“True and righteous are thy judgments” (Rev. 16)

In a chapter entitled, “The Devils,” historian Paul Johnson explains how the Marxists in Russia during the 1930’s under Stalin terrorized their own citizens.  One of the ways they did this was by disconnecting crime and punishment.  In other words, you didn’t have to be actually guilty of anything to become a victim of the secret police.  A Russian agent even admitted to a British newspaper “that innocent people were arrested: naturally – otherwise no one would be frightened.  If people, he said, were arrested only for specific misdemeanors, all the others would feel safe and so become ripe for treason.”  He goes on to write:

An old Bolshevik recounts the case of an energy expert who, over eighteen months, was arrested, sentenced to death, pardoned, sent to a [concentration] camp, released, rehabilitated and finally given a medal, all for no apparent reason. 

Unfortunately, all too often human “justice” is flawed, even if not to the extent of Soviet Russia.  However, if there is a lesson from Revelation 16, it is surely that this is not the case with God.  God is the judge of all the earth who will always do what is right (cf. Gen. 18:25).  This means that God only punishes the wicked, and he punishes the wicked exactly as they deserve – no more and no less.  The God of the Bible is never guilty of a miscarriage of justice.  He never convicts the innocent, and he never terrorizes the righteous.  We rightly abominate those who do.  And even when God punishes the wicked, he never takes pleasure in it.  According to the prophet Ezekiel, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die;” nevertheless, “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye” (Ezek. 18:4, 32).  God rejoices when a single sinner repents (cf. Lk 15); he takes no pleasure in the punishment of any wicked person.

And yet, one of the reasons that people give for nonbelief in the God of the Bible is the fact that God punishes the wicked and, in particular, that he sends people to hell.  Some folks might even look at the judgments recorded in the book of Revelation and think that this is overkill on God’s part.  All these cycles of judgment: what gives?  Is this not an overreaction on God’s part?

However, when we carefully consider this chapter, it will help us to answer questions like that.  To do so, I first want us to see how this chapter fits in with the broader narrative in the book of Revelation and take a quick overview of its contents.  Then, I want us to look at the prominent themes which emerge from this chapter.  We will see that our Lord makes it very clear in his word here that his judgments are just, and that far from being reasons for doubting God’s goodness, it ought to lead us to praise him for his justice and the fact that very soon the God who is Holy will put all things right. 

The Cycles of Judgment in Revelation

We’ve seen that the book of Revelation is broadly structured around three cycles of seven judgments: the judgments associated with the seals of the scroll (chapters 6-8), with the sounding of the angelic trumpets (chapters 8-11), and now with the pouring out of the bowls (vials) of wrath (chapter 16).  I believe that the first cycle covers the entire period of time between the first and second comings our Lord, whereas the latter two are associated with the end of the End.  The last two certainly share similarities and gives credence to the argument that they deal with roughly the same period of time.  

For example, in both the trumpet and bowl judgments, they are poured out successively on the earth, sea, rivers, and the sun (first four judgments).  In the fifth trumpet judgment, the bottomless pit is opened, and locusts come on the earth to torture those who are not sealed by God; in the fifth bowl judgment, God’s wrath is poured out on the seat of the beast so that those who belong to his kingdom are in terrible pain.  Clearly, the objects of God’s wrath are the same in both cases, for those who are not sealed by God are those who belong to the kingdom of the beast and who bear the mark of his name.  Both the sixth trumpet and bowl judgments involve the Euphrates river and large armies amassing there to attack and destroy.  Finally, the seventh judgments of all three cycles involve the end of the End: here we are told that “the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (Rev. 16:19-20).  (The fall of Babylon will be further elaborated in chapters 17-19.)

However, there are differences.  One obvious difference is that whereas the trumpet judgments are limited in their scope to a third of whatever is being judged, the bowl judgments are universal in their scope.  There is no limitation here.  This is probably because, as we are told in the previous chapter, these judgments are “the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God” (15:1).  So I don’t think they are recapitulations of each other in the sense that they repeat exactly the same events from different perspectives (though there obviously is some overlap); rather I think they both belong to the end of history and show that as the end nears, God’s judgments upon the wicked and opposers of God and the church will intensify.  We will consider why they intensify in a moment.  But before we do that, let’s look at each of the judgments briefly and in order.

The First Bowl (1-2)

We read, “And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials [bowls] of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.”

The voice from the temple is God’s voice since no one was able to enter it until the bowl judgments were fulfilled (15:8).  The pouring out of the bowls is therefore rightly called “the wrath of God upon the earth.”  The first angel pours out his bowl and it causes men whose allegiance they have given to the beast to have terrible sores.  There is an appropriateness about this, for those who bear the mark of the beast now bear the marks of God’s wrath upon them in the form of bodily wounds.

The Second and Third Bowls (3-7)

“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.”

Whereas in the second trumpet judgment we are told that a third part of the sea became blood, here were are told that every living thing in the sea dies, indicating the universality of its extent.  Just like the trumpet judgments, these are meant to remind us of the plagues in Egypt when God poured out his wrath on Egypt and its gods.  And just as the first bowl reminds us of the sixth plague (boils on the skin of the Egyptians, Exod. 9:9-12), so the second and third bowls are meant to remind us of the first plague (turning the water of the Nile to blood, Exod. 7:14-25).

Here we are made to see also the appropriateness of the second and third judgments: just as the blood of saints had been shed by the followers of the beast, so now God has given them blood to drink.  Just as Pharoah had commanded his people to toss the Hebrew children into the Nile river, so it was a mark of just and fit justice when Moses by the power of God turned that river into blood.  In other words, we see that these are punishments which fit the crime.  We will come back to this theme in a moment.

The Fourth and Fifth Bowls (8-11)

“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores and repented not of their deeds.”

Just as the second and third bowls can be considered together since they both deal with water being turned to blood, so the fourth and fifth bowls can be considered together since they both involve the sun and its light.  In the fourth bowl judgment, the wicked followers of the beast are scorched with fire and heat.  In the fifth, darkness engulfs the seat of the beast’s kingdom.  This makes one think of the ninth plague in Egypt when the Egyptians were plunged into a darkness that could be felt whereas the Hebrews had light in their dwellings (see Exod. 10:21-29).  It is not clear how darkness itself can cause people to gnaw their tongues out of pain, but one is reminded here of the outer darkness our Lord spoke of: “But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 8:12).

The Sixth Bowl (12-16)

“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”

In the first century, those who lived in the cities of Roman Asia (modern Turkey) lived in apprehension of invasion by the Parthian empire which lay beyond the boundary of the Euphrates River.  The ancient Israelites often experienced invasion themselves by armies which had to first cross the Euphrates to get to them.  The city Babylon lay on the Euphrates River and was conquered by the Persian Cyrus in 539 B.C. when he caused the river to be temporarily diverted giving his armies the ability to march on the riverbed which went right underneath the impregnable walls of Babylon and so right into the city to take it.  The reference to the Euphrates being dried up for the kings of the East is perhaps meant to prepare us for the eventuality that Babylon – the great city and opposer of righteousness in the world – itself will be destroyed.  

However that might be, I think all this is clearly a reference to preparations for a final battle, the ultimate battle between good and evil, between the unholy trinity (dragon, beast, false prophet) and the armies of heaven led by the Son of God.  This battle is recorded for us in Rev. 19:19-21 (although you have to read in the white space between verses 19 and 20 for the battle, it is so short).  We are told here that what motivates people to join the beast in his foolhardy war against Jesus Christ is deception, pictured here by frogs – unclean demons – who come out of the mouths of the devil, beast, and false prophet – and work miracles to deceive the nations.  This reminds us of what the apostle Paul says of the Antichrist in his letter to the Thessalonian believers: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:8-12).

We are told that the place where this will happen is Armageddon (Rev. 16:16).  Most of the authorities think that this is a transliteration of the Hebrew term Har-Megiddo, or Mount Megiddo.  Megiddo is a place in Israel, a place where many ancient battles were fought.  For example, it was here that Barak and Deborah were victorious over the army of Sisera (recorded in Judges 4 and celebrated in Judges 5).  However, the problem with locating the battle between the beast and our Lord in that specific geographic location is that there is no mountain at or around Megiddo – it is a plain located between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean, not a mountain (which is probably what made it such an ideal place for ancient battles).  

However, this is another instance where I think too many people end up swallowing camels while choking at a gnat.  I think the important point is that wherever this is, it is a real place, and one day there will be a real battle at this location – “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (14), and God will win, decisively so.  For all the times now when evil seems to triumph, we can look forward to a day – The Day – when God will through his Son decisively and gloriously triumph over all his opponents and those of his people.

The Seventh Bowl (17-21)

“And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

The language here is similar to that of the sixth seal judgment (cf. Rev. 6:12-17).  All earthly things are being shaken, islands and mountains fleeing away, so “that those things which cannot be shaken may remain,” that is, God’s eternal kingdom (Heb. 12:27-28).  The end comes with hundred-pound hail and an earthquake – both which often accompany the judgments of God in the OT – and which causes “great Babylon” and “the cities of the nations” to fall.  We should not distinguish too much between Babylon and the cities of the world, for Babylon stands for the power of evil which is manifested through the nations of the world and their rulers.  The point is that the power of evil will one day come to an end.  When God says, “It is done,” the story of history as we know it will be finished.

God is Just

What is the Lord seeking to teach us in Revelation’s depiction of the bowls of wrath, and, indeed, in all these cycles of judgment that we see in the book of Revelation?  I think the main lesson of this chapter is that God is just.  You see this reiterated twice in this chapter, first in verse 5, where the angel that controls the waters says, “Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.”  And then you see it in verse 7, where the altar says, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.”  The KJV translates this, “I heard another out of the altar say,” but the Greek text literally says, “And I heard the altar saying…”. This of course is symbolic language and the fact that in Revelation the altar is associated with God’s people and especially their prayers before him indicates that this is an expression of thankful praise on the part of the people of God. They praise him for his righteousness and his justice.  We should too!

But as I mentioned before, often this can be a stumbling block to people, and some folks can struggle with God punishing people, especially in hell.  So I want to approach this text in such a way so that we can see how it helps us to see the justice of God’s ways so that instead of finding fault with him we praise him with the saints.  How then does the unfolding of God’s wrath here in Revelation 16 help us to see the justice of God’s ways?  I think you see here it in at least two ways: in that the severity of God’s judgments always matches the crime, and in that the severity of God’s judgments matches the hardness of the human heart.

The severity of God’s judgments matches the crime

Justice is not done when the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.  And this can happen in one of two ways, can’t it?  It can happen when the crime isn’t punished enough, when either the lawbreaker goes free without paying his debt to society, or when the lawbreaker is gently slapped on the wrist when a harsher punishment is called for.  Let’s suppose, for example, that a man murders another person in cold blood.  He is caught and convicted, but then let go after a couple of hours in jail.  Is that really appropriate?  Has justice been done there?  I think we can probably all agree that in this case justice has not been done and that it is a bad thing when sometimes leniency is shown when sterner measures are called for.

On the other hand, what about cases where the punishment is too severe?  There are societies where a thief gets his hand cut off.  Now I suppose that the point of that is to provide a deterrent for theft, but one wonders if that is too harsh for that kind of crime.  Even if you don’t believe that that’s too harsh, we can all imagine instances where this is so.  Indeed, this is the sticking point when it comes to God’s judgments.  I think the problem people have is that they think God is being too harsh.  The Constitution of our country provides for this very problem: the eighth amendment prevents the government from inflicting “cruel and unusual punishments” upon its citizens.

But is God too harsh?  The Biblical answer is no.  One of the ways we know this is that God never delights in the death of the wicked.  It is his “strange work” (cf. Isa. 28:21).  God has just and holy reasons for allowing sin and sinners to exist, but he never takes delight in meting out the punishment.

In the text, we see that God fits the punishment to the crime.  This is highlighted in a number of ways in this chapter.  First, you see it explicitly in verses 5-6, where we read, “And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.”  Why is God righteous for judging the wicked in this way?  Because, for, “they have shed the blood of saints.”  God turned the seas and the rivers to blood in response to the unjust and wicked shedding of the blood of the people of God.  They get blood for blood.  You martyr God’s people by spilling their blood on the ground, and God will give you blood back for a recompense.  The punishment is not given because God gets pleasure from crushing his enemies.  He gives them exactly what they deserve.  This is about justice being fully and completely carried out.

You see this in other ways in this chapter as well.  In verse 2 in the first bowl, men who have the beast’s mark on their bodies receive judgment on their bodies.  Those who have defiled their body by making it an advertisement of allegiance to the enemies of God will be punished with a mark on their bodies from God in the form of sores.  In verse 19, we are told that “great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.”  Remember it was Babylon which caused the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication (14:8).  She makes people drink from her cup of wrath; now God makes it drink from the cup of his wrath.

We live in a world filled with wicked men who fill this world with infamous deeds.  Often they go unpunished in this world.  The book of Revelation is a reminder that this will not always be so.  Men may escape the justice of men, but they will not escape the justice of God.  It would not be a good thing if justice is not done.  But if there is no final judgment, if God is not coming to do his work to make all things right in the end, that would be a very bad thing.  But God is coming to judge the wicked.  And he will so judge them that exactly the right punishment is given for the sins committed.

This leads us to our next consideration.

The severity of God’s judgments matches the hardness of the human heart

God’s judgments ought to lead us to repentance.  As we’ve already seen, that is how they should function.  And yet, what we see again and again is that instead of leading men to repentance, they actually serve to harden them.  In the fourth plague, we read that instead of repenting, the men who “were scorched with great heat . . . blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory” (9).  They should have given him glory, but such was the hardness of their hearts that they blasphemed him instead.  They have the same response to the fifth bowl judgment: “they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds (10-11). 

It actually gets worse: in verses 12-16, we see that instead of repenting of their rebellion and treason against God, they are willingly deceived to join the antichrist in his futile and absurd war against God!  Finally, in response to the seventh plague, “men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great” (21).

You would think if any kind of punishment could be remedial, God’s would be.  But this is to underestimate the power of sin in the heart.  We have been told so often that man is at his core “good” that we fail to comprehend that, given the right circumstances, ordinary men and women can end up doing unspeakably cruel and evil things to others.  But the heart will out, given the right circumstances.  The Bible is realistic when almost every other worldview is Pollyannish: it doesn’t tell us that men are basically good, but that humanity is dead in trespasses and sins, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, that there is none who understand and seek after God.  Such is the corruption of the human heart that instead of judgment leading us to repentance, we will only let it harden our hearts even more.

Pharoah in the Exodus is an example of this.  Ten plagues, and every time he hardened his heart.  Even when he finally let the Israelites go, he ended up pursuing them after all to his own destruction.  And yet Pharoah is not the only instance of this in the record of Biblical history.  In Leviticus 26, God warned the Israelites that if they turned from his commandments, he would discipline them.  And if they didn’t turn after that, he would intensify his judgments upon them seven times over and keep repeating this process until they were cast out of the land: “And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins” (Lev. 26:18; cf. 26:21, 24, 28).  

This is what you see in the book of Revelation.  Three cycles of seven judgments, each time more severe, until the earth itself shakes out its inhabitants and is replaced by a new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

However, despite these points, someone might still object that hell – eternal punishment – has to be excessive.  How can sin committed by finite beings committed over a finite period of time warrant eternal punishment?  For this is certainly how the Bible speaks of the punishment to come.  For example, in Mt. 25:48, we read, “And these [the wicked] shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”  Or Rev. 14:9-11 tells us: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”  Now the judgments of God in the bowls of wrath are not, strictly speaking, this final judgment.  One way we know this is that they are intended to lead men to repentance (see verses 9 and 11).  However, I think it is appropriate here to consider this objection.  For how is it helpful to know God’s judgments here fit the crime and yet think that his eternal judgment is excessive?

What we learn from Revelation 16 is that God’s judgments are just because the severity of God’s judgments not only matches the crime but also the hardness of the hearts of those in rebellion against him.  We can see that here, can’t we?  Now the book of Revelation gives us the right to apply these principles to the doctrine of eternal punishment because Revelation 14 tells us that those who are punished “for ever and ever” in hell are those who have embraced the rule of the antichrist, and these are the same people who are judged in Revelation 16.  The bowls of God’s wrath are a preview, so to speak, not only of God’s future and eternal judgment but also of man’s response to that judgment.  The implication then is that those who are punished in hell never repent.  As it is in Revelation 16, instead of being softened, they are even more hardened.  Instead of worshiping the true and living God, they blaspheme him.  What we should not imagine is that hell is a place full of penitent people who are asking for a second chance.  They don’t want a second chance – a second chance for what?  Salvation?  But to be saved is to be saved for fellowship with God, and this is precisely the thing they hate the most. 

We can therefore guess that one reason why the punishment of the wicked never ends is because they never are reconciled to God.  They never stop rebelling, they never stop hardening their hearts against him, they never stop hating him.  And so the Lord never stops punishing them, and rightly so.  Now I’m not saying this is the only reason the punishment of the wicked is eternal, but this seems to be something the Bible itself points us to as a reason for the eternity of God’s judgments against the wicked.  

God is just.  We can be sure of that, and know that whatever form of punishment the wicked experience in hell, it will exactly match the crime and hardness of those who are being so punished.

“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God”

However, this chapter is not just about the severity of God.  It is also about the goodness of God.  For right in the middle of this chapter is this statement: “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (15).  God is not just the God who judges; he is also the God who blesses.  He not only is the God who can destroy both body and soul in hell, but he is also the one gives life, and life abundant. 

This is the third of the seven blessings pronounced in this book.  It is the word of Christ to his followers.  It is the same word he gave his disciples while upon the earth: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Mt. 24:42-44).  

It is the call to vigilance, a call to resist having your heart dulled by the things of this world so that you slip into a kind of spiritual coma and stop resisting the sinful attractions of the world.  Here is the way the apostle Paul put it:

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (1 Thess. 5:2-10)

What the apostle indicates is that the way to remain awake and vigilant and watchful is to live in light of eternity.  It means to live so that if Christ were to suddenly appear like a thief in the night, we would not be ashamed but by ready and eager to receive him.  The reference to walking naked is probably meant to make them think of captives taken in war.  In ancient times, captives would often be paraded naked behind their captors.  Our Lord is saying that those who become entranced with this world in its rebellion against God are taking sides with the beast against the Lord and they will join the beast in his shameful defeat.  Hence John’s warning: “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 Jn. 2:28).  

So what should be our response to the truths of this chapter?  First, we should be warned by the end of the wicked.  It should make us not want to fall asleep and become spiritually unconscious and unresponsive to the things of God.  It should make us want to be sober and self-controlled, who are not enslaved by this world, who use it but do not abuse it.

Second, it should make us aware of how recalcitrant the human heart can be, how wicked we can be, and how hardened we can become.  How easily are we deceived by doctrines of demons!  And therefore let this make us dependent upon God’s grace which alone can change the human heart.  It ought to humble us before him and instead of imagining that we are the next best thing, to depend solely upon his grace through Christ to change us.

We can only escape the wrath to come through the mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ.  This mercy and grace is extended to all who embrace it with the open hand of faith, who put their trust, not in themselves – their goodness, merit, works – but in the perfect life and redemptive death of Jesus Christ for sinners.  If you are wondering if this grace is for you, the warrant for faith in Christ and for hope of salvation from sin is not something in you or in something done by you, but only and alone in the promise of God that all who call upon the name of Christ in true faith will be saved.  The faith that brings you is itself a gift of the sovereign grace of God, so you can be sure that he will not reject his own gift.  May you by God’s grace put your trust in the Lord Jesus even today!

Finally, the truths of this chapter should help us to see that God is just and to see it so that instead of complaining about it, like some of the Israelites in the wilderness did, we praise God for his righteous judgment.  God will judge the wicked.  Everything will be made right, perfectly right, in the end.  This is not something that should make us purse our lips but to open them in praise to Christ.


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