The cup of the woman will make them drunk, but the cup God will give them te worst hangover ever.
We are looking today at Part 2 of When Angels Preach. Last week we saw the 1st angel preach the Call to Worship and the 2nd Angel preach the Condemnation of the Woman. Today we come to the third angel and his message is the Cup of Wrath.
The Third Angel: The Cup of Wrath (v9-11)
The third angel preaches and his message concerns the Cup of Wrath. Notice verses 9-11, “…” Just like 2nd angel (last week) said the woman Babylon had a cup filled with adulteries, God will have a cup filled with His wrath. The cup of the woman will make them drunk, but the cup God has will be the worst hangover ever. They will have no choice: anyone who takes the cup of the woman will take the cup from God and drink it down to the last drop.
Who will recieve the cup of God’s fury? It will be those who follow the Antichrist. Read verse 9, “….”
To follow the Antichrist is a deliberate choice to reject Jesus Christ.
Illustration: Since the election of Donald Trump we have all become familiar with the slogan: “Not my President”. The same attitude will prevail during the Tribulation as most people will say about the Son of God: “Not my Christ”. Instead, they will embrace the Antichrist. They will choose the lie rather than the truth. No amount of preaching, miracles, famines, wars, cosmic judgments from heaven will turn them from their hatred of the true Jesus Christ. In devotion to the Antichrist they will joyfully take his mark on their hands and foreheads.
But in doing so they will seal their own doom. The consequence for siding with the Antichrist on earth is eternity in the Lake of Fire. The Antichrist is leading the crowds on the wide road that leads to destruction. Those who follow him, take his mark, and worship him will follow him on his earthly path to its ultimate destination: suffering in the lake of fire.
Let us see 3.5 characteristics of this suffering.
#1: it will be terrible suffering. Notice verses 10 and 11, “…” We cannot begin to imagine the suffering. Specifically it says, “burning sulfur”. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with burning sulfur. They will burn, but they will not be annihilated. They will consciously exist there. It also says, “the smoke of their torment rises up…” which is a description of destruction. The visual is like the pictures of the wildfires out west right now – everything is burning and fire is everywhere, the smoke fills the sky. We talk about things being destroyed by saying “It went up in smoke”. The wicked are going to go up in smoke.
This terrible suffering is instigated by God. It is His idea and His irreversible purpose. There will be no safe-space to hide from His Macro-Aggression. The language says they will drink from His “cup”. It just means they will receive what He has prepared for them. But a “cup” usually means judgment is prepared.
Jesus prayed to the Father in the Garden before He was arrested in crucified: “Father if it is possible let this cup pass”. The “cup” He wished to avoid was the suffering which He was about to undergo on the cross. Not just the betrayal by Judas, the abandonment by the disciples, the unjust jewish trial, the mocking by the Roman Soldiers, the beating, the flogging, the crown of thorns, the nails in his hands and feet, the final suffocation – but, the suffering of the immeasurable force of God’s wrath raining down on Him from heaven that was invisible to the human eye. Add all that up and you can understand his plea: “Let this cup pass from me”. Add all that up and you will understand His love for you all the more if you read His next words: “Yet not my will but your will be done.”
During eternity the wicked will drink of a bottomless cup filled with the holy wrath of God Almighty.
#2: it will be eternal suffering. Notice again it says in verse 11, “And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever; there is no rest day or night…” Last week I was trapped in the elevator and didn’t like it too much. I didn’t freak out, but, it was unsettling to be in the elevator and not be able to get out. But I knew that sooner or later I was going to get out. One way or another I was going to be set free. Not so for those who go to the Lake of Fire. There is no way out and they will never be set free. It is forever. They have sinned unrelentingly against the Eternal One, their crimes are of eternal proportions, and the payment will be for all eternity. You cannot imagine the depth of fear and hopelessness that will add to the suffering and pain of those in the Lake of Fire. It will never end. And they will know it.
#3: it will be observed suffering. Did you see what verse 10 says, “…”
How perfect that the Lamb will watch their suffering for all eternity. They despised Him, persecuted Him, tortured and killed those who belonged to Him. Now retribution is His. And He will have the satisfaction of seeing their punishment even as He metes it out. Second Thessalonians 1:5-10 says, “…”
Their suffering will be observed by a holy audience. There is the side of holiness and the side of wickedness. And the holy side will watch the wicked side suffer for their wickedness for all eternity. Their observance will itself be a statement of God’s just judgment of those in the Lake of Fire. It will also be a gaze of Triumph over the enemies of all that is holy. They will rot in humiliation while their righteous enemies look on.
While they suffer it will be humiliating to have an audience. Think about this: those who are suffering will be able to see those who are watching them suffer. Think again of the rich man who could look up and see Abraham and Lazarus as they watched him in his agony. There is humiliation here. On earth they arrogantly stood over the tortured and dead bodies of those who were faithful to the Lamb. But for eternity they will be stood over by the Lamb and heaven’s angels.
I think there is an allusion to something else here as well. In the OT when the israelites entered the promised land God ordered them to “utterly destroy” the people living there. That meant everything: men, women, children, all livestock – everything. And burn it down. The Hebrew word for “utterly destroy” literally means “to totally and irrevocably give something over to the Lord.” Joshua 6:21 the Israelites were to totally/utterly destroy Jericho, the first city they encountered as they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. The people groups who were destroyed were marked out by God for Himself. They were marked out by Him personally and to be destroyed for Him personally.
3.5: it will be restless suffering. Notice verse 11 again, “…” They will not have rest for the rest of eternity. Contrast them with those martyrs in verse 13 who it says “will have rest”. Their restless suffering simply means there will be no break in their suffering. They will be exhausted with pain and agony but no haiatus will ever come. No time outs. No pauses. No suspension of suffering. It will be one unbroken episode of torment extending on for ever.
Now we move out of the angel’s message and into verses 12 and 13. Here others are speaking: A voice from heaven first, then the voice of the Holy Spirit. We turn from the cup of God’s Fury to the Commitment and Comfort of the Saints.
The Commitment of the Saints (v12)
The commitment of the saints is seen in verse 12, “…”
John says “this calls for patient endurance…” What calls for patient endurance? What are the saints enduring? And, what is supposed to make the saints endure patiently? Most if not all references to patience and endurance in Scripture specifically mean to put up faithfully with suffering and persecution. Remember John opened Revelation by alluding to his own suffering at the time of writing Revelation (1:9).
Patient endurance means that as believers we are resolved in our commitment to Christ when others are resolved to make us deny Him. To give Christ glory when because of His Name we are losing everything else: our job, our reputation, our wealth, our health even. To be able to see in those times that we still have everything because we have our Savior – and more importantly, He has us.
The underlying idea is sacrifice. Personal sacrifice is the ethic of discipleship – notice again “those who obey God’s commands and are faithful to Jesus.” The point is that you won’t be able to be faithful to Jesus unless you go against the world all around you. You can’t love the world and the Lord. God does not hesitate to make us choose.
The Comfort of the Saints (v13)
That choice will have consequences. And for those who choose Christ, we see that GOd has Comfort planned for them. OUr final point – We end with the Comfort of the Saints, in verse 13, “…”
Illustration: In the last few years Annie has run several half marathons. She even ran one when she was 4 months pregnant. Trust me – I can’t top that! Running is grueling. It never feels like the end is in sight. Your body is screaming to quit. No matter how many miles are behind you it feels like there are too many in front of you. Then you arrive to the homestretch. Watching these runners cross the finish line and then sprawl out on the grass somewhere makes you really get a feel for how much they’ve endured. Their race is over. They did it. They can finally rest. (I’d cross the finish line on a gurney).
The race will be over someday too for the people of God. Their labor will end, their suffering will cease. Their eternal rest will begin.
There is a black and white contrast here between those who take the mark of the beast and those who don’t. Those who take the mark will enjoy life on earth for a short time, protected and provided for by the beast. Those who don’t take his mark will be persecuted. However, after this short time on earth their destinies will be reversed. Those who take the mark will be tormented by God forever and never have rest. Those who are faithful to Jesus, those who say about the antichrist “Not my Christ”, will be blessed forever and will enter into an eternal rest with their Savior.