God personally gave Moses the Ten Commandments that my friend Rudy Ross calls the “constitution of God’s people.”
God’s constitution with humans is divided into two sections. The first four illustrate how humans should love God with their heart, mind, and soul. The remaining six commandments outline how we can best love other people as ourselves.
Matthew 5-7 is a record of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In his sermon, Jesus provides further elaboration and illumination on the principles of the Ten Commandments.
The community formed by Jesus is intended to serve as a demonstration to the world of what it means to live according to the message of the Sermon on the Mount.
The words of Micah are an understatement, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good . . .” (Micah 6.8).
Both the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount serve as guides to show us what is morally right. When we choose to disregard God’s standards for how to live, his revealed guidance for life will then hold us accountable for our actions.
This is the scene that is shown to John.
After this I looked, and the temple of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, robed in pure bright linen, with golden sashes across their chests (Revelation 15.5-6).
The tent of witness refers to the Exodus account of the Holy of Holies, where the Ten Commandments were kept.
Both the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount bear witness to deliberate human rebellion. If we choose to reject God’s sacrifice for our sins and refuse to accept His forgiveness, then we will be left to face the consequences on our own.
In doing so, we will stand as guilty before the Judge of all the earth.
Harmful Behavior Held Accountable
A wise preacher once said, “When people turn away from God, they don’t turn to nothing. They turn to anything.”
The “anything” that people trust are false gods, idols that are substitutes for God.
People tend to resemble the idols they worship. The pursuit of wealth and power, as objects of worship, has led to immeasurable suffering throughout history.
Those who cause harm to others while violating God’s principles will face consequences and be held accountable for their actions.
Paul was right when he wrote, “For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels” (2 Thessalonians 1.6-7).
Earlier in Revelation we read about God’s people under the altar. Their prayers for justice were collected in bowls.
When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8).
God uses the witness of the Ten Commandments and the prayers of his people to hold persecutors and oppressors accountable for their actions.
Then one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever;
And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were ended (Revelation 15.7-8).
The smoke of God’s glory is another image of the tent of meeting.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34).
Isaiah’s vision of God pictures the response humans should have to the Ten Commandments and God’s glory.
The prophet heard the Seraphs cry and experienced the glory of the Lord.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.
In the presence of God’s amazing glory, Isaiah responded.
And I said, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
All humans who encounter God’s glory should respond like Isaiah. The fear and awe of God allow God to forgive and cleanse us from sin and rebellion.
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.
The seraph touched my mouth with it and said, “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” (See Isaiah 6.1-7)
Isaiah’s experience of God produced repentance which led to forgiveness. This is God’s desire for all humans. For those who refuse God’s grace, judgment is the result.
John’s vision justifies the pouring out of seven bowls of God’s wrath (Revelation 16).
(1) We see that God has given us his guidance through the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.
(2) For God to be a just judge, he must hold human wrongdoing accountable.
(3) When we fail to be devoted to him and follow his leadership, he provides us the grace of a Savior.
(4) If we refuse God’s grace and continue in rebellion, the bowls of God’s wrath await us.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. It is on the Bob Spradling channel.