(Revelation 16:15) “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”
In the Book of Revelation Chapter 16 just before the return of the Messiah our Lord Jesus we see the wrath of God being poured out via seven bowls of His wrath. The number seven is the number of completion or a work that God completes such as we see in Genesis chapter one where God completed creation in seven days. There are seven angels commanded to pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth (Vs.1). Each bowl is emptied of its contents by the assigned angels.
The first bowl of wrath poured out sees global plague directly affecting those who have sold their souls to Satan having received the mark of his beast empire and worshipped its image (Vs.2).
The second bowl of wrath poured out sees the pollution of the sea and the death of all sea life most likely from nuclear fallout and ecological disasters (Vs.3).
The third bowl of wrath poured out sees the fresh water sources turning to blood, a replay of what happened in Exodus when God turned the Rivers and drinking water in Egypt to blood.
The fourth bowl of wrath poured out sees the ozone layer being removed so that the sun scorches people, possibly through solar flares hitting the earth and that ordained by God because the people on earth refuse to repent and glorify Him (Vs.8-9).
The fifth bowl of wrath poured out sees a plague of deep darkness that comes upon the empire of the man of sin as we saw in Egypt in the time of Moses when the darkness fell upon Pharaoh and his empire. It will be a thick darkness so black that it will be felt in the senses and on the skin. It will be so terrifying and debilitating in its intensity that people will gnaw their teeth in extreme agony because this blackness will be accompanied by pain and sores such as we also saw in Egypt that came upon Pharaoh and his empire. Yet the people under this fifth bowl refuse to repent of what they had done in defiance of God and His commandments (Vs.10-11).
The sixth bowl of wrath poured out sees the final invasion forces of a satanic trinity controlled by three evil principalities compelling the armies of the nations of the world to make their move towards Jerusalem as they cross over the dried up Euphrates River which today is drying up rapidly. Turkey is deemed to be the source of this by damming up the water to Syria and Iraq to destroy the Kurds but also due to a severe drought in the region. This ultimately will make the way for the kings of the east, the Islamic empire with a 200million man military force, to assemble for the final confrontation with the Lord Jesus on the plain of Megiddo touted by Napoleon as the most natural battle field in the world. Nazareth where the Lord Jesus grew up overlooks this huge plain (Vs.12-14, 16). This end-time conflict is also described in Revelation 9:13-21 where we see the same event occurring at the Euphrates River and this army is a judgement on the entire world because people will not repent of their own achievements and refusing to stop worshipping demons and practicing idolatry, murders, their involvement in the occult, their sexual immorality and theft. Of course when this army has fulfilled God’s purpose He will destroy it (Joel 2:20).
The seventh bowl of wrath poured out into the air sees the immediate fall of the kingdoms of this world and its inhabitants judged and an earthquake of global proportions unlike any that have happened it in past history that will see all earthly kingdoms united against God shattered and split apart. The mountains will be flattened and the plague of hail so intense that people will still refuse to repent and instead curse God (Vs.17-21). We see this same event described in opening of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12-17). This will be immediately prior to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus (Revelation 11:15-18) (Revelation 19).
These seven bowls of God’s wrath (Greek word for wrath-“thumos”) we are also told in Revelation chapter 16:5-7 have come because God is the Holy one who is judging the whole world because of the blood it has shed of faithful believers down through the centuries and that the Lord God Almighty is true and just in His judgements. We see this displayed in the Rider on the White Horse, the Messiah in His Second Coming who is called the Word of God, faithful and true and whose robes are stained with the blood of His enemies and that with justice He judges and makes war (Revelation 19:11). In light of this divine and just wrath to come upon the earth what does the Lord Jesus tell us to do as New Covenant believers still waiting for His return?
“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”
Firstly, the Lord Jesus tells us that He is coming like a thief unexpectedly. He is not referring to a secret pre-tribulation rapture. The emphasis is placed on His coming when He is least expected (Matthew 24:44). Secondly, we are blessed if we stay spiritually alert against the wiles of the devil and having sound thinking in this matter and not be found lazy in spiritual matters (1 Peter 5:8). Thirdly, we are to keep our spiritual garments on that we might not be found naked before a just and righteous God when He comes back. God’s word tells us what these garments are that He has clothed us with…
# 1. We have been Clothed with the Garment of Salvation and with the Robe of God’s Righteousness.
(Isaiah 61:10) “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
When we repented and believed on the Lord Jesus to save us and received the Holy Spirit God clothed us with the very righteous nature of the Lord Jesus Himself because we do not have any righteousness within ourselves from God’s perspective and we need His righteousness if we are to enter into his eternal heavenly kingdom (Romans (Philippians 3:7-9). This righteousness comes through saving faith in the Messiah our Lord Jesus and not by works we produce. We do good works because we have been saved, not to get saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). This righteousness comes from God and not from us and is received when we put our entire trust in the Lord Jesus to save us from the power and penalty of sin (Romans 3:22-26).
We need to walk in that righteousness every day moment by moment by faith as “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). This walk involves fixing our eyes on what is unseen and of eternal value and not on what is seen in the natural and is of temporal value (2 Corinthians 4:18). Only the blessed Holy Spirit can give us the power to do this and to produce in us the fruit of the Holy Spirit which is outworked righteousness (Romans 8:12-14) (Galatians 5:16-18, 22-25).
Knowing we are the very righteous ones of God, even though we know full well we are not righteous at all and have not deserved or merited it or earned it, never the less, because of this great Biblical and eternal truth of God’s righteousness received by faith, we have the assurance from the Holy Spirit that we are “accepted in the beloved” (the Lord Jesus) (Ephesians 1:6) (Romans 8:16). This then is what it means to be clothed with the garment of salvation and with the Robe of Righteousness and will stand us in good stead with the Lord and deliver us from the coming wrath.
#2. We have been Clothed with the Garment of Praise.
(Isaiah 61:3) “To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.”
Praising the Lord will bring us blessing in every area of our lives both in the spiritual and natural realm. Of course we need to see what blessing is from the perspective of God’s Word and God’s methods of blessing do not always include receiving everything we ask for but most definitely in receiving what we need from God whether it is in the spiritual or natural realm. Praise will not only bring us as sense of God’s love and care from the blessed Holy Spirit dwelling is us, but will also drive the devil out of our affairs. As it is written; “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained praise (strength), Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2). Our enemy and the avenger is Satan and He hates it when we praise God out of a childlike faith with a spirit of praise generated by the blessed Holy Spirit.
As redeemed blood purchased, blood washed children of the Living God it is easy to get discouraged and depressed and afflicted by Satanic thoughts and temptations that are constantly at war within our souls and with the blessed Holy Spirit and the desires He produces in us to follow after God and to keep his commandments (Galatians 5:16-18). Many years ago a brother in the Lord said to me that many believers are “walking battlefields” and that “this battlefield is the mind.” Spiritual warfare can be likened to hand to hand combat, blood and guts fighting with an implacable enemy over barbed wired fencing and being ankle deep in a muddy trench on a battlefield. We are at war with Satan and his cohorts from Hades arrayed against us!
While we have God’s spiritual armour and weapons with which to fight spiritual powers and principalities of wickedness in the unseen spiritual realm backed up with prayer, we also have the spiritual weapon of praise. When this comes into play with a child-like spirit of spontaneity it drives the devil mad. He can’t stand it and it shuts his mouth especially as he is called “the accuser of the brethren who accuses us day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10).
When we praise God by faith, not always with spiritual ‘feelings,’ we in effect slap Satan’s mouth shut! Much is said about the spiritual benefits of praise in God’s Word especially in the Psalms. As King David exclaims in a time of extreme anxiety and affliction, “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exult His name together” (Psalm 34:1-3). Through heartfelt praise and persistence in it through faith, the blessed Holy Spirit will remove the spirit of mourning around our head and heart and replace it with a spirit of gladness. Praise is infectious and will always be enhanced when there is corporate praise with other believers.
As it is also written, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). As we face the continued lockdowns, oppression and depression of the Covid-19 ‘Pandemic’ and the afflictions caused by wicked and unprincipled men in the corridors of political power with their oppressive mandates and restrictions, let us by faith persevere in praise and thankfulness before the Lord and He will bring us out from under the spirit of heaviness that so easily bests us and weighs us down emotionally and mentally, and replace it with the garment of praise!
#3. We are to be Clothed with the Garment of Humility.
(1 Peter 5:5-6) “…and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you.”
Now God will always resist pride in any form and it is a very subtle form of spiritual deception especially when we working for the Lord and having success at it. Pride was the devil’s sin. Pride and humility are mutually exclusive and have no association with each other anymore than darkness and light have anything in common with each other. We are told to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand and in due time He will exult us. We are not to exult ourselves and if we work at humbling ourselves then God will not have to humble us. True humility is not a slavery of servitude or weakness but power harnessed or under control when one has the power to act especially in a situation where the desire is to retaliate. This is not an easy thing for any of us to do.
When the Lord Jesus was standing before Pilate he said to the Lord Jesus “Don’t you know I have the power to crucify you or to set you free? “ the Lord Jesus replied “You have no power over Me unless it was granted to you by my Father in Heaven.” Who was really in control of that situation? Most certainly not Pilate! Meekness is not weakness but through the power of the Holy Spirit it is supernatural strength! This strength is within us through the indwelling indestructible resurrected life of the Lord Jesus living in and through us by His Holy Spirit (Hebrews 7:16). As it is also written; “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (self-control) ” (2 Timothy 1:7).
So then as we keep walking moment by moment by faith and controlled by the Holy Spirit and aware of the wiles of the devil we will be spiritually empowered, having the garment of salvation being also the robe of righteousness, the garment of praise and the garment of humility wrapped firmly around us. As we see the time of God’s wrath approaching let us stay alert and be clothed spiritually because we have this assurance that “God has not appointed us to suffer wrath (Greek-“orge”) but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus the Messiah… who rescues us from the coming wrath (orge)” (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).
In the final analysis it is only the blood of the Lord Jesus that has fully atoned for our sin, redeemed us back to God and cleansed us from the power of sin, and it is that shed blood of the Messiah that will protect us from the coming wrath! (Ephesians 1:7) (1 John 1:7-9) (Revelation 1:5) (Romans 5:9). Dear brothers and sisters in this time of tribulation (Greek-“thlipsis”) with these things in view let us take to heart once again the words of the Messiah our Lord Jesus, “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”