelty to God’s people.  The seven last plagues contain the wrath of God – full strength.  In brief, the plagues are:

  1. Terrible sores all over the body
  2. The entire sea turns to blood
  3. Springs of water all over the world turn to blood
  4. Sun scorches people with fire
  5. Satan’s kingdom plunged into darkness
  6. Armageddon – universal death decree for the destruction of the saints
  7. Second Coming / Great hail stones

These plagues do not affect God’s people.  “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.  You will only observe with your eyes the punishment of the wicked.” Psalms 91:7,8 These plagues are beyond the comprehension of man for the world has never seen the full wrath of God – full strength!

In fact, Daniel says it will be a time of trouble as never before!  Daniel 12:1

Interesting points

Three points need to be made:

1.      Many of the seven last plagues parallel the destruction caused by the seven trumpets.  As the first trumpets affected one-third of the earth, the seven last plagues affect the entire world!

2.      Notice the parallel.  The fifth trumpet marks the arrival of Satan and the fifth plague marks the “unmasking” of Satan!  Satan, prior to the fifth plague, blames the trumpets and the first four last-plagues upon the saints and their “rebellious” behavior.  When Jesus pours out the fifth plague, the world will see that this creature claiming to be God isn’t God – for God would not destroy his own throne!  See Revelation 16:10,11.  The light of truth shines.  The religious and political leaders of the world recognize they have been following a demon.  This starts a domino-like collapse of Babylon.  John says, “The beast (Babylon) and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute (World Congress).  They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.”  Revelation 17:16

3.      To maintain control of what is left, Satan rallies the world one last time by sending his evil angels throughout the earth in a great deceptive ploy to destroy the saints, who allegedly, “put the curse upon the throne.”  Satan entices the kings of the earth to unite in a universal death decree.  John says of Satan’s representatives, “They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for battle on the great day of God Almighty.  Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” Revelation 16:14,16

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