Seven Last Plagues – Why?
July 20, 2010 Bible Answers That Make Sense, Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

My question is ‘why will God pour out the last seven plaques and how do we answer a person who will use this event to prove God is wrathful’?

Your question, “Why” does God pour out the last seven plagues is answered only in the context of the entirety of Scripture, understanding the character of God, the nature of the war between God and Satan and God’s methods. When we misunderstand these points we misunderstand Scripture. So let’s first review and define these points and then answer your questions of why.

  • God’s character is love – this is the only Biblical definition for God’s character (1John 4:8). All other attributes of God (kind, forgiving, gracious, just etc.) are all expressions, or manifestations of His character of love.
  • The war between Christ and Satan is a war of ideas. Satan is the “father of lies” and he lies about God. We use divine weapons of truth and love to demolish Satan’s lies about God (John 8:44, 2Cor 10:3-5).
  • God’s methods are the methods of truth, spoken in love while leaving people free to decide for themselves. It is only in an atmosphere of freedom that love exists. (Zech 4:6, John 4:23,24, 14:17, 15:26, 16:13, 1John 4:8).

What this means is that the war going on in the universe is over who we can trust. Satan undermines trust by misrepresenting God with his lies. God counters with revelations of Himself (truth) presented in love while providing freedom to His creatures to decide for themselves. The fact that Lucifer was permitted to rebel, that sin exists at all, is evidence that God doesn’t force but provides freedom. With this understanding we turn to the passage in Revelation regarding the seven last plagues:

Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests.  Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. Rev 15:6,7.

This is highly symbolic language, which a loving God uses to warn and reach people in danger. Consider how God has used symbolic language through His prophets in the past:

Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’

“‘By what means?’ the Lord asked.

“‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.

“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’

“So now the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.” 1Kings 22:19-23

Do we believe God was actually practicing lying? Of course not, then why did the prophet speak this way? Because he was speaking to Ahab, a wicked king, for the purpose of communicating, in a language Ahab could understand, that what his false prophets were telling him was a lie.

Likewise, at the end of time, the world is in darkness about God. They are plummeting headlong into self-destruction, and God, in love, speaks a language designed to reach people who are incapable of responding to the “still small voice.”

If we respond to God’s warning and stop our rush into self-destruction and begin searching the scriptures we discover a deeper reality regarding God’s character and the truth about His wrath. The Bible defines God’s wrath as “letting go” or “giving up” not as the use of divine might to inflict pain and torture (Romans 1:18-31, 4:25).

And as all Scripture is consistent, Revelation also teaches that God’s wrath is letting go. We see this in chapter seven:

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”  Revelation 7:1-3

Notice, the angels of God are described as doing something, they are “holding back the four winds to prevent” them from blowing on the earth until the servants of God are “sealed.” Also notice that these angels are described as having been “given power to harm the land and the sea.” What was their power to harm? To let go what they were holding back, and what do you think they were holding back? Satan and his forces! We are taught the same thing in the book of Job. When God removed His restraining hand on Satan, the evil one brought disaster, disease and death, yet the servants of Job attributed this to God. The devastation in the end comes out from Satan not from God.

One of the founders of my church saw it as I do. She wrote:

“I was shown that the judgments of God would not come directly out from the Lord upon them, but in this way; They place themselves beyond His protection. He warns, corrects, reproves, and points out the only path of safety; then if those who have been the objects of His special care will follow their own course, indepentent of the Spirit of God, after repeated warnings, if they choose their own way, then He does not commission His angels to prevent Satan’s decided attacks upon them.

“It is Satan’s power that is at work at sea and on land, bringing calamity and distress, and sweeping off multitudes to make sure of his prey, and storm and tempest both by sea and land will be, for Satan has come down in great wrath. He is at work. He knows his time is short and, he is not restrained; we shall see more terrible manifestations of his great power than we have ever dreamed of.”  Manuscript Release  vol. 14, p. 3

Why would God allow this and why “seven” plagues? God allows this because He provides genuine freedom. What God wants He cannot obtain by the exercise of might, power or force. God cannot force people to love Him. He cannot force people to be cheerful when returning tithes. Therefore, God will let go all who insist on leaving Him.

The turning over or letting go occurs only when people have rejected God so completely that they are beyond reach. It is then God grants them the consequences of their own choice, to be without Him and then evil forces have freedom to harass and harm.

Why “seven” plagues? Just as God, from “chaos,” created a perfectly ordered world in seven days, so in seven steps God turns the world over to Satan and all will see that when Satan is unrestrained, when Satan is “in charge” God’s perfect order is turned back into chaos!

So why does God do it? Because love can exist only in freedom and God will eventually grant each person their choice to be without Him. AND also because God is the God of truth and in granting rebellious humanity their choice to be apart from Him and allow Satan to “govern” unrestrained God reveals the truth that Satan’s methods bring only chaos, destruction, and death. It is when we come back to a true knowledge of God, understand His principles of truth, love and freedom, and the nature of the war between Christ and Satan that we can see, even in difficult passages like Revelation 15 and 16, God’s beautiful character of love!

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.
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