The Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Revelation 16:12-16

How Evil Destroys Itself

The great theologian and ancient teacher of the Church, Saint Augustine, taught that evil is not something in and of itself; indeed, it cannot be because God created all things good.  God did not and cannot create evil.  And since no one can create anything except God, then what is evil?  Augustine taught (as many others back then) that evil is not a “thing” but a deprivation of goodness—a deficiency and deficit.  We might think of it as a cancer which takes what is good and corrupts, sickens, perverts, twists, and darkens it.  God created a good world and we have corrupted both it and ourselves through sin.  To sum, evil can build nothing but only destroy.  It cannot do otherwise.

This is exactly what we see in this passage.  The sixth angel pours his bowl onto the Euphrates River for the purpose of drying it up “to prepare the way for the kings from the east.”  We saw yesterday that with the fifth bowl, the kingdom of the beast was plunged into darkness, and we will see in chapter seventeen that the nations will turn against the “Great Prostitute,” presumably the capital city of world dominion, and destroy her.  In other words, what is happening is exactly what happens when people and nations turn themselves over to pure evil—they turn in on one another and destroy themselves.  So in this passage, God prepares the way whereby these evil actors—dragon, beast, and false prophet—may now devour one another in a great worldwide violent conflagration at a place called, “Armageddon.”  As for the frogs, these are demonic spirits proceeding from the “demonic trinity” for the purpose of deceiving mankind into joining the final slaughter.

What is important for God’s people, who are obviously still around when this great and final battle happens, is that they “stay awake, keeping [their] garments on, that [they] may not go about naked, and be seen exposed.”  This is the language of watchfulness, which Christians are ever to be about.  Jesus said as much at the end of his “Olivet Discourse” where he says, “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).  We must stay awake through discipline—Scripture reading, prayer, church attendance, doing good, and being certain not to fall into sin and thus be caught unclothed—and the day catch us like a thief.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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