We undoubtedly live in a privileged day. God has certainly given us so much. Those of us who live in the United States live in relative safety. In comparison to the rest of the world even the poorest of us have great abundance. Our country affords us unprecedented freedom that most of the world lacks. We live in a time when God's Word is easily accessible. For all of us we have been partakers of 2000+ years of the preaching and teaching of God's Word. The question is why are we here in this time and in this day? What is our responsibility with all that God has given and taught us?
It brings to mind certainly two verses:
Esther 4:14 shows us the dialogue between Hadassah and Mordecai provoking this same question. Hadassah (Esther) had been allowed to rise to the height of Queen in one of Israel's darkest hours and Mordecai (her Uncle) makes this statement concerning her responsibility. "For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
We can answer that rhetorical question Mordecai poses knowing the rest of the story. Esther certainly was given the stewardship of the high office of Queen for the events that would transpire in the following chapters of that book delivering the Jews from sudden destruction.
Paul in I Corinthians 9:17 expresses a similar thought concerning his stewardship of the Gospel, "For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me."
In other words, Paul understood that he was given a mission for the spreading of the Gospel for 'such a time' as he lived.
Continuing this thought, we must then understand that God has given us His Word in its entirety for a purpose. There is no doubt that we are given His Word so that we might know the Gospel. The great purposes of the Bible not only include our knowledge of salvation but also our knowledge of God Himself and His holiness. But what about a specific passage such as Revelation 16? In understanding the sequence of events in the book of Revelation, those who have trusted in Christ for salvation will be in heaven long before chapter 16 takes place. So to what purpose should we ascribe the knowledge of the horrendous events that will take place in chapter 16 for you and I today?
First let us review what is given to us in that fearful chapter. We find it opens with a statement of God's wrath being poured out.
"And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth."
This verse speaks to the severity of the judgement of God, the completeness of the judgment (mentioned in 7 vials or bowls), and lastly the certainty of the judgement (indicated by the command "Go your ways, and pour out...") There is no amount of praying that will reverse what follows in this chapter, and because it is written in God's Word we can count on it as surely coming to pass.
We not only see the fullness of God's wrath but also the fulness of the scope of destruction. This is not some localized event that will occur in one place but rather this judgement is "upon the earth." In other words, global destruction. As the chapter continues, of which I would compel you to read for yourself, the following 'vial' judgements are given:
1. Vial 1 - Noisome and grievous sore v2
2. Vial 2 - the Sea "became as the blood of a dead man:" "every living soul in the sea died." v3
3. Vial 3 - Water sources turned to blood "they have shed the blood of the saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy." v4-7
4. Vial 4 - Scorching with great heat "men were scorched with great heat..." and yet"they repented not to give him the glory." v8,9
5. Vial 5 - Darkness and pain v10,11
6. Vial 6 - Deception and the gathering of the final rebellion v12,13
7. Vial 7 - Thunderings, lightenings, a great earthquake(islands flee and mountains disappear), and hail (60-100lbs a piece) falls upon man. v17-21
As we look at this list, which our imagination just has the ability to scratch the surface of, we must ask the question, Why did God give us this incite?
Might I suggest at least one reason; that we would be reminded of the impending judgment that will come to pass and be more fervent in our yielding to our Savior to preach the Gospel.
As I am reminded of the power of the Gospel let us leave this gruesome scene by meditating on these two verses:
Acts 26:18 “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
Colossians 1: 11-14 "Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:"
Both of these verses give us the hope that today we can, should the Lord tarry, see folks translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son. Our responsibility for 'such a time as this' is to be diligent in witnessing to the lost around us. Let us never forget our stewardship of the Gospel in this late hour.
- Pastor James Grandinetti, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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