This devotional is one day of a 365 days devotional book entitled Living Hope for the End of Days that explores Revelation, the final book of God's Word; and is available at http://www.dtbm.org/
Rejoice That You Have Christ
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you rejoice that you have Christ!
THURSDAY: Jesus Has Enlightening Power
Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
—Revelation 16:10-11, emphasis added
The next plague is strikingly similar to the ninth plague upon Egypt in Exodus 10:21-29. They will taste the blackness of hell forever. There is one thing that people don’t realize about hell: it is not only fire but also dark fire—it is blackness of darkness. Many times when I preached in the bar districts of southern mill towns, those men would tell me that they would be with their friends in hell. I told them that they would not see their friends there. It will be blackness of darkness: the ultimate loneliness, forever falling in the bottomless pit, with black fire consuming you on the inside and outside.
The Fifth Bowl—Utter Darkness: The bowls will be poured out over a very quick period of time, maybe a month or less. Here, people will still have their sores from the first bowl, and they can smell the dead fish and sea creatures from the oceans and waterways. When they run water to wash off their sores, they will find blood coming out of their faucets. And while they deal with that, the blazing heat will come. And now they will experience absolute darkness and pain.
According to Ray Stedman, the scope of this bowl of judgment is limited to the realm of the beast—or the revived Roman Empire of Western Europe. This judgment involves a great part of the earth, causing a sudden and unexplainable darkness to fall. Steadman writes:
This is not the first time such a phenomenon has occurred. In the middle of the day on May 19, 1780, the entire region of New England was covered by darkness—a day which has become fixed in New England history as The Dark Day. The mysterious blackout lasted for several hours.
In the early afternoon of March 19, 1886, a similar zone of darkness moved across central Wisconsin, causing the sky to turn from a bright cloud-dappled blue to midnight black in the space of about a minute. This darkness blanketed several villages and towns to the west of Lake Winnebago and lasted about ten minutes. Similar unexplained occurrences of sudden darkness have occurred in Memphis, Tennessee (December 1904), Louisville, Kentucky (March 1911), and other places and times in the United States and around the world. All of these events have two things in common: (1) no one was ever able to explain these events in terms of a known phenomenon such as an eclipse, and (2) most of the people who experienced these events were filled with terror, believing the end of the world had come.
The events in the sky or beyond the sky, which caused these midday nightfall’s, might have been the same as that which caused three hours of darkness during the crucifixion of Christ.3
In all these earlier events of unexplained darkness, most of the people believed that the end of the world was upon them. They soon discovered that was not true, but when the fifth bowl is poured out, there will be no doubt in the minds of the earth dwellers that the end has indeed come—and yet they still will not repent. Note three penetrating truths:
- Closed hearts face judgment. Those who would not embrace the true Light of the World will now face the horrors of absolute darkness. But those who would embrace the true Light of the World—trusting, embracing, and receiving Christ as the Light of Salvation—will never be in impenetrable darkness!
- The most horrible judgment is the blackness of darkness in hell. Jesus stands in the way and only you can turn Him down or take Him in.
- Jesus is light and salvation. Do you seek His light? Do you walk in His light?
I can’t emphasize this enough: the most horrible judgment of all is associated with the hopelessness that the blackness of darkness brings. Egypt’s plagues parallel the final judgment of God: the death angel came after the blackness (Exodus 10:21-29; see also Joel 2:2, 10; Amos 5:18, 20; Zephaniah 1:15). Jesus warned of the ultimate judgment, and that the plagues on Egypt (Exodus) and the day of the Lord (Revelation 6-19) were only a foretaste of the horrors to come (see Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:15; 24:29, 50; 25:30; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 13). Where is the hope in all this?
Jesus has enlightening power. Since closed hearts face judgment, hope is found by opening your heart to Christ. In Revelation 16:10-11, we see that Jesus has the power to give daily light and true spiritual sight (John 8:12; Acts 26:18). Because judgment in hell is blackest darkness, you can choose to avoid it by meeting and embracing Jesus, who is light and salvation.
Without Jesus there is impenetrable darkness. Because “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil,” God now lets the world experience what they want. The impenetrable darkness causes them to chew and gnaw on their own tongues. They are in such pain that they can do nothing but inflict more pain on themselves because of the horror.
With Jesus, there is endless enlightening power from the One who gives us daily light and true spiritual sight. In Acts 26:17-18, Jesus said in His appearance to Saul (Paul): “I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” That is the power of Jesus!
In light of all this, and the terrifying results if you make the wrong choice, I exhort you to prayerfully examine yourself to see if you have really opened your heart’s door to Christ!
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