Every Thought Captive

Judgment & Victory

After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”

Revelation 15:5-16:1, 17

From our sermon passage this week, we are witnessing the witnessing of the eminence of God’s judgment being poured out. The reference to the tent of witness in Revelation 15:5, the smoke being poured out in 15:8, and the refusal of entry into the sanctuary until the judgment was complete at the end of verse 8, are all meant to remind the readers of God’s promises poured out for His covenant people through the tabernacle. In chapter 14 we have just seen the vision of the song of the lamb, the earthly animal God used in the tabernacle that would point to the sacrificial offering up of His Son Jesus. In the tabernacle, the blood of the lamb was sprinkled over, on the cross Jesus’ blood ran down, and at the table we drink the wine to remember, in the end, the bowls will pour out the wrath over all the earth. As we stand between the two cries of “it is finished” and “it is done,” there are two truths that have rushed to my mind this week as we strive to take every thought captive.

We should celebrate any victory we see over the destruction of sin. Seeing this true picture of what will happen at the end of time is so overwhelming, that it is easy to focus just on that, the judgment. And yes, the earth and humanity will be overwhelmed when it happens. And we also know the why of this judgment: simply put, sin. It is because of sin and its ever-encompassing effect of death that we experience God’s judgment. But as we contemplate why this wrath is happening, and as we stand in the victory of Christ’s death over sin, we are meant to also celebrate any victory we see over sin in this life. Yes, things around us are getting worse, and yes, Revelation tells us they will continue to get worse in a culminating effect. BUT, we also get to see God redeeming it, day by day. We should celebrate this victory. God is just and will bring ultimate justice, and yet, by His grace, we are also seeing the effects of sin die in our lives, die in the generations of our families as new sons and daughters are being brought into the Kingdom, and God’s wrath being held back on His own creation for a period of time. We should celebrate the goodness of God and be grateful to God that it is His pleasure and glory to give it to us now.

God’s judgment should motivate us to talk about the victory we have. Because Christ defeated sin, because we are in Christ, and because we know there is an ultimate judgment coming on those who don’t have that victory, we should be motivated to tell of the victory we have in Christ. We could be like those in Revelation 16, covered with sores, scorched by the fire of the sun, and watching God's creation come undone, but we are not, because of Christ. Because sin is what it is, death, there is nothing, absolutely nothing we could have done to deserve, earn, or merit being rescued from this judgment. But God, in His love and for His glory rescued us to show the world how awesome He is, and we should long to join Him in telling the world that. Telling those who have not yet trusted in Christ’s blood for the forgiveness of sins is one thing we won’t be able to do as God’s wrath is poured out, but as we wait for the second cry of “it is done,” it is the great pleasure God gives us now to do.

About the Author

Photograph of Sam Leopold

Sam Leopold

Assistant Pastor of Missions

Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Sam is the Assistant Pastor of Missions at Park Cities Presbyterian Church. He previously served as an overseas missionary in Rome, Italy, with Agape Italia and helped launch student movements across the country. He completed his theological education at Reformed Theological Seminary in New York City and pastoral ministry training at Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s City to City training program. Sam and his wife Kimberly have three daughters: Eloise, Evelyn, and Emory.