Beulah Baptist Church
Friday, June 23, 2017

Revelation

 

Revelation Study

Notes taken/adapted from J. Vernon McGee Commentary

 

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

The Book of Revelation is the sixty-sixth book of the Bible, and it comes last. This means that we need to know sixty-five other books before we can get to this place. You need to have the background of a working knowledge of all the Bible that precedes it. You need to have a feel of the Scriptures as well as have the facts of the Scriptures in your mind.  

 

It is the contemporary climate into which we are giving these studies in Revelation. It is not primarily because of a skeptical and doubting age – although it is certainly that – but it is because of these dark and difficult and desperate days in which we live. We see the failure of leadership in every field – government, politics, science, education, military, and entertainment. Since the educators cannot control even their own campuses, how are they going to supply leadership for the world? Business is managed by tycoons. And the actors can be heard on the media talk programs. Listening to them for only a brief time reveals that they have nothing to say. They do a lot of talking, but they say nothing that is worthwhile. None of these groups or segments of our society have any solutions. They are failures in the realm of leadership. There is a glaring lack of leadership. There is no one to lead us out this moral morass or out of the difficult and Laocoon-like problems which have us all tangled up. We are living in a very difficult time. In fact, it may be the worst in the history of the church.

 

Dr. John R. Mott returned from a trip around the world and made the statement this is the most dangerous era the world has ever known. Then he made a further statement: “When I think of human tragedy, as I saw it and felt it, of the Christian ideals sacrificed as they have been, the thought comes to me that God is preparing the way for some immense direct action.  Now the function of the Christian is to make preparation for the world’s end. Dr. William Yogt, in the Road to Civilization wrote: “The handwriting on the wall of five continents now tells us that the Day of Judgment is at hand.”

H. G. Wells declared before he died, “This world is at the end of its tether. The end of everything we call life is close at hand.” General Douglas MacArthur said, “We have had our last chance.” Former president Dwight Eisenhower said, “Without a moral regeneration throughout the world there is no hope for us as we are going to disappear one day in the dust of an atomic explosion.” As we look out at the world in this present hour, we see that it is really in a mess. For a long time now men in high positions have looked into the future and have that there is a great crisis coming. Imagine what these men would have said if they lived in our day!

 

When it comes to the Book of Revelation there are four major interpretations given. There is:

1.      The preterist interpretation – this view claims that all of Revelation has been fulfilled in the past. They claim it had to do with local references in John’s day and with the days of either Nero or Domitian. They claim the purpose of the Book of Revelation was to being comfort to the persecuted church and was written in symbols that the Christians of that period would understand. They make one point that is true with their claims. The Book of Revelation was written for the comfort of Christians; but it must apply to all ages. If we hold to the preterist view we might as well take the Book of Revelation out of the bible for it has no meaning for this present hour.

2.      The historical interpretation – this view believes that the fulfillment of Revelation is going on continually in the history of the church, from John’s day to the present hour. There is a certain amount of truth in that as far as the seven churches are concerned, as we shall see, but beyond that, it is obvious that the Book of Revelation is prophetic.

3.      There is the historical-spiritualist interpretation – and this is a refinement of the historical theory and was advance first by Sir William Ramsey. This theory states that the two beats are imperial and provincial Rome and that the point of the book is to encourage Christians. According to this theory Revelation has been largely fulfilled and contains only spiritual lessons for the church today. The system we know today as amillennialism has, for the most part, adopted this view. It dissipates and defeats the purpose of the book.

4.      The futurist interpretation is the view which is held by all premillennialists and is the one we must accept, because it sees the Book of Revelation as primarily prophetic. God is very clear in presenting a certain form to us that is consistent with the sixty-five books that precede Revelation. We see it in the outline of the book. It begins with the revelation of the glorified Christ. Then the church is brought before us, and the whole history of the church is given. Then, at the end of chapter 3, the church goes to heaven and we see it, not as the church anymore but as the bride which will come to earth with Christ when He comes to establish His kingdom – the thousand year reign John will tell us about. Now in our day there are many critics of this interpretation. They say many harsh things about it and try hard to discredit it. A certain segment of those that do this we would call postmillennialists. They believe that the world is going to get better and better and that the church will convert the whole world and then Christ will come and rule and reign. After two world wars, a worldwide depression, and the crises through which the world is passing, there are very few holding to this view today. Now at the risk of being tedious, I am going to give you the viewpoints of many men in the past who were looking for Christ to return. They were not looking for the Great Tribulation, nor were they looking for the Millennium, they were looking for Him to come. This expectation is the heartbeat of the premillennial viewpoint the Scriptures teach.

Barnabas, who was a co-worker with the Apostle Paul, has been quoted as saying, “The true Sabbath is the one thousand years when Christ comes back to reign.”

Clement (A. D. 96), Bishop of Rome, said, “Let us every hour expect the kingdom of God; we know not the day.”

Polycarp (A. D. 108), Bishop of Smyrna and finally burned at the stake there, said, “He will raise from the dead; we shall reign with Him.”

Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, who the historian Eusebius says was the Apostle Peter’s successor, commented, “Consider the times and expect Him.”

Papias (A. D. 116), Bishop of Hierapolis, who, according to Irenaeus saw and heard the Apostle John, said, “There will be one thousand years when the reign of Christ personally will be established on earth.”

Justin Martyr (A. D. 150) said, “I and all others who are orthodox Christians, on all points, know there will be a thousand years in Jerusalem as Isaiah and Ezekiel declared.”

Irenaeus (A. D. 175), bishop of Lyons, commenting on Jesus’ promise to drink again of the fruit of the vine in His Father’s kingdom, argues: “That this can only be fulfilled upon our Lord’s personal return t the earth.”

Tertullian (A. D. 200) said, “We do indeed confess that a kingdom is promised on earth.”

Martin Luther said, “Let us not think that the coming of Christ is far off.”

John Calvin, in his third book of Institutes, wrote: “Scripture uniformly enjoins us to look with expectation for the advent of Christ.”

Canon A. R. Fausset said this: “The early Christian fathers, Clement, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus, looked for the Lord’s speedy return as a precursor of the millennial kingdom. Not until the professing church lost her first love, and became the harlot resting on the world power, did she cease to be the bride going forth to meet the Bridegroom, and seek to reign already on earth without waiting for His Advent.’

We have quoted these many men as proof of the fact that from the days of the apostles and through the church of the first centuries the interpretation of the Scriptures was premillennial.

 

There are at least ten great subjects of prophecy which find their consummation here. This is the reason that a knowledge of the rest of the Bible is imperative to an understanding of the Book of Revelation. It is calculated that there are over five hundred references or allusions to the OT in Revelation and that, of its 404 verses, 278 contain references to the OT. In other words, over half of this book depends upon your understanding of the OT.

 

The Ten Subjects of Prophecy that find their consummation here are:

1.      The Lord Jesus Christ. He is the subject of the book. The subject is not the beasts nor the bowls of wrath but the Sin-bearer. This is the fulfillment of Gen 3:15 – the seed of the woman.

2.      The church does not begin in the OT. It is first mentioned by the Lord Jesus Matthew 16:18: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

3.      3. The resurrection and the translation of the saints [see John 14; I Thess 4:13-18; I Cor 15:51-52]

4.      The Great Tribulation, spoken of back in Deuteronomy 4 where God says that His people would be in tribulation.

5.      Satan and evil [see Ezekiel 28:11-18]

6.      The ‘man of sin’ [see Ezekiel 28:1-10]

7.      The course and end of apostate Christendom [see Dan 2:31-45; Matt 13]

8.      The beginning, course, and end of the ‘times of the Gentiles” [see Dan. 2:37-45; Luke 21:24]. The Lord Jesus said that Jerusalem will be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

9.      The second coming of Christ. According to Jude 14-15, Enoch spoke of that, which takes us back to the time of the Genesis record.

10.  Israel’s covenants, beginning with the covenant which God made with Abraham in Gen 12:1-3. God promised Israel five things, and God says in Revelation that He will fulfill them all.

 

The Book of Revelation is not a difficult book. It is the most orderly book in the Bible. And there is no reason to misunderstand it because it divides itself orderly as Christ gives John the instructions he is to write down. It is important to remember that God is a God of order, not confusion. He has given His truth to us here and we have His Holy Spirit to enable us to learn it. Therefore we need to be ready to receive the truth made known to us from the written Word of God.

 

Let’s look at how Revelation divides:

It begins with the cross of Christ and His ascension because in Chapter 1 we see the glorified Christ. In chapters 2-3 we see the church. In chapters 4-5 we that the church is in heaven. Then on earth the Great Tribulation takes place, chapters 6-18. In chapter 19 we see that Christ returns to the earth and establishes His kingdom, and chapter 20 gives us the thousand-year reign of Christ. Then the Great White Throne judgment where the lost are judged begins. And in chapters 21-22 eternity begins and this is the Book of Revelation.

 

Stauffer made an important observation. “Domitian was also the first emperor to wage a proper campaign against Christ, and the church answered the attack under the leadership of Christ’s last apostle, John of the Apocalypse. Nero had Paul and Peter destroyed, but he looked upon them as seditious Jews. Domitian was the first emperor to understand that behind the Christian movement there stood an enigmatic figure who threatened the glory of the emperors. He was the first to declare war on this figure, and the first also to lose the war; a foretaste of things to come.

 

It’s important to keep in mind that the book is a revelation of Jesus Christ. In the Gospels we see Him in the days of His flesh, but they do not give the full revelation of Jesus Christ. There we see Him in humiliation. Here in Revelation we Him in glory. We see Him in charge of everything that takes place. He is in full command. This is the unveiling of Christ. In Revelation the Lamb is the center around which all else is clustered, the foundation upon which everything lasting is built, the nail on which all hangs, the object to which all points, and the spring from which all blessing proceeds. The Lamb is the light, the glory, the life, the Lord of heaven and earth, from whose face all defilement must flee away, and in whose presence fullness of joy is known. Note that in chapter 1:18 the Lord Jesus speaks as the glorified Christ: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Then He gives John the command to write  1:19: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;” This is a grand division He is giving. Note He says first, “I am He that liveth.” And He instructs John, “Write the things which thou hast seen.” That is past tense, referring to the vision of the glorified Christ in chapter 1.

Then He says, “I was dead, and, behold, I am alive.” And His instruction is: “Write the things which are.” This is present tense, referring to Christ’s present ministry. We are going to see that living Christ is very busy doing things today. Do you realize that He is the Head of the church? Do you know the reason the contemporary church is in such a mess? The reason is that the church is like a body that has been decapitated. It is no longer in touch with the Head of the church. We’ll see Christ’s ministry to the church in chapters 2-3.

Thirdly, Christ said, “I have the keys of hell and of death.” And when we get to chapter 5, we will see that no one could be found to pen the book but one; the Lord Jesus Christ. So chapters 4-22 deal with the future, and Christ said to John, “Write the things that you are about to see after these things.” It is very important to see that ‘after these things’ is the Greek meta tauta. After what things? After the church things. So chapters 4-22 he is dealing with things are going to take place after the church leaves the earth. That means then the Book of Revelation divides as follows:

 

I.                   The Person of Jesus Christ – Christ in glory, chapter one.

II.                The Possession of Jesus Christ – the church in the world is His, chapters 2-3

III.             The Program of Jesus Christ – as seen in heaven, chapters 4-22

 

In the first division of the Book of Revelation we will see the person of Christ in His position and glory as the Great High Priest who is in charge of His church. We will see that He is in absolute control. In the Gospels we find Him to be meek, lowly, and humble. He made Himself subject to His enemies on earth and died on a cross. We find a completely different picture of Him in the Book of Revelation. Here He is in absolute control. Although He is still the Lamb of God, it is His wrath that is revealed, the wrath of the Lamb and it terrifies the earth. When He speaks in wrath, His judgment begins upon the earth.

It is important for us to understand that the Scriptures are both theocentric and Christocentric, God-centered and Christ-centered. The last book of the OT, Malachi, closes with the mention of the Sun of Righteousness which is yet to rise. It holds out hope for a cursed earth, and that his is the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation closes with the Bright and Morning Star; which is a figure of Christ at His coming to take the church out of the world. The Rapture is the hope of the NT, just as the revelation of Christ was the hope of the OT. And the Book of Revelation will complete the revelation of Christ.

Notice also that there is a tie between Genesis and Revelation, the first and last books of the Bible. Genesis presents the beginning, and Revelation presents the end.

Let’s note the contrast between the two books.

In Genesis the earth was created; in Revelation the earth passes away.

In Genesis was Satan’s first rebellion; in Revelation is Satan’s last rebellion.

In Genesis the sun, moon, and stars were for earth’s government; in Revelation these same heavenly bodies are for earth’s judgment. In Genesis the sun was to govern the day; in Revelation there is no need for the sun.

In Genesis darkness was called night; in Revelation there is “no night there” [see Rev 21:25; 22:5]

In Genesis the waters were called the seas; in Revelation there is no more sea.

In Genesis was the entrance of sin; in Revelation is the exodus of sin.

In Genesis the curse was pronounced; in Revelation the curse is removed.

In Genesis death entered; in Revelation there is no more death.

In Genesis was the beginning of sorrow and suffering; in Revelation there will be no more sorrow and no more tears.

In Genesis was the marriage of the first Adam; in Revelation is the marriage of the Last Adam.

In Genesis we saw man’s city, Babylon, being built; in Revelation we man’s city, Babylon, destroyed and God’s city, the New Jerusalem, brought into view.

In Genesis Satan’s doom was pronounced; in Revelation Satan’s doom is executed.

It’s interesting that Genesis opens the bible not only with a global view but with a universal view – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” Gen 1:1. And the Bible closes with another global and universal book. The Revelation shows what God is going to do with His universe and with His creatures.

 

 

Chapter One

 

We see Christ in His glory and position as the Great High Priest who is in charge of His church. We see Him in absolute control. In the Gospels we find Him meek, lowly, humble, and dying upon a cross. He made Himself subject to His enemies on earth. He is not like that in the Book of Revelation. He is in control. He is still the Lamb of God, but we see the wrath of the Lamb that terrifies the earth. The major theme of the entire Bible is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us what He has done, is doing, and will do. Revelation emphasizes what He is doing and what He will do. We need to keep that in mind.

 

 

The Title of the Book

 

It is the apokalupsis, that is, the uncovering, unveiling, or revelation of Jesus Christ. In the Gospels we receive only half of the story. We need the Book of Revelation because it is the consummation of it. Of course, it can be understood only if the Spirit of God is our teacher. But the Book of Revelation takes off the veil so we can see Christ in His unveiled beauty, power, and glory.

“To Show” means by word pictures, by symbols, by direct and indirect representations. Peter gave us a great rule for the interpretation of prophecy in II Peter 1:20: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” You don’t interpret a single text by itself; you interpret it in the light of the entire Word of God.

“Shortly” has a connotation that is very important for us to note. The word occurs quite a few times in the Scriptures. For instance, we have it in Luke 18:8 where our Lord says, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily….” The word speedily is the same word as shortly. It means that that when the vengeance begins, it will take place in a hurry. There will be no waiting around for it. That implies that the Lord is not coming soon, but that when He does return, the things He is talking about will happen shortly and with great speed. His vengeance will take place in a brief period of time. Note, the message of Revelation began with God, it was given to Jesus Christ, He gave it to His angel, His angel gave it to John, and from John it goes to His servants that they might know what is coming to pass.

 

 

The Beatitude of Bible Study

 

“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Rev 1:3

This verse gives us the beatitude of Bible study. This is the first of seven beatitudes found in the Book of Revelation. This verse says, Blessed is he that readeth, and that means the reader, or in the church, the teacher. Both those who read this book and those who hear it will be blessed. And both the reader and the hearer are to keep those things which are written in the book. The threefold blessing comes from reading, hearing, and keeping.

 

 

Greetings from John, the writer, and from Christ in Heaven

 

“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;” Rev 1:4

In biblical numerology the number seven stands for completeness, not perfection as many believe. Now sometimes completeness is perfection, but not always.

Seven speaks of that which is complete and that which is representative. In a particular way, seven has to do with God’s covenant and dealings with Israel. For instance, the Sabbath, circumcision, and worship are all hinged around the seventh day. As you go through the Word of God, you notice that Jericho was compassed about seven times, Naaman was instructed to dip in the Jordan River seven times, there were seven years of plenty and seven years of famine in Joseph’s time in Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar was insane for seven years, there are seven beatitudes in the NT, there are seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, there are seven parables in Matthew 13, seven loaves fed the multitudes, Jesus spoke seven times from the cross, and in the Book of Revelation the number seven cannot be ignored or considered accidental. Seven is the key number of this book.

‘Grace be unto you, and peace’ – peace flows from grace, and grace is the source of all our blessings today.

‘Which was, and which is to come;’ emphasizes the eternity and immutability of God. Notice how the mention of each member of the Trinity: “Jesus Christ” in the next verse refers to God the Son, the ‘seven Spirits” refer to the Holy Spirit, and ‘him which is, and which was, and which is to come’ refers to God the Father.

 

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Rev 1:5-6

 

In these two verses we have the titles that were given to the Lord Jesus Christ – note there are seven titles.

1.      Faithful witness – Jesus is the only trustworthy witness to the facts of this Book.

2.      First begotten of the dead – is first born from the dead. Firstborn is the Greek prototokos, which has to do with resurrection.

3.      The prince [ruler] of the kings of the earth – speaks of His ultimate position during the Millennium. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil 2:9-11

4.      Unto Him that loved us – is actually in the present tense and emphasizes His constant attitude toward His own. The Book of Revelation should not frighten us because it comes from One who loves us.

5.      Washed [loosed] us from our sins in His own blood – the blood of Christ is very important. It is not just a symbol. In the OT God taught His people that – “life of the flesh is in the blood” Lev 17:11 When Christ shed His blood, He gave that for you and for me. He gave us life, if you please.

6.      And hath made us kings and priests [a kingdom of priests] unto God and His Father – believers are never called kings. They are a kingdom of priests and are going to rule with the Lord Jesus. Jesus is going to come for us in the Rapture. He comes as a Bridegroom for His Bride, the church, whom He loves and gave Himself for. He comes as the lover of my [our] souls.

7.      To Him the glory and the dominion unto the ages of the ages – Vernon McGee’s translation – this is emphasizing eternity.

 

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Rev 1:7

 

This verse denotes the personal and physical coming of Christ. And McGee says that a better translation for all kindreds of the earth is ‘all tribes of the earth shall beat their breasts because of Him. This will be the reaction of all Christ-rejectors. The world will not want to see him.

 

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:8

This is quite a remarkable statement in the Greek language. The alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. From an alphabet you make words, and Jesus Christ is called the Word of God; the full revelation and intelligent communication of God. He is the only alphabet you can use to reach God. The only language God speaks and understands is the language where Jesus is the Alpha and Omega and all the letters in between. He is the ‘A’ and the ‘Z’ and He is the ‘ABC.” If you are going to get through to God the Father, you will have to go through the Son Jesus Christ. Here the emphasis is upon the beginning and the end. Here in the original Greek the Omega is not spelled out as is the Alpha. Why? Because Christ is the beginning, and the beginning is already completed. But the end is yet to be; so He didn’t spell out the Omega in this instance. One day He will complete God’s program. This is a very interesting detail in the Greek text.

 

 

 

The Post-Incarnate Christ in a Glorified Body Judging His Church

 

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Rev 1:9

 

John was in trouble. Domitian (A.D. 96), the Roman emperor, had put him in prison on the Isle of Patmos. John had been active in the church at Ephesus, and he had supervision over all the other churches, and he had been teaching the Word of God. You get into trouble when you teach all the Word of God. John knew all about trouble, and so did the early church. So if it comes to you and me, it is nothing new at all. It is here on the Isle of Patmos that John is given this great vision. It is a vision of the post-incarnate Christ in His glorified body as he is judging His church. Here we shall see the Great High Priest in the Holy of holies.

 

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” Rev 1:10-11

 

John describes for us that the Holy Spirit is performing His office work if you will where He takes the things of Christ and shows them unto us. Jesus’ exact words were: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:13-14. So we are beginning to get a vision of the glorified Christ and Hebrews 3:1 says: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;”; so we are considering Him in His present office of Great High Priest.

John says I was in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit was moving upon John and giving him a panoramic picture. This is Cinerama. It is sight and sound. It is an appeal to both the eye-gate and ear-gate.

 

“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” Rev 1:12-13

 

John heard the sound the church will hear when the Lord Jesus calls us out at the Rapture. I Thessalonians 4:16 tells us: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” Now it is only natural that when we hear a voice we turn to see who it is.

The seven golden lamp-stands remind us of the tabernacle. There it was one lampstand with seven branches. Here it is seven separate lampstands. Since these lampstands represent seven separate churches [v 20], the difference is explained. The function of all is the same. The Lord Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12 We see the Lord Jesus Christ pictured here as our Great High Priest. His garments are those of the high priest according to Exodus 28:2-4. Concerning the girdle, Josephus states that the priests were girded about the breasts. The ordinary custom was to be girded about the loins. But the emphasis here is not on service but on strength. It speaks of His judgment in truth.

Christ stands in the midst of His churches today. And he has three very definite ministries today. First, there is the intercession of Christ – see Heb 7:25. Second, we have the intervention of Christ. This is where He steps outside the Holy Place to the laver. There He washes the feet of those who are His own. He washes those who have confessed their sins. Christians have sin, and they must be confessed in order for us to have fellowship with him. – see john 1:9. Third, we have His ministry of inspection. When we are told that He ‘sat down,’ it means that He finished His work of redemption for man. He died on earth to save us, and He lives in heaven to keep us saved.

The lamps represent the Holy Spirit; the golden lampstand itself represents Christ; His glory and His deity. Christ sent the Holy Spirit into the world. The golden lampstand holds up the lamps, and the lamps, in turn, reveal the beauty and glory of the lampstand. The Lord Jesus is walking in the midst of the lampstands today. He is doing several things: He trims the wicks. In John 15 we are told that He prunes the branches of believers so that they might bring forth fruit. One of the reasons He lets us go through certain trials on earth is so that he might get some fruit off our branches or that He might make our light burn more brightly. He is the One who pours in the oil, which represents the Holy Spirit. But He also does something else and that something else is this: He sometimes uses a snuffer. If a lamp won’t give good light and it keeps smoking up the place, the Lord Jesus snuffs it out. This is what John meant when he said there is a sin unto death – see I John 5:16. We can be set aside. Christ wants His lampstands to put forth light.

 

“His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.” Rev 1:14-15

 

Verse 14 speaks of His eternal existence. He is the Ancient of Days – see Dan 7:9. His eyes were as a flame of fire speaks of His penetrating insight and eyewitness knowledge of the total life of the church. The picture of His feet is symbolic of judgment.

It’s important to understand that the human heart resents criticism. Human nature rebels against judgment being passed upon it. Man likes to be handed a passel of little rules and regulations which he can keep. That is the reason so many study courses are popular with Christians; they want to be legalistic. They don’t want to live by grace. Give Christians a few little rules they can go by, and they are very happy. The result, however, is a group of Band-Aid believers. They put on a little Band-Aid here and another there, and they think that’s all there is to healing a broken leg. Why? The human nature that man has will purr like a pussycat when flattered, but it will bristle like a porcupine when failure to do a job is noted. That is the reason the present position of Christ and His contemporary work of inspection are largely ignored by the church. He occupies the position of Judge of the church, and He does not flatter; He does not ignore what He sees; He does not shut out His eyes to sin and wrongdoing. His constant charge and command to His own is repent.

As we move along in the Book of Revelation. He says to His church, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Rev 2:5.  In other words, change or I will remove your lampstand. The church has squirmed and smarted under this indictment down through the ages and still does. This is the result of the natural resentment that is in the heart of lukewarm believers. And the “Laodicean” church pays scant attention to what Christ has to say.

His voice as the sound of many waters is the voice of authority; the voice that called the universe into existence, the voice that will raise His own from the grave, the voice that will take His out of the world to be with Him. He controls the universe as seen by the fact that He has the seven stars in His right hand. The two-edged sword coming out of His mouth is a reference to Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

 

“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:” Rev 1:17

 

John is the disciple who had an easy familiarity with Christ on earth. He is the one who reclined on his breast in the Upper Room. He was very close to the Lord Jesus and even rebuked on occasion. But when he saw the glorified Christ on the Isle of Patmos he didn’t greet him with a pat on the back. He fell at His feet as if dead!

If that’s how John reacted how will we react? Let’s note something else as well here. Jesus said: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14. If someone implies that Jesus is their friend, or a friend of theirs; they are also implying that they are obeying Him. Are you obeying Him?

 

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Rev 1:18

 

He tells us three very important things here: First, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; Second, and, behold, I am alive for evermore. Third, and have the keys of hell and of death. These three speak of is authority and power over death and the grave.

 

 

The Division of the Apocalypse’s Contents

 

“Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;” Rev 1:19

Up to this point what had John seen? He had seen the glorified Christ. It is important one studies the Book of Revelation to remember that this is a Christocentric book. The glorified Christ is the subject. Make certain that you fix your eyes on Christ and not the horsemen or the bowls of wrath or the beasts because they are just passing through. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He is the One who was, who is, and who will be. Now the things which are; they are the things pertaining to the church, church things. the things which shall be hereafter – means this is the program of Jesus Christ, and when His church is called to heaven at the Rapture we will see the things that take place on the earth. The program of Christ is covered by chapters 4-22.

 

“The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Rev 1:20

 

A mystery in Scripture means a sacred secret, that which has not been revealed before. And this had not been revealed before it was given to John. It pertains specifically to that which John has seen.

 

 

Introduction to Chapters 2 and 3

 

This brings us to the section on the church which is also called the body of Christ. These seven letters have a threefold interpretation and application.

I.                   Contemporary – they had a direct message to the local churches of John’s day.

II.                Composite – each one is a composite picture of the church. There is something that is applicable to all churches in all ages in each message to each individual church.

III.             Chronological - the panoramic history of the church is given in these seven letters, from Pentecost to Parousia, from Upper Room to upper air. There are seven distinct periods of church history. Ephesus represents the apostolic church; Laodicea represents the apostate church.

 

There is a well-defined and definite format the Lord used in each one of the letters to the seven churches.

1.      There was some feature of the glorified Christ (whom John saw in chapter 1) that was emphasized in addressing each church. A particular thing was emphasized for a particular purpose, of course.

2.      The letters are addressed to the angel of each church.

3.      He begins by stating to each, “I know thy works,” although there has been some question about that in regard to a couple of the letters.

4.      He first gives a word of commendation, and then He gives a word of condemnation. But an exception is to be noted in that there is no word of condemnation given to the churches of Smyrna or Philadelphia. Smyrna was the martyred church and as such deserved no word of condemnation. And Philadelphia was the missionary church that was getting out His Word, and He didn’t condemn it. But it’s important to note also that He has no word of commendation for the church of Laodicea, the apostate church.

5.      Each letter concludes with the warning, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith.”

These seven churches were chosen for several reasons, one of which was that they were located in probably the most important area of the Roman Empire during the first, second, and even the third centuries.

 

 

Chapter 2

Theme: the church in the world.

 

 

Christ’s Letter to the Church in Ephesus

1.      “I know thy works.”

2.      “I know…thy labor.” What is the difference between work and labor? The word labor carries a meaning of weariness. In the gospel record it says that Jesus became wearied with His journey. That was the weariness which the Ephesian believers experienced. They suffered weariness in their labor for Him.

3.      “I know…thy patience.” Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

4.      “How thou canst not bear them which are evil.” They would not endure evil men.

5.      “Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” The Lord Jesus commended them for testing men, and that McGee felt and I concur is needed more now than ever before.

6.      “Hast borne…for my name’s sake hast labored.” For His Name’s sake they were bearing the Cross. They preached Christ. They believed in the Virgin Birth of Christ; they believed in His deity; they believed in His sacrificial death and resurrection. And they paid a price for their belief.

7.      “And hast not fainted.” More accurately, it is “hast not grown weary.” What does He mean by this? Earlier He said they had grown weary, and now He says they have not grown weary. Well, this is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith. We can illustrate it with the words Dwight L. Moody one said when he came home exhausted. “I grow weary in the work but not of the work.” There is a lot of difference. You can get weary in the work of Christ, but it is tragic if you get weary of the work of Christ. These seven words of commendation Jesus gave to the church at Ephesus also apply to the period of church history between Pentecost and A. D. 100, which the Ephesian church represents.

 

Now He has a word of condemnation Rev 2:4.

1.      They had lost that intense and enthusiastic devotion to the person of Christ. It’s important to understand that the early church first went off track not in their doctrine but in their personal relationship and devotion to Jesus Christ. Ephesus was a great city, and it had many attractions that were beginning to draw believers away from their first love for Jesus Christ. This was the church that became so potent in its evangelism in that area of about twenty-five million people that even the Roman emperors and nobility of that day had opportunity to hear the gospel. What they forgot was that an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ makes all your relationships and your Christian service joy. It’s important to remember if your home life and your church life become a burden, there is something wrong with your relationship with Jesus Christ. When that gets straight, other things get straight also. This is the reason the Lord Jesus said to the Ephesian believers, “You are getting away from your first love, your best love.” What is the solution for them?

2.      “Remember.” This is the first thing they were to do. Memory is a marvelous thing. Do you remember when you were converted? Do remember what a thrill it was and what the Lord Jesus meant to you? Have you become cold and indifferent to Him? Are you in a backslidden condition? Remember. Remember what you once were. You can get back to that same place again. How?

3.      “Repent.” Believe me, Christians need to repent. We need to break the shell of self-sufficiency, the crust of conceit, the veneer of vanity, get rid of the false face of ‘piosity, and stop this business of everlastingly polishing our halo as if we were some great saint. Repent! Repentance means to turn back to Him, and it the message for all believers. How dare the church tell an unsaved man to repent. What he needs to do is to turn to Christ for salvation. When he turns to Christ, he will turn from his sin; as the Thessalonians “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven.” I Thess 1:9-10 The church needs to repent but that’s the message they don’t want to hear today. But note Christ says or else I will remove your lampstand, How many churches in our day have been practically closed because Christ is still watching the lamps, and He doesn’t mind trimming the wicks or even using the snuffer when they refuse to give light.

4.      Nicolatians –Rev 2:6 - is a compound word. Nikao means to conquer and laos means the people, we get our word laity from that. It is difficult to identify who the Nicolatians were. But there was a man by the name of Nicolaus of Antioch, who apostatized from the truth and formed an Antinomian Gnostic cult which taught among other doctrines that one must indulge in sin in order to understand it. They gave themselves over to sensuality with the explanation that such sins did not touch the spirit. That Nicolatians refers to this cult is probably the best explanation. The church in Ephesus hated it.

5.      “He that hath an ear.” McGee refers to this as the blood-tipped ear, which was the requirement for OT priests. Not everyone can hear the Word of God. Oh, they hear the audible sound but they miss the message. Christ speaks only to those with spiritual perception. Rom 10:17

6.      “To him that overcometh” refers to genuine believers, and we can overcome only through the blood of the Lamb.

7.      “Will I give to eat of the tree of life.” You will recall that man was forbidden to eat of the tree of life after the Fall – see Gen 3:22-24; But in heaven the ‘no trespassing’ sign will be taken down, and all of us will be given the privilege of eating of the Tree of Life.

The church at Ephesus represents the church at its best, the apostolic church.

 

 

Christ’s Letter to the Church in Smyrna

 

 Theme: The martyr church

 

The city of Smyrna is still in existence today. It has a Turkish name, Izmir, which my lead you astray but it is the same city. It has been continuously inhabited since the time it was founded. Smyrna represents the martyr church and covers the time period of A. D. 100 to A. D. 314, from the death of John to the Edict of Tolerance by Constantine in A. D. 314 and ended the persecution of Christians. According to Foxes Book of Martyrs, five million believers died for Christ during this period. Here we have the Lord Jesus address to this church and it is all commendatory.

1.      First, Christ says I know thy tribulation: tribulation means trouble and the church at Smyrna suffered much trouble at the hands of the Roman Emperors for the sake of Jesus Christ.

2.      2. Second Christ mentions their poverty. In other words, this church and its believers did not have much in the way of material blessings. That’s because the early church was made up largely the poorer classes. When the wealthy believed their property was confiscated because of their faith. “But thou art rich” denotes the spiritual wealth of the church; they were blessed with all spiritual blessings. Note the contrast to the church in Laodicea. To that church He said, “You think you are rich, but you are really poor and don’t know it.

3.      It is religion that makes a Jew a real Jew. His religion is the thing that identifies him. Speaking of them nationally, the Lord said that their father was “…a Syrian ready to perish…” Deut 26:5 But Smyrna was a city of culture in which many Jews had discarded their belief in the OT. Although they said they were Jews, when a Jew gives up his religion, there is a question as to whether or not he is a Jew. And down through the years there has been only a remnant of these people who have truly been God’s people.

4.      “Fear none of those things” is the encouragement of the Lord to His own in the midst of persecutions. History tells that multitudes went to their death singing praises to God.

5.      Christ labels the devil as being responsible for the suffering of the saints in Smyrna.

6.      “Ye shall have tribulation ten days.” There were ten intense periods of persecution by ten Roman emperors (dates are approximate)

Nero 64 -68 – Paul was beheaded under his reign

Domitian 95-96 – John was exiled during this period

Trajan 104-117 - Ignatius was burned at the stake

Marcus Aurelius 161-180 – Polycarp was martyred

Severus 200-211

Maximinius 235-237

Decius 250-253

Valerian 257-260

Aurelian 270-275

Diocletian 303-313 – the worst emperor of all

7.      “Be thou faithful unto death” – and they were. They were martyrs for Him. He promised them a crown of life and He is addressing all the believers in Smyrna, which was known as the crown city.  The Lord has special crowns for those who suffer. I know many wonderful saints who are going to get that crown someday. Listen, if you are suffering at the moment and wonder if God cares, He has something good for you in eternity. You will get something that no one else except others in your condition will get. God’s Word says: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”James 1:12 That crown of life means you are really going to live it up someday. What a glorious prospect for invalids and those on beds of pain today.  “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Rev 2:11 “The second death.” Dwight L. Moody put it like this: “He who was born once will die twice; he who is born twice will die once.” And if the Rapture occurs during his lifetime he won’t even have to die that one time. The ‘second death’ is the death which no believer will experience. The first death concerns the body. The second death concerns the soul and the spirit; it is eternal separation from God. NO believer will have to undergo that.

 

 

Christ’s Letter to the Church in Pergamum

 

Theme: Paganism Unlimited

 

The church in Pergamum is representative of church history during the period of approximately A. D. 314 to A. D. 590. We can call this “paganism unlimited” because during this time the world began to move into the church and the church began to move away from Jesus Christ. Smyrna (Izmir) was the great commercial center; Ephesus was the great political center; and Pergamum was the great religious center. Rev. 2:12 – “These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges” means the Word of God. The Word of God has the answers to man’s need and man’s sin, which in Pergamum was false religion. It was a city that emphasized religion, and the only way it could be reached would be by the Word of God.

Rev 2:13 – the Lord commends this church for three very definite things:

1.      First, He takes note of their circumstances these believers were living in a very difficult place; Satan’s headquarters was there, because religion was big business in Pergamum. Pergamum had heathen temples in it. one was the temple of Dionysius and Dionysius is the same as Bacchus, the god of wine, the goat-god. He is depicted with horns, but his upper part as a man and his lower part as a goat, with cloven feet and a tail. In our day that is the modern idea of Satan, but the notion that Satan has horns, cloven feet, and a forked tail did not come from the Bible. Where it came from was the temple of Dionysius, the god Bacchus, the god of wine or alcohol.

2.      Secondly, our Lord says “thou holdest fast my Name.” They were faithful in their defense of the deity of Christ. This was an age that produced some giants in the faith. When the Arian heresy (which denied the deity of Christ) arose, Athanasius from North Africa was the great defender of the faith, and because of him the Council of Nicea in A. D. 325 condemned Arianism. And another man was Augustine, who answered the Pelagian heresy which denied original sin and the total corruption of human nature and also denied irresistible grace. These are two giants during this period who stood unshakably for the great doctrines of faith. “Even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr.” Antipas was a martyr about whom we know nothing at all. He apparently was the first one at Pergamum, and there was a great company of martyrs who followed him.

3.      The two items of condemnation were the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolatians. The doctrine of Balaam is different from the error of Balaam (Jude 11), which revealed that Balaam thought that God would curse Israel because they were sinners. It is also different from the way of Balaam (see II Peter 2:15), which was covetousness. Here in the verse before us – Rev 2:14-15 – it is the doctrine or teaching of Balaam. He taught Balak the way to corrupt Israel by intermarriage with the Moabite women. This introduced into the nation of Israel both idolatry and fornication. And during the historical period which the church at Pergamum represents, the unconverted came into the church. “The doctrine of the Nicolatians.” We have seen the church in Ephesus hated it, but here in Pergamum there were some who were holding to it. It was a Gnostic cult developed by Nicolaus which advocated license in matters of Christians’ conduct and apparently a return to religious rituals by clergy, ignoring the priesthood of all believers. Christ hated it. Christ hates as well as loves. Knowing this we’d better be careful that we are not engaged in things he hates. The only cure for these sins was to repent. What a great mistake we make if we think the church has the right to decide right and wrong. The true church is made up of believers in Jesus Christ and they form the body of Christ. They are the lights in the world. And if we are going to be lights in the world we need to be certain we identify with Christ and not the church, but the Word of God as our authority. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb. Never are we overcomers, by we overcome by His shed blood. The victory was won by Christ, not us. “Hidden manna” speaks of the person and the death of Christ as He is revealed in the Word of God. In fact, Jesus said he Himself was the Bread: “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:32-35 The believer needs to feed on Christ; this is a must for spiritual growth. Rev 2:17: “I give to eat of the hidden manna, …give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” It is helpful to learn that the people of Asia Minor to whom John was writing has a custom of giving to intimate friends a tessera, a cube or rectangular block of stone or ivory, with words or symbols engraved on it. It was a secret, private possession of the one who received it. Christ says He is going to give each of His own a stone with a new name engraved on it – example: Simon became Peter; Matthew 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christ’s Letter to the Church in Thyatira

 

The church in Thyatira is representative of Romanism, which takes us into the Dark Ages from A.D. 590 to approximately A.D. 1000. Thyatira was built by Lysimachus and again by Seleucus I, the founder of the Seleucid dynasty. The city became prosperous under the sponsorship of Vespasian, the Roman Emperor. It was the headquarters for many ancient guilds: the potters’, the tanners’, weavers’, robe makers’, and dyers’ guilds. It was the center of the dyeing industry. This is where the labor unions must have originated. Lydia the seller of purple, who in Philippi became Paul’s first convert in Europe, came from here Acts 16:14. That dye was taken from a plant that grows in that area. Apollo, the sun god, was worshipped here as Tyrimnos.

 

“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;” Rev 2:18. Here the Son of God is pictured in judgment and Christ is judging this church.

 

“I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” Rev 2:19 Christ has six words of commendation for the church of the Dark Ages in which many true believers who had a personal love of Christ which was manifested in works. Works are actually credentials of true believers. James says, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18

The six words of commendation are:

1.      Works: there were many who lived spotless lives and by their good deeds “adorned the doctrine.”

2.      Love: It was a church in which there was love, in spite of the fact that it had done in for ritualism. There were some wonderful saints of God during that period: Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, John Huss, Savonarola, and Anselm were all men in the Roman church.

3.      Faith: Though it is placed after works and love in this instance, it is the mainspring that turns the hands of works and love.

4.      Ministry: is service

5.      Patience: is endurance in those days of darkness.

6.      “Thy last works are more than the first.” – in this church works increased rather than diminished.

All six virtues are produced within the believer by the Holy Spirit.

 

But there is one frightful charge of condemnation:

 

“Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Rev 2:20 Vernon McGee translates this verse this way: “But I have against you that you tolerate the woman (wife) Jezebel, who calls herself the prophetess, and she teaches and seduces my servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols.

Jezebel brought paganism into the northern kingdom of Israel. And evidently there was in the local church at Thyatira a woman who had a reputation as a teacher and a prophetess who was the counterpart of Jezebel, the consort of Ahab.

And concerning the historical period of the Dark Ages which the church at Thyatira represents, pagan practices and idolatry were mingled with Christian works and worship. The papacy was elevated to a place of secular power under Gregory I (A. D. 590), and later by Gregory VII, better known as Hildebrand (A. D. 1073-1085). The introduction of rituals and church doctrine supplanted personal faith in Jesus Christ. Worship of the Virgin and Child and the Mass were made a definite part of the church service. The spurious documents labeled Domitian of Constantine and Decretals of Isidore were circulated to give power and rulership to the pope.

As Jezebel killed Naboth and persecuted God’s prophets, so the Roman church instituted the Inquisition during this period. “Seduce” means a fundamental departure from the truth. And Jezebel stands in stark contrast to Lydia, who came from Thyatira. Jezebel is merely a forerunner of the apostate church, as we shall see in Revelation 17.

 

“And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” Rev 2:21. “Space” is time. The Lord Jesus Christ has patiently dealt with this false system for over a thousand years, and there has been no real change down through the centuries in this system. In fact, Rome boasts that she never changes –semper idem, always the same.

 

“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:” Rev 2:26. The works of Christ are in contrast to the works of Jezebel. The works of Christ are wrought by the Holy Spirit. We overcome by faith and not by effort. “I give power to the nations” was explained by Paul when he wrote to the Corinthian believers: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” I Cor 6:2. Christ’s coming for His own at the Rapture is the hope of the church. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13

 

Chapter 3

Theme: the church in the world – continued

 

 

Christ’s Letter to the Church in Sardis

 

 

In the panorama of church history, Sardis represents the Protestant church during the period between A. D. 1517 and approximately A. D. 1800. It began when Martin Luther nailed is Ninety-Five Thesis on the chapel door of the church at Wittenberg, Germany. It is an ear which started with the Reformation and takes us into the beginning of the great missionary movement in the history of the church. Sardis was the capital of the great kingdom of Lydia and one of the oldest and most important cities in Asia Minor.

Coins were first minted there. Its last prince was Croesus who was captured by Cyrus. He was considered the wealthiest man in the world, and everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. Sardis was ruled by the Persians, by Alexander, by Antiochus the Great, and finally by the Romans. It was destroyed by an earthquake during the reign of Tiberius. In our day the ruins of the temple of Cybele and also the temple of Apollo can still be seen. Cybele was known as Diana in Ephesus, but when you get inland, she becomes a nature goddess. She was the goddess of the moon, and Apollo was the god of the sun; they were brother and sister. This was a very corrupt worship much like the worship of Diana at Ephesus.

 

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” Rev 3:1

 

He presents Himself to the church at Sardis as the One having the seven Spirits of God; that is, He is the One who sent the Holy Spirit into the world. And as we have seen Sardis represents the Protestant Church. And the church today needs the Spirit of God working in it. Now He says, “I know thy works.” This is the word of commendation. Now it’s important for us to remember that the Reformation recovered the doctrine of justification by faith, and this faith produced works. Protestantism today, as a whole, has a name that it lives, but it is dead. Many Protestant churches today are just going through a form. Many are building all the time, and people are coming, especially on Sunday morning. But there are not many at the mid-week service, when they really ought to be there to hear the Word of God and for prayer. That’s why He says, “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” This is a frightful condemnation of Protestantism today.

 

“Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.”  Rev 3:2

 

This is the second word of condemnation, and it is a word of warning which had particular meaning in Sardis. As I have said, Sardis was located on top of a mountain. It had one entrance on the southern side which was the only way you could get into the city in the old days. Therefore, all that Sardis had to do was to put a detail at one place to watch the city. But on two occasions in their history they had been invaded by their enemies because they had felt secure, believing that the hill was impregnable, and the guard went to sleep on the job. In 549 B. C. the Median soldiers of Cyrus sealed the parapet, and then again in 218 B. C. Antiochus the Great captured Sardis because a Cretan slipped over the walls while the sentries were careless. What the LORD says to this church as Sardis is this: You wake up and watch out! This was embarrassing because of the two occasions in their history when they had been caught napping. He says to the church today don’t go to sleep! And that’s because Protestantism, as a whole, has turned away from looking for the coming of Christ, and they have built up these systems that certain things must be fulfilled before He can come. But I will say again on the authority of God’s Word there is no prophecy left to be fulfilled before the Rapture. Christ can come at any moment!

 

“Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” Rev 3:3

 

They were to hold fast to these things because they were about to die. The great truths which were recovered in the Reformation are being lost. For instance, the Protestant church, by and large, has lost the authority of the Word of God. Rather than holding to the doctrine of the total depravity of man, many of our conservative churches are improving and using cosmetics on our carnal nature, thinking that somehow or another you can get up a few little rules and regulations which are going to enable you to live the Christian life. Also the doctrine of justification by faith has been abandoned in many circles and the belief that you have to do something in order to be saved has replaced it.

 

If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief; as we have seen, Sardis was built high upon a mountaintop which was impossible to scale except at one point. There is so much erosion of the soil in Turkey that two thousand years ago, in the days of Paul and John, the mountain was much higher than it is today. In spite of that, there were two occasions when the enemy soldiers gained entrance to the city. Two times it was captured because the guard went to sleep. The LORD says to this church wake up and watch out; He could come at any moment. The people of Sardis did not know when the enemy was coming, and we so nor know when the Lord Jesus is coming.

 

“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy” Rev 3:4

 

In Israel it was never the corporate body of the total national life but always a remnant that was true to God. Here the church is told, “You have a few.” In Luke 12:32 the LORD called His church “little flock.” Protestantism today has its saints who love the Word, who are faithful to Him even in these days, and who stand by the Word of God. They do not engage in sin-defiling activities, nor are they engaged in fleshly activity. Protestantism has produced some great men such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, David Livingstone, and William Carey to name a few; these are but a few of the names of men who didn’t defile themselves and stayed true to the Word of God.

 

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” Rev 3:5

 

The one who overcomes by the blood of Christ, of course, never does it because of his own strength, cleverness, or ability. But our LORD makes a statement here that has caused some difficulty in understanding. “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

It is interesting to note that in the genealogies there are only two books which are identified: One, the book of the generations of Adam – see Genesis 5:1; and we are all in that book, but it is the book of death. But then we come to the second book – the book of the generations of Jesus Christ – see Matthew 1:1. The phrase, “The book of the generation,” is an unusual expression. It occurs only in connection with Adam and then in connection with Christ. What is the difference between the two? The book of the generation of Jesus Christ is the Book of Life. And we get into that book by faith through repentance. Our Lord’s words: “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

Then raises the question here: Is it possible for you to be in the book of Life and then have your name blotted out? Can you lose your salvation? If that were true then the Lord Jesus should not have said: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:28

I would like to share with you John Walvoord’s statement from his book The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which gives a very good explanation of what is meant by our Lord’s words.

 

 

“Some have indicated that there is no explicit statement here that anybody will have his name blotted out, but rather the promise that his name will not be blotted out because of his faith in Christ. The implication, however, is that such is a possibility. On the basis of this some have considered the book of life not as the roll of those who are save, but rather as a list of those for whom Christ died, that is, all humanity who have possessed physical life. As they come to maturity and are faced with the responsibility of accepting or rejecting Christ, their names are blotted out if they fail to receive Jesus as Savior; whereas those who do accept Christ are confirmed in their position in the book of life ,and their names are confessed before the Father and the heavenly angels.” 

 Now that is a sound explanation and in the Book of Revelation there is a great importance placed on this book – see Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19. In these references the thought is that there are those whose names are recorded and those whose names are not recorded in the Book of Life. Now He didn’t say that anybody had been blotted out; He just said that even in Sardis there would be some who would be saved. But the important this is whether or not your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. If you have been truly saved there is no way you can lose your salvation. See John 10:27-30

 

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Rev 3:6

 

This again is the blood-tipped ear that needs to hear the voice of the Spirit speaking through the Word of God the message of Christ to His church today.

 

CHRIST’S LETTER TO THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA

 

The church in Philadelphia represents what we’d call the revived church, dating from approximately the beginning of the nineteenth century to the Rapture. This is the church that has turned back to the Word of God. Some say today that people do not want to hear the Word of God, but I say, there will always be people who are hungry for it and want to hear the Word of God. Now this church was in area that is subject to earthquakes. The great population that was in that area left primarily because of earthquakes and, of course, because of warfare. When Tamerlane and the other great pagan leaders came out of the East, it was a time when all those who were left were slaughtered. Therefore, today no descendants of the original population are there. However, this city has had continuous habitation from its very beginning. It was a fortress city used to waylay the enemy who would come in to destroy the greater cities like Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum, those were three great cities. These other cities were largely fortress cities where garrisons were stationed either to stop the enemy or delay him as he marched toward the western coast. The city got its name because of the love that Attalus II had for his brother Eumenes who was king of Pergamum. Attalus had a great love and loyalty for his brother, and because of that it is called the city of brotherly love.

 

In A. D. 17 a great earthquake struck this city and totally destroyed it. The same earthquake totally destroyed Sardis and many other Lydian cities throughout that area. Tiberius, the emperor at the time, allocated a vast sum of money for the rebuilding of these cities, and they were then restored. This is the one church besides Smyrna for which our Lord had no word of condemnation. Why? Because it had turned to the Word of God. It is interesting concerning the two churches which He did not condemn that the places are still in existence, although the churches have disappeared.

 

Philadelphia is the place where Christian and Saracen fought during the Crusades, and in 1922 Turkey and Greece fought in Philadelphia. But suffice to say that history proves the church in Philadelphia continued into the 13th century. This church was in a very strategic area to be a missionary church, and that is actually what it was.  This was the revived church because it returned to the Word of God and began to teach the Word of God.

 

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” Rev 3:7

 

And to the angel of the church: Who is this angel? Any idea? The angel Christ is referring to here is the pastor of the church. He is the human messenger God had sent.  These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth. Now in each of these letters the Lord always draws something from that vision of Himself as the glorified Christ, our Great High Priest. Here He reminds them that He is holy. He was holy at birth, He was holy at His death, and he is holy today in His present priestly office. He was called holy at His birth when the angel said unto Mary…therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” Luke 1:35. And in his death He was holy. We are told in Acts 2:27: “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. He was holy in His death and in His resurrection. What a marvelous thing this is! He is also holy today in His High Priestly office. “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” Heb 7:26

He that is true. Jesus said John 14:6: I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life” True means genuine but in Christ case it means He is genuine because He is perfect and He is completeness. He is the true Bread of Heaven.

He that hath the key of David What is Christ referring to? He is referring to His regal reign as the Ruler of this universe. The Bible says: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:32:33 He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth. He is the One today the Bible tells us who is able to open and to close, and because of that He is a comfort to us. You see the Bible says: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matt 28:18-20

 

“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” Rev 3:8

 

Now the church in Philadelphia was the one which was true to the Word of God. And no matter what denomination or church there is in our day, if that church does not hold true to the Word of God it is not a church. You see for the church to be the church it must hold true to the Word of God, or it is not a church Christ knows. And there are a lot of churches and denominations in our day who Christ does not know because they know not Christ because they don’t hold true to the Word of God. What makes the church the church is the Word of God. Anything apart from the Word of God is not the church. You see the Bible says: “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt 16:15-18 And who is Christ? John 1:1 gives us the answer: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” So Christ is the Word of God and what Peter confessed was his faith in the Word of God. Listen Christ recognizes no profession of faith that does not believe He is the Living Word of God. You see for a church to be a church and every church is comprised of its people not building it must hold true to the Word of God. If it doesn’t hold true it is not Christ’s church. And we will see that in greater detail when we come to the church at Laodicea. Now the church in Philadelphia was the one which was true to the Word of God. And the Lord commends this church on seven counts. First, He says, ‘I know thy works.” When God looks at us His church He looks for fruit. In other words He is looking for works in the lives of believers. Why do you suppose that is? Because the Bible says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:8-10 Friends, if our faith doesn’t produce works there is something wrong with it. Good, old, practical, camel-kneed James was a great man of prayer who said “…shew me thy faith without works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18. Now the works James is referring to are not the works of law but works of faith. Calvin said, “Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is not alone.” Saving faith produces works. Second, behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut. This is the door to knowledge of the Scriptures. Now friends because Christ has opened the door He expects us to move in because this will open a door of opportunity for witnessing. Remember this was the missionary church and missionaries witness. The two go hand in hand. Third, for thou hast a little strength. Dunamis is the Greek word for power from which we get our English word dynamite. This was a humble group of believers that did not have impressive church buildings or lots of members or even lots of programs. It was a small church that had little power. But they were using that little power to get the true Word of God out. That’s the most important thing we do as a church, and conversely if we don’t get the Word of God out we aren’t doing anything important as a church. Our job is to get the Word out period. Fourth, and hast kept my word. In a day when there was a denial of the inspiration of the Scriptures (inspiration meaning God-breathed), this church believed the Bible to be the authoritative, inspired Word of God. II Timothy 3:16-17 Fifth,  and hast not denied my name.  In a day when the Deity of Christ is blatantly denied in many denominations of that time here was a group of believers who were remaining true to Him by proclaiming the God-man and His substitutionary death for sinners. Now understand in a day of unbelief and skepticism, the Lord Jesus is commending this church because it has kept His Word.

 

“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.” Rev 3:9

 

Now the remnant of Israel that was being saved had left the synagogue by this time. They had given up the OT Law as a means of salvation and sanctification. Those who continued in the Synagogue were now in a false religion. As Paul wrote: “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.” Rom 9:6.  God considers the true Israelite to be those who have turned to Christ. So here is the sixth word of commendation He says behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. What He is saying is that I will make the enemies of the Philadelphia church know that I love this church.

 

And the seventh word of commendation is found in v 10: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” He commends them for keeping the Word of God in patience. He is referring to the patient waiting for the coming of Christ for His own at the Rapture II Thess 3:5. You His final word of encouragement to His church is that it will not pass through the Great Tribulation. He will keep us from that awful holocaust that is coming soon upon this earth. His promise to those who hold true to His Word is to take them in the Rapture.

 

Now you might be thinking but v 11 says: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Quickly does not mean soon. Rather, it carries the idea of suddenness. He will come at a time they know not. But when He comes it will be sudden and this is both the promise and the hope of the church according to the Scriptures. The Bible says: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13

 

CHRIST’S LETTER TO THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA

 

Sir William Ramsey calls Laodicea the city of compromise. This city was founded by Antiochus II in 261-246 B. C. Laodicea was about forty miles east and inland from Ephesus on the Lycus river which flows into the Maeander River. It is located at what is known as the “Gate of Phrygia.” Out of the Oriental East, the great camel caravans came down through the Gate of Phrygia and through Laodicea. This road came out of the East and went to Ephesus, to Miletus, and also up to what is called Izmir today but was Smyrna in that day. Laodicea was in a spectacular place, a great valley. Today its ruins are largely covered up with the growth of what looks like wild oats. Its name means “justice of the people.” It was named for Laodice, the wife of Antiochus.

 

Between Laodicea and going up to the Phrygian mountains, there was in this valley the great Anatolian temple of the Phrygian god, Men Karou. This was the primitive god of that area. The temple was the very center of all society, administration, trade, and religion. Laodicea was a place of great wealth, of commerce, and of Greek culture. It was a place of science and literature. It boasted an excellent medical school which, again, was very primitive and heathen. Here is where they developed what was known in the Roman world as Phrygian powder, a salve for the ears and the eyes. Laodicea was also a center of industry with extensive building operations. Cicero held court here. Jupiter and Zeus were the objects of worship here, and the city was finally abandoned because of earthquakes.

 

Now the people used to take the clay from the hills and they would mix it with spikenard and make it into a salve for the eyes and ears. This salve was shipped all over the Roman Empire. Today the chemical analysis that there was nothing healing in that clay at all, but they made good money with it in that day. Now keep this in mind because Christ is going to tell them that had better get the real eye salve that will open their eyes.

 

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” Rev 3:14

 

This is the only place in Scripture where Amen is a proper name and it is the name of Christ. In II Corinthians 1:20 we read: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”

Jesus is the Amen because He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He is the One who will fulfill all the promises of God, and He lets the Laodiceans know this because this is the church that has rejected the Word of God.

The faithful and true witness – these words tell us what? That Christ is the One who alone will reveal all and tell all. That’s because in this day it was very difficult to hear the truth. Today, do you think we hear the truth from our government or from the news media? Are we getting the truth from church today? Nope. You see, you cannot believe the church in many instances today and the church I am referring to is the liberal church. that’s because the liberal church does not hold true to the Word of God and therefore it has no message for this hour. We are living in a day when the myth of evolution, the evolutionary hypothesis is greatly accepted. But friends there are only two explanations for the origin of the universe in which we live. One is speculation and the other is revelation. Now when it comes to speculation nobody was there to see it, and nobody is able to come up with an answer. The other is revelation, what the Word of God has to say. Now some folks will accept speculation but as for me I will trust in revelation. You see the Bible tells me that God did the creating and the One who did the creating ought to know something about it. And I think I’m on more solid footing than those who want to be speculation.

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Rev 3:15-16

 

With the other churches, when the Lord Jesus said, I know thy works. He meant good works; He was commending them for good works. But the Lord has no word of commendation for this church. All is condemnation here. Even the works here are not good works; they are evil works. Thou art neither cold nor hot; this had a local meaning for the people in that day. Being down in the valley they had trouble getting water in Laodicea. So the Laodiceans built an aqueduct to bring cold water down from the mountains. When it left the mountains it was ice cold, but by the time it made the trip down the mountain to Laodicea it was lukewarm and lukewarm water is not very good. Down in the valley where the Lycus River joins the Maeander River, there are hot springs. The springs are so hot that steam is produced. The Turkish government has capped it and is using it today. Now the Laodiceans would try to take this very hot water and get it to the city but by the time it arrived it was lukewarm, no longer hot. So when the Lord Jesus said you are neither cold or hot they knew exactly what He was talking about. Now a cold church is a church that has denied every cardinal doctrine of the faith. It has given itself over to formality and is in active opposition to the Word of God. Liberalism stands opposed to the teachings of Scripture. Hot speak of those people who have  real passion for the gospel and are holding onto the true Word of God like the church in Philadelphia was. Now between those positions of hot and cold you have lukewarm. And sadly this is the position of many churches today. You see they don’t want to come out and take a stand for the Word of God and for the great doctrines of the Christian faith. And at the same time they don’t want to be known as a liberal church so they play footsie with both groups. It’s a condition that is impossible. Because it is a condition that makes the Lord Jesus sick. And so He says I will spew it out of my mouth. To my mind the middle of the road position is like sitting on a fence rail; it is the worst form of hypocrisy there is. Because it has a form of godliness, but it denies the power thereof: and the Word tells us from such turn away. II Tim 3:5. So Christ says I will vomit you out of my mouth. Does that sound like a church He’s going to Rapture? I don’t think so. We can’t say that we love Him and refuse to stand on and for His Word. Jesus said "If you love Me, keep My commandments. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. John 14:15, 21, 23 How can we say we love Him if we do not keep His Word? This is a heart-searching message because we are living in the time of the Laodicean church and the Philadelphia church. Both of them are side by side, and there is a great division between those who believe the Word of God follow it, love it, obey it, and those who reject it. There is no middle ground either we believe what God has said or we reject it. And if we reject just one point of what God has said we are guilty of rejecting it all because God has said that we are not to add to nor take away from His Word.

 

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” Rev 3:17

 

The city of Laodicea was a rich city. They believed the dollar was the answer to every problem in life. After WWII that was the assumption the American government has been run on. All we do is dole out dollars all over the world, thinking that we would buy friends, make peace, and settle the problems of the world. We thought all we had to do was allocate money and the problems would be solved. And the lesson of our nation should be a lesson for all of us that money will never solve problems all it does is create more of them. The Laodicean church made its boast of material possessions. Conversely, the church in Smyrna was poor in material things. it as the church of slaves and poor folks. There were not many rich and not many noble in the early church. but the present-day church boasts of large membership, prominent people, huge attendance, generous giving, and ornate buildings. Worldly wealth is the measuring rod for the modern church today and spiritual values have been largely ignored. The church as a whole is not only rich in earthly goods but is actually in the business of accumulating wealth. Some of them TV preachers and radio speakers works are operated as a promotional scheme to raise money to provide luxurious care for the promoters. Folks are being encouraged to write their wills to the church. Now we all ought to leave a living legacy (a gift)  to our church, but we ought not to be encouraged to write our wills to it. And the money we give should go for the purpose it was intended and we ought to be certain of that. So that’s one side and then we have the spiritual side of the ledger and that side in the Laodicean church was a wretched one. It was worse than any of the other churches. This church was actually to be pitied because it was so spiritually poor. In it is no study of the Word, no love of Christ, and no witnessing of His saving grace; and what’s worse, is that it is blind to its own spiritual condition. And because it is it lacks the covering of the robe of righteousness. Thus speaks Christ to the liberal church today: Thus speaketh Christ our Lord to us: Ye call Me Master and obey Me not. Ye call Me Light and see Me not. Ye call Me Way and walk Me not. Ye call Me Life and choose Me not. Ye call Me Wise and follow Me not. Ye call Me Fair and love Me not. Ye call Me Rich and ask me not. Ye call Me Eternal and seek Me not. Ye call Me Noble and serve Me not. Ye call Me Gracious and trust Me not. Ye call Me Might and honor Me not. Ye call Me Just and fear Me not. If I condemn you, blame Me not. This is the church in Laodicea. This is the church Stanley High spoke of when he said: The church has failed to deal with me as a lost individual. The church has failed to offer me salvation in Jesus Christ alone. The church has failed to tell me of the horrible consequences of sin, the certainty of hell, and the fact that Jesus Christ alone can save. We need more of the last judgment and less of the Golden Rule, more of the living God and the living devil as well, more of a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. The church must bring me not a message of cultivation but of rebirth. I might fail that kind of church, but that kind of church will not fail me.

 

We are living in the Laodicean period today, and the church is failing to witness to the saving grace of God. But the church is not without hope for Christ says:

 

“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Rev 3:18

 

The Laodicean  church must learn that it is blind yet not incurably blind. It is suffering from a disease, and needs medical treatment. But the physicians of its famous medical school can’t do anything for them. They must come to the Great Physician if they desire to be healed.

 

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Rev 3:19

Repentance is the need of the church today because too many who sit in it are nothing more than lukewarm and Christ is commanding us to get hot, to get on fire for God.

 

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20

 

Friend, the LORD Jesus moved heaven and hell to get to your hearts’ door but He will not crash it in. He stands and He knocks. You will have to open the door to let Him in. The verse also reminds us that if we are to fellowship with the Lord Jesus we must feed on His Word, else how can we be true to it?

 

Friends, the Laodicean church is the church today that is moving farther and farther away from the Word of God. But there is today that church which is staying true to the Word of God. Which church do you believe will be Raptured? One church will be Raptured; the other will go into the Great Tribulation Period. Knowing that which church would you prefer to be a member of?

 

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” Rev 3:22

 

This is a special message from the Lord Jesus to all the churches for which you need the blood-tipped ear to hear. This is the reason that you and I must be very careful in our study of the Word of God, that we not run ahead of the Spirit of God, but that we let Him be our teacher. If you have a blood-tipped ear, He wants you to hear what He has to say. Only the Spirit of God can make the Word of God real to you. Now we have come to the end of these seven messages to these seven churches, and I have spent a lot of time with these seven churches because they relate to the period and the people in this world today.

If we are a member of His church, we are also a member of His body, a part of that great company, beginning with the Day of Pentecost and coming down to the present hour, who have trusted the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Now we have seen these seven churches blocked into seven definite periods of time. Each period referring to a certain age of the church and when we came to the church at Laodicea we discover that there is a bifurcation in the organized, visible church today. Let me explain, there is the church in the world today represented by the Laodicean church, which is moving farther and farther away from God’s Word into apostasy; then there is the church which is clinging to the Word of God, represented by the church at Philadelphia. This is the church which will be Raptured. The other church has a tremendous organization, including all the denominations, all those which profess to be Christian churches but which have long since departed from the Word of God and the person of Christ. This is the division that exists in the church. One church will be Raptured; the other will go into the Great Tribulation period. There has been a message for each of these churches during their day. And there is also a message in each of these for us today.

To the church at Ephesus, there was a warning given that is also for us today. It was a warning of the danger of getting away from the best love, that is, getting away from a personal and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. The real test of any believer, especially those who are attempting to serve Him, is not your little method or mode or system or your dedication or any of the things that are so often emphasized today. The one question is: Do you love Him? Do you love the Lord Jesus? When you love Him, you will be in a right relationship with Him, but when you begin to depart from the person of Christ, it will finally lead to lukewarmness. The apostate church of Laodicea the Lord Jesus said was guilty of lukewarmness; what would Christ say of the apostate church today? Now being lukewarm may not seem to be too bad, but it is the worst condition that anyone can be in. Twenty lukewarm Christians can hurt the cause of Christ more than one blatant atheist, a great preacher in upper New York State once said. A lukewarm church is a disgrace to Christ.

The Lord Jesus told the church in Smyrna not to fear suffering. But if we’re honest that is the one thing we in the church are frightened of today. We do not want to pay a price for serving the Lord Jesus, and yet that is His method. Jesus said: “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”  John 15:20

To the church in Pergamum He said: “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam… So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” Rev 2:14-15. There is a grave danger in wrong doctrine today, and that was the thing that was wrong in the church at Pergamum.

To the church in Thyatira He said, “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Rev 2:20. The “new morality” is a grave danger today. Because its message is that one can accept Christ and then live on a low plane, if you will. But you will not get by with that if you are His child. Listen the Bible says: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Cor 5:17

In the church in Sardis, the Protestant church, there was the danger of spiritual deadness. He said: “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” Rev 3:1. What about your church; is Ebenezer alive? Jerusalem? Currioman? What about Beulah? Are you alive? Or are you dead in a dead church? Many folks are in that condition today; yet they’ll talk about holding to the historic doctrines of the faith. But friends, the glaring defect in Protestantism today is its deadness. And that is the worst condition of all.

The church in Philadelphia was not in any grave danger. The LORD Jesus does not condemn that church at all, but He does say, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Rev 3:11. He commended them because they kept His Word. Yet, we need to be very careful about our walk with Christ. For I have seen some strong Christians, stronger than I, who started out true to the faith standing on the Word of God, who have now departed from it. How many people do you know who left Beulah and now have no time for God and faith? That is the grave danger facing us today. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing should deter us at all from keeping His Word.

To the church in Laodicea, the Lord Jesus said, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Rev 3:16. He is speaking to the apostate church that professes to be Christian but lacks reality. But see His compassion for all men at all time, for He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20. Until God the Father sends Christ the Son to call His church home at the Rapture, the Holy Spirit will continue to knock at the heart door of every man, woman, or child in this world, seeking for them to repent and turn to salvation in Jesus.

 

 

Chapter 4

 

Theme: The church in heaven with Christ

 

 

Beginning with chapter 4 through the rest of the Book of Revelation, there is no mention of the church except when you get to the invitation at the end, which is a general invitation. So from here on you will not find the church mentioned. Up to this point, the church has been mentioned 19 times. But now something has happened and the church is mentioned no more. What has happened that the church is no longer mentioned? The Rapture has happened and the church has been taken up to heaven. And the so-called church left behind on earth is nothing more than an organization, an organization that will go through the Great Tribulation Period. Now remember our LORD used the example of two churches running side by side in this world today. There was the church at Philadelphia and our Lord was pleased with them for what reason? And then there was the church our LORD said He would spue out of His mouth and that church was? Now friends, that church is going through the Tribulation Period and as we shall see she will be called a great harlot what a frightful designation!

 

Now remember John was given the division of this book, and he passed it on to us. We ought not to miss it, for He said: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;” Rev 1:19 So now we find that the church is no longer mentioned in connection with the world and that’s because Christ said of His own: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:16 and He also said: “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:3. This is important because the church is still the subject here in chapter 4 but the scene has shifted to heaven. How did the church get to heaven? Paul gives us both the answer and the operation. He writes: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” I Thess 4:16-17. That’s the answer and now the operation that Paul defines: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” I Cor. 15:51-52. Faith places the sinner on the launching pad, in the guided missile of the church, from whence we shall go to meet the LORD in the air. Heaven’s door is opened and the saints now enter in. The church is now with Christ, and Christ is in heaven. The church is but a definition of all those who have trusted Christ in this age. Now this is something we need to get a fix on when the church arrives at its destination in heaven it loses the name by which she was known in this world. She is known by other terms such as what we find here in chapter 4 the twenty four elders a name given which is representative of the church in heaven. She will also be called the bride. And the apostate organization that continues here on earth also receives a new name she is no longer going to be called the church but the she’ll wear the frightful label harlot. Dr. George Gill said years ago on a seminary class, “There are going to be some churches which will meet the Sunday after the Rapture, and they won’t be missing a member, they will all be there. Why? Because it is the church of Laodicea; it professes to be Christian but lacks reality. Furthermore, the judgments that we’ll find in chapter 6 would not be in harmony with the provision and promise that God has made to the church. If the church remained in the world, it would frustrate the grace of God because He has promised to deliver us from judgment.

Now let’s read chapter 4:1:

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”

 After what? He is referring to the Rapture. The words “I saw” refer to the eye-gate; and the words “I heard” refer to the ear-gate. John is referring to the fact that he is seeing heaven. Heaven is a real place. You see some folks today do not believe that heaven is a real place, nor do they believe hell is real either. But I can assure you both are very real and I can do that on the basis on God’s Word. john saw heaven and he is describing to us what he saw. He says I saw a door was opened and this is important because it is one of four open doors in the Book of Revelation. In chapter 3:8 speaking to the church at Philadelphia, the Lord Jesus says, “I have set before thee an open door” 3:8. This door refers to the opportunity they had to give out the Word of God. We also find the open door of invitation and identification with Christ in 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” We have the open door here in 4:1 which is the way to God through Christ who said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6. And the fourth open door is found in Rev 19:11: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” This is the door that Christ will come through at His Second Coming when He comes all the way to earth to put down all the unrighteousness and rebellion against God and set up His Millennial Kingdom. Now friends the open door to heaven is Jesus Christ. It was He who said: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9 He is the One who will come to the door of your heart and we must enter in by faith. Faith puts us on the launching pad of the church, which is Christ, and at the Rapture we go through this door like a guided missile. “Come up hither” is heaven’s invitation to all of the fellowship that know Christ as Savior. John wrote in I John 1:3: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” John is saying in effect, we heard it, we saw it, and we declare it unto you. “And the first voice which I heard, a voice as of a trumpet speaking with me.” This is the sound which calls the church to meet Christ in the air. And whose voice is it? It is the voice of Christ. This introduces us to one of the simple symbols that occurs frequently from here on in the Revelation. That it is a symbol is evident; a trumpet does not speak. The voice of Christ is like a trumpet, and this is the voice Paul wrote of: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” I Thess 4:16-17.

 

“And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” Rev 4:2

 

“And immediately” denotes the brevity of time, which is one of the characteristics of the Rapture. Paul said it would take place in the twinkling of an eye. A twinkling of an eye is pretty brief. Some psychologist has measured it. He condensed the twinkling of an eye to be, not the going down of the eyelid, but the going up, and he determined that it is 1/1000 of a second. That is how quick the Rapture is going to be. Now the throne represents the universal sovereignty and rulership of God. It means that He is in control. And we read in Ps 11:4: “The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” But now something has changed and that is the fact that the throne of grace has now become the throne of judgment. Right now Christ intercedes before the Father in heaven but when the church is Raptured the throne of grace becomes a throne of judgment. You see the Bible tells us that we must all appear. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” II Cor 5:10. Now we do not need to fear this judgment as a believer. We are not going to give an account for all the sins we have committed. Because if we had to do that then Christ would not be true to His Word and we would not have received the forgiveness of our sins. You see the Bible says: “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Ps 103:11-12 So what we will be judged on? The things we did. The Bible says: “Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” I Cor 3:13-15 This is our judgment. And it is why John in II John 8 encourages us to “take heed that we receive a full reward.”

Now look at Rev 4:4:

 

“And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.”

 These twenty-four elders stand for the total church from Pentecost to the Rapture. White raiment is the color of holiness and righteousness and we are told in II Cor 5:21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” “Crowns of gold” indicate that the church will rule with Christ and the Bible says: “Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?” I Cor 6:3 Crowns are also given as rewards and we’ll pick up with those crowns in our next study. But know this: There will be a Rapture and that time is coming sooner than you think. In light of what we have discussed today what changes may you need to make in order to be sure that you will receive a full reward? 

 

Rev 4:5:

 

“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

 The tense of this verse is the present tense, so the verse should be proceed, not proceeded, because it is taking place right there and then. My thought is that God used the word proceeded for our benefit to let us know that judgment is coming. And voices let us know that this is not a haphazard judgment, but is directed by the One upon the throne. The seven Spirits of God is a clear reference to the Holy Spirit and again Isaiah the prophet tells us what the seven spirits of God are. “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;” Is 11:2 Now remember the number seven in biblical numerology stands for completeness and God is only complete in His Trinity and so we see the Spirit of the Lord {God the Father}; shall rest upon Him {God the Son} and then we see God the Holy Spirit in the wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear.

 

“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.” Rev 4:6

This sea spoken of here represents the holiness and righteousness of God. Jesus spoke of this in His Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”  And the writer of Hebrews wrote: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” Heb 12:14 And Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 3:13 “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” This placid sea indicates the position of rest to which the church has come. No longer does she face the storms of life. No longer is she out there on the tossing sea. Listen God has promised His church rest and that rest is represented by this sea. Down here now we face some storms in the way of strife in the family from time to time and no church has perfect rest and peace as long as she is in this world. But up in heaven we will have it all; praise the LORD!!!

 

Now again Revelation is full of symbols and we find another in this verse in John’s expression of the four beasts full of eyes before and behind. First off when mama used to tell me she knew what I was doing because she had eyes in the back of her head; well did mama really have eyes in the back of her heard? No. so what mama was saying was listen Don, I am aware and alert to what you’re trying to do. That’s what’s meant by the beasts before and behind. Who are these beasts then? They are cherubim and seraphim because they resemble what both Ezekiel and Isaiah saw. You see Ezekiel wrote: “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.” Ezek 1:5-10 And Isaiah wrote: “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Is 6:2-3

 

Now look what we read in Rev 4:7

 

“And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”

The first living creature was like a lion and the first Gospel represents the Lord Jesus as King. Who is the king of the jungle? The Lion. Well Matthew tells throughout His gospel that Jesus was born a king. He lived a King, and He died a King, He was raised a King, and He is coming again as a King. And if you remember your OT God said the tribe of Judah was like a lion and the King would come from that tribe…Gen 49:9-10 The second living creature was like a calf (ox). This is the beast of burden, the servant animal domesticated. In the Gospel of Mark Christ is presented as the Servant. The third living creature had a face as a man. The third Gospel, Luke, presents the Lord Jesus as the Son of Man. In Luke’s gospel he emphasizes Jesus humanity. The fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. He communicates the deity of Christ as seen in the Gospel of John. Now these living creatures also represent the animal world as suggested by Godet. In that sense then the lion represents wild beasts, the calf represents all domesticated beasts, the eagle represents birds, and man assumes the position he had in the Garden of Eden before the Fall as the head of all creation. Now note that there is no mention of fish. In the new heaven and the new earth, there will be no more sea, and since there is no sea, you will not need any fish. Nor will there be reptiles. The serpent will not be there to introduce sin as he did in the beginning…

 

Rev 4:8

 

“And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

 This corresponds to what we shared from Isaiah 6:2. And they say repeatedly Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty which was, and is, and is to come means they are referring to Christ. And Christ identified Himself that way from the very beginning back in Rev 1:8: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

 

And then as we’ve talked about we come to the first great worship scene in heaven where the creatures worship the Creator as the triune God. Do you know what the activity of heaven is? Worship!

Now many people say that not everybody who talking about heaven is going there. The better question is: Why do you want to go to heaven? Is the idea to miss hell? Now I do not think that is an unworthy motive, but friend when you to heaven you are either going to be getting down on your face or up on your feet worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, some folks find worship boring down here and they are not at all interested in worshipping the Lord Jesus and expressing their heart’s desire to Him; why would someone like that want to go to heaven? Because we are going to spend a lot of time worshipping Him up there. And when we worship we are going to cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus – “I fall down and I lay my crown at the feet of Jesus and cry holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy is the King of kings” You see the reason God created all things in the first place is given in v 11: “for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” God could have forgotten about any one of us and not created us at all. I’m glad that He didn’t forget. I’m glad that I was in His plan and purpose and I’ll bet you are too. And that’s why we worship Him.

 

Chapter 5

Theme: The church in heaven with Christ continued.

 

The Book with Seven Seals

 

“And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.” Rev 5:1

 

A scholar named Godet considered this scroll to be “the book of the new covenant.” Others labeled it the “book of judgment.” Walter Scott considered it “the revelation of God’s purpose and counsel concerning the world.” But Dr. Harry Ironside suggested it was the “title deed to the world down here.” Who holds the title deed to the earth down here? It is none other than the Lord Jesus. Daniel wrote: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Dan 7:13-14. But J. Vernon McGee had it right because he held to allowing scripture to interpret scripture and so what we have here is a book representing God’s new covenant with Israel. The Word of God talks about this a great deal. In Jeremiah we read: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jer 31:31-33 And Paul wrote to the Romans: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Rom 11:26-27 In Hebrews we find these words: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” Heb 10:17-18 The old covenant which God had made with Israel depended upon man. The Ten Commandments said don’t, don’t, don’t. it depended on the weak arm of the flesh, and as a result it failed. That wasn’t because there was anything wrong with the Ten Commandments, or with the Mosaic Law; the problem was with what it has always been with since the Fall man. The New Covenant depends upon the power of the throne of God; it depends upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

“And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” Rev 5:2

 

Who has the right and title to this world? Who can rule it? Who can establish justice and righteousness? A strong angel here means a powerful angel. He has a loud voice. This is speaking now of power, that is needed to make this covenant effective.

 

“And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.” Rev 5:3

 

No man of Adam’s line has a right to open the book and take charge of this earth. There have been a great many who have tried to do it. Adam lost dominion through sin. Moses was a lawgiver, but he also was a lawbreaker. David and his line failed. None of Adam’s line qualifies. There is none today. The Ruler must be a Redeemer, the Sovereign must be a Savior of mankind, and Jesus Christ is the only One.

“And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” Rev 5:4

 

John is disturbed by this a great deal. Here is a man who had a great passion and I believe he wrote Revelation in tears. Why do you think he wept? Think about this: Is the earth to continue in sin and sorrow? Is there no future for the earth? Listen to what Paul had to say: “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Rom 8:23 At this point perhaps John was thinking is no one competent to rule this earth? John is overwhelmed by the possibility that there may be no one. Again Paul writes: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Rom 8:22

 

“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” Rev 5:5

 

Now any one of the elders could have answered for they all had spiritual illumination. This is further evidence that this is the church in heaven because the LORD Jesus had said to His own: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 The Lord Jesus is the only One who has the right and title to this earth. He has not only redeemed you and me but He has also redeemed the earth. The Lion of the tribe of Judah identifies Him, of course, with the tribe of Judah of the people Israel. When old Jacob was dying, he called his twelve sons around him, and this is the prophecy he gave concerning Judah: “Judah is a lion's whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” Gen 49:9-10. The Lord Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah. He is also the root of David. In II Samuel 7, that great chapter of God’s covenant with David He says, “I am going to bring One in your line who shall rule, not only over these people, but over the whole earth.” The Lord Jesus has the right to rule, as He is the fulfillment of the prophecies made in the OT relative to the future of the world. All those prophecies will be fulfilled at His second coming to the earth to establish His kingdom.

 

“And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” Rev 5:6

 

A Lamb: this denotes its gentleness and its willingness to be sacrificed. Christ was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and He did not open His mouth at all. Is 53:7 He was the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29. “As it had been slain” indicates the redemption and vicarious, substitutionary death of Christ. The emphasis is upon the fact that He was slain in violence. And then the fact that John says “stood” refers to His resurrection! Here we find Him no longer seated at the right hand of God. He is moving now, and He is moving in power. He is coming to this earth. The judgment of the Tribulation is about to strike the earth. The winds of tribulation are already blowing upon the earth today! “In the midst of the throne” is indicative of the fact that He is before the throne and ready to act as the Righteous Judge. “Seven Horns” denotes complete power. A horn in the Bible often refers to power and Christ is all-powerful because He is omnipotent. Seven eyes means He has complete knowledge. Christ is omniscient! He is the omnipotent and omniscient God and He moves in the fullness of the Spirit, who is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. The Lord Jesus Christ is a Lion and a Lamb. The lion character refers to His second coming; the lamb to His first. The lion is symbolic of His majesty; the lamb is symbolic of His meekness. As a lion He is Sovereign; as a lamb He is Savior. As a lion He is a Judge; as a lamb He is judged. The lion represents the government of God; the lamb represents the grace of God.

 

“And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.” Rev 5:7

 

The Lord Jesus moves to the throne during the Tribulation Period. He judges the world in righteousness before He reigns in righteousness. He is no longer intercessor of the church, for the church is now with Him. He is beginning to act as Judge. The movement here is important.

 

“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.” Rev 5:8

 

This is the great movement of all creation, and the Lord Jesus takes over now. The twenty four elders act as priests. Only the church is a priesthood of the believers in heaven. The prayer of Christ for believers in John 17 is answered in the elders: our Lord’s prayer that they might know Him, that they might be with Him, and they might behold His glory is all answered in this scene of the elders in heaven. “The vials full of odours” might be more accurately described as the prayers of the saints. Obviously, the elders represent the body of Christ, which is called the church and they are the priesthood. II Peter 2:9.

 

“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Rev 5:9-10

 

The angelic host join the church in singing praise! Praise is directed to Christ as the Redeemer of men in all ages and races. The new song is the song of redemption! Praise is the joy of heaven and Christ is the center of that joy for He is the only One worthy of praise. Note we shall sing of His shed blood in heaven because not only are we remembering it was the shed blood of Christ that gains for us entrance into heaven but we are also singing of His shed blood that will save the Tribulation saints here on earth. A kingdom and priests refers to the tribulation saints. And note also the church shall reign over the earth with Christ.

 

“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” Rev 5:11-14

 

John uses the phrase ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands to mean that the number is innumerable. Think of it this way how many grains of sand are on the earth? There are too many to count the number is innumerable so it will be in heaven. And every animate creature of God joins in this universal act of worship, both in heaven and earth. A good close to this chapter would be for us all to sing the Hallelujah chorus because we come to the end of a very remarkable scene in heaven a holy worship service of praise and honor to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Are you in the habit of praising and worshiping Him now?  If not, you’d better get in the habit because praise and worship is the joy of heaven!

 

Revelation 6: Opening of the First Six Seals

 

Now we come to the great divide of the Book of Revelation. Now the third and final major division of Revelation began with chapter 4 when the church was caught up to heaven at the Rapture. And in heaven john began to tell us what we the church will see. From here on in the Book of Revelation the church is no longer mentioned on earth at all. There is an invitation at the end of the book that comes from the church but this refers to this day in which we live.

   Now we can see an orderly process in the Book of Revelation and we need to follow Peter’s rule for prophecy: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” II Peter 1:20; that simply means we do not interpret any prophecy by itself. Each prophecy must be looked at as part of a system and a program, and it must fit with others. Now remember John was told in Revelation 1:19: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;” Write the things which thou hast seen, that was the vision of the glorified Christ. Write the thing which are, that was the seven churches that represented the church from Pentecost until the Rapture; Write the things which shall be hereafter, and that is what we will discover in the rest of the Revelation.

   Now as we come to chapter 6 the scene shifts from heaven back to earth, and the question naturally is: What Happens on earth when the church leaves? The answer: The Great Tribulation takes place, and that is the focus of chapter 6-18 of Revelation. These seven seals open up the Great Tribulation Period. The Lord Jesus breaks the seals, and the four horses ride forth. We will see the martyred dead during that period and the coming of the day of wrath. In a very orderly way the seventh seal introduces the blowing of the seven trumpets and we’ll discover that when we come to chapters 8-11. The blowing of the seventh trumpet introduces seven startling persons and we’ll meet them when we come to chapters 12and 13. The beast out of the sea introduces the seven bowls of wrath found in chapters 15-16. The last bowl of wrath brings to us the judgment of Babylon, and that brings us to the end of the Great Tribulation in chapters17-18; and then Christ comes to the earth at his Second Coming.

   Now remember we met Christ when we began Revelation walking among the lampstands His church. But now He is no longer walking among the lampstands/His church for the church is in heaven in the presence of Christ. He is no longer standing before God the Father as our intercessor; rather He is now the executor of God’s will upon the earth as He opens the seals of the book. And all the judgments of the Great Tribulation usher forth from these seals. It is important for us to understand that the Great Tribulation is triggered from heaven and Christ directs the entire operation. This is the reason the psalmist wrote: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron” Psalm 2:9 Man’s heart is so hard and he is so stiff-necked that it takes a rod of iron to break him. Today we are still living in the age of grace and God’s grace is free for all men. The Gospel message is going out and men and women are being asked to repent of their sins, but instead of repenting of sin man is institutionalizing sin, which is what the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage did. All sin is to be repented of and it does not matter what that sin is for all sin is the same in God’s eyes. It is to be repented of not institutionalized. And only those who refuse God’s free gift of grace will go into the Great Tribulation.

   Moving on there are certain factors that are brought into focus and that increase with intensity and ferocity during the Great Tribulation. First, the Holy Spirit will restrain evil no longer. The Bible says: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” II Thess 2:3-7. Does this mean then that the Holy Spirit has left the world? No, He doesn’t leave. The Holy Spirit was in the world before Pentecost, but on the Day of Pentecost he assumed a new ministry of baptizing believers into the body of Christ, a new ministry of indwelling them, of filling them, and of leading and guiding them in this world. He will take the church out of this world, but that does not mean he is going to leave with them. He will still be here, but He will not restrain evil any longer. And that means that man is going to have his little day during this period and so is Satan. Second the true church, as salt and light, will be gone from earth. Although the church has very little influence in the world today, it still has a little, but when the church leaves the earth, there will be none left. Third, the devil knows that he has a short time. He is going to make hay while the sun shines. He is going to take advantage of it during this period, and God is going to give him free reign. Fourth, evil men will be free to carry out their nefarious plans; the Antichrist will be able to take over this earth for a brief period of time. Five, there will be direct judgment from God. We see that here in v 17, which says: “For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

  Does that mean that the Great Tribulation will come like a tornado does suddenly? No, I believe it will be gradual, logical, and chronological, because these seals are opened one at a time. As we have studied Revelation we are following a very chronological order here, one that is very logical and one that John now makes very clear he is writing about future things; the things that happen when the church is caught up to heaven at the Rapture.

 

“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” Rev 6:1-2

 

Now is this verse talking about Christ? What do you think? No it is not talking about Christ because it would be pretty difficult for the Lord Jesus who is opening the seals to suddenly make a quick change, mount a horse, and come riding forth. In fact, it would be inconsistent with the teachings of Scripture since Christ’s Second Coming does not take place until the end of the Great Tribulation. So who is this? It is the Antichrist. He is the one who pretends to be Christ, who comes forth. Friends, we are moving more and more toward a one world government and that means toward a one world dictator. Because today all the nations of the world are disturbed. Lawlessness abounds, and governments are not able to control as they should. All of this is preparing the way for the coming of one who is to rule. And the Bible teaches that the Antichrist does not appear as a villain, but as an angle of light. II Corinthians 11:14: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” The Antichrist is going to be the most attractive man the world has ever seen and they will elect him and acclaim him because he has come in his own name. And when he takes over it is going to be bad for the world. Professor A. J. Toynbee, Director of Studies in the Royal Institute of International Affairs said some years ago: “By forcing on mankind more and more lethal weapons and at the same time making the whole world more and more interdependent economically, technology has brought mankind to such a degree of distress that we are ripe for deifying any new Caesar who might succeed in giving the world unity and peace.” And that will be the platform the Antichrist will come in on; unity and peace. You see when he comes to power, he is going to talk peace, and the world will think it is entering the Millennium when it is actually entering into the Great Tribulation. And here’s why: II Thess 2:8-12 states: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” For certain the Great Tribulation will come in like a lamb, but it goes out like a lion. The promise of peace is the big lie the world is going to believe. And again if we allow scripture to interpret scripture Christ is clearly identified in Revelation 19, while here the identity of the rider is uncertain, which suggest that it is an imitation of Christ. For the Bible says: Rev 19:11-13: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”

 

Opening Of The Second Seal

 

“And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” Rev 6:3-4

 

Now remember the first horseman could not be Christ, because when He brings peace to this earth it is going to be permanent. This is a short-lived peace, Immediately after the white horse went forth, here comes the red horse of war on the earth. The peace which the rider on the white horse brought was temporary and counterfeit. The Antichrist presents himself as a ruler who brings peace to the world, but he cannot guarantee it, for God says: “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” Is 57:21 And I think you will agree that we are as far from peace today as we have ever been. Now let’s look at the rider on the black horse.

 

Opening Of The Third Seal

 

“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” Rev 6:5-6

 

The color of the black horse indicates mourning, and it speaks of famine. Jeremiah prophesied: “I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.” Jer 4:26-28 And in the Book of Lamentations we read: “Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick. They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field.” Lam 4:8-9 The black horse represents the worldwide famine that is to come on the earth. Always after a war there is a shortage of foodstuff. The Greek historian Herodotus says that a quart of corn was a soldier’s daily supply of food. And a denarius in Jesus’ day was a day’s wage Matt 20:2. Therefore, a working man will not be able to support his family in that day. Oil and wine are luxuries that are enjoyed by the rich. Oil would correspond to our toiletries, the beauty aids and the body conditioners that we use today; the luxuries of life. The wine corresponds to the liquor that will be in abundance. Isn’t it interesting that there will not be enough foodstuff, not enough barley to make food, but enough barley to make liquor. They will continue to make it in that day and the rich are the ones who will get it. Here’s a history lesson for you. During WWII the rich, for the most part were able to get meat. They were able to get the luxuries of life. A wealthy man could get a T-bone steak whenever he wanted it. The rich can always get theirs; but not the poor. During WWII the poor had to stand in line and hope for their rations and they didn’t always receive them. Now we come to the rider on the pale horse.

 

Opening Of The Fourth Seal

 

“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Rev 6:7-8

 

Here is a pestilence that is going to take out one-fourth of the population of the earth. There will not be enough antibiotics and penicillin to go around in that day to stop it. Death was his name. Obamacare contains clauses that say who can and who cannot get treatment; it tells the insurance companies what they can and cannot pay for; it has in it clauses for abortion; and the elderly will be eliminated. Listen already in this world there is not enough medicine to go around and new diseases are developing all the time. Some drugs are nothing more than placebos and not real medicine at all. So it should come as no surprise to us that a quarter of the world’s population will be wiped out by disease. And my friend, there is more that comes with physical death than meets the eye. Death is more than a physical cessation of activity. While death takes the body, Hades is the place where the spirit of a lost man goes. Luke wrote: “And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” Luke 16:23 Luke was writing about the rich man who had no concern for his soul. “Death was his name; and Hades followed with him.” Now Hades is the place where the spirit of a lost man goes,  and the Lord Jesus spoke it that way. Death evidently has an all-inclusive, threefold meaning that we do not ordinarily attach to it. We think of death as only referring to the body. This is physical death. And physical death comes to us because of Adam’s sin. Then there is what is known as spiritual death, which is separation from, and rebellion against God. All of mankind a dead nature from Adam, that’s why God could say truthfully:  “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”Rom 3:23. You see, in man there is no capacity and no desire for God at all. Then third, there is eternal death. That is eternal separation from God forever and ever. That means unless a man repents of his sin and is redeemed by the grace of God, he is lost forever. There are no second chances on the other side of the grave. So the lost man goes to Hades where he is kept until the second death. At the Great White throne judgment he will be judged on his works and he will be cast into the lake of fire/hell for all eternity. Well then did Isaiah prophesy of man that all his works are as filthy rags before a Holy Righteous God Is 64:6. Now listen the Bible teaches that Adam is the federal head of our race, his transgression is our transgression, and his death is our death. Now Christ is the head of a new creation, and this new creation has life only in Christ. He alone can give life. He is totally responsible for the life and eternal bliss of those who are His own. Now during the Great Tribulation, death will ride unbridled. The Lord Jesus put it like this: “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.” Matt 24:22 At the Great White Throne judgment, death will finally be destroyed. Because the Bible says: “And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Rev 20:14 This is confirmed by Paul who wrote in I Cor 15:26: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” And John reasserts it in Rev 21:4: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” The sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts will decimate the earth’s population by one-fourth. And this is something God said would come through the prophet Ezekiel:  “For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?” Ezekiel 14:21. So far we have seen the riding of four horsemen and this follows exactly the pattern that the Lord Jesus gave while He was on the earth. He said in His Olivet Discourse: “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ;[the white horse] and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars:[the red horse] see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines,[the black horse] and pestilences,[the pale horse] and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matt 24:5-8 This is the opening of the Great Tribulation.

 

Opening Of The Fifth Seal

 

Now we come to the prayer of the martyred remnant.

 

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Rev 6:9-10

 

This altar is in heaven and is evidently where Christ offered His blood for the sins of the world. I take the position as J. Vernon McGee did that Christ’s literal blood is in heaven. And I confirm that with Scripture specifically Hebrews 9:23-24 which states: “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:”

The souls mentioned here are the OT saints. As the Lord Jesus put it: “That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” Luke 11:50-51 Included among these are those who will be slain in the Great Tribulation Period, as we found out last time already a quarter of the earth’s population has been wiped out. Now let’s move to v 11.

 

“And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” Rev 6:11 This verse is letting us know that the Tribulation saints are included with the OT saints in the second resurrection.

 

Opening Of The Sixth Seal

 

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind” Rev 6:12-13

 

The day of wrath has come and this is evidently the beginning of the last half of the Great Tribulation Period. The great day of His wrath is before us. The Great Tribulation opens and closes with these upheavals in the natural universe. The beginning of the Tribulation is clearly seen when we compare the prophet Joel’s prophecy with the writing of Luke. Joel prophesied: “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” Joel 2:30-31. Now Luke wrote: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:” Acts 2:20. And the end of the Great Tribulation Period is seen when we compare Joel’s prophesy and Isaiah’s prophesy with the words of the Lord Jesus. Joel prophesied: “Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more” Joel 3:9-17 Isaiah prophesied: “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.” Is 13:9-13. And Jesus said: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:” Matt 24:29 The fact that we are seeing an increase in earthquakes today is not a fulfillment of these prophecies they are if you will the birth pangs that merely show that it will happen as God has said.

 

“And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Rev 6:14-17

 

I think because we find the same thing in Nahum 1:5 and again in Revelation 20:11 that verse 14 is to be taken literally. Nahum prophesied: “The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.” And John wrote: “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.”

 

Now imagine there will come a time when those on the earth are actually going to pray for the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them, because they want to be hidden from the wrath of the Lamb. The wrath of the Lamb is a paradoxical phrase. The wrath of God is the Day of the Lord, that day is spoken of all the way through the OT prophets, a day that is coming upon the earth and is yet future. The Bible is full of paradoxes. A paradox is a proposition that is contrary to received opinion. For example, folks say the closer you get to the sun the hotter it gets; then how come all the highest mountains in the world are snow capped? They are all closer to the sun that we are. Now here we have the “wrath of the Lamb.” The lamb is a familiar figure for Christ. Now suppose a little lamb, that is noted for gentleness did get angry? What then? It is like a tempest in a teapot. Friends from the days of John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus is depicted as a Lamb. The apostle John calls Him the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Rev 13:8. Listen, God did not choose a lamb for the sacrificial aspect, He chose such an animal to represent Christ as the Lamb slain before any lamb was ever created; before the foundation of the world. Now did the Lord Jesus have the qualities of a lamb? Yes He did for scripture teaches that He was meek, gentle, harmless, and humble. Christ is One whose life was marked by winsomeness. Like the perfume of a lovely and fragile flower His coming was a doxology. His stay on earth was a blessing. And His departure was a benediction. Even the unbelieving world has been fascinated by His life and have assigned to Him such nomenclatures as a great teacher, the most righteous man who ever lived, but they refuse to recognize Him as Lord. Yet, the Lamb has set forth His sacrifice for the world; God provided for the world His Lamb. But we find here the “wrath of the Lamb.” Now we know God loves good, but He hates evil. Yet His hatred of evil is not vindictive. God is righteous. He is holy. So then God hates that which is contrary to Himself. The Bible teaches that Jehovah is a man of war. He is strong and mighty; mighty in battle. The Bible reveals the wrath of God. Paul wrote in Romans: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” Rom 1:18 Now look at this world we live in today. It already reveals the wrath of God, the judgment of God. It is like mixing fire and water to bring the wrath and the Lamb together; but all the fury of the wrath of God is revealed in the Lamb. When the Lord Jesus was on earth He made a scourge of small cords and drove the money changers out of the temple. He called the religious rulers a generation of vipers and white washed sepulchers. He cursed a fig tree. He rejected Jerusalem with tears in His eyes; All of these are a picture of the wrath of the Lamb. There is a day coming when the wrath of the Lamb will be revealed. He is going to punish sin and those who commit sin without remorse. May all men everywhere heed the words of the psalmist who wrote: “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Ps 2:10-12

 

Chapter 7: God Seals a Remnant of Israel and Saves a Redeemed Company of Gentiles

 

As we begin Chapter 7 remember we are now in a section that the Lord Jesus labeled the Great Tribulation. This period takes place after the church leaves the earth, after the church concludes its mission and is taken to be with the Lord. And scripture makes very clear and I am reminded here that the Apostle Peter said: “…that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” II Peter 1:20. In other words, we can’t lift out just one verse here or there or even consider only the Book of Revelation and expect to interpret accurately the whole of prophecy. It is essential to recognize that the Book of Revelation happens to be the last Book of the Bible. When you are studying arithmetic in school, you begin with ‘two plus two equals four.” You do not start the little ones in first grade with atomic physics or with higher mathematics. Since this Book is the last Book of the Bible, the only requirement is to have a working knowledge of the sixty-five books which come before. Then you will find this Book makes a whole lot of sense and is quite logical.

 

Now John is going into detail now concerning the Great Tribulation Period, a period that has not been elaborated upon in any other place in Scripture except in the Olivet Discourse which the Lord Jesus gave in Matthew 24-25. John is merely widening out and giving us additional information. So what he says is based on what the Lord Jesus had to say. In chapter 6 six seals revealed the four great tragedies that are coming upon the earth, the beginning of judgments. And the fifth seal, you remember, let us look at a martyred company of people. We were also introduced to some of the signs of doom that is to come upon a godless world in the Great Tribulation Period. In this Period the church is never mentioned by name. And the reason is because John is recording things on earth, and the church is no longer on the earth because she has been raptured. Now remember John was told by Christ in Rev 1 to write about the things he had seen, the things which are referring to the church period and John was in the church period, and we still are today. Since the church is still in the world we are in the period of things which are. And then he was to write about the things which will be hereafter, and that is what we are studying now.

 

Now the four horsemen introduce the Great Tribulation Period, and the seven seals give an overall picture of that seven year period. The last of the seals bears down on the last three and one-half years of the Great Tribulation Period.  At this point one-fourth of the population of the earth has been destroyed in judgment, destroyed in death. Anyone who reads the Book of Revelation would sense the fact that it is going to be very hard to make it through this period of time; especially for those who turn to God, accept Christ, and stand for Him. The question is: Will believers be able to stand for Him during this period? John is now going to put down another principle which he will follow because he knows that you and I are going to have trouble with the Revelation. Therefore he has made it simple for us. He introduces a series of sevens, but the way that he deals with them is the important thing for us to see. A format is followed from the breaking of the seals to the bowls of wrath. But between the sixth and seventh seals there is an interlude of seemingly extraneous matter, but is explanatory matter; it explains the action and answers to certain questions. This is what chapter 7 will do for us. The principle of an explanatory interlude will be true of the seven trumpets, of the seven performers, and of the seven bowls of wrath. So we will find John following this principle all the way through this particular section of Revelation, so that we do not lose our way.

Friends we need to deal with the question that any reasonable person would raise at this point: What about people turning to God and getting saved during this period? II Thessalonians makes it clear that the Holy Spirit, the Restrainer, is removed from the earth. He has taken the church to present it to Christ. Since you cannot have any turning to God without the Holy Spirit, will anybody get saved without the Holy Spirit being present on the earth? The Holy Spirit will be present. I did not say that the Holy Spirit left the world but that He would no longer restrain evil. The Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost to perform a specific ministry of calling out a body of believers in the church which is referred to as the body of Christ. When the church is removed from the earth, that peculiar ministry of the Holy Spirit will end. One of His ministries in this particular era has been that of restraining evil. It was absolutely essential that he be a restrainer in order for the Gospel to penetrate a satan-controlled and satan-blinded world. How could the Word go out unless the Spirit of God held evil back? Just think about the forces of evil at work today trying to prevent the Word from getting out. But the question remains: How are people going to get saved during the period of the Great Tribulation if the Holy Spirit will not be restraining evil? The Great Tribulation is the Devil’s holiday. That is the time when he will have the freedom to do as he pleases. Now we know what God is going to grant that: it is the period of judgment God has ordered for a Christ- rejecting world. How does anybody get saved in this period then? Well, let’s remember that the Holy Spirit was in the world before Pentecost. In reading the OT we find the Spirit of God working in the hearts and lives of men and women. Many multitudes were brought to God, and the Holy Spirit was not restraining evil and He was not baptizing believers into the body of the church in the OT. Yet, He will still be in the business He has always been in taking God’s creation and renovating it. Listen the Bible says that in the beginning… “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The Spirit of God broods over this earth today and has from the very beginning and will after the church is raptured.  The Holy Spirit will have an unusual, special program during this period. So let’s look at the: I. The Reason for the Interlude The reason for the interlude is given to us in the first three verses of chapter 7. “After this” refers to the tremendous judgment of the previous chapter, the riding of the four horsemen. What did John see? Four angles standing at the four corners of the earth. And what were they doing? Holding firmly the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. John is simply referring to the winds of judgment. God uses wind in judgment, and He controls the wind.  Psalm 148:8 says, “Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:” The winds of judgment are now held back. Nothing can move until God accomplishes His purpose. What is His purpose going to be? I don’t think God would permit any period to continue on this earth in which, there were not some of the human family turning to God, because the human family is His purpose. Why would God keep the world running if folks were not turning to Him? Therefore, we can rightly conclude that this will be a period when multitudes will turn to Him. A great company is going to be saved, and this reveals that these judgments will accomplish a purpose for God. It will cause multitudes to turn to Him in this period, and it will cause multitudes to turn against Him as well. It is just like the sun shining down on a piece of soft clay. What will the sun do to the clay? It will harden it. What would be the effect of the same sunlight on wax? It would melt. The sun has the opposite effect upon the clay and the wax. The judgments of God are the same. In our lives as believers when trouble comes to us I’ve discovered it will either draw us to God or drive us from Him. We need to be drawn to Him, and that is the reason the Lord lets some of us have sicknesses. He wants to draw us closer to Himself and this is His way of doing it.

 

“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” Rev 7:2-3

 

Another Angel means this is a fifth angel. He has a higher rank than the four because he gives them orders. And both the Book of Daniel and the Book of Ephesians speak to the differing gradations of angels and their order. And as we talked about in the message Angels, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare there are both good and bad angels. Satan has the demon world well organized; he probably has generals, lieutenants, majors, colonels, and sergeants, along with a great company of privates. On the other side god also has His angles arranged and this angel gives orders to the other four. And this angel cried with a great voice. This is an indication that frightful and fearful judgment is getting ready to break upon the earth, and it is therefore necessary to secure the servants of God. If He does not seal them they are not going to make it through. Now the Lord Jesus said: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.” Matt 24:21-22 So what is this mark He is going to put upon their foreheads? I don’t know because God’s Word does not tell us what it is. So when we come to something like this we must heed what the Scripture says: “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us” Deut 29:29 we must conclude that it is not important for the church to know what the mark is. If it were, God would have revealed it unto us. What we do know is that during this period is that there will be those who will not be able to buy or trade if they do have the mark of the Beast. This mark of God’s is in contrast to the mark of the Beast. My guess is that it would have to be a spiritual mark that will be in their lives because Jesus said Matt 7:20 by their fruits you shall know them; by their lives. J. Vernon McGee believed this would be the mark of God’s own during this period because the godless are really going to be godless in this period.

 

 

 

 

 

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Rev 7:4

 

When God deals with Israel, He deals with dates and numbers; and when God deals with the church He does not use dates or numbers. Even when we get to the great company of Gentiles saved during the Great Tribulation Period, the number is not given. But when it comes to Israel God always deals in dates and numbers and we see that here. One hundred and forty four thousand is the number given of those sealed from the nation of Israel. And there will be a multitude of Gentiles saved during this time but no number is given as to how many. So we can see that during the Great Tribulation that a great company of folk are going to be saved. Now you may be wondering how they are going to be saved? They are going to be sealed. The Holy Spirit is going to be here, not only to regenerate them, but He will also have a special ministry of sealing during this period. The seal guarantees that they are going to be delivered. Listen when we go down to the Post Office to register a letter, a postal clerk puts a stamp on it and puts a seal on it, and we pay a little extra for that. That seal means that the entire postal department is behind that letter to see that it is delivered. That is what sealed means here. The Holy Spirit guarantees they will make it through the Great Tribulation. If it weren’t for the seal they wouldn’t make it through. Now it is important for us to remember that God has never had but one way to save sinners, and that is through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. If you had asked Abel when he brought that little lamb to God, “Abel, do you think that little lamb will save you?” He would have said, “No, this little lamb is representing the One who God told my mother was coming from a woman to be the Savior of the world.

 

“Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.” Rev 7:5-8

 

Now we read that twelve thousand from each tribe gives us the number one hundred and forty four thousand. But there are certain peculiarities in this list that I want us to note. First of all, you will notice that Judah heads the list. But the tribe of Reuben should come first, for Reuben was the oldest, but because of his very gross immorality, he lost first place; but he is still included. Now we can answer a question many have wondered at through the years. When a Christian sins can he lose his salvation? The answer is no. But he can and will lose their rewards. Reuben is our example of this principle and how God deals with it. Reuben lost the place of honor, but he did not lose out altogether. Now there is another thing I want us to note here. And that is the fact that the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are omitted from the list. Both of these tribes were guilty of leading the nation of Israel into idolatry. Dan was the first tribe to fall into idolatry. And later on they became the headquarters for calf worship whereby “Jeroboam made Israel to sin – I Kings 12:28-30. The tribe of Dan is in the Millennium but they are not sealed for the purpose of witnessing during the Great Tribulation. Ephraim was also guilty of idolatry. In Hosea 4:17 we read, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” That has reference to the entire northern kingdom of Israel, but remember Ephraim was the leader there. Also Ephraim was the tribe that led in the division of the kingdom. In the list given Joseph takes the place of Ephraim and Levi takes the place of Dan. The tribe of Levi was the priestly tribe and thus we can see that God never leaves Himself without a witness on this earth.

 

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” Rev 7:9-10

 

Now these Gentiles come from every nation, every tribe, under the sun. This means that in the Great Tribulation the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world. The 144,000 witnesses will do in seven years what the church has not accomplished in over two thousand years! Here is a great company that have come out of the Great Tribulation rejoicing at their salvation. “Palm branches” is literally in the Greek ‘palm trees.’ They are the sign of victory in Christ. And if we stop and consider this for a moment the triumphal entry has not yet taken place. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that little donkey He was getting ready to leave this earth because He was on His way to the cross. So that entrance was more like a triumphal exit; but here we discover that when Christ returns to the earth that will be His triumphal entry and these folks will be there waving their palm branches before Him!

 

“And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.” Rev 7:11-12

 

What a fantastic, fabulous, awesome scene of universal worship of God by His creatures is painted here. The church, the OT saints, and the tribulation saints are here.

 

“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Rev 7:13-14

 

This is a very interesting passage of Scripture. One of the elders went over to John and said, John, who are these believers arrayed in white robes? And John said, My lord, thou knowest. This is an idiomatic expression, and we have one like it in our day. When someone asks us a question and we don’t know the answer, we just sort of lift up our hands and say Search me, which means I don’t know. This is what John is doing here. You know that I don’t know. You tell me because I don’t know. The point is if these people gathered here were the church John would have known it. Listen John knew the church, but he doesn’t know who this company is. The elder who is a representative of the church in heaven knows that this company is not the church. It is an altogether different company who came out of the Tribulation. And this is further proof that the church will not go through the Great Tribulation Period.

 

“Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Rev 7:15-17

 

These verses help us further understand that this is not the church for the church is never associated with the Temple. These are those saved during the Great Tribulation Period. And the things that are mentioned here are the things they endured. They are not going to hunger and thirst anymore like they did and they will not weep anymore because God is going to wipe away their tears. And this great company we meet in this chapter are Gentiles redeemed by the blood of the Lamb who are not a part of the church because they were saved during the Great Tribulation Period.

 

Chapter 8 – Opening the Seventh Seal

 

Remember now Chapter 7 was a parenthetical matter so that the Holy Spirit could seal those who would be saved during the Tribulation. Now as we come to Chapter 8 the opening of the seals resumes. How many seals have already been opened? Six. So chapter 8 deals with the opening of the 7th seal. Now remember that John is using a format that deals in a series of sevens and each series introduces the next series of seven. And that means then that all of them are interrelated, tied together, and actually belong to the same period. Also, we need to remember as we study this Book that everything from chapter 4 on is the future; in other words what takes place after the church has been raptured. Remember Jesus told John to write: “the things that shall be after these things” Rev 1:19. We are living in the things that are present, the church age, and in one sense these things do not concern us. These are the things that will take place after the church is raptured. Now if you are a child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit to be delivered to Christ when the church goes out of the world. When does the church go out of the world? Before or after the Tribulation? Our blessed hope is the rapture!

 

Now the seven seals bring judgment which is the natural result of the activities of man apart from God. Now again as we move forward we need to remember that the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the seven personalities, and the seven vials or bowls of wrath all concern the same period, but from a little different angle. Now in the seven seals we see the judgment that comes as a result of man’s willful activity. For example we saw that war comes in the opening of the second seal. War comes because it is in the heart of man. Many folks think that if you took away all the weaponry made for war we would have peace; but that simply isn’t true. War is in the heart of man and you have to change the heart of man before you can rid the world of war. Now when we get to the seven trumpets we see the judgment which is the direct activity of God. When we get to the seven personalities we’ll see the judgment that is the result of Satan’s fight against God. In the seven bowls of wrath we will see the final judgment of the Great Tribulation; God’s judgment against both man and Satan because of their rebellion. That’s what’s ahead of us. But now as we come to this section in which symbols will be used, let us remember that a symbol is a symbol of fact. We will find a strong similarity between the plagues in Egypt in Moses’ day and the trumpet judgments. It is then quite logical to conclude that because the plagues in Moses’ day were literal that the plagues that will take place during the Great Tribulation will be literal also. Plain language could not make it clear to our minds how terrible and tragic the Great Tribulation will be. It beggars description, so God exhausts language and brings in symbols. Now we are seeing Christ in a new role because we are witnessing Him as Judge. Now let’s take up Rev 8.

 

“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour”.  Rev 8:1

 

This is a very solemn scene. The LORD Jesus Christ orders a halt on all fronts: Heaven, hell, and earth. Nothing can move without His permission. He had already ordered a cessation of natural forces on earth when He ordered the sealing and saving of two definite groups. Now for a brief moment there is a lull in judgment activity; there is a heavenly hush. We’ve all experienced something like that in our lives only we call it the calm before the storm. This silence is a pause of action. But let’s ask why is there this strange silence? When the sixth seal was opened and nature responded with a mighty convulsion, brave-men weakened for a moment. Christ gave them opportunity to repent. But like Pharaoh of old who, when the heat was taken off, let his willful heart return to its original intention, many men will go back to their blasphemous conduct when there is a calm. They probably will even rebuke themselves for showing a yellow streak. They’ll say it was only Mother Nature reacting and not God, after all. It was just natural causes and not God at all. But we need to remember this: The steps of God from mercy to judgment are very slow and measured. God is reluctant to judge for the Bible tells us He is slow to anger. Isaiah wrote: “For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” Is 28:21What is strange about God? That He judges, that He is a God of love, judging His creatures. God told Ezekiel to write: “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Ezek 18:32 Thus we can conclude that this silence marks the transition from grace to judgment.

 

“And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.” Rev 8:2

 

These seven angels are introduced to us as a special group. J. Vernon McGee believed that the angel Gabriel would be in this group because we are told that he stood before God. When he announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias, he said…”I am Gabriel, that stands in the presence of God…Luke 1:19. The seraphim are also identified as beings that stand before God…Is 6:1-2 However, these seven angels are seemingly a different order from the seraphim as their mission and service are altogether different. Seven trumpets have a special meaning for Israel. Now this is where it is essential that you have an understanding of the OT. In the Book of Numbers Moses was given instructions by God for the making of two silver trumpets. Two was the number of witnesses. The Lord said on several occasions that in the mouth of two witnesses a matter would be established. These two trumpets were used on the wilderness march in a two- fold way. They were used to call the assembly and they were used to start the procession moving in the wilderness march. God said: “Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.” Num 10:2 When Israel entered the land the trumpets were used for two other purposes: “And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.” Num 10:9-10 Furthermore, a single trumpet was blown on the march to assemble the princes: “And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee.” Num 10:4 This single trumpet is, that which corresponds to “the last trump” which Paul mentions in I Corinthians 15. This trumpet was used for bringing a certain group out of Israel. Paul writes: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” I Cor 15:51-52 Unfortunately there are some who associate the last trump of I Corinthians 15 to the seventh trumpet of Revelation; there is no relation at all. Listen to what Paul: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” I Thess 4:16 The “shout” is the voice of the Lord Jesus. The voice of the archangel means that His voice is like that of an archangel. “The trump of God” is still His voice; His voice will sound like a trumpet. Now remember what John said in Revelation chapter 1: His voice is like the sound of a trumpet and he turned to see the glorified Christ. The glorified Christ is going to call His own out of the earth. When Paul speaks of “the last trump”; “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised” he means the call of the Lord Jesus. It is the last call that He makes to the church, and it is therefore called the last trump. But the OT type of it is the calling of the princes from out of the children of Israel. One trumpet was blown, and it had no relation to the movement of Israel. However, the trumpets did sound an alarm which moved Israel on the wilderness march, and an alarm was sounded to move each division. Listen the tribes were divided into four groups around the OT tabernacle. The reason for the surrounding of the Tabernacle was a reminder to Israel that God was to be the center of their lives and they were to remain in the center of His will. In addition to the tribes being camped around the Tabernacle, there were three separate families of Levi who carried the articles of furniture of the Tabernacle. Do you know who those families were? They were Kohath, Gershon, and Merari. Friends how much is 4+3? 7 There were seven blowings of the trumpets to move Israel out. When the first trumpet was blown the ark was moved out with the Kohathites carrying it. Then the tribe of Judah moved out with the other two tribes under the banner of Judah, and so on until they were all on the march. Every man knew his place and stayed in his station. There was no disorder in the camp of Israel whatsoever. Paul wrote to the Corinthians telling them that everything in the church was to be done decently and in order. If only the church were as orderly as Israel was on the wilderness march! But the point is that it took seven trumpets to move them. Now the seven trumpets of Revelation likely will have the positive effect of moving Israel into the land of Palestine. Now it takes this understanding of the trumpets to prevent identifying the last trump of the church with the seventh trumpets of Revelation. As the trumpets of Israel were used at the battle of Jericho, so the walls of this world’s opposition to God will come tumbling down during the Great Tribulation.

 

“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” Rev 8:3

 

“Another angel” is positively not Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is no longer in the position of intercessor for the church. We saw in chapters 4-5 that He moved away from that position and was given the seven sealed book. He is in charge of everything that happens from there on in Revelation. He is in heaven with His church, no longer interceding, but judging. He holds the book of the seven seals and He directs all the activities from His throne. The angel here is identified as just another angel and I do not think that the Lord Jesus would be identified in that way. The golden altar is the place where prayer is offered, but again Christ is no longer in the role of intercessor before the golden altar. He is now upon the throne. Incense has this value to it. it speaks of Christ’s Name and work in prayer. David prayed in Psalm 141:2: “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense;” It is interesting that incense is given to this angel because Christ did not need incense given to Him when He prayed. But this lets us know that the prayers of the saints which were offered under the fifth seal are now being answered because of the Person and sacrifice of Christ. Rev 6:9-11 That’s what Revelation 8:4 tells us; prayer is going to be answered because of Christ.

 

“And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.” Rev 8:4

 

“And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.” Rev 8:5

The high priest of Israel took a censer with him as he carried blood into the Holy of holies. Here the ritual is reversed, because out of heaven the censer is hurled upon the earth. In other words the prayers ascended as incense, and now we have the answer coming down. They had prayed: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” Rev 6:10-11 The people of the earth, having rejected the death of Christ for the judgment of their sins, must no bear the judgment for their own sins. And the thunder and lightning denote the coming of God’s judgment. Voice reveals that this is an intelligent direction of God and not the purposeless work of natural forces. God is in charge. The “earthquake” is the earth’s response to the severe pressure that will be placed upon it during the judgment of the Great Tribulation Period.

 

“And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.” Rev 8:6

 

Again this is a solemn moment; the half hour of silence is over. The prayers of the saints have been heard. The order is issued to prepare to blow. The angels come to attention, and at the blowing of the trumpets, divine wrath is visited upon rebellious men. The plagues here are literal plagues. This method used so often today of evaporating scripture by calling it symbolic is just as bad as denying the inspiration of the Word of God. But I can assure you God means every word He says.

 

“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.” Rev 8:7

 

This is a direct judgment from God that falls upon all plant life from the grass to the great trees; every form of botanical life is affected. But notice it is only one-third, but it makes a tremendous impact on the earth. Fire, the great enemy, is the instrument used by God. What was used in the first global judgment? Water Now it is going to be what? Fire And the bible teaches us that this earth is to be purified by fire. One-third denotes the wide extent of the damage. Now remember plant life was created first and it is the first to be destroyed. This is reminiscent of the seventh plague God inflicted upon Egypt in the days of Moses.

 

“And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.” Rev 8:8-9

 

The sea is next affected because it occupies most of the earth’s surface. The separation of the land and the sea occurred on the same day in which plant life appeared Gen 1:9-10. The mountain represents something as literal and tangible as that which we have in Jeremiah 51:25: “Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, Who destroys all the earth," says the LORD. "And I will stretch out My hand against you, Roll you down from the rocks, And make you a burnt mountain.” This literal mass falls in the literal sea, one-third becomes literal blood, and one-third of all living creatures in the literal sea die a literal death. And one-third of all literal ships of all literal nations are literally destroyed.

 

“And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.” Rev 8:10-11

 

One third of the fresh water is polluted and the drinking water for mankind is contaminated. Now we all know that water is something that is essential for man and beast. Now do you remember what happened when the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea and came to Marah? What did they find? That the waters were bitter. And Moses was directed to take a tree and cast it into the waters to make them sweet. Here in Revelation the sweet waters are made bitter by a meteor, a star out of heaven. The tree Moses put into the waters was a reference to the cross of Christ and only Christ can make all things sweet. Now wormwood was used in the OT metaphorically in the following ways. First, it was used to describe Israel’s idolatry. Second, it was used to describe calamity and sorrow. Third, it was used to describe false judgment. The star is a literal meteor that will contaminate one-third of the earth’s fresh water supply. The star’s name is a judgment on man’s idolatry and injustice that brings calamity and sorrow.

 

“And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.” Rev 8:12

 

This is another phase of creation upon which man is totally dependent for light and life and that’s the sun. To a lesser degree man is also dependent on the stars and moon. It was on the fourth day that light broke through. Now the light is put out over one-third of the earth. Now remember the Lord Jesus indicated in the Great Tribulation there would be special signs in these heavenly bodies: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:” Matt 24:29 

 

“And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” Rev 8:13

 

When the fourth trumpet is blown, the announcement is made of a peculiar intensity of woe and judgment that is coming on the earth. The last three trumpets are separated from the other four and they are “woe” trumpets. Now as we close it is interesting to note that our LORD used the eagle to speak of His coming: “For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” Matt 24:28; that is after the great battle of Armageddon.

 

Chapter 9: The Fifth and Sixth Trumpets

Fifth Trumpet: Fallen Star and Plague of Locusts

 

The last three trumpets are separated from the other four because they are the woe trumpets. Now remember if we had to go through the tribulation we would have no comfort as a child of God. That’s why God has said many times over and given many examples in His Word that His children and His church will not have to endure the Tribulation. It would not be a “blessed hope” if the church had to endure the tribulation. That’s why John let us know in Revelation chapter 4 that the church is taken out of this world. So when the things we’re studying are taking place the church is going to be in heaven being married to Jesus! Because scripture tells us in many places that the church is the bride of Christ. Now these woes mark the deepest darkness and most painful intensity of the Great Tribulation Period. These three woe trumpets are generally associated with the last three and half years of Tribulation Period and they will be the blackest days in human history.

 

“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.” Rev 9:1

 

Now notice we are told that a star falls to heaven, but what is different about this star than all the stars that have fallen from heaven in our lifetime? This star is called him and acts with intelligence. So we are talking now about an unusual person. This star is different from the stars mentioned at the sounding of the fourth trumpet. Because this star not only acts with intelligence, but we’re also told that he is given what? A key which he uses and no inanimate star could do this. So God is giving us a picture here of Satan. Now some believe that what John is describing here is the Antichrist; if this is so then it lends support to the view that the Antichrist is Satan incarnate, but I don’t believe that. Because the prophet Isaiah prophesied about the fall of Lucifer which is another name for Satan in Isaiah 14: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” Is 4:12-15 God does not describe the fall of the Antichrist, but Satan. Furthermore in Luke’s gospel we read: “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”Luke 10:18 That would be like a falling star you see and Paul also writes: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” II Cor 11:14 And John will write in Revelation 12:7-9 that Satan was put out of heaven and cast to the earth. So Scripture establishes the fact that this star is Satan, not the Antichrist. And what does he do with the key? He goes down to and takes the key with him to the bottomless pit, which apparently means that God is allowing him to do so. A key denotes authority and power; and this is given to him by God through God’s permissive will. Today, presently, the LORD now holds the key to the bottomless pit Rev 1:18. And Peter tells us the demons are imprisoned there II Peter 2:4. This is a literal place. And during the last part of the Tribulation the key is given to Satan and he is given a freedom that he has never had before. And I agree with what J. Vernon McGee believed and that this is why men cannot die during this period. Satan wants them alive so that his army will not be decimated.

 

“And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.” Rev 9:2 Out of the shaft, like a great erupting volcano, will come smoke that will cover the entire earth. This going to smog of the most vicious type.

 

“And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.” Rev 9:3-4

 

And John is describing to us locusts and these are no common kind of locusts for several reasons. First they eat no vegetable products; Second the locusts of the earth have no king, but these have; Third, in the plague of Egypt the writer of Exodus said: “Before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such” Ex 10:14; Fourth, they are literal creatures resembling the literal animals named: the lion, the horse, the scorpion, and man. This is a plague of locusts which is as literal as the plague of locusts in Egypt. Joel prophesied of a coming plague of locusts in Joel 1. Again, a working knowledge of the OT is essential to the understanding of Revelation. Now there is a difference between the locusts here and the locusts in Joel and the difference is seen in the character of the locusts and the object of their destruction. Here they sting as scorpions and their object is evil men.

 

“And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.” Rev 9:5

 

The scorpion is shaped like a lobster and lives in damp places. Their sting is in their tail; though it is not fatal, it is very painful indeed. This is the picture we are given here. These were mentioned by Joshua when he spoke of the hornet, “And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out before you…” Josh 24:12 Again a working knowledge of the OT helps us understand what John is writing about here as it pertains to these scorpions.

 

“And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” Rev 9:6

 

Satan is given the key to this long shaft which evidently is what is called sheol in the OT and hades (hell) in the NT. The shaft leads to the bottomless pit/abyss where the spirits of the dead of the ages past have gone. This is where the Lord Jesus went to announce the redemption He had wrought on the cross. Satan does not want this crowd to die and it is the only crowd attacked by these locusts. Men during this period try to commit suicide, and are unable to do so; this reveals something of the awfulness of that day. Satan wants them here in his battle between light and darkness that is being waged. There are others who think that maybe it is God who will not let these men die because sinful man must face the consequences of his rebellion; there is no escape. It is not a laughing matter as some men think today to reject Jesus Christ. And this points out that the most important decision every man or woman ever faces is the answer to the question: What will they do with Christ?

 

“And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.” Rev 9:7-10

 

Now the likeness of a locust to a horse, especially to a horse equipped with armor, is so striking that the insect is named German Heupferd hay-horse, and in Italian cavaletta little horse. The faces of the locusts resemble the faces of men, and the antennae of the locust are compared to a girl’s hair. Joel compares the teeth of the locust to a lion in Joel 1:6. Andmany have commented on the weird sound that locust make and in his Word Studies in the New Testament, Dr. Vincent quotes Olivier, a French writer: “It is difficult to express the effect produced on us by the sight of a whole atmosphere filled on all sides and to a great height, by an innumerable quantity of these insects, whose flight was slow and uniform, and whose noise resembled that of rain.” Their power was to hurt men five months; it will be unspeakable agony for those who will have been attacked by these unnatural locusts.

 

“And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon” Rev 9:11

 

Now these locusts are further differentiated from ordinary locusts in that they have a king over them. Proverbs 30:27 says of natural locusts that they have no king. The king or leader of these locusts is probably one of the fallen angels, the chief henchmen of satan, and he is permitted to lead an invasion of earth for the first time. This is something that is going to be rather frightening. His name in Hebrew means destruction and in Greek it means the destroyer. This confirms what the prophet Daniel told us. Daniel said that the demon world of fallen angels is divided into gradations. Think of our American troops and we have ranks: generals; majors; lieutenants; sergeants; and buck privates. In the Book of Daniel we find that the angels of God are divided in the same way.

 

“One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.” Rev 9:12

 

The first woe introduced to us the last half of the Great Tribulation Period, and it had a duration of five months. The warning here indicates that worse things are to follow, and the next trumpet reveals that this was not just an idle threat.

 

Sixth Trumpet: Angels Loosed At River Euphrates

 

“And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.” Rev 9:13-14

 

When the sixth angel blew the trumpet, a command came from the horns of the golden altar. That golden altar speaks of prayer; that is what it spoke of in the tabernacle here on earth. This is where the angel offered prayer at the beginning of the blowing of the trumpets according to Revelation 8:3. The sixth angel not only blows the trumpet but is also given a command to loose the four angels bound at the river Euphrates. This angel receives in turn his orders from a voice that was there at the horns of the golden altar. It is the voice of Christ. He has now ripped off the seventh seal which led into the trumpets and which will lead into the seven personalities and the seven bowls of wrath. The angels who are bound are evidently evil. Why would they be bound if they were not evil? Releasing them turns loose a flood tide of destruction on earth. Why were they bound at this particular location at the Euphrates River? I believe because the prominence of this area in Scripture cannot be overlooked. The Garden of Eden was somewhere in this section. The sin of man began here. The first murder was committed here. The first war was fought here. Here is where the Flood began and spread over the earth. Here is where the Tower of Babel was erected. To this area the Israelites were brought into Babylonian captivity. And remember Babylon was the fountainhead of idolatry. And here is where the final surge of sin on earth takes place during the Great Tribulation. Beyond that, is the fact that the Euphrates actually marks the division between East and West. It was Kipling who said that East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet. And it was David who wrote as far as the east is from the west so far as God removed our transgressions from us. Ps 103:12. And God’s prophet Zechariah (Ch 5) prophesies that this is where Satan’s last stand will take place.

 

“And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.” Rev 9:15-16

 

The Bible says: “And the four angels were loosed, who had been prepared for the hour, and day, and month, and year.” We have to take that literally. God has marked out this very hour. And we are told that at the blowing of the sixth trumpet, one-third of the population of mankind will be removed. We have already seen in our study a fourth removed, and now a third is removed. Now let’s do some ciphering. One fourth plus one third equals one half. Over one-half of the population of the earth will be destroyed in the Great Tribulation Period. No wonder the LORD Jesus said, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” Matt 24:22 Now note what is spoken of here in these verses is a wholesale invasion of the earth by the demons represented in the locusts. And not they are motivated to a world war. To be truthful we have never yet had a real world war in which every nation of the world was involved, but that will take place during the Tribulation. Some have wondered if these 200 million are human beings. I believe if that were the case God’s Word would have told us so, but God’s Word doesn’t say so. What God’s Word does say is that this is an invasion of the demon world, a result of Satan’s opening the door of the abyss/bottomless pit that we talked about last week. Our next verse confirms this fact.

 

“And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.” Rev 9:17-18

 

A lot of folks have thought that these will be tanks. But how do they know that? Seeing as modern weaponry has become so much more sophisticated than in times past. I believe that this speaks more toward the modern refinements in weaponry such as drones and ballistic missiles. But note that the colors given are as striking as the horsemen are unnatural. “Fire” is fiery red; hyacinth is the same color as the flower; dull, dark blue; “brimstone” is light yellow. Job tells us in Job 39:19-25 that the horse is the animal of war. Here’s what Job said: “"Have you given the horse strength? Have you clothed his neck with thunder? Can you frighten him like a locust? His majestic snorting strikes terror. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; He gallops into the clash of arms. He mocks at fear, and is not frightened; Nor does he turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, The glittering spear and javelin. He devours the distance with fierceness and rage; Nor does he come to a halt because the trumpet has sounded. At the blast of the trumpet he says, 'Aha!' He smells the battle from afar, The thunder of captains and shouting.”  The underworld is now making war on mankind. These creatures from the underworld are unnatural. They are probably demons or demon-controlled. We are given a literal description of them. In his book on Revelation, William R. Newell makes this timely observation, “Believe, and you scarcely need any comment.” The problem with men who come to Revelation and day that it is difficult to understand and impossible to interpret is that they do not believe it. if you simply believe it and read it, it is very clear. Hellish forces will be working during this period.

These three plagues mentioned here are literal plagues. The fire is literal, the smoke is literal, and the brimstone is literal. The same thing took place at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but this world during the Great Tribulation will be worse than the world of Sodom and Gomorrah. What people in our day have forgotten as they talk and push the homosexual agenda is that this was the accepted life-style of Sodom and Gomorrah, and God brought about cataclysmic judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah because of this sin. God put the homosexuals out of business and if you think God is going to let mankind go into eternity an unnatural creation, you are wrong. Paul wrote: “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Rom 1:26-27 The reason God gave them up is because they gave up God. It is utterly foolish for any man to think that he shall enter into eternity living in sin no matter what that sin may be. But to be clear cataclysmic judgment awaits all who give up the natural use for that which is unnatural. And every great empire that has operated in this world has been brought down by this sin. And so we now that America will be brought down because she has changed and has passed a law accepting that which God stands against. God cannot bless America today; but God will judge her harshly.

But at this point one-third of the population is killed. Now one-third of nature had already been affected, but mankind had not been touched with a judgment of this magnitude, but mankind is now.

 

“For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.” Rev 9:19

 

These are unnatural horses that are able to kill with their mouths. The weirdest feat of all is that, instead of horses’ hair for tails, they have serpents which are also used in destroying mankind.

 

“And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” Rev 9:20-21

 

 

“Sorceries” is the Greek word pharmakeion, from which we get our English word pharmacy. Pharmacy means drugs. What were called drugstores when I was a boy today are called pharmacies. The Great Tribulation will be a period when the use of drugs will not be controlled. Drugs will play a large part in the lives of the unsaved and will serve several purposes. Drugs will enable them to bear the judgments of the Great Tribulation Period. I’m quite positive knowing the culture that we live in today that many will turn to drugs when stung by the scorpions and although they will not die they will feel like they are going to die; and so they will turn to drugs, just like many do today. Drugs will also figure largely in the religion of that day. There will be both a drug culture and a drug religion in the days of the Great Tribulation and we see that even today in some of these cults were drugs are a prominent part of their ungodly worship. In that day people will resort to everything that will deaden the pain or lift them out of the trouble of that time. Alcohol will be even more prominent then than it is now in this alcoholic crazed world in which we live today. Listen to what Dr. J. A. Seiss from his book The Apocalypse wrote in 1906. The reason I mention the date is that it seems like he was preparing it for tomorrow’s edition of the news or paper. This is his comment on the word sorceries: “We have only to think of the use of alcohol stimulants, of opium, of tobacco, of the range of cosmetics and medicaments to increase love attractions, of resorts to the pharmacopoeia in connection with the sensuality; of the magical agents and treatments alleged to come from the spirit-world for the benefit of people in this; of the thousand impositions in the way of medicines and remedial agents, encouraging mankind to reckless transgression with the hope of easily repairing the damages of nature’s penalties; of the growing prevalence of crime induced by these things, setting loose and stimulating to activity the vilest passions, which are eating out the moral sense of society; for the beginnings of that moral degeneracy to which the seer here alludes as characteristic of the period when the sixth trumpet is sounded.”  

 

One would think that he had written that for today, but in his day there was no great drug culture nor were drugs and alcohol as big as they are today. Drugs are used today in every modern cult which uses sex as a drawing card. And all of these things in our day are promoted as evidence of our liberty and tremendous advancement in civilization! And Paul wrote Galatians 5:19-21: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This is what the advancement in civilization will earn men and women who live for these things. Sorceries and fornication and robbery are going to be increased and a greater emphasis placed upon them. The Antichrist will use these three to bring mankind into subjection to himself. And mankind will easily be influenced in that day because God said: “because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” II Thess 2:10b-12 So mankind under the influence of drugs will accept anything. Listen, one of the reasons that our contemporary nightclubs push liquor is not only for the money that’s in it, but also to make their entertainment acceptable. An inferior singer or comedian goes over well when you’ve got a couple of cocktails in you. Remember what Paul wrote: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish…” II Thess 2:9-10 This is what awaits all who reject the Gospel. And God is showing us here that the moment a person shuts their mind and heart to the Gospel message, they open and prepare themselves for the big lie when it comes. This is the reason so many today fall for everything that comes along. And this reminds yet again of this one truth: those who stand for nothing will fall for anything. And those today who are not standing for the Word of God will find one day as they call out Lord, Lord, Jesus saying to them away from Me I never knew you Matt 7:21-23.

 

Chapter 10: Interlude Between the Sixth and Seventh Trumpets

 

Once again we come to a hiatus; remember between the sixth and seventh seals there was an interlude as two groups were redeemed and sealed. Here, we have an interlude as three personalities are introduced. In this chapter the mighty angel is described and the two witnesses are introduced though not identified. Now let’s look at the Strong Angel with the Little Book.

 

“And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:” Rev 10:1

 

This mighty angel is not Christ; Christ does not appear in Revelation as an angel. While it is true in the OT that the preincarnate Christ was seen as the Angel of the Lord after He took upon Himself our humanity, after He died, and after He rose again and received His glorified body, we now see Him in the place of great power and glory at God’s right hand. We never see Him in the NT as an angel again. Today He is revealed as the postincarnate Christ. He is exalted to the nth degree. It is well for us to remember that Revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ in all the glory of His Person, power, and performance as they unfold in each chapter before us. He is now the Judge judging a Christ-rejecting earth. And so we find here that this angel has a rainbow upon his head. What is significant about the rainbow? The rainbow is God’s reminder written in the sky of His covenant with man. The rainbow reminds us and God that He will never again send a Flood to destroy the earth. We’re also told that “his face was as the sun.” This if you will is his badge of identification and again we find example in the OT. Moses’ face shone after he had been in the presence of God. This angel’s face is shining because he has come out from the presence of Christ. And you’ll recall that the raiment of the angels at the resurrection of Christ also shone Luke 24:4. We’re told that his feet were as “pillars of fire,” meaning that he has come to make a solemn and special announcement of coming judgment.

 

“And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.” Rev 10:2-3

 

Now if you remember this little book was originally in the hands of the Father in heaven Rev 5:1. And if you will remember it was given to the Lord Jesus to open it because He was the only One who could open it. And when He opened it the breaking of the seven seals and the seven trumpets, six so far have been blown, are still part of what is in the book. Now after He had removed the seals the Lord Jesus in turn transfers the book to an angel, who gives it finally to John to eat. This is the book of the title deed of the earth, and it contains the judgments of the Great Tribulation by which the Lord Jesus is coming in power. The book is now open and the judgments are on display. This book is the angel’s authority for claiming both the sea and the earth for Christ. He puts one foot on the sea and one foot on the earth, and he is claiming both for God. In Leviticus 25:23 the Lord gave instructions to Israel concerning the land He had given them: “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.” And this is a lesson for us in our day that the things we claim to own are not ours, they belong to God. James wrote that: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17. What we claim to own belongs to God. We own nothing because we came into this world with nothing and it’s for certain that we can take nothing out with us when we leave this earth. Thus, all that we have are God’s gifts to us. Beyond that the Psalmist wrote: “The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof;” Ps 24:1 God created it all and so it all belongs to Him! We own nothing. Now with the title deed of the earth in his hand, and by placing his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the earth, in a great voice the angel claims all for Christ. The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of the Lord Jesus Christ through judgment. As Creator and Redeemer the world belongs to Him. This book here is described as a “little book” because the time of the Great Tribulation will not be long. We are told in Romans 9:28: “For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth.” And remember the prophet Daniel prophesied that the Tribulation would be a seven year period. And the seven thunders is God’s amen to the angel’s claim. Now listen the Jews were accustomed to speak of thunder as the “the seven voices,” and in Psalm 29 though it is a brief Psalm, “the voice of the LORD” occurs seven times. Israel spoke of thunder as being the voice of the Lord, and the seven voices of God.

 

“And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.” Rev 10:4

 

This verse lets us know that the seven thunders were intelligible. This confirmation was also a statement, John was a scribe, and he was taking down the visions as they were given to Him Rev 1:11. He was about to write what the seven thunders had spoken; he heard it, and they were audible words; but he was forbidden to do so. And thus we must ask, if this is a book of revelation, why is there something concealed? This is the only place in Revelation where something is sealed; nothing else is. God makes it very clear at the end of the Book that He has told everything. He is not holding back anything from man today. At the end, John writes: “And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.” Rev 22:10 Yet this particular message of the seven thunders John is not permitted to write down. This is quite interesting don’t you think? If this angel were Christ John would have probably fallen down and worshiped Him. He did so when he saw the glorified Christ when in Revelation Ch 1. So we know that this is not Christ, only an angel. It would be foolish to presume what the seven thunders spoke. The Lord Jesus told John to seal them up. They remain to this day a secret which no man knows. So what are we to do? Exactly what Scripture tells us to do: “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever…” Deut 29:29 Faith lets us know that if God wanted the meaning revealed to us He would have done so. My friends, there is a great many things God has not told us yet.  Paul wrote: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Cor 13:12 When we get to heaven then we will know what the seven thunders said; until then we must have faith to trust that God is revealing to us all we need to know in the here and now. Peter wrote: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” II Peter 1:3. God has given us what we need to know and as the songwriter wrote: Trials dark on every hand, and we cannot understand all the ways of God would lead us to that blessed promised land; but he guides us with his eye, and we'll follow till we die, for we'll understand it better by and by. 

 

“And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:” Rev 10:5-6

 

The angel makes it clear that he could not be Christ, since he takes an oath by the eternal Creator. The verse says he lifted up his right hand to heaven, and sware; he took an oath. If he were Christ, He would sware by Himself. The writer to the Hebrews wrote: “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself” Heb 6:13 God could not swear by anything else because there is nothing greater than God. The angel swore by another because he is not God. Now here we have also confirmation of Christ’s Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24. Jesus said: “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.” Matt 24:22 The angel is telling the elect it will not be long. He wants them to know that he who endures to the end will be saved. Why? Because they are sealed, they will make it through the Great Tribulation Period. This is also the answers to the prayers of the martyrs found in Revelation 6:10. It is also the fulfillment of the prayer we pray every Sunday here at church; Thy kingdom come!

 

“But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” Rev 10:7

 

There is a mystery concerning the nation of Israel, judgment, suffering, injustice, the silence of God, and the coming kingdom. The basic problem is this: Why did God permit evil, and why has He tolerated it for so long? Do you want to know something? I’ve studied theology for many years and I know the answers men give, but God has not handed in His answer yet. He is going to do that someday soon. As this passage of Scripture indicates, the fact that there is something we don’t know about because it has been sealed means that God has a whole lot yet to tell us. As I’ve alluded to earlier when we get in His presence we’ll find out. For now all we can do is put our hand in His and know that it’ll be all right. Because God is in control and Jesus is coming soon.

 

John Eats The Little Book

 

“And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.” Rev 10:8

 

This order comes from Christ in heaven and John as apparently returned to the earth in spirit, because that little book which was formerly in the Father’s hand is now transferred to John.

 

“And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” Rev 10:9-10

 

John becomes a participant in the great drama that is unfolding before us. He is required to do a very strange thing, one that has a very typical meaning. He eats the little book at the instruction of the angel, and the results are bittersweet. Eating the little book means to receive the Word of God with faith. This is the teaching of the Word of God, for in Jeremiah 15:16 we read: “Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” Jeremiah likens the appropriation of God’s Word to eating it. Ezekiel does the same thing: “Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. And He said to me, "Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you." So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.” Ezek 3:1-3 The “roll” here is not a bread roll, but the scroll of that day. Ezekiel said he ate it, and it was just like cake. That is what the Word of God is to the believer. In Proverbs 16:24 we read: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” In Psalm 119, the psalm which glorifies the Word of God, we find: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Ps 119:103

The part of the Word of God taken by John was judgment. It was sweet because the future is sweet. In Genesis 18:17 we read, “And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;” In effect He was saying to Abraham we are friends, and I would like to tell you what I am going to do. It is sweet to know what God is going to do, but when you find that judgment is coming, it is bitter. John eagerly received the Word of God, but when he saw that more judgment was to follow, it brought travail of soul and sorrow of heart. It was sweet in his mouth and bitter in his digestive system. It is sweet to know the Book of Revelation and what God intends to do, but when we find out that judgment is coming to the Christ-rejecting world around us, we cannot rejoice in that. the prophecy becomes bitter. But there is another aspect of studying prophecy that we’d better understand. Many begin with enthusiasm, but when they find that it is applicable to their life and that it makes demands on them personally, they lose interest. That’s because one cannot be child of God and study God’s Word and prophecy and live a dirty life. Because the Word of God states plainly: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” I John 3:3 This is the dilemma of our day. People feel because they prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior that they can go out and live a dirty life. To their minds they are good to go, and therefore they do not take the time to read the Word of God. And therefore, the Word of God is not having its way in the hearts and lives of folks today who say they are saved. People today are interested in salvation, but not in Christian living; could this be the reason Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” Matt 7:21-23 Friends, the will of God is found in the Word of God and if you are not in the Word of God you are probably not in the will of God. And this is the reason Jesus said 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

 

“And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” Rev 10:11

 

You can be sure of one thing John was properly integrated. He believed that all people should hear the Word of God. The reason they needed to hear it was because judgment was coming. Let’s close with this truth and thought: the study of prophecy will have a definite effect upon your life: it will either bring you closer to Christ, or it will take you farther from Him.

 

Chapter 11: Interlude Between the Sixth and Seventh Trumpets; the Seventh Trumpet Blown

 

In this chapter we learn that 42 months remains of the Times of the Gentiles and that there are two witnesses who will prophesy for 42 months. We also have the second woe and then the blowing of the seventh trumpet. This chapter bring us back to OT ground. The temple, the dealing with time periods, and the distinction between Jews and Gentiles all indicate that we are again under the OT economy. Chronologically, the seventh trumpet brings us to the return of Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation Period. Now let’s take up the: Date For The Ending Of The Times Of The Gentiles. Here we deal with an indication of projected time periods for the close of the Great Tribulation.

 

“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” Rev 11:1-2

 

We are dealing here with that period that the Lord Jesus spoke of in Luke 21:24: “…And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Now I believe when Israel captured Jerusalem in 1967 that marked the beginning of the end of the time of the Gentiles that will have its fulfillment at the end of the Great Tribulation Period. Presently there are still many religious groups in Jerusalem and they have built holy places in the old city of Jerusalem. So some might say that the city is still trodden down of the Gentiles, but the fact is Jerusalem is controlled today by the Israelis, so to my mind 1967 signified the beginning of the end of the times of the Gentiles in accordance with the Blood Moons of 1967-68. Now every time you see the beginning of measurements, in either the Old or New Testaments, it indicates God is beginning to deal with the nation of Israel. This reed is like a rod; a rod is used by a shepherd. In Psalm 2:9 we see that a rod is used for chastisement and judgment: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” What we are dealing with here is a measurement of time given for the Time of the Gentiles after which judgment will come upon them. The rod is also for comfort: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Ps 23:4. Therefore we have both judgment and solace in this chapter.

 

Now the temple of God places us back on OT ground, for there is no temple given to the church. The church is the temple of the Holy Spirit today; believers are not a building; the church is not a building the church is the people; so we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God says: “in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Eph 2:21-22. The altar refers to the golden altar of prayer since the altar for burnt offering was not in the temple proper but in the outer court. And even worshippers are to be measured. John is told to rise and measure not only the Holy Place and the altar, but also “them that worship therein.” God does count the number of those who worship Him. Now what was John told not to measure? The court outside the temple. This excludes then all that does not belong to the temple proper. The altar of burnt offering and the brazen laver would be outside the temple. Since this altar was a picture of the cross of Christ, it would seem to implicate that the gospel of the cross of Christ will still be available to mankind during the intensity of this brief crisis. It will still be available that’s why it is not to be measured. Now forty-two months is a three and one half year period identified with the last half of the Great Tribulation Period. We find this repeated in Revelation 13:5: “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months” This is the last half of the reign of Antichrist upon this earth. The prophet Daniel adopts this unit of measurement for this period as well: Daniel wrote: “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” Dan 7:25 so to be clear we are talking about a three and one-half year period.

 

“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” Rev 11:3

 

Why two witnesses? Because two was the required number of witnesses according to the Law. Moses wrote in Deut 17:6: “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” Did you know that the LORD Jesus said the same thing relative to the church? “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” Matt 18:16 Scripture has always required two witnesses to bear testimony to anything before it was to be heard. Therefore, we can definitely say that these witnesses are human beings and that there are two of them. These are the two things we know for sure. What we can’t know for sure is who they are because God does not tell us who they are. But it would seem based on scripture that Elijah will be one of them, since it was predicted that he will return. The prophet Malachi prophesied: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:” Mal 4:5. It is also recorded in Matthew’s gospel 17:11: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.” So it would seem that we can say with some degree of assurance that Elijah will be one of the two. Now on the Mount of Transfiguration who was the other man the disciples saw with Elijah? Moses. And some have jumped to the conclusion that these will be the two witnesses during this time. But that’s just a guess. What is important is not their identity but the time they appear. Is it during the first half or the last half of the Great Tribulation? The first half seems to fit the text because they testify until the Beast appears, and then they are martyred.

 

“These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed” Rev 11:4-5

Everything here is associated with the OT. The two olive trees immediately suggest the vision in Zechariah 4. There the lampstands are two individuals, Joshua and Zerubbabel, who were enabled by the Holy Spirit to stand against insurmountable difficulties. The explanation is found in the words, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” Zech 4:6 These two witnesses are lights before the power of darkness. And these men are accorded miraculous power to bring fire down from heaven because they are filled with the Holy Spirit. Here again, the suggestion is strongly in favor of Elijah because he called down fire from heaven. But the point we want to take away is that these two witnesses are immortal and immune to all attacks until their mission is completed. Did you know that goes for us as well? All of God’s children are immortal until God is through with them because He has accomplished His purpose in them. Friends, this means that when God is through with us He will remove us from this earth.

 

“These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” Rev 11:6

 

Now what the Bible is telling us is that these two witnesses are granted unlimited authority. They control rainfall on the earth, and they are able to turn the water into blood. This certainly reminds us of Elijah who prayed that it would not rain for three and half years and it did not rain. And Moses was the one God used to turn the river into blood; but note that they are given the same power Christ will have when He returns. They are able to smite the earth and call for plagues as often as they wish. This reveals the confidence God has in these two faithful servants.

 

“And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” Rev 11:7

 

The witnesses will finish their testimony. In the midst of the week, the Antichrist, who is the Beast, the man of sin who is moving to power will not hesitate to overcome and destroy these two witnesses. And God will permit him to do so. God will allow a temporary victory of darkness over light, evil over righteousness, hell over heaven, and Satan over God, because God is going to let Satan loose during this period.

 

“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” Rev 11:8

 

These men are not given a decent burial. This reveals the crude, cold barbarism of the last days which will be covered with but a thin veneer of culture. The way these bodies are treated reveals to us the contempt and hatred the world will have toward these two witnesses because they treat their bodies like dead animals. Note also that the great city Jerusalem is called Sodom by Isaiah 1:10; and it is called Egypt also because the world has entered into every fiber of its life social and political. It is further clarified as Jerusalem by the sad designation “where also their Lord was crucified.”

 

“And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.” Rev 11:9

 

The world will be startled to hear these witnesses are dead. Some will be skeptical. But a satellite will beam their picture the world over so that people everywhere will be able to look upon these men for three and one-half days.  The morbid curiosity of a godless society will relish the opportunity of gazing with awe upon these dead bodies. This is the worst indignity that a depraved world could vent upon men who denounced them and their wicked ways.

 

“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” Rev 11:10

The death of the two witnesses is an occasion for great celebration and here we see the real revelation heart of man: horrid, insane, inhuman, hellish, ghoulish glee. They will treat this time as if it were Christmas by sending gifts to one another just as much of our modern Christmas has gotten farther and farther away from the birth of Christ and closer and closer to paganism. This is the celebration of the Antichrist. But then something happens:

 

“And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.” Rev 11:11-12

 

While the world is celebrating their deaths and the cameras are trained upon them the witnesses will stand to their feet. And the world will rue the fact that they had their cameras trained on them because they will not want to give the news as it is. The Greek word for resurrection histeme is used here and it means they stood on their feet. They are caught up into heaven and so we have the resurrection and the ascension of these two in vv 11-12.

 

DOOM OF THE SECOND WOE – GREAT EARTHQUAKE

 

Now remember that we are in that interval or lull between the sixth and seventh trumpets. These are woe trumpets, and the second woe is connected with the sixth trumpet; it is a great earthquake.

 

“And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” Rev 11:13

 

This number that was slain was to be added to those already slain. A fourth of the population of the world was slain at first, and then a third of the population of the world, and now seven thousand more are killed. It is little wonder that the Lord Jesus said, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved:” Matt 24:22 The earthquake seems to be limited to the city of Jerusalem, just as it was when Christ rose from the dead Matt 28:2; and also at His crucifixion Matt 27:51-52 Seven thousand names of men were killed in the earthquake. This is an idiom to indicate that they were men of prominence. They were the ones along with Antichrist, men whose names got into the headlines when Antichrist came to power.

 

“The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” Rev 11:14

 

This ends the second woe. The third woe begins shortly, though not immediately. The third woe is not the blowing of the seventh trumpet which will come next as that will lead us beyond the Great Tribulation in the Millennium. The third woe begins when Satan, one of the personalities is cast down to earth, and we will come to that in chapter 12:12.

 

In the middle of all the woes and judgments of the Great Tribulation Period, this is inserted for the encouragement of the believers who will be left on the earth, those who were sealed. It would be understandable to for them to grow discouraged with the intensity that the last half of the Tribulation Period.

 

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” Rev 11:15-18 

 

The blowing of the seventh trumpet is of utmost significance, and it is of special relevance in the understanding of the remainder of this book. In the program of God, it brings us chronologically to the breathtaking entrance of eternity where the mystery of God is finally unraveled. It brings us in God’s program as far as chapter 21 where eternity begins. And so, these three verses are a capsule synopsis of events leading up to the door of eternity. The following lists will help focus these events in our minds:

 

1. “Great voices in heaven” follow the blowing of the seventh trumpet. At the opening of the seventh seal there is silence in heaven. The contrast should be noted, because here the blowing of the seventh trumpet reveals God’s program up to the mystery of God. All of God’s created intelligences can see the end now and are jubilant in anticipation of the termination of evil being so close at hand. It is a time of joy for them.

 

2. “The kingdoms of this world (cosmos) are become (the kingdom) of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” All the kingdoms of the world are at present under Satan, to whom there is no distinction of nations, no East or West. It is the totality of a civilization and society of which men boast of self-improvement but which becomes more godless and wicked each day. It is a condemned civilization that is moving toward judgment. It will become the kingdom of our LORD, and of His Christ. The kingdom of Satan will one day be delivered to Jesus Christ and He is going to rule. Turn to Psalm 2:2-3: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Rebellion broke out against the LORD and His Messiah at the arrest of Jesus; the early church suffered persecution; and all down through the ages those who have stood up for God have suffered persecution; but the LORD Jesus is coming and He is going to put down all rebellion. Psalm 2:9: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”

 

3. “And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.” This revelation causes the church in heaven to worship and celebrate the coming of Christ to the earth. This will be the answer to the prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Matt 6:10

 

4. “And the nations were angry” reveals the fact that the stubborn rebellion of man will continue right down to the very end. And scripture gives us the reason why. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Rom 8:7

 

5. “The nations were angry because Thy wrath came” Why? And the answer is because they had been fed all this putrid poppycock about how God never intends to judge or punish sin and that man is getting better and better every day, which we know by looking at our world, is false.

 

6. “And the time period of the dead to be judged” This brings us to the Great White Throne judgment of the lost dead in Rev 20:11-15.

 

7. “And to give reward to your servants the prophets and to the saints and to them that fear Thy Name, the small and great.” The church has already gone into His presence, and the believers there have already been rewarded as indicated by the crowns we have seen on the elders heads. This refers now to OT saints and tribulation saints, who are included in the first resurrection, but at a different time. They are now going to be rewarded as the kingdom begins.

 

8. “And to destroy those who destroy the earth” Man is a destroyer as well as Satan and Peter warns us of Satan: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”

 

Now the next verse brings us to the glad gate of eternity:

 

“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” Rev 11:19

 

When we see the church again, it will be in the New Jerusalem, and we are told definitely that there is no temple there. Here there is a temple in heaven. The temple which Moses made was made after the pattern in heaven. The temple of God in heaven was opened means that God is dealing with Israel now. The fact that it was opened indicates worship and access to God. All of this points to the nation Israel, for the church had no temple. The measuring of the temple on earth and the opening of the temple declare the prominence of Israel in this section. Now the ark being mentioned here reminds us that we are dealing with a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. He is going to keep the covenant He has made with Israel, and He will make a New Covenant with him at this time meaning that the Law will be written in their hearts instead of on cold tables of stone. And this fulfills Jeremiah’s prophecy: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jer 31:31-34

 

CHAPTER 12

Theme: Seven performers during the Great Tribulation

 

The theme of this chapter is the final conflict between Israel and Satan after he is cast out of heaven. Seven performers are introduced to us by the blowing of this seventh trumpet during the Great Tribulation Period. These seven personages are representatives of persons, both natural and supernatural, physical and spiritual, rulers and nations. The identification and clarification of these are essential for a proper understanding of the Revelation. As we take up the very first one of these personalities, it will illustrate this point. We now come to the crux of the interpretation for the entire Book of Revelation which revolves around this first personality.

 

The Woman – Israel

 

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” Rev 12:1-2

Who is this woman? The identifying marks of the woman are the sun, moon, and stars. The belong to Israel as seen in Joseph’s dream: “nd he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” Gen 37:9-10 Old Jacob interpreted the sun, moon, and stars to mean himself, Rachel, and Joseph’s brothers. And they did bow down before Joseph although Rachel had died by that time. The woman is a sign in heaven although her career is here on earth. She is not a literal woman; she is a symbol. The career of the woman corresponds to that of Israel, for it is Israel that gave birth to Christ, who is the child. At Christmastime we all use Is 9:6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” and other verses concerning the birth of Christ. This verse does concern the birth of Christ, but it does not concern us at all; rather, it concerns the nation of Israel. It is quite obvious that Isaiah is speaking to the nation of Israel, and he is not speaking relative to a Savior but to a Governor, Ruler, a King, One who was to come and rule over them. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” It is interesting that as a child He was born in His humanity; but as a Son from eternity, He was given. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

When men say ‘peace and safety,’ it is idle talk because men are working at it from the wrong end. It is the human heart that is wrong, and only Jesus will bring peace. He is the prince of peace. So Isaiah was speaking to Israel and John picks that up here in Revelation. Now the words ‘travailing in birth’ is a figure often associated with Israel: “Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.

Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” Isaiah 66:7-8 Therefore it is important for our understanding to not that we identify the woman as Israel. No one woman who has ever lived, including the Virgin Mary, fits into this. And being tormented also reminds us that Israel has suffered satanic, anti-Semitism from the time of the birth of Christ to the present.

 

The Red Dragon

 

We now have introduced to us another character; the red dragon vv 3-4.

 

“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” Rev 12:3-4

 

Notice that these are signs given to us; they are not literal. If John were giving us a symbol he would make it clear to us that it was a symbol. Now the red dragon is clearly identified as satan in v 9: “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Now the true character of Satan is revealed with all the wrappings removed:

1. He is called ‘great’ because of his vast power. He controls the nations of the world and offered them to the Lord Jesus if He would worship him. Worship of himself is Satan’s ultimate goal. The kingdoms of this world are his, and he controls them today.

 

2. He is called ‘red’ because of the fact that he was a murderer from the beginning. He has no regard for human life. And that makes it hard to understand why so many serve him today.

 

3. He is called a ‘dragon’ because of the viciousness of his character. He was originally called Lucifer, son of the morning, but he is now the epitome of evil and the depth of degradation. He is the most dangerous in all of God’s creation. He is my enemy and he is your enemy if you are a child of God. Ezek 28:12-19

 

The reason the Beast in chapter 13 is similar to the dragon is because both the restored Roman Empire and Antichrist are empowered and controlled by Satan. Rome, through the instrumentality of both Herod and Pilate, sought to destroy the child of the woman. “Seven heads” suggests the perfection of wisdom that characterized the creation of Satan who originally the covering cherub. Ezek 28:12 Now there are two fallacies the people of the world have n regard to Satan. First, the people of the world think he is ugly, but the God’s Word says that he was created ‘perfect in beauty.’ The second fallacy is that people think he cannot overcome us. But he is smart and we are no match for him. If we try to face him on our own we will fail because he is not only beautiful but he is also full of wisdom. “Ten horns” suggests the final division of the Roman Empire that is dominated by Satan and is his final effort to the rule the world. The crowns are on the horns, not on the heads, since it is delegated power from Satan. The crowns represent kingly authority and rulership. The “third of the stars” indicates the vast rebellion in heaven when one third of the angelic host followed Satan to their own destruction. The dragon hates the Man Child because it was predicted from the beginning that the Child would be the undoing of Satan.  “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Gen 3:15

 

The Child of the Woman Jesus Christ

 

“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Rev 12:5-6

 

Now the Bible is clear that Christ will come to put down all enmity, all opposition, all rebellion on earth. How will He do it? Psalm 2:9 says: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” How will He do it? With a rod of iron and He will break them like a potter’s vessel. Now friends in the Gospels the emphasis is on the death of Christ; in the Epistles the emphasis is the resurrection of Christ. But when we come to Revelation it is on the ascension of Christ because v 5 says “He was caught up unto God, and to His throne.” The Book of Revelation is the unveiling of the ascended Christ, the glorified Christ, the Christ who is coming in glory. The Book of Revelation rests upon the fact of the Ascension. That’s why the writer of Hebrews encourages us to keep “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2.

 

Now v 6 states: And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”  This is a reference to the fact that during the intense heat of the Great Tribulation this remnant of Israel will be protected by God. And here again I am reminded of the words of God’s promise to Israel found in Isaiah 43:1-3: “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour”

 

Michael, the Archangel, War with the Dragon

 

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Rev 12:7-9

 

Now here is a startling revelation; we are told a war arose in heaven. Friends this takes us back to the Book of Job if you will where we are told that Satan came with the sons of God to appear before God. Now this verse is letting us know that Satan still has access to heaven, and as long as he does there will be war. Now Michael, the Archangel, is one of the chief princes. There are probably other Archangels God gives us the names of only two in Scripture, Michael and Gabriel. But Michael has a peculiar ministry with the nation of Israel. And Daniel gives us the proof for Daniel 10:13 states: “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” And then in Daniel 12:1 we read: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” During the Great Tribulation Michael will again step forth and drive Satan out of heaven, because he is the prince who watches over Israel. Listen, we are told in the Book of Job that Satan came with the sons of God to appear before God. This lets us know that Satan whom Scripture refers to as the accuser of the brethren has access to God, and he is able to communicate with God. He came to God to request permission to test Job and permission to test Peter. God granted him his request. Again, remember this: nothing can come into your life or mine that God does not allow. So if God sends you into trial rejoice! If God has determined and counted you worthy to be tested rejoice! For if God allows these things; He will see you through these things.

   Now the Bible tells us there will be a fierce struggle, a war. Satan is not going to retire easily, but Michael and his angels will prevail, and Satan and his angels will be thrown out of heaven. The Lord Jesus referred to this when he said: “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Luke 10:18

   There is no mistaking this creature who is called the great dragon, for he is marked out with great detail. His fingerprints are put down here in the Revelation. And the reason is because God knew that there would be a great many preachers in this generation that would teach that Satan does not exist, so God makes it so that we cannot miss him. Listen if your enemy can get you to think that he does not exist, he will have a tremendous advantage over you, and he will be able to get a crack at you that will sweep you off your feet. Note how he is identified here. First, he is called “the old serpent.” This takes us back to the Garden of Eden. Our Lord said he was a murderer from the beginning in John 8:44. Satan is the old serpent, the one who was at the beginning in the Garden of Eden. Second, he is called Devil, a name which comes from the Greek diabolos, meaning slanderer or accuser and he is so labeled in v 10.  This is the reason we as believers need an Advocate with the Father. Listen we have an enemy today who is not only causing us problems down here but we’d be surprised at what he is saying about us in heaven! There is nothing that we can do, think, or say, that he does not turn against us in heaven. But God already knows about it, and we’d better beat Satan to the draw by confessing it before he gets up there to accuse us. The Lord Jesus is our Advocate. John wrote in I John 2:1: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” Now it would be wonderful if we did not sin, but we do sin, so thank God we have an Advocate with the Father. Third, he is also called Satan, which means adversary. He is the awful adversary of God and all of God’s children. That’s why we are told: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” I Peter 5:8 Finally, he is called “he that deceiveth the whole world.” During the Great Tribulation, Satan will be able to totally deceive men; today he deceives only partially. He deceives men today relative to God and the Word of God. He caused Eve to distrust God: “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”Gen 3:1. He also deceives man relative to man. Satan makes mankind out to be better than he is, yet he despises us. He builds us up and tells us we should be like God. He deceives us relative to himself, our flesh, and the world. We are not big enough to overcome any of them without God’s leadership in our life. This world’s system is too big for us, and it draws us away from God. And he deceives man relative to the gospel. He does not mind anybody going to church and even joining a church as long as they don’t come to Jesus. And churches today are full of people who go and yet have never come to Jesus for salvation because the Bible says regarding Satan: “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” II Cor 4:4

 

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Rev 12:10-12

 

John writes: “And I heard.” This reminds us that John is still the spectator and auditor of these events. He does not want us to forget this because it is very important. “A great voice in heaven” seems to refer to the OT saints or to the Tribulation saints who have been martyred up to this point, for they mention their brethren on earth: “for the accuser of the brethren has been cast down.” When Christ died on the cross he paved the way for Satan being cast out of heaven. Listen to Colossians 2:14: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” The Lord Jesus made it possible for man to be saved by His death. God cancelled our debt by nailing it to the cross of Christ. Christ made full payment for our sins. These facts opened the way for the coming of four great, blood bought, heavenly freedoms. Here are four freedoms that are going to come to pass when Christ comes. First, salvation and its consummation; our salvation will not be complete until we are in His presence. The Bible says: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” I John 3:2. Second, the power. The way nations have handled power has been tragic. And this is true of every nation. Nations have abused power because the make war and destroy and kill. But when Christ takes control and He takes power all these things shall cease. Third, “the kingdom of our God” will be established on this earth. Not until then will we ever have peace and righteousness and freedom on this earth. In this land of the free and home of the brave there are neither many brave left and I don’t know that there are many free left either. But when His kingdom comes then there will be freedom because four, Christ has the authority. All of these judgments are in preparation for His Second Coming to the earth. And they are given as a warning and an opportunity to turn to Him and multitudes will do so.

 

Now part of the present strategy of Satan is to thwart God’s purposes in His church today and with the tribulation saints tomorrow. This necessitates Christ’s present ministry as Advocate for us. Victory for accused saints comes to us in three ways. First, is through the “blood of the Lamb.” If any of us overcome it will be because of the blood of the Lamb. Our sin made it necessary for Him to shed His blood for us. And we will never be able to lead or live a victorious life apart from Him. Second, we overcome by the “word of our testimony.” Those who are truly Christ’s cannot deny Him. The Bible says: “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matt 10:33 There is something strengthening in giving a testimony. If you have a life to back it up the place to share your testimony is out there with a lost world. We need to let the world know that we are standing up for Christ and that we belong to Him! There is strength in that. And we should never be ashamed in the face of hostile family, people, or crowd to be accountable to God and His Gospel. Paul wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;” Rom 1:16 Third, “they loved not their own life even unto death.” This is the exalted plane every believer needs to come to in my opinion. Where we make the Lord Jesus the love of our life and make Him first in our life and move ourselves way on down below Him. When we put Him first we will not have any trouble living for Him down here. The trouble we have today is that too many who call themselves Christians have not made Christ the love of their life and they have not put Him first in their life. Too many see Christianity as a set of rules. But the great problem today is not the set of rules someone may be living by; it is what’s behind the rules. Here is what we need behind them: The blood of the Lamb; the word of our testimony; and love for Him above everything else and anyone else. Love for Him is the basis for our service. The Lord Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Do you love Me?” When Simon Peter could finally say that he did, the Lord Jesus told him “you are going to feed My sheep.” John 21:15-17 Peter preached the first sermon in the church and saw three thousand souls get saved.

 

Now there are two radical reactions to Satan being cast out of heaven. There is rejoicing in heaven, for this awesome, treacherous, dangerous, and deadly serpent is out forever. Then there is woe on the earth. This is the third woe that extends through the pouring out of the seven bowls of wrath. The only consolation for the earth is that Satan’s time here is short 42 months. But his being here intensifies the tribulation for these 42 months.

 

 

 

 

The Dragon Persecutes the Woman

 

“And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” Rev 12:13-14

 

This is the last wave of Anti-Semitism that will roll over the world, and it is the worst, because Satan has been cast down to the earth and he knows his time is short. He hates Israel because Christ came from this nation. So this is the time of Jacob’s trouble. Now we’re told that two great wings were given to the woman to enable her to fly into the wilderness. Two great wings of an eagle is not something that is unusual to Israel as it would appear to us today. It is for them reminiscent of the grace of God in His past deliverance of Israel from Egypt. God said to them: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.” Ex 19:4 Israel did not come out of Egypt by their own effort or ability. They came out because God brought them out, and eagle’s wings became a symbol to them. Here we are now in the Great Tribulation and Israel again cannot deliver herself, and the nations of the world sure aren’t interested in delivering them. But God will get them out on eagles’ wings by His grace. Now it was Christ who said in Matt 24:16: “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:” J. Vernon McGee believed this to be a literal wilderness, possibly the same one in which Israel spent forty years under Moses. This time it will last for 42 months. The important thing is not the place but the fact that God will sustain them by His grace. Because the Bible says here: “Where she is nourished” reminds us that in the past God sustained them with manna from heaven and water from the rock.

 

“And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.” Rev 12:15-16

 

In view of the fact that the wilderness is literal, the water could also be literal. God had delivered Israel out of the water twice before; once at the Red Sea, and then at the crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land. However, here is could mean floods of armies flowing like a river upon them for Isaiah used this figure of speech: “Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks:

And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.” Is 8:7-8

In Ezekiel’s picture of the last days, the king of the north is seen marching on Israel. Satan will use every means to destroy Israel. But God will be there to stop this from happening. And God will destroy him with natural forces when he invades Palestine: “And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.” Ezek 38:22 This gives an indication of what John is talking about here in Revelation.

 

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Rev 12:17

 

“The remnant of her seed” may refer to the remnant who is God’s witness in this period those 144,000 witnesses who have been sealed. They are evidently still witnessing throughout the world. All anti-Semitism is Satan inspired and will culminate in Satan’s making a supreme effort to destroy the nation of Israel. From the brick yards of Pharaoh’s Egypt, Haman’s gallows, Herod’s cruel edict, through Hitler’s purge, and to the world of the Great Tribulation, Satan has led the attack against Israel because of the man child Jesus Christ. 

 

Chapter 13

Theme: Wild Beast Out of the Sea and Earth

 

Seven performers remember begin to be introduced to us in chapter 12, by the seventh trumpet. Chapter 13 brings us to the final two. One is the wild beast out of the sea; he is both a political power and a person. The other is the wild beast out of the earth; he is a religious leader. Here is where the action is when it comes to these performers. Here is revealed to us the great warfare that is going on between light and darkness, between God and Satan. It is manifested now as we draw near to the end of the age during the Great Tribulation. These two beasts are presented to us as wild beasts; that’s a literal translation. It is bad enough to be a beast, but to be a wild beast compounds injury. Now there is much disagreement among reputable Bible scholars as to the identity of the beasts. Some consider the Beast to be a person, while others treat him as the last form of the Roman Empire. Some treat the second Beast as the Man of Sin, while others consider him merely as a prophet, a forerunner in the mold of John the Baptist if you will, for the first Beast. These difficulties arise because it is impossible to separate a king from his kingdom. A dictator must have a realm over which he rules, or he is no dictator. Though it is difficult to distinguish the two, it seems the first Beast is the Antichrist, the ruler over the restored Roman Empire. Revelation 16:10 speaks of the throne of the wild beasts. J. Vernon McGee said he judged from this that there is somebody to sit on that throne, and that is the Beast presented here. If we identify the first Beast as the Antichrist, then the second Beast has to be the false prophet, the religious leader, who leads the world in the worship of the Antichrist. A false prophet also has the spirit of the antichrist because he is against God and His Word. Now it is important for us to understand that there are two meanings and two characteristics of the term Anti-Christ. First, it means stands against and second it means in place of. And the word anti-Christ carries both of these meanings in Scripture. So when it comes to the two characteristics we see the anti-Christ as one who is against Christ, and one who seeks to imitate Christ.

 

In his first epistle John writes: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” I John 2:18 Now John wrote that over 1900 years ago. Now what was the thing that identified an anti-Christ? The answer to that question is found in I John 2:22: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” Antichrist denies the deity of Christ. He is against Christ. He is the enemy of Christ on the earth.

 

In the fourth chapter of his epistle, John tells us some additional facts concerning Antichrist. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” I John 4:1, 3. In other words, any person or group that denies the Deity of Christ is antichrist.

 

In John’s second epistle we read: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” II John 7. Antichrist is a deceiver; he pretends to be Christ and he is not. The Lord Jesus said there are going to be many who come in My Name, saying “I am Christ.” We are to test them because not every spirit is of God. We are not to take a man’s word for it as so many do today. The reason for the rise of false cults that are so prevalent today and the reason for such a turning away from God’s Word, is simply because people are lazy. They would rather have someone tell them than spend time with God in His Word finding out for themselves. Our Lord warned of this in His Olivet Discourse: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matt 24:24 The second beast is a miracle worker and he will have the ability to perform great signs and wonders. And remember Paul told us II Thessalonians 2:8-9: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,”

Now let’s take up the first Beast, this wild beast out of the sea.

 

“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.” Rev 13:1

 

This is the one whom J. Vernon McGee believed to be a political power and person. That means according to the image given to the prophet Daniel in Daniel 2 that we are talking about the revived Roman Empire. Who is he? Now in Scripture the sea is a picture of the nations of the world, of mankind, like a restless sea. Satan brings him out of the sea. He is Satan’s masterpiece. The first Beast is a person who heads up the old Roman Empire. Rome fell apart, and this is the only one who will ever be able to put it together again. God is apparently taking His hands off this world and giving it to Satan for a time. God must let Satan demonstrate that when he is given full control, he will not be able to produce. Otherwise, Satan would always be able to say to God from the lake of fire, “You never gave me a chance.” If You would have taken Your hands off and let me alone, I would have been able to accomplish my purpose and establish a second kingdom. But God is going to let Satan have his chance so he will not be able to say that. An understanding of the prophecy of Daniel is key to understanding the Book of Revelation. This wild Beast is similar in description to the fourth beast, that nondescript beast in Daniel 7. There it represents the prophetic history of the Roman Empire, down to the ‘little horn’ and his destruction. That fourth beast became dormant for a while, then out of its seven heads came up ten horns out of which came a little horn. At the time of John’s penning of the Revelation much of the prophecy of Daniel had been fulfilled. The first three beats; Babylon, the lion; Media-Persia, the bear; and Greek Empire, the panther; had all been fulfilled. Therefore, John centers on the fourth beast and upon the little horn because the fourth beast, the Roman Empire, had appeared. Now remember where is John living at this time? He is living on the isle of Patmos having been exiled there by the Roman emperor, Domitian. Already signs of weakness and decay were visible in the empire, and John was a spectator to that which was future in Daniel’s day. All this to say that the little horn of Daniel 7 is the wild Beast out of the sea in Revelation 13 who is now going to rule and reign over the revived Roman Empire.

 

The wild Beast is the Man of Sin described in II Thessalonians 2 and he will be the final world dictator. Now throughout history, there have been many who have attempted to put Europe back together again. Charlemagne attempted it and failed. Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler, Mussolini all attempted it. But God’s time had not yet come. And He will not let that one come until the church has been raptured and taken out of the way II Thess 2.

 

Now the ten horns of the ten diadems speak of the tenfold division of the Roman Empire in the time of the Great Tribulation. The horns are ten kings who rule over this tenfold division according to Revelation 17:12.

The little horn comes to power by first putting down three of these rulers, and afterward he dominates the other seven and thus becomes the world dictator. Now it is important for us to realize that all seven heads are guilty of blasphemy. Blasphemy manifests itself in two ways: First, it is making oneself equal with God, that is, usurping His place. Second, it is to take and slander God’s name and His Name in vain. The emperors of Rome were guilty of the first form. They made themselves equal with God; and the emperor was worshipped in the Roman Empire. The Pharisees were guilty of the second form when they blasphemed the Holy Spirit. The Beast here is guilty of both forms.

 

“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Rev 13:2  

 

For the first time since we began our study we can begin to formulate some very definite facts concerning the Antichrist. First, he combines the characteristics of the other beasts represented in the kingdoms Daniel prophesied about in Daniel 7.

“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard,”

Daniel 7:6: “After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.” Panther and leopard are the same word in the Greek so as not to confuse us. This was the Greek Empire and that Empire was noted for its brilliance and advancements in the arts and sciences, as well as for its philosophy, architecture, and literature. The empire of the Beast here in Revelation will have all the outward culture of the glory that was the Greek Empire.

 

“and his feet were as the feet of a bear,” reminds us of the second beast of Daniel 7:5: “And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.” This was the Media-Persian Empire and this Empire was noted for its pagan splendor as it paddled and waddled over the earth. The empire of the Beast will include this as well.

 

“and his mouth as the mouth of a lion:” reminds us of the first beast in Daniel 7:4: “The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it” This was the Babylonian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold and there was no one who questioned his authority. And the Man of Sin here in Revelation 13 will rule with all the dictatorial authority that Nebuchadnezzar had. This final world dictator will come to power because Satan will raise him up and energize him to do his dastardly evil. He is the closest to an incarnation of Satan that appears in Scripture. Luke said that Satan had entered into Judas Iscariot. And Jesus used similar language when He spoke to Simon Peter in Matthew 16:23. Is the Man of Sin the incarnation of Satan? He most certainly is. Paul wrote and will close with this: “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” II Thess 2:9-10

 

Wild Beast Death-Dealing Stroke

 

“And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” Rev 13:3

 

This verse, together with chapter 17:8, has led many to believe that Satan raises the Beast from the dead. “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” Rev 17:8

 

Because of these two Scriptures, there are many who have taken the position that the Beast is actually raised from the dead by Satan. This cannot be because Satan does not have the power to raise the dead; that power has not yet been given to him. The Lord Jesus is the only One who can raise the dead. The Gospel of John records these words: “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:21, 25, 28-29. Only the Lord Jesus can raise the dead; Satan cannot. Therefore, this restoration is a fake resurrection. Remember, Satan is an imposter and who seeks to do what Christ did but he cannot. Therefore what we have here is an imitation of a resurrection and that would be keeping with Satan’s character as taught throughout Scripture. He is the great deceiver. Beyond that there can be no real resurrection of an evil man before the Great White Throne Judgment. And at that time Christ will raise all evil men and they will stand before Him and they will not be found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Satan could never raise the dead because he is not a life-giver; he is a death-dealer.  But what God is showing us is that the Roman Empire is going to be revived in a miraculous manner under the world dictator, the first Beast out of the sea. Now remember, Paul wrote: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” II Thess 2:8-12. They would not accept the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but they will accept the resurrection of the Beast and this, friends, is part of the great delusion, the big lie of the Great Tribulation Period. Now how sad is that?

 

“And his deadly wound was healed” shows the blasphemous imitation of the death and resurrection of Christ. And the challenge in that day will be: “What has Christ done that antichrist has not done?” The Antichrist is going to duplicate the resurrection in such a way that it will fool the world. Believers say Christ is risen! And the cry of the unbeliever in that day will be so is antichrist. The Roman Empire will spring back into existence under the hand of a man who faked a resurrection, and a gullible world who rejected Christ will finally be taken in by this forgery. This is the composite picture of the rider on the white horse from Rev 6 who brought a false peace to the world. The antichrist comes on a false platform bringing a false peace. And that’s all he will need to promise when he comes. Arnold Toynbee, an English historian wrote in 1953: “By forcing on mankind more and more lethal weapons, and at the same time making the world more and more interdependent economically, technology has brought mankind to such a degree of distress that we are ripe for deifying any new Caesar who might succeed in bringing world unity and peace.” Make no mistake the Antichrist will come as a great humanitarian. He will talk about peace, prosperity, and plenty as an end in themselves.

 

Wild Beast, Deity Assumed

 

“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” Rev 13:4

 

This is the supreme moment for Satan. He wants to be worshipped and the whole world is going to worship him at this moment. What a parody on the worship of the true God. The people of the world will believe they are worshipping something more wonderful that the God of the Bible!

 

“And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” Rev 13:5

 

The only good news is that the antichrist reign is short three and half years. “A mouth speaking great things” means simply that he is a big-mouthed fellow. Daniel mentions this concerning him as well. This man will really be a talker; and he will promise anything. This is one reason we ought to be careful listening to anyone on the radio or TV, because the Bible tells us we need to test everything we hear. And the Antichrist is going to be very charismatic and he is going to talk himself into the good graces of this Christ-rejecting world.

 

Wild Beast, Defying God

 

“And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.” Rev 13:6

 

This verse tells us that the dreadful limit the Beast goes in blasphemy. He will be totally against Christ and His church and all I can say is praise God the church will be in heaven at this point!

 

“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Rev 13:7-8

 

“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints.” The saints, here are not the church. There will be saints during the Tribulation Period and they will be overcome by the brutal Beast. In the will of God many believers, both Jew and Gentile, will suffer martyrdom. “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Spurgeon used to say something like this: “I am glad that my name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before I got here, because if God had waited until I got here, He never would’ve chosen me.” That is true of all the saints, both in the church age and in the Great Tribulation. I will not be under Antichrist; I am under Christ. I am not looking for Antichrist to come; I am looking for Christ to come.

 

Wild Beast, Defiance Denied to Anyone

 

“If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” Rev 13:9-10 

 

This is without doubt one of the most awe-inspiring statements in the Word of God. “If any man have an ear” here again is the wedding of free will and election; if any man; means any man. Well doesn’t every man have ears? Yes, but not all people listen and so they do not hear. And there are a great many today who have no ear for the Word of God because they do not want to hear it. Any man, now that’s free will; that hath an ear, that’s election; and this is the way God weds these two truths together.

 

Now God says: “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword”; John is speaking here to God’s saints during the Great Tribulation Period who are in the world at this time. This going to be a devil of time because the Antichrist is going to be the world dictator. And men are not going to be able to buy or sell without his permission. He will rule the world like no one ever has ever ruled the world in the past. And God is saying to His own don’t resist him. To begin with it wouldn’t do you any good. The second thing that this is “the patience and the faith of the saints” of that time. These saints are going to have to have both patience and faith to bear up under the awful trials of that time. We can be thankful in our day that the Holy Spirit is in the world, and as bad as things seem at times right now, just think of what it is going to be like when the Holy Spirit is removed for a time so that evil men can have their day and Satan will have full sway! Friends’ what seems mind-boggling to us will actually be poetic justice. Listen the Devil and his minions will never be able to say to God, you never gave us a chance. God will allow them there chance for a brief period and if the period wasn’t kept brief there would be no flesh left on the earth according to the Lord Jesus Matt 24:22. 

 

The Wild Beast Out Of the Earth: Description, a Religious Leader

 

Now remember the first Beast is a political leader and his power will be worldwide. The second Beast that we now come to will be a religious leader.

 

“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” Rev 13:11

 

The first Beast came out of the sea and the second out of the earth. What is the difference? The sea remember represents the people and the nations of the world. The earth from which the second Beast arises is symbolic of Palestine, and so it is naturally assumed that the second Beast comes from Israel. He is a messiah, and Israel would not accept him unless he had come from their land and was one of them.

“And he had two horns like a lamb.” This suggests imitation of Christ. The first Beast is Antichrist. This second Beast imitates Christ. He has horns like a lamb, but he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The difference between the genuine Christ and this pseudo-lamb is seen in that, the genuine Christ, was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. This pseudo-lamb doesn’t take away sin, he multiplies it. He does not come to do his own will but he does come to do the will of the first Beast. And the Lord Jesus said: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matt 7:15. The second Beast is the epitome of all the false prophets. Interesting, don’t you think, that Satan needs two men to attempt even an imitation of Christ.

 

Wild Beast, Delegated Authority

 

“And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” Rev 13:12

 

The second Beast’s authority is delegated to him from the first Beast. This second wild Beast leads in a movement to exterminate the harlot of Rev 17, which is the false church that will go into the Great Tribulation Period. Note that John does not even dignify that church by calling it a church he calls it a harlot and since John was writing down what Christ told him to this is how Christ views the false church today. Here we have the last vestige if you will of the apostate church with all its humanism. The false prophet will offer the world something new to worship, the first wild Beast, the Man of Sin, the last world dictator. Here is presented to us the second wild Beast who will exalt the first wild Beast to the place of worship.

 

“Whose deadly wound as healed” reveals that both the first and second wild Beasts are healers and miracle workers. This is the strong delusion referred to by Paul that will come to the world II Thess 2.

 

“And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” Rev 13:13-14

 

This false prophet is a worker of signs and miracles that the Lord Jesus warned us about in Matt 24:24. His deception here is that he mimics Elijah in bringing fire down from heaven. He is a combination of Jannes and Jambres from Exodus 7:11-12: “Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.” They were clever magicians who had satanic power just as the second Beast here in Rev will.

 

Now we read in Matt 3:11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” John the Baptist specifically said he had nothing to do with fire, but this false prophet is going to imitate Elijah. He will play with fire until he is cast into the lake of fire Rev 19:20. Listen the world will be taken in by his deception, with the exception of God’s elect, they cannot be deceived.

 

The false prophet shows his hand by causing an image of the man of sin to be made. The Greek word for image is eikon, which means “likeness.” The big production is a likeness of the first Beast that emphasizes the wound of death that was healed. The likeness of the Antichrist will be placed in the temple at Jerusalem and this is the abomination of desolation to which our Lord referred: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” Matt 24:15. Now standing in stark contrast to this is the fact that the Lord Jesus did not permit anything of His physical appearance to survive. His likeness is not replicated in or hung in the church because we do not know what He looks like. That’s why the Bible says those who worship Him, must worship in spirit and in truth John 4:24.

 

Wild Beast, Delusion Perpetrated On the World

 

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Rev 13:15-17

 

“And it was given unto him to give breath” The Greek word for breath is pneuma. The Beasts are going to be able to give breath to the image of the wild Beasts. This is going to be a different kind of idol. Because the Bible teaches that idols cannot talk. And this is something that will cause the whole world to turn and worship the Beast. He is now wedding religion and business, for you will have to have the mark of the Beast to do business. In John’s day soldiers were branded by their commanders, slaves were branded by their masters, and those attached to certain pagan temples were branded by the mark of the god or goddesses whom they served. Ptolemy Philopater had all the Jews in Alexandria marked with the ivy leaf, which was the symbol of Dionysus. Many years ago a newspaper columnist wrote an article entitled, “Living by the Numbers.” That article deplored the fact that we have so many different cards to carry in our wallets and it concluded with this paragraph: It would simplify matters if the government would assign each of us a single all-purpose number, which we could have tattooed across the forehead to spare us the trouble of carrying all these cards.” That article written long ago sure shows how prophecy can come to pass. What is the mark of the Beast? It is not given us to know. God does not tell us what it is.

 

Wild Beast, Designation

 

“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Rev 13:18

 

A numerical value is given us 666, for the visible number of the Beast and its meaning awaits the day of his manifestation. The only positive and important item for us today is that the Beast is a man. This should teach us not to trust man. In fact, that’s biblical because Jeremiah wrote: “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jer 17:5-8 As we close let me say that we should not be interested in knowing what the number of the Beast or who he is or anything about him. What we should be interested in is knowing more about Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection, and this so-great salvation He has wrought for us.

 

Revelation 14:

Theme: Looking To the End of the Great Tribulation

 

Chapter 14 brings us once again to an interlude in which we see the Lamb on Mount Zion, hear the proclamation of the Gospel, the pronouncement of judgment upon Babylon and on those who receive the mark of the Beast, then praise for those who die in the Lord, and the preview of Armageddon. As we have seen so far this is the darkest hour in the history of the world. It is truly hell’s holiday. And it brings us to ask the question: Could God’s people remain faithful during this time, with all the odds stacked against them? This chapter will answer that question.

 

The Shepherd who began with 144,000 sheep is now identified with them as the Lamb. And we will note that He did not lose a one. He redeemed them, He sealed them, and He kept them, for He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep. So be encouraged because the Lamb, not the two Beasts is going to have the last word. Friends, I would rather be on the side that appears to be losing today that will finally win than to be on the side that seems to be winning today that is going to lose eternally.

 

Picture of the Lamb with 144,000

 

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.” Rev 14:1

 

“I saw” indicates that John is still a spectator to these events. And this verse pictures a placid pastoral scene that opens the millennial kingdom here on earth. The Lord Jesus is going to reign from Jerusalem. God Himself called it the city of the great King. And in Psalm 2:6 God says: “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” It is the Father’s intention to place the Lord Jesus upon the throne of David in Jerusalem, and specifically at Mount Zion. Now He started out with 144,000, and note, those 144,000 came through the Great Tribulation and He didn’t lose a single one! Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” John 10:27-29 My friend, be encouraged that when the pressure of Satan bears down upon us, the living, victorious Christ is available to us! O’ that we might come to know Him better and that He might occupy a greater place in our lives day by day.

 

“And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth..” Rev 14:2-3

 

“I heard.” Points out to us that John is not only a spectator, but an auditor to this scene as well. The 144,000 now join the heavenly chorus in the Millennium. Up to this time the earth has been out of tune with heaven, but here the rule of Satan is over, and earth and heaven are now in tune with one another. When Christ sets up His Millennial Reign all that is wrong with the world will be right. The Bible tells us that the 144,000 learn a new song and join the harmony of heaven. The psalmist wrote: “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;” Psalm 107:1-2 no one but the redeemed are going to say that God is good. This is the reason we need a say-so Christianity in our day. Listen this world needs to hear us say God is good!

 

“These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Rev 14:4-5

 

“Were not defiled with women: for they are virgins.” What does this mean? Well let’s consider the fact that this can have both a literal or spiritual meaning, and I think it includes both. Listen the Great Tribulation is going to be a time of unparalleled suffering. The 144,000 have been through that period. The abnormal times demanded an abnormal state. That was the reason they were unmarried. Friends, the Tribulation Period is going to be so frightful that it will be wise not to get married. And the Bible tells us that the prophet Jeremiah also lived in a critical period, the time of the Babylonian captivity. Because of dark days, God forbade him to marry. “The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying, Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place. For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land; They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcasses shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.” Jer 16:1-4 Our Lord Jesus mentioned those who would be mothers during the Great Tribulation: “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!” Matt 24:19. During the Great Tribulation there will be an exaggerated emphasis on sex and we are witnessing in our day the foundation of that coming culture. Today our world is becoming more and more brazenly immoral and immorality will prevail during the Great Tribulation. Howe refreshing then to see that the 144,000 will keep themselves aloof from the sins of immorality during the Great Tribulation. Now let’s consider adultery in the spiritual sense, in the OT idolatry was classified as spiritual fornication. The classic example is in Ezekiel 16 where we find God’s severe indictment against Israel for fornication and adultery, which is idolatry. The 144,000 will have kept themselves from worshiping the Beast and his image during the Great Tribulation. Therefore, the comment, These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins,” is probably referring to chastity in both the literal and spiritual sense.

Firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb, has a definite reference to the nation of Israel found in the Book of Romans. “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” Rom 11:15-16 Here Israel is described as the firstfruit, especially these 144,000, and J. Vernon McGee believed these 144,000 would occupy a unique place in the Millennial Kingdom.

And in their mouth was found no guile, means that they did not participate in the big lie of the Beast and his lying wonders. They didn’t fall for it. Now remember the Lord Jesus said that if it were possible to deceive the very elect, they would be deceived. But they will not be deceived. “They are without blemish.” This does not mean they were purified because they went through the Great Tribulation; it means they are without blemish because they are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, same as you and I and all who repent and come to Jesus.

 

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Rev 14:6-7

 

Now another angel denotes another radical change in the protocol of God’s communication with the earth. This angel is the first in a parade of six “another” angels mentioned in this chapter. Now it is important for us to understand that in our age the gospel has been committed to men as messengers, and not to angels. Angels would like to give the gospel, but they have not been permitted to do so. At the beginning of the Great Tribulation men are the messengers of God, as the 144,000 reveal. Even the two witnesses with supernatural power could not stand up against Satan, but were removed from the satanic scene of the earth. Angels as well as men were the messengers of the OT; the Bible says: …the word spoken by angels was steadfast…” Heb 2:2. The times are so intense in the Great Tribulation Period that only angels can get the messages of God through to the world. Angels are indestructible.

 

Now “Fear God” is the message of the eternal gospel. The writer of the Proverbs said that the fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom. In effect, the angel is saying to God’s people, “Get wise, get smart, because you need to fear God. God saved you by His grace, but He is going to judge this earth. This is God’s final call before the return of Christ in judgment. In this chapter God is bringing before us those who will appear again in the Book of Revelation, but He is giving us more or less of a program that He is going to follow.

 

“And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Rev 14:8

 

Babylon has been Satan’s headquarters from the very beginning. Babylon is the place where idolatry began. Semiramis was the wife of Nimrod; some scholars think she was his mother and married her own son. She was queen of Babel, which later became Babylon, and she devised a nice little story (beginning a whole system of idolatry) in which she became out of an egg in the Euphrates River; she cracked the shell and stepped out fully grown. The worship of Semiramis introduced the female principle in the deity. This reveals that Babylon was the fountainhead of false religions. “Fell, fell is Babylon.” This second angle runs ahead and announces that which is yet to come as though it already had taken place. In the Greek the word ‘fell’ is in the prophetic aorist tense. In other words, God’s prophetic word is so sure that He speaks as though the event had already taken place. It is just as sure as if it were history already. The city of Babylon will be eventually rebuilt during the Great Tribulation Period, according to Dr. McGee, but not at the same location. The idolatry of Babylon is a divine intoxication which will fascinate the entire world. This is the reason we are seeing the foundation being laid in our day with all the cults which are definitely satanic. The OT prophet Jeremiah said: “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.” Jer 51:7. Isaiah wrote: “And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” Is 13:11 This brings down the wrath of God upon the world according to the Word of God, “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.” Is 13:19. We will see two judgments upon Babylon a religious judgment in Revelation 17 and a commercial judgment in Revelation 18.

 

It is probably true that those who live through most or all of the Great Tribulation do so because they had received the mark of the Beast. However, part of the Great Tribulation is not caused by Satan’s being released but by Christ’s judgment upon the earth. He will move personally and directly in putting down the rebellion against Him here on this earth.

 

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Rev 14:9-12

 

He is speaking to a group of people who ‘keep the commandments of God,” the OT Law. Scripture tells us that sacrifices will be brought during the Great Tribulation and even into the millennium. This section makes it clear that no one can assume a neutral position during this intense period under the Beast. In chapter 13 we saw that the awful alternative for refusing the mark of the Beast was starvation. On the other hand, the person who receives the mark brings down the wrath of God upon his head.

 

He also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” If you believe that the church is going through the Great Tribulation, you also believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to subject His own to the mingled, unmixed cup of His anger. Some believe that; but I don’t and I don’t teach that because I teach the Bible and the Bible says that God has saved us from the wrath to come! The wine of the wrath of God is a figure adopted from the OT. In Psalm 75:8 we read: “For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.” Listen all that God’s own can do during this period is to be patient and wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord said: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matt 24:13 why will he endure? He will endure because he has been sealed by the Spirit of God, and he is clothed in the righteousness of Christ. He is able to overcome by the blood of the Lamb. Our Lord said: “In your patience possess ye your souls.” Luke 21:19. All they can do is wait out the storm, and that is what they will do during the Great Tribulation.

 

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Rev 14:13

 

This verse refers only to the Great Tribulation Period. Apparently many of God’s tribulation saints, both of the 144,000 and of the untold number of Gentiles that will be saved during that time, are going to lay down their lives for Christ. They will be martyred. During the time of the Great Tribulation, it will be better to die than to live. At that this verse will give comfort and assurance. They will rest from their sorrows, and their works will follow them, and the Lord will reward them. “For their works will follow them” reveals that they will be rewarded for their faithfulness, patience, and works in this period. God does not save anyone for his works, but He does reward us for our works. Our works (good or bad) are like tin cans tied to a dog’s tail; we cannot get away from them. They will follow us to the bema seat of Christ.

 

Preview of Armageddon

 

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.” Rev 14:14

 

This verse emphasizes to us again that John is not only a hearer but a spectator. John is talking about Jesus Christ here because the cloud is a mark of identification that Jesus spoke about in His Olivet Discourse. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matt 24:30. A sharp sickle refers to His coming judgment of the wicked.

 

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Rev 14:15-16

 

“Send forth thy sickle, and reap” refers to the judgment of men on the earth. Jesus said: “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matt 13:40-42 In Matthew the “harvest” has so long been identified with Christian witnessing, and believers have been urged to pray for laborers for the harvest, that it is difficult for the average Christian to fit this scene into the true context of scripture. Actually, believers are not urged to harvest today; they are urged to sow, to sow the Word of God.

“…a sower went forth to sow;” is a picture of Christendom today. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of Man. He is sower and the seed is the Word of God and the field is the world. He is flinging out the seed into the world. There is going to be a harvest someday, but that will come at the end of the age. We are not in the harvesting business today; we are in the sowing business. We’re not to worry about results. We’re to be concerned about the source. Are we doing our best in getting God’s Word out? Note God’s instruction to His Son in the OT: “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” Psalm 2:7-9. Did this take place at the Lord’s first coming? When, then, will it take place? At His Second Coming. At that time He will come in judgment.

“For the time is come to reap” is in conformity to the words of Jesus “the harvest is the end of the world.”

The time will come to reap so let’s sow the seed today. If we give out the Word of God, the Spirit of God will take care of the results. The time of harvest is before us in the OT: “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” Joel 3:13-14

 

“And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.” Rev 14:17-18

 

The “sharp sickle” indicates judgment. “Her grapes are fully ripe” conveys the though of their being dry like raisins. This is a change of metaphor for the war of Armageddon, and this is the picture Isaiah gives: “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth” Is 63:1-6 This vivid picture is not of Christ at His first coming but at His Second, when He returns in judgment. In Isaiah’s day men would get to the winepress barefooted to tread out the grapes. The red juice would spurt out of the grapes and stain their garments. The picture in this verse is of spectators seeing that there is blood on our Lord’s beautiful garments as though He had trodden the winepress. When Christ came the first time, He shed His blood for them, but they rejected it. Now He is trodding down the wicked, and it is their blood that is shed. He will gather them, as we will see in Rev 16:16, “into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” It is not a single battle, but a war. Now note in the Isaiah passage He is treading the winepress alone. It is positively terrifying. Little wonder that the men of this earth will cry to the rocks to fall upon them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. This will be a sad end of that civilization which at the Tower of Babel demonstrated an active rebellion against God, a rebellion that has been mounting like a mighty crescendo ever since and will break in all of its fury during the Great Tribulation Period. When Christ comes He will break down that rebellion with a rod of iron and into many pieces according to Psalm 2. What a contrast we have here to the message the worldly church is giving out today. The “gentle Jesus” who wouldn’t swat a fly let alone judge us for sins that we hear so much about today, is just not the Jesus of the Word of God. Because the Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, but He is also the judge of the world. And if you do not accept His blood shed for you, then if the Great Tribulation comes during your lifetime, your blood will be shed.

 

“And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” Rev 14:19-20

 

“”Without the city” means outside of Jerusalem. “Unto the bridles of the horses” means about 4’ deep. “A thousand and six hundred furlongs” is about 185 miles, and that is the distance from Dan to Beersheba. All of Palestine is the scene of this final war which ends in what is called Armageddon. It is a campaign that begins in the middle of the Great Tribulation and ends with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 45:3-7 is an OT prophecy of this event: “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Psalm 45 is a messianic psalm.

 

Now friends, we cannot make apology for these scenes of judgment from God as the world desires we do. So as we close out today let’s face up to a few facts. First, sin is an awful thing. Second, sin is in the world. Third, you and I are sinners. And the only remedy for our sin is the redemption of Christ offered when He shed His blood on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins. Fourth, like it or not we merit the judgment of God. Our only escape is to accept the work of Christ for us on Calvary’s cross. How shall we escape God’s righteous judgment if we neglect so great a salvation?

 

Chapter 15

Theme: Preparation for the final judgment of the Great Tribulation.

 

In this chapter we have another sign in heaven. Seven angels with the seven last plagues. Chapters 15 and 16 belong together because in them we have the pouring out of the seven mixing bowls of wrath. We have already seen the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven personalities. Now the coming seven bowls of wrath are the worst of all. Chapter 15 is the preface to the final series of judgments which come on the earth during the Great Tribulation. These judgments are the most intense and devastating of any that have preceded them. The purpose of the Great Tribulation is judgment. It is not for the purifying of the church! it is to give Satan his final opportunity.  God is going to remove the church before the time of Tribulation because of His marvelous, infinite grace. If you are willing to accept His grace, then you can escape the Great Tribulation. The bowls of wrath are not the “Blessed Hope” for which believers are looking today. No, the believer is looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ Titus 2:13. If we will grow in love with Him, we will not consider the judgments of the Great Tribulation terrifying. That’s because if you are trusting in Christ you won’t be going through it. But the unsaved will. And it is for this reason that we must seek to be a witness for Christ in these difficult days.

 

Now let’s take up the first four verses; in these verses we see the tribulation saints in heaven worship God because He is holy and just. This then is another interlude that will bring us up to the end of the Great Tribulation. At which point we will see the coming of our Lord Jesus to the earth. “And I saw” assures us that John is still a spectator to these events. “Another sign” connects this chapter with Rev 12:1 the first sign that in Rev 12:1 was Israel. These seven angels of wrath are connected with the judgments to follow until Christ comes in Rev 19. This means that from Rev 12 to the return of Christ is a series of events that are mutually related. It doesn’t mean that there is a chronological order but rather a logical order of retracing the same events with added detail. This method is the personal signature of the Holy Spirit, first seen in Genesis 1-2. In Genesis 1 we are given the account of Creation, the seven days describing God’s handiwork. In chapter 2 the Holy Spirit lifted out the account of the creation of man and went over it again adding details. This is known as the law of recapitulation, and it runs all the way through the Scriptures. Another example would be the giving of the Mosaic Law in Exodus and then in Deuteronomy the interpretation of the Law with forty years of experience in the wilderness and a great deal of detail added. Then when we come to the NT we find not one or two, but four Gospel records of Jesus Christ. Why four? Because it takes that many sides to share with us the glorious picture and personhood of Jesus Christ.

 

Now remember that Satan has been cast down to the earth bringing his wrath upon the remnant of Israel. And he makes a final thrust for world domination through the two Beasts. Then God makes a final display of His wrath and concludes earth’s sordid tragedy with sin. Now it is important for us to understand that we are talking now about the “wrath of God” which marks the final judgment of the Great Tribulation. God has been slow to anger, but here He ends His longsuffering. Judgment in the final days of the Tribulation comes directly from the throne of God.

 

“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.” Rev 15:2

 

“A glassy sea mingled with fire” represents the frightful persecution by the Beast during the Great Tribulation Period. This is the period of time, as we have seen, where no man could buy or sell unless he had the mark of the Beast. It is going to be very difficult to get things to eat in that day. That is the reason the Lord Jesus, speaking of this period in His Olivet Discourse, said that whoever would give a cold cup of water in His Name would not lose his reward. You see, anyone in that day who would give even a cup of cold water to one of the 144,000 would put his life in jeopardy because the Beast would put him to death for harboring what he would classify as a criminal. Now friends, not a soul will make it through these days unless they have been sealed. And countless multitudes will be martyred during this time. And while that may sound barbaric to us yet they demonstrate by example the kind of faith we should possess being faithful to Him until death. Listen, if you are a child of God your last heartbeat in this world brings you into the presence of the Savior. So does it really matter what path the Lord chooses to take us home on? I don’t think so. So be faithful until death as these here are. And what’s more these did not lose their song; no root of bitterness was found in them. And I’m sure it would be very easy to become bitter in the midst of the Great Tribulation. Now you and I we are not in the midst of the Great Tribulation and yet I meet so many saints who have trouble in their hearts because they have allowed a root of bitterness to grow therein. And they have let this root of bitterness spoil their lives to the point that it actually causes them to deteriorate in their Christian life and testimony. I have met many who have refused to let something go and it has ruined their lives. Now I think you’ll agree that it is utterly remarkable that these saints who lived through the Great Tribulation have kept their song! Friends, we need to pray that no root of bitterness will spring up within us in the face of life’s circumstances. And perhaps we may even need to repent and ask God to tear out any root of bitterness we may have therein.

 

“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” Rev 15:3-4

 

The song of Moses is found in Exodus 15:1-21 and in Deuteronomy 32:1-43. Both songs speak of God’s deliverance, salvation, and faithfulness. “The song of the Lamb” is the ascription of praise to Christ as the Redeemer. Now it would be very easy to get caught up and distracted by all that takes place in Revelation just as we do with what takes place in our world and we find ourselves centering on everything but Christ. So just as we must do in our daily lives so we must do as we study Revelation, we must keep our eyes on Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. Now the question is asked: “Who shall not fear the Lord, and glorify Thy Name?” in our day there is very little reverential fear of God, even among believers. Especially in these last days we are witnessing more and more that God is love and therefore He won’t judge. We need to remember that God is love and hold onto that but we must also remember that He is light, which means holy. And He has called us to be holy. In fact He says follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the LORD Heb 12:14. If you are a child of God and think that you can do as you please you are wrong and you’d better not try it. Our God is a holy God and He is to be feared. And my friend the day is coming when the nations of the world will come and worship before the Lord Jesus. That is not taking place today. In Psalm 2:8 we read: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” And in Isaiah 11:9: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” In that day there will be no need for Bible studies like this one because all men are going to have a knowledge of God. In Jeremiah 23:5 23 read: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” This day is coming and I believe it is not far off, but what about the present, the time we are living in now? What are we to do in the face of the gross immorality and gross injustice taking place in our world today? We need to pray for our homes, our families, and our nation and rejoice that there is One who is coming who will execute justice and judgment upon the earth. In Philippians 2:9-11 we read: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

 

“And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:

And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.” Rev 15:5-6

 

At this point the temple of the Tabernacle is opened in heaven in order that seven angels, having seven golden bowls, might proceed forth. The temple is referred to fifteen times in the Book of Revelation; its prominence cannot be ignored. In the first part of revelation, through chapter 3, the church is the subject and there is no mention of a temple. Beginning with chapter 4 the scene shifts to heaven, and we see the temple in heaven; also there is a temple on earth patterned after the one in heaven. There is no temple in the New Jerusalem where the church is going. Why? Because the church is not identified with a temple. This fact makes it abundantly clear that beginning with Rev 4, God is dealing with people who have had a temple, and only to Israel had God given a temple, patterned after the one in heaven. In this instance, the reference is specifically to the tabernacle and the Holy of Holies in which the Ark of the Testimony was kept. In the ark were the tables of stone. Both the ark and the tables of stone were duplicates of originals in heaven. This is what the Bible teaches: “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.” Exodus 25:40 “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” Heb 9:23. The originals are referred to in Rev 11:19: “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” The action of God here is based on the violation of His covenant with Israel; the broken Law. God is righteous in what He is about to do. He will judge, then He will carry out His covenant with Israel. The prominence of the angels in this book is again called to our attention by the appearance of angels at this point. Previously seven angels blew seven on seven trumpets. Here is a new series of seven angels who have the seven plagues of the seven bowls of wrath. Their departure from the throne of mercy now means that God is going to act in justice instead of mercy.

 

“And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.” Rev 15:7-8

 

“Seven angels seven golden vials”; again let’s call attention to the repetition of the number seven. Seven is the biblical number for completeness, not perfection. Now let’s review for a moment: in the seven churches we have a complete history of the church; in each one of the series of sevens in the Great Tribulation Period each seven covers all. Now the very fact that this section continues to deal with the temple ought to indicate to anyone who is knowledgeable that the church is not involved. Neither the temple, nor the tabernacle had anything to do with the church. This section then refers to Israel, a people who had a tabernacle and a temple. These seven angels with priestly garments, having departed from the temple proper, are no longer engaged in a service of mercy but are beginning a strange ministry of pouring out bowls of wrath on a Christ-rejecting world. A world that has rejected the blood of Christ must bear the judgment for sin. This judgment is not the result of man’s or Satan’s enmity, it is the direct action of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have seen the gentle Jesus, and now we see the wrath of the Lamb. You never think of a little Lamb as being angry. A lion can roar, but not a little lamb. The wrath of the Lamb is going to startle the world someday. The prophets of the OT used the figure of a cup of iniquity and wrath filling u and spoke of God’s patience in waiting for it to fill. Then, when it is full, God moves in judgment. These seven angels with seven golden bowls make it clear that the judgments of the bowls proceed from God and are not the result of man’s mistakes or of Satan’s enmity. These judgments are the direct action of God.

 

Chapter 16: Theme: Pouring out the seven bowls

 

It is worth repeating that the bowls of wrath contain the direct judgment of God upon the world. And we’ll discover that there is a definite similarity between the judgments in this chapter and God’s judgments upon Egypt through Moses. Now the first verse speaks of the message the great voice gives the seven angels.

 

“And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” Rev 16:1

 

The command comes from the only One who was found worthy to open the seven-sealed book and that Person is Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the in command and marching to victory because all power, glory, and honor belong unto Him. Now this is His judgment on a Christ-rejecting world. The Father has committed all judgment unto Him. So Christ is the One that gives the command and sends out these seven angels with the final judgments. There is no delay. No longer an interval, for the hour has come, the order is given and these seven angels execute our LORD’s command. Now we come face to face with something that man finds so hard to believe and that is the fact that God is going to pour out His judgment on a Christ-rejecting world and destroy civilization as we know it today. But that is exactly what will happen because the world we are living in today is under the judgment of God. When Adam sinned sin entered and judgment began. God has provided a way of escape and we need to pray that all men would take it.

 

“And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.” Rev 16:2

 

Each angel, as his turn comes, withdraws from the heavenly scene. He leaves the place of the mercy seat in heaven and executes judgment by pouring a bowl of wrath on the earth. Now this first judgment is interesting because it would appear that our Lord is engaged in germ warfare with the Antichrist. These putrefying sores are worse than cancer or leprosy. As man discovers a cure for one disease, another more frightful appears. These are judgments of God by which God reveals physically what man is morally; utterly corrupt. And this first bowl of wrath we can compare to the sixth plague in Egypt. And Moses predicted coming judgment on Israel similar to this: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.” Deut 28:15, 27. And these diseases are incurable according to Deut 28:35: “The LORD shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.” Now here in Revelation the “noisome and grievous sore is for those who received the mark of the Beast. Those who chose to receive that mark so they could enjoy all the privileges it brought are going to be judged by God. And what’s even worse than the disease itself that can’t be healed is that men will still not turn to God.

 

“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.” Rev 16:3

 

This plague is more severe than that of the second trumpet, where only one-third of the sea became blood. Here it is the total sea, and the blood is that of a dead man. Blood is the token of life. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: Lev 17:11. The sea is a great reservoir of life. It is teeming with life and the salty water is cathartic for filth of the earth. However, in this plague, blood is the token of death; the sea becomes a grave of death rather than a womb of life. And the cool sea breeze becomes a stench because of the carcasses floating on the bloody water and lining the shore. Commerce is paralyzed, human beings die like flies, the first plague in Egypt was the turning of the waters of the Nile into blood; and again we see a striking similarity here. J. Vernon McGee said he wondered if the people of the world really realize how dependent we are on God. The light company, the gas company, and the water company send us bills, but where did they get the light, gas, and water to begin with? From God because He was the Creator of the light, gas, and water. Now let me ask you, has God ever sent you a bill for light, gas or water? Has He sent you a bill for the air you breathe? No. And if He did we wouldn’t be able to pay it. And the point is that God who has been so gracious to a Christ-rejecting world, will at last judge all the earth.

 

“And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.” Rev 16:4-7

 

This plague, similar to the third trumpet, again is more severe. There, only one-third of the fresh water was affected, and here the total water supply of the earth will be cut off. This will mean destruction of human life on an unparalleled plane. He angel of the waters” is the superintendent of God’s water department here on earth. This reveals another ministry of angels as it affects creation. They are in charge of the different physical departments of the universe. We have seen four angels who control the winds. This angel, who knows the whole story, now declares that God is right and holy in this act of judgment. But you know the truth is no matter what it is that God does He is right and holy. And if you and I don’t agree with God it’s too bad. We’re the ones who are wrong, not God. The Bible says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Is 55:8-9 if we are not in agreement with God, we’d better get in agreement with God because God is righteous and holy in everything He does don’t you see? Furthermore, the Bible tells us that “they shed the blood of saints and prophets, and blood didst thou give them to drink.” This is poetic justice with a vengeance. Those who take the sword will perish by the sword, and the shedding of blood leads to the shedding of blood. These who are being judged had made martyrs of God’s people, and now God is forcing them to drink blood for the righteous blood they spilled. “The altar saying” evidently refers back to the saints under the altar who had been praying for justice to be done: “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” Rev 6:9-11. Here their prayer is answered. God was long getting to it, but the time has come and it is answered.

 

“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.” Rev 16:8-9

 

Jesus said there would be signs in the sun during the Great Tribulation: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;” Luke 21:25 The OT had a great deal to say about judgment during the Great Tribulation Period due to the excessive heat of the sun: “They shall be wasted with hunger, Devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction; I will also send against them the teeth of beasts, With the poison of serpents of the dust.” Deut 32:24. Also the prophet Isaiah: “Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.” Is 24:6; 42:25 “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Mal 4:1. To accomplish this, all that the LORD would have to do is remove one or two of the blankets of the atmosphere. Or He would need only to pull the earth a little closer to the sun and we would not be able to survive. It is this frightful period that Isaiah had in view when he wrote that the earth would be decimated. And Jesus said: “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved:” Matt 24:22. Nevertheless, His own are preserved: “The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.” Psalm 121:6. Now note, “And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God.” In spite of all of this, instead of turning to God for mercy, they blaspheme His Name. This reveals that the human heart is incurably wicked. No amount of punishment will purify it and change it.

 

“And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” Rev 16:10-11

 

“The throne of the wild beast” makes it clear that the first Beast of Rev 13 is a man. He also represents a kingdom, as you cannot have a king with a kingdom. But scripture says his kingdom will be darkened. As the sun’s wattage is increased, it grows darker instead of lighter. The heat will be greater, but the light will be less. Note again, the similarity to the darkness of Egypt during the 9th plague. Again the OT prophets had a lot to say about this coming darkness: “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” Is 60:2 “Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the LORD is coming, For it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, The like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, Even for many successive generations. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.” Joel 2:1-2, 31In addition to these two prophets, Nahum, Amos, and Zephaniah all mention it. And Jesus confirmed it when He said: “"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;” Mark 13:24. “They chewed their tongues from their pain.” Just think of the intensity of the suffering caused by these bowl judgments! And still men will not turn from their wickedness! There are two self-evident facts at this point: First, God is righteous in pouring out His wrath. Second, mankind is not led to repentance through this suffering. And the Apostle Paul predicted this: “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;” Rom 2:4-5

 

“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.” Rev 16:12

 

The Euphrates is called the “great river” in the Bible just as the Mediterranean Sea is called the “great sea.” The prominence of the Euphrates River in the Word of God should not be overlooked. First mentioned in Genesis 2, it is designated over 25 times in the Bible. In the verse before us it is seen in connection with the 6th plague. As it was prominent in the first state of man, so it prominent in the last state of man here in the Great Tribulation. It was in the beginning the cradle of man’s civilization and in the end it will be the grave of man’s civilization. It was a border between east and west, 1800 miles long, over half of it navigable. It was wide and deep, which made it difficult for an army to pass over it. Abraham was called a Hebrew, and some interpret that as meaning he came from the other side of the Euphrates. The Euphrates was the eastern border o the land God promised to Abraham; Gen 15:18. It also became the eastern border of the Roman Empire. The Euphrates River will be miraculously dried up, thus erasing the border between east and west, so that the kings of the sun-rising might come to the Battle of Armageddon. History teaches that Tamerlane came out of the East and swept across those plains with a tremendous horde, and Genghis Khan did the same thing. Those were little previews of what is going to happen in the last days. After the Euphrates River is gone, the great hordes in the East that have never moved west will come in a crusade to Palestine and they will choose for the Antichrist. Now if you can picture this it is frightful and therefore we should not doubt that with the hundreds of millions pouring into Palestine that the blood will be as deep as the horses’ bridles.

 

Once again between the 6th and 7th bowls of wrath we have an interlude. This one though is a break for the filling in of details.

 

“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Rev 16:13-14

 

We now come to the war of Armageddon. This will be triggered quite possibly by the coming down of Russia from the north sometime around the middle of the Great Tribulation Period. The campaign extends the length of Palestine to the Valley of Jehoshaphat and the mountains of Edom. It will be fought for 3 ½ years and it will be concluded when Jesus Christ comes down from heaven to establish His Millennial Kingdom here on earth. But here we are introduced to the trinity of hell; Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet. They act in unison in forcing the nations of the earth to march against Israel in an attempt to destroy God’s purposes on earth. Remember those covenant promises God gave to Abraham Gen 12:1-4; these covenants are going to stand just as John 3:16 does for believers today. It is Satan’s purpose to destroy God’s covenants and this is why he moves in and brings the whole world against Israel in the Great Tribulation. Now are we talking about literal frogs here, is a good question? Now the Bible doesn’t say they were frogs, but like frogs. So, what are we to conclude? I think we can conclude that John is describing for us demon spirits who work among the world’s shadows, and creep, and croak, and fill the ears of the nations with their noisy demonstrations until they set all the nations of the earth against Israel in an ungodly attempt to rid the world finally of God and His elect people.

 

“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Rev 16:15

 

Let me say to you that Christ will never come as a thief to the church. Because the Bible says: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” I Thess 5:4. A thief is someone you shut out; you don’t welcome him. You don’t put a note on your door when you leave your home which says: Mr. Thief, I left the back door unlocked for you. You never welcome a thief. You lock him out. Christ does not come to the church as a thief because the church is looking for Him Titus 2:13. But, the Lord Jesus does come as a thief to the world at the end of the Great Tribulation because as we saw at the beginning of the Revelation the whole earth will mourn because of Him. They do not want Him to come and even today they are trying to do all they can to shut him out from ever returning to the earth. Now what are the garments mentioned here? Well, the captain of the temple made is rounds during the night to see if the guards were awake and alert. If one was found asleep, he was either beaten or his garments were set on fire.

 

“And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” Rev 16:16

 

This is the only occurrence of the word Armageddon in scripture. It means “Mount of Megiddo.” It is a compound word made up of the Hebrew words Har, meaning mountain, and Megiddo, which is a mount in the plain of Esdraelon. The “he” here could possibly be God Himself. Although Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet act in unison to force the nations of the world to march against Israel, they nevertheless fulfill the Word of God.

 

“And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” Rev 16:17-18

 

“The seventh poured out his bowl upon the air. This is the last series of seven judgments before the coming of Christ, and that is the seventh and last seven of the seven. In other words, we are right at the end of the Great Tribulation here. At this point the only One who could deliver these people and set up a righteous kingdom on earth and bring peace to the world is the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to keep our eyes on Christ through this as He is the judge now. Now the temple has been mentioned time and again. It has been mentioned with the bowls of wrath, the trumpets, and the seals; in fact, it has been mentioned with each series of judgments. The temple friend’s has been mentioned six times with the bowls of wrath more times here than all the other judgments in which it had previously been mentioned. Now it is important for us to remember that God has two ways of saving people in the Great Tribulation Period: first, saving them out of it by taking them out of the world; and second, by saving them in it. And in regards to both the Book of Genesis gives us examples. Enoch was and was not for the Lord took him. Enoch is a picture of the rapture of the church. Regarding the second we have Noah. God told Noah to build and Ark and Noah obeyed and when the flood came, God shut him in and preserved him in it. God will save people as we have seen during the Great Tribulation but He makes it plain in His Word that the church will not go through it. “And there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.” I believe this is the voice of the Lord Jesus. And this is the second time we have heard him say this. When He was hanging upon the cross, He said, “It is finished.” At that point in history redemption was wrought and salvation was finished for man. There is nothing man can contribute to his salvation; he must simply receive it by faith. You can have a finished redemption; but if you won’t accept it, there will be a judgment. For those who have refused God’s salvation there is nothing they can do to escape the judgment of God. No wonder the writer to the Hebrews wrote: “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,” Heb 2:3. Christ is the judge, and the judgment of the Great Tribulation is now concluded. “It is done” means there is nothing ahead but the Great White Throne Judgment. And the Word of God makes it clear that at the end of the Great Tribulation Period there is going to be a horrendous earthquake that will shake the entire world.

 

“And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.” Rev 16:19-21

 

This great earthquake the Bible says divides the city into three parts. Although the center of the earthquake is in Jerusalem, it is not confined to Jerusalem, because we are told that the cities of the nations fell. This tells us something of the vast destruction of the earthquake. And we see “Babylon” mentioned specifically again as it was in Rev 14:8 and the next two chapters will give us the details concerning Babylon’s fall. We’re also told that even the islands are shifted from one place to another by this earthquake. But imagine now this final judgment which is hailstones; and the size of these stones is enormous.  The Greek talent was 56 pounds and the Jewish talent 114 pounds and the Bible records for us a very interesting hailstorm during the time of Joshua: “And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.” Josh 10:11. This miraculous hailstorm ends the Great Tribulation Period.

 

Chapter 17

Theme: The Apostate Church in the Great Tribulation

 

In chapters 17-18 we will see the judgment of the two Babylon’s. First, we’ll look at the apostate church in the Great Tribulation here in chapter 17, and then we’ll see not only the religious Babylon, but also the commercial Babylon in chapter 18. Now you may be wondering: Are there two Babylon’s, and are they in two different geographical locations? Are they representative of two systems? Are they two literal cities, or are they the same? The answers to these questions will become more apparent as our redemption draws near, but I believe Scripture reveals that we have two distinct cities in view. Here in Chapter 17 we have mystery Babylon, the cosmic church, the apostate church. The church of Thyatira Rev 2 was described as such, because they permitted Jezebel to teach, will become the apostate church of the Great Tribulation. It will attain the goal of present day apostates those who inhabit our churches in every denomination who are not believers and during the Great Tribulation they will join this organization that may call itself a church but is not. The Bible calls it a harlot. And there couldn’t be a worse description than that! It is called mystery Babylon because of its origin. At the Tower of Babel man attempted to rally against God. Under Nimrod, Babylon became the origin of all false religion. Now the dream of Nimrod will be realized in the first half of the Great Tribulation Period for the cosmic church dominates the wild Beast. This church that should have been the bride of Christ is not because it has committed spiritual fornication, selling herself to the world for hire. This is the church that says, “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing.” This is a reference to the church of the Laodiceans in Rev 3. Now thankfully, all true believers in Christ represented by the church at Philadelphia will be taken out of this world at the rapture before the Tribulation begins. It will be a pseudo-religious system that will control the wild Beast during the first half of the Great Tribulation Period, yet it is hated by him. During the last half of the Great Tribulation Period, the Beast destroys the harlot in order to set up his own religious system. Now the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied that Babylon would be rebuilt and here once again we see it destroyed. Ecclesiastical Babylon will be destroyed by the wild Beast.  Ecclesiastical Babylon is destroyed by the wild Beast. Commercial Babylon is destroyed by the return of Jesus Christ. Ecclesiastical Babylon is hated by the Beast. Commercial Babylon is loved by the world. Ecclesiastical Babylon is destroyed at the beginning of the last three and one half years of the Great Tribulation. Commercial Babylon is destroyed at the end of the last three and one half years of the Great Tribulation. And Zechariah 5:5-11 has something interesting to say in this connection: “Then the angel who talked with me came out and said to me, "Lift your eyes now, and see what this is that goes forth." So I asked, "What is it?" And he said, "It is a basket that is going forth." He also said, "This is their resemblance throughout the earth: "Here is a lead disc lifted up, and this is a woman sitting inside the basket"; then he said, "This is Wickedness!" And he thrust her down into the basket, and threw the lead cover over its mouth. Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. So I said to the angel who talked with me, "Where are they carrying the basket?" And he said to me, "To build a house for it in the land of Shinar; when it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base."” Zech 5:5-11

 

“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Rev 17:1-2

 

Now the harlot is the flase church as we have said. And the wild Beast is the restored Roman Empire that will be brought back together by the Antichrist with the assistance of this false church. “The great harlot” is that part of the church that will remain after the true church has been raptured. It will be composed of those who have never trusted Christ as Savior; they have never been in the body of Christ. This is the group that enters the Great Tribulation. Now we are told certain things about here. She sitteth upon many waters. According to v 15, this is a reference to great masses of people and nations; meaning, that the harlot, will pretty much control the world. Next we’re told that the kings of the earth committed fornication to show that there is an unholy alliance between the church and state during that period. And yes, even today, we are seeing a movement that desires to bring all the religions of the world together. And this certainly falls into the pattern of this false church, and note, that scripture doesn’t even dignify it with a name. We’ve all heard the claim that there are many roads to heaven and this is the mantra going round today. But there is only One Road and that Road is Jesus Christ! But during the Great Tribulation this power-bloc will bring the world under the influence of the wild Beast out of the sea and the wild Beast out of the earth. They will use the apostate church to control the masses, and the church will yield to this arrangement for political preferment and power. But God’s cup of judgment will be pressed to the lips of the harlot. And the Beast will destroy her. Because the Antichrist and the False Prophet will not want her around after she has served her purpose. Antichrist wants to be worshiped and he doesn’t want any competition from the church.

 

“So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” Rev 17:3

 

Remember that John was on the isle of Patmos in the Spirit for the vision of the glorified Christ and His message to the churches. At that time John was caught up to heaven. From then on the scene shifts from heaven to earth. However, here we are told again that John was in the Spirit. Does this mean that he needed a fresh anointing of the Spirit for this vision? I doubt it. Is the wilderness literal? Remember this chapter is a vision where symbols are used. Around both Babylon and Rome there is a literal wilderness. This is a matter of recorded history. Babylon was to become a wilderness and in this connection you would need to read Isaiah 47-48 and Jeremiah 50-51. Outside of Rome the wilderness is called the campagna. I agree with J. Vernon McGee that the wilderness mentioned here is both literal and also a sign of the chaotic condition of the world brought about by the religious confusion of Babylon. Now John saw a woman “sitting upon a scarlet colored beast.” He is describing for us a frightful and frightening scene. The wild Beast, remember, we have previously identified as the Antichrist ruling over the restored Roman Empire. The woman is identified for us in v 18: “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” The woman is a city, and the city is Rome, the religious capital of the world. Now remember, all true believers left the world scene at the Rapture. This means that the church left here on earth will be totally apostate. And that is why God calls this church a whore. Listen all true believers are the bride of Christ; and the bride of Christ is in heaven. Now Rome was the city set on seven hills and was known as such to both pagan and Christian writers. In fact, Augustine wrote: “Babylon is a former Rome, and Rome is a later Babylon.” In the verses before us the city of Rome is surely in view. And the woman described in this verse represents a religious system that will be revealed during the first part of the Great Tribulation Period after the true church has been taken up to heaven. And this religious system, as the symbol given to us indicates, dominates and rides the Roman Empire at the beginning of the Great Tribulation Period. “Full of names of blasphemy” revels how far religion will have departed from the living Christ.

 

“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Rev 17:4-5

 

Purple was the predominant color of Roman imperialism. Every senator and consul wore a purple stripe as a badge of his position, and the emperor’s robes were purple. Scarlet was the color adopted by Roman Catholicism. “Gilded with gold” shows the beauty of the outward display, but, like the Pharisees, it is within “full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness.” “Precious stones and pearls” are pretty cold, though they may be genuine, and are a sordid imitation of genuine heartfelt religion. The Lord Jesus said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.” “A golden cup full of abominations” is the religious intoxication of the anti-church (not Antichrist) and a pseudo-religion, counterfeit Christianity, a fake and flase gospel, and a sham and spurious system. This is the cup which makes the world drunk. Jeremiah prophesied: “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.” Jer 51:7 “Upon her forehead a name written” is a startling revelation of the character of this woman. She does not wear a crown but rather the mark of her profession. It is of interest to see that Seneca, in addressing a wanton priestess said, “Thy name hung from thy forehead.” MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH is a disgraceful title for the “church” which should belong to Christ as a bride. MYSTERY, BABYLON; the true church is a mystery in that it was not revealed in the OT. The anti-church, designated here as a harlot, is a mystery in that it was not revealed until John wrote Rev 17. Babylon is the fountainhead for all false religion; therefore she is the mother of the harlots and of the abominations of the earth. This is, by far, Scripture’s most expressive and vivid picture of awful and abominable sin.

 

“And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.” Rev 17:6-7

 

The harlot not only makes others drunk, but she is intoxicated by her acts of persecution. While it is true that the church will not go through the Great Tribulation, as we near the end of this age of grace, believers can expect some tribulation. We already know that in today’s world it is becoming more and more difficult to stand for the Word of God and the things of Christ. “The saints” is more than likely, a reference to OT saints, and “The martyrs of Jesus” refers to NT saints. This indicates that Babylon is more than just Romanism. Rather, it is an amalgam of all religions; it is confusion compounded and is the fountainhead of all religious error and idolatry. In the OT Babylon persecuted God’s people and was the enemy of God. Now when John saw this woman we’re told that his mind wondered with great wonder. In other words the sight of her boggled his mind. And the angel asks why he should wonder when he was present to explain the mystery of the woman. Now remember the emphasis here is on the Roman Empire aspect of the wild Beast rather than on the Antichrist aspect. We should note that.

 

“The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.” Rev 17:8-10

 

The wild Beast “was” speaks of the past history of the Roman Empire. “Is not” refers to the present condition of the fragmented Empire. The Roman Empire is not dead. It has fallen apart into the nations of Europe today. “Is about to come out of the abyss” speaks of the reactivation of the Roman Empire by Satan. Now many folks have tried to put the Roman Empire back together again but have never been successful in doing so. Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, and the United Nations have all attempted to bring it back but have been unable to do so. But God’s Word is clear that the wild Beast who is the Antichrist will be able to do it. “Shall go into perdition” speaks of the destruction of the Roman Empire by the coming of Christ. But the reappearance of the Roman Empire in its great power will win the admiration of the peoples of the world who are not redeemed. They will respect and worship the Antichrist for his brilliant coup d’etat. God’s saints will have the mind of the Spirit and will understand and not be spiritually ignorant, for the Bible promises: “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” I John 2:20, 27  “And there are seven kings” is taken by some to mean individual rulers. The seven kings according to some credible Bible theologians are as follows:

1.      Julius Caesar – assassinated

2.      Tiberius – poisoned or smothered

3.      Caligula – assassinated

4.      Claudius - poisoned

5.      Nero – committed suicide

“The one is” refers to Domitian who was living in John’s day and was assassinated. “The other is yet to come” refers to the Antichrist. Now other commentators consider these seven different forms as seven different governments through which Rome has passed. These are listed as kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, and military tribunes. “The one is” refers to the sixth or imperial form of government set up by Julius Caesar and under which John was banished by Domitian. The seventh and last, though it has not yet appeared will be satanic in form. Now regardless of the interpretation adopted, the end in view is the same; the Antichrist rules over the reactivated Roman Empire.

 

“And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” Rev 17:11-14

 

Now listen carefully, at times the wild beast signifies, generally, the Roman Empire, but also it signifies the last or eighth head: that is, the individual emperor who is Antichrist. In these verses the Antichrist is designated. He is the “little horn” in the vision God gave to the prophet Daniel. The little horn puts down three other horns, that is, three kings, when he comes to power. Now here is what Daniel wrote: “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.” Dan 7:8, 24 “The beast that was” refers to the past history of the Roman Empire under the emperors. “And is not” refers to the end of Imperial Rome with its global empire, that came to an end sometime between the third and fifth centuries. “Is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven” identifies Antichrist with the return to the imperial form of the restored Roman Empire. He is the “little horn” of Daniel 7. He is not one of the ten horns, but he is separate from them. He is an eighth head in this seven, yet he is one of the seven since he restores the last form of government to Rome. Now that will confuse I know but that is exactly what is being said here in Revelation. “The ten horns” are the same as the ten horns of Daniel 7:7. These ten kings will reign with the Antichrist but will be subservient to him. They willingly or unwillingly give over their authority to the Antichrist and become his puppets.

 

“And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” Rev 17:15-18

 

“The waters” are explained to be the many ethnological groups as well as the nations of the world. This figure is in harmony with that used in the OT. Isaiah 8:7 and Psalm 18 confirm this. The position of the harlot reveals that she is ruling over them for only a brief time. “The ten horns” are ten kings who rule over different divisions of the Roman Empire. They in turn give over to the Beast their kingdoms. This solidifies the Roman Empire and enables the Beast to lift himself up as a world dictator. For a time the Antichrist is willing to share his place of exaltation with the harlot, since she has also sought to advance his cause while dividing his glory. This he hates, and the ten kings are one with him in this. The Antichrist not only breaks his covenant with Israel, but he also breaks his relationship to the apostate church. This hatred against the apostate church is so violent that the reaction is described as the cannibalistic picking of her bones, then burning them with fire! This great hatred destroys the false church. This is what happens to the false church! It has no victory! It never comes into the presence of Christ. It is not raptured. It is destroyed by the Antichrist. In doing this the Antichrist and his ten allies are fulfilling the Word of God and carrying out His will. Now let’s remember from God’s Word that God allowed the Assyrian Empire to take the northern kingdom Israel into captivity and Babylon to take the southern kingdom Judah into captivity because of their sin of worshiping false gods. God’s will was for Caesar Augustus to sign a tax bill that moved Mary and Joseph down to Bethlehem so that Scripture could be fulfilled. God’s Word never fails and scripture will always be fulfilled. That’s what’s happening here. By eliminating the apostate church, the way is cleared for the worship of Antichrist, as advocated by the False Prophet.  “The woman” is a religious system as we have seen. This is a frightful but just end of the apostate church. And it introduces the darkest period for religion in the history of the world. The reign and religion of the Antichrist is the darkest hour the world will know, and yet it is the inevitable end of distrust which began in the Garden of Eden when man failed to believe God. It was given new impetus at the Tower of Babel; that was a rallying place for those against God. And it finally climaxed in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ when man rejected the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Having rejected the truth, the only alternative left for man is to believe the big lie, the strong delusion Paul wrote about in II Thessalonians that we have discussed previously. History will culminate in the coming of Christ to the earth in Rev 19. This is the just retribution of error and evil. Friends as we think about these things we can be thankful that we will be spared from the Great Tribulation; but it should also produce in us a great concern for our loved ones who may be facing this frightful period that lies ahead.

 

Chapter 18

Theme: Political and Commercial Babylon Judged

 

In this chapter we will see the judgment of commercial Babylon and the reaction of both earth and heaven to it. Friends, the commercial center is loved by the kings of the earth; and the apostate church remember is hated by the kings of the earth as we saw in chapter 17. Thus, the apostate church is destroyed by the kings of the earth. And when Christ returns, political and commercial Babylon will be destroyed by the judgment of God. Now chapter 18 begins with “another angel” who comes down from heaven with a message.

 

“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.” Rev 18:1

 

Again we have this very interesting statement, “after these things.” After what things? After the series of sevens and after the judgment of religious Babylon come these things. Progress has definitely been made; through the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the seven personages, and the seven bowls of wrath, we are advancing to the end of the Great Tribulation. John says, “I saw.” He is still a spectator. He saw “another angel, which takes us back to Rev 14, where a series of six angels is mentioned, each with the sole identification of “another angel.” This angel is a divine, supernatural messenger of God, but faceless and nameless. He has great authority and this indicates that he has a superior rank to the other “another angel,” and he is bringing an important message. The fact that “the earth was lightened with his glory” is proof of this another angel’s superior rank.

 

“And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” Rev 18:2

Now remember the preliminary announcement of the fall of Babylon was made in Rev 14:8:  “And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” The angel here is greater in authority than the one who made the preliminary announcement. The words is fallen, is fallen, and is become; are in the Greek prophetic aorist tense which means that they speak of events as if they have already transpired. Listen, when God says something is going to happen, you and I can speak about it as if it already has happened, because it is going to happen. It’s just that sure. In God’s plan and program it is just as though it has already taken place because He knows the end from the beginning. Both political and commercial Babylon is going to be destroyed. “A habitation of demons, and a cage of every unclean spirit, and a cage every unclean and hated bird.” This indicates that Babylon is where demons of the spirit world will be incarcerated during the Millennium. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah confirm this: “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.” Is 13:19-22 “A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols. Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.” Jer 50:38-40 These prophecies find a final fulfillment in the destruction of literal Babylon here in Rev 18. Babylon is the headquarters of demons and has been the place of rebellion down through the years.

 

“For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” Rev 18:3

 

This is God’s judgment on big business which denies God’s authority. This is an unholy alliance of government and business. The word for merchants means “those who travel.” It is not those who produce goods or manufacture goods, but those who are brokers, engaging in business for a big profit. Business is a sacred cow that nothing must harm or hinder. This is true today, of course. Man uses business as the biggest excuse for having no time for God, yet these same men will one day stand before God. God will judge godless commercialism.

 

“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Rev 18:4

 

This verse reveals that God’s people are going to be in the world until the very end. He is not referring to the church which has been raptured, but we’ve seen that countless thousands will come to God through the preaching of the 144,000 witnesses and they will go through the Great Tribulation. The question has always been: Will they make it through? That is, will they remain faithful to Christ? And the answer is yes! And Jesus is the one speaking in this verse and He is calling His people out of Babylon before judgment comes. This is a physical separation and expresses the experience of Lot before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. As Lot was warned to get out of Sodom to escape the deluge of fire and brimstone, so these people are warned. God’s Word tells us: “When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.” Deut 4:30-31 Now the warning is twofold: First, they are to have no fellowship with the sins of Babylon and second they are to flee before judgment falls. And this has a pertinent application for us today. It should be a warning to us, not that God will fail to save His own from that hour, but that He wants us to be separate, not indulging the old nature, but walking by the Spirit. If we will not deal with sin in our own lives here by confessing and forsaking them, God will deal with it. Either He will judge sin now, or it will meet us at the judgment seat of Christ. God gives us the opportunity of judging our sin today: “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” I Cor 11:31-32 How do we judge our own sin? I John 1:9 has the answer: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” To confess means to say the same thing about our sin that God says about it. It means to take God’s viewpoint and say God, I agree with you. What I did was sin. But the sad truth is most Christians today want to make excuse for their sins. But friends, until you and I are willing to call our sin sin, we haven’t confessed it at all. If we refuse to judge ourselves, we will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ. Just because God doesn’t take us to the woodshed immediately doesn’t mean that He is letting us get by without punishment. If you are God’s child judgment will come to you.

 

“For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Rev 18:5

 

Babylon has a long history of accumulated sins, and God has the record. It is one of the oldest cities in the history of mankind and is probably mentioned more than any other city in the Bible, with the exception of Jerusalem. Finally judgment breaks like a flood upon this city and its system. The judgment of God maybe delayed, but it is sure. It may seem to us that the unbeliever is getting by with sin, but God’s judgment is coming.

 

“Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.” Rev 18:6

 

This poetic justice because the prophet Obadiah wrote: “For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.” v 15. The cup of iniquity is being filled to the brim; when the last drop is poured in, it is pressed to the lips of those who committed iniquity. This is only just. And God is right and just in what He does.

 

“How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” Rev 18:7

 

Listen it is the prosperity of Babylon that blinds her to the judgment of God. Trading was active on the stock market, and everyone bought blue chip issues right up to the moment of judgment. Luxury, arrogance, pride, sin, and self-deception characterized the spirit of this godless city. World peace was in sight and optimism was the spirit of the day.  Only the prophets of gloom issued a warning, and they were classified as those who stand up for God’s Word today are: intolerant and not in step with the times and the world today.

 

“Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” Rev 18:8

 

This calls our attention to the suddenness of destruction and that will be by fire, So great is her grief that mourning is counted as a plague along with death and famine. Death, mourning, and famine are the three horsemen that ride roughshod of over Babylon. The destruction is total and final. In the Scriptures this is the first city of prominence, but it’s long, eventful and sinful history ends with the judgment of God upon her. For strong is the LORD who judges her. It is God who destroys this city because He alone is able to do it. And this is just as Isaiah predicted: “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.

Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.” Is 63:1-4. In His Second Coming Christ is seen as coming from Edom with blood-sprinkled garments.

 

Now we come to where we will see the reaction to God’s judgment of destruction. I can assure you there will be anguish in the world, and we will see who attends her funeral. Also there will be anticipation of joy in heaven because of the judgment of Babylon. Note, that there will be two diametrically opposite viewpoints. It will be bad for one crowd and good for the other crowd.

 

“And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.” Rev 18:9-10

 

The capital of Antichrist will be Babylon, and he will have the first total dictatorship. The world will become an awful place. In that day everything will center in Babylon. The stock market will be read from Babylon, not New York. Babylon instead of Paris will set the styles for the world. A play, to be a successful, will have to be a success in Babylon, not London. Everything in that city will be in rebellion against God, and it centers in Antichrist. No one dreamed that this city would be judged. Yet by the time the sun goes down, Babylon is nothing but a smoldering ruins. When the news goes out, the world is stunned, and then begins the wail. Now remember in chapter 17 we saw that the kings of the earth hated religious Babylon and that Antichrist got rid of it in order that he might be worshiped without any competition in the area of religion. And the kings of the earth joined in her destruction. In contrast to this, here in chapter 18 we see that the kings of the earth love commercial Babylon because of the revenue she brought to their coffers. In fact, it is called fornication, and you can’t find a better word for it than that. All the lobbyists were in Babylon, not Washington, D. C. They were representing all the great corporations of the world. But the kings desert Babylon like rats leaving a sinking ship. They eulogize her with panegyrics of praise, but there is hopelessness in their anguish. They marvel at the sudden destruction of that which they thought was gilt-edged security. The judgment came in the space of one hour, reminding us of the sudden devastation caused by atomic explosions. This is a frightful picture, presented to us, and it is the final conflagration and catastrophic judgment that will bring Christ to the earth to set up His Kingdom.

 

“And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.” Rev 17:11-17a

 

Let’s look at these items separately:

“And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls,”

Talk about a depression; they’re going to have one! No one buys their merchandise or cargo anymore. In Babylon there is merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones and pearls; this means we are in the jewelry department here. Then we move to the ladies ready-to-wear department because we read: and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet. From here we head to the luxury department: and all thyine (citron) wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble.  And then to the spice and cosmetic department: And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense. You know it looks a lot like a markets today because next we go to the liquor store and then the grocery store because we read: and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat. This is the fare of the rich because the poor in that day ate barley. And God is saying to us that the wealthy are eating gourmet food and enjoying luxury until Babylon went down. All that is listed here covers every phase of business. And the articles mentioned are for a society accustomed to the better things of the materialistic universe. Even men were bought and sold including their souls. And the merchants of these things who grew rich by her will stand afar off because of the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas. And God says in one hour wealth so great will be laid desolate. Now we have always been able to find a parallel in the OT. Because in the Book of Ezekiel we find that he predicted the judgment of Tyre, the capital of the Phoenician world. Tyre was to the ancient world what NYC is to us today and what Babylon will be in the future. Ezek 26-27.

 

“And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.” Rev 18:17b-19

 

The third delegation of mourners is those who are engaged in transportation. The great public carriers had become rich by transporting the merchandise of Babylon. But now there is no more business. They mourn because of the depression. And they marvel at the sudden destruction. Now friends, all of this has an application for us today. How do you see the luxury of the world? Do you see it as it really is? Can we use it without it getting into our hearts? How would you feel if the luxuries in your life which you have come to consider necessities suddenly went up in smoke? We must always bear in mind what John wrote in I John 2:17: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof:” Listen to me and consider: Would it break your heart if you saw the things of this world go up in smoke? Or is your heart in heaven, fixed on Christ? The answer makes all the difference.

 

“Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” Rev 18:20

 

The viewpoint of heaven is entirely different. There is no funeral procession there. Rather, there is the celebration of an anticipated event. The saints prayed for it; the prophets of both the Old and New Testaments predicted it. Now all is fulfilled and there is joy because God has exonerated His Name. Judgment has come upon these things. Just what is your heart fixed on today? Let me assure you it will make a lot of difference in that day because you will either be with the mourners or you’ll be with the rejoiceers.

 

“And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” Rev 18:21

 

Even heaven calls our attention to the violence, the suddenness, and the complete annihilation of Babylon. Like a stone that makes a big splash and then disappears beneath the waves, will Babylon come to an end.

 

“And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” Rev 18:22-23

 

These verses are describing for us that Satanism will increase more and more as we near the end of the age. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that it is taking place in America right now. America stands opposed to both the Word of God and the God of the Word. More and more all over the world we see the world’s people being led astray and deceived by those who are in league with the devil; all that is taking place presently, all the deception is leading people to reject Christ and setting them up for the big delusion because they will not believe the love of the truth that they could be saved. And all that is described here will be wiped out by God’s judgment on Babylon.

 

“And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” Rev 18:24

 

This verse lets us know that God’s people get rough treatment in this city because this is Satan’s city. And in Satan’s city God’s people were murdered and God judged them for it. Friends, one of the most widely read books of all time is: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire written by Edward Gibbon in 1788. In it he gives five basic reasons why they great civilization perished. First, was the undermining of dignity and sanctity of the home, which, is basic for human society. Second, higher and higher taxes; and the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace. Third, the mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming more exciting, more brutal, and more immoral every year. Fourth, The building of great armaments when the real enemy was within, coupled with the decay of individual responsibility. Fifth, the decay of religion; faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide people. The oft-heard warning that history repeats itself has an ominous meaning in light of what I’ve just mentioned because this is the track America is on today. We can already see these five things at work in our contemporary culture here in America. The same things that brought the Roman Empire down are in the process right now of bringing America down and one day will be the very same things that take Babylon down. Thank God, the sad story of man’s sin will come to an end. This chapter brings to a conclusion the frightful period labeled by Jesus Christ as the Great Tribulation.

 

Chapter 19

Theme: Marriage of the Lamb and return of Christ in judgment.

 

This chapter ushers in the greatest event that could ever happen to planet earth and that’s the Second Coming of Christ. This chapter is the bridge between the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom of Christ here on earth. The two central topics are the marriage supper of the Lamb and the return of Christ to the earth and one follows the other. Along with this there are two great suppers noted: the marriage supper of the Lamb and the cannibalistic feast of the carrion after the last part of the war of Armageddon.

 

As chapter 19 opens, the voices of heaven become one chorus.

 

“After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!” Rev 19:1

 

After these things here in chapter 19 means the things that take place after the Great Tribulation. And in this chapter it is the Second Coming of Christ for only He can end the Great Tribulation. The great voice takes us back to the worship scenes we saw in chapter 5-7. There we saw the elders, the church, and the countless number of angels all worshiping God. Now a great number of the Tribulation saints have been added to the chorus, and they are going to sing. And this is the first time these tribulation saints will be able to utter the great note of praise from the OT Hallelujah! Hallelujah means praise to the Lord and this occurs frequently in the Book of Psalms. And hallelujah is a fitting note of praise at this juncture in the Book of Revelation, for the Great Tribulation is over. This word occurs four times in the first six verses. The Great Tribulation is over. The church is united to Christ at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Hallelujah, because God is coming to judge, and the wicked are going to be removed from the earth. The Apostle Paul who suffered many times from persecution wrote: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Rom 8:18-23

 

“For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.” Rev 19:2-4

 

It is interesting to note that at the conclusion of all these judgments, those in heaven, who have more perfect knowledge than we have, are able to say that God’s judgments are true and right. If you don’t think what God is doing is right, it is because you, not God, are wrong. Your thinking is incomplete, of course, as mine is. God will be judging the great harlot. This is interesting because when we read about the judgment of the great harlot, representing the apostate church that went into the Tribulation, it says that the kings of the earth and the antichrist destroyed the harlot. Yet here we are told that is was God who judged it. You see, God uses different instruments, and He will even use the devil to accomplish His purposes. Those in heaven are saying, “True and righteous are His judgments,” because the apostate church deserved to be destroyed; it had made martyrs of many of God’s children. Now we also find the church in heaven saying “hallelujah” and they say it twice. Why? Because as long as the imposter of the true church, the great harlot, is on the earth, the marriage supper of the Lamb will not take place in heaven. The anti-church is disposed of first, which makes way for the marriage supper of the Lamb. I believe the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place in heaven sometime during the midst of the Great Tribulation. “And hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.” Believers are forbidden to avenge themselves. It is true that some folks try it, but the moment we would do so we forsake the walk of faith. God tells us explicitly Romans 12:19: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” God will take care of vengeance for you. Now, its natural when hurt to want to hurt back; that’s how our old nature is wired friends. However, as God’s child we are to turn that department over to God. He will not let anyone get away with anything. God judges sin. He does not excuse it. And He will bring judgment on the apostate system. The 24 elders that stand for the church sing Hallelujah. Now this is the last time the elders appear as such, for the figure changes now, and the church becomes the bride of Christ. The church means “called out.” Here on earth the church is the called out ones, but in heaven the church is the bride.

 

“And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Rev 19:5-6

 

A voice came from the throne, saying, Praise our God. Notice that the call to praise comes directly from the throne of God, because the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing to take control of this world. This is truly a Hallelujah chorus and the most profound paean of praise in the entire Word of God. It takes us all the way back to that covenant which God made with David in which He promised that He would raise One upon David’s throne who would rule the world. See II Samuel 7:16. But before Christ returns to the earth there is going to be a wedding, and you and I, as believers, are going to be a part of it.

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage supper of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.” Rev 19:7-8

 

This will be the most thrilling experience that, believers will ever have. The church, that is, the body of believers all the way from Pentecost to the Rapture, will be presented now to Christ as a bride for marriage. The marriage takes place in heaven. In Ephesians 5 the apostle Paul speaks about the husband and wife relationship when both are believers. By the way, he is speaking about those who are filled with the Spirit and of the relationships that flow from it. You cannot have a Christian home without a Spirit-filled husband and a Spirit-filled wife. In fact, I do not believe you can know what real love is until both marriage partners are believers. Note, Paul’s instructions: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” Eph 5:25-27. This is the picture of the relationship between Christ and the church.

 

The marriage of the Lamb is come. Marriage is a marvelous picture of the joining together of Christ and the church. Now notice that the OT saints are not included; only believers during the church age are included. Even John the Baptist designated himself as only a friend of the bridegroom. He said, “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom…”John 3:29. The bride occupies a unique relationship with Christ. You see, Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Remember what He said in His high priestly prayer: “I in them, and thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast, sent me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:23-26. The thing that is so wonderful is that we are going to know Christ, really know Christ for the first time. The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. The wedding gown of the church is the righteous acts of the saints. Now I pray this is not a difficult concept to accept because it is impossible for us to stand before Christ in our own righteousness. Paul wrote of this: “And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Phil 3:9. Listen, by faith we can trust Christ; not only for the forgiveness of sins but for the impartation to us of His own righteousness. Then why does John say that the wedding garment is the righteous acts of the saints? Well, the wedding gown is used but once, but we will be clothed with the righteousness of Christ for all eternity. We, as believers, will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, not to be judged for our sins in reference to salvation, but for rewards. Through the ages believers have been performing righteous acts which have been accumulating to adorn the wedding gown. By the way, what are you doing to adorn that wedding gown? What are you doing for the LORD today? Again let me quote Paul: “Now if any man build upon this foundation (which is Christ) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” I Cor 3:12-14. Gold, silver, and precious stones will survive the fire; wood, hay, and stubble will go up in smoke. Therefore the good works are the wedding garment of the church. See Eph 2:10. Now we all know after the wedding the wedding dress is laid aside. We have already seen that the elders place their crowns at the feet of the Lamb, proclaiming that He alone is worthy. The church will revel His glory: “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” Eph 2:7.

 

“And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev 19:9-10

 

Hear me carefully, the marriage of the Lamb will take place in heaven, but the marriage supper will take place upon the earth. The picture of this is found in Matthew 25:1-13, in the parable of the Ten Virgins. You see, the virgins were not the bride. Christ has only one bride, and that is the church. The Bridegroom will return to the earth for the marriage supper. He will return not only to judge the earth but to have the marriage supper, which the ten virgins are expecting to attend. Psalm 45 gives us another picture of this scene. In this psalm Christ is seen coming as a King. We are not told who she is, but the queen is there: Kings’ daughters were among thy honorable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.” Ps 45:9. MeGee believes this to be a symbol or a type of the church. Guests are present: “And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall entreat they favor.” Ps 45:12 The marriage supper will take place on earth and both Israelites and Gentiles who are invited to enter the Millennium are the invited guests. J. Vernon McGee believed the marriage supper to be the Millennium. Talk about a long supper; this one will last for a thousand years because at the end of the Millennium the church is still seen as the bride! What joy! And the angel puts God’s seal on this scene: “These are the true words of God.”

Now after the marriage of the Lamb in heaven, the next great event is the return of Christ to the earth. Listen to me, the King is coming! But He will not come until after the church has been raptured and after the earth has undergone the Great Tribulation. Now when He comes to the earth, His bride will be with Him, and the marriage supper will be here upon the earth, as we have seen. O’ what a glorious day is ahead of us! If we could only get our eyes off the much and mire of this earth and onto that which is eternal!

 

Return of Christ as King of kings and LORD of lords

 

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.” Rev 19:11-12

 

This is the climatic event toward which all things in this world are moving today the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. Now here’s what I discovered long ago: one cannot read the Word of God and not conclude that God has a plan and a purpose and a program for this earth one that He is following very carefully. The program as we’ve outlined here in Revelation teaches us that there will be the rapture of the church followed by the Great Tribulation Period, and then Christ returns to establish His kingdom here on earth. Now the contrast between His first and Second comings is remarkable. At His first coming they were all looking for a king to slay their foes and lift them high; but Jesus came a little baby thing that made a woman cry. This is how He entered the world the first time, very meek and lowly. But when the world sees Him coming again it will be in great glory and power. He will bring the wrath of God down upon a Christ-rejecting sinful world. The rebellion of Satan, demons, and men is contained, put down, and judged. Jesus Christ will put down all unrighteousness before He sets up His righteous kingdom here on earth!

Now remember heaven is opened in Rev 4:1 to let John, as a representative of the church, enter heaven where he sees the elders, that’s representative of the church already there. And here in chapter 19 we see heaven opens to let Christ exit. Now the white horse He rides on is the animal of war. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem He rode upon a donkey, which, though an animal of kings, denoted peace, not war. He is called Faithful because He has come to execute the long-time program of God. Remember the scoffer said, “Where is the sign of His coming?” There is no sign at this point – He is here. He has made good. He is Faithful. He is the only One you or I can trust. He is called True for He is inherently true. He is not one who just tells the truth; He is the bureau of standards of truth. He is the Truth. This is what makes Him so wonderful to trust in, especially in a day when everything is so slanted and spun. He has come to judge and make war; not to die on the cross again!  The Bible says, “Now His eyes were as a flame of fire” back in Ch 1:14 they were as a flame, as He walked among His churches, judging them. But now there is a difference; Hs eyes are a flame of fire because He has come to judge the earth and put down all unrighteousness. “Upon His head were many crowns this indicates that He will be the sole ruler on earth and His rulership is going to be a dictatorship. Now listen, if you don’t love the Lord Jesus Christ and you enter that period when He returns and sets up His kingdom it is going to be the most uncomfortable time of your life. Listen to me a chicken won’t peep, a rooster won’t crow, and a man will not move without His permission, because He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. “And He has a name written that no man knew” What is the name that no man knew but Himself? He is given four names here that correspond to the Gospels: First, King of kings pictures Matthew’s gospel where Christ is presented as king. Second, Faithful and True pictures the Gospel of Mark where He is presented as the servant of God. And the important thing about a servant is not his genealogy, but His trustworthiness. Third, He is called the Word of God in John’s gospel. What is the name that no one knew? J. Vernon McGee had a suggestion coming from Luke’s gospel where He is presented as Jesus, the Son of Man. In our day the familiarity of that name both in swearing and blaspheming and in being overly free and presumptuous with it; but that is the Name we are going to probe throughout eternity. He is Jesus, the Son of Man. Do you really know Jesus? Well, no man knows the Son but the Father, and here we learn that when He comes, He has a name that no man knows but Himself. The apostle Paul, not at the beginning but at the end of his ministry, before his execution, said: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” Listen to me, the Bible is clear that no one knows the Son but the Father, and one of the things that’s going to make heaven heaven is getting to know Him. He is so wonderful that it is going to take the rest of eternity to really know Him. In John 14:7, 9, we read: “If ye had known Me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him (that is, in the Person of the Son)…”Jesus saith unto him, “Have I been so long a time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?” Then again in that High Priestly Prayer Christ prayed: “And this is life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” John 17:3. Friends, not only are we going to get to know the Lord better in eternity we are also going to get to know one another better in eternity. Because the scriptures teach that we are going to know as we are known. Just as in this earthly life when we grow in our love for Christ, we grow in our love for one another; oh what a place heaven is going to be!

 

The War of Armageddon

 

“And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Rev 19:13-16

 

Notice that His garment is sprinkled with blood and that He is treading out the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of God. This picture takes us back to Isaiah 63:1-6. Obviously this refers not to Christ’s first coming, but to His Second Coming. Now look over at Psalm 2:6-9 read. The fury of His wrath is in sharp contrast to His gentleness at His first coming. However, in both it is revealed as the wrath of the Lamb. The armies in heaven are evidently the legions of angels that do His bidding.

 

“And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.” Rev 19:17-18

 

J. Vernon McGee said if there is one passage of scripture that is revolting to read this is it. You will notice that God included it at the end of His Word to remind us how nauseating and revolting to Him are the deeds of the flesh. Men who live in the flesh will have their flesh destroyed. This is an invitation at the end of the Battle of Armageddon to the carrion-eating fowl to a banquet on earth where they will have A-1 blue ribbon flesh to eat; kings and mighty men of the earth. This helps us understand also that it is a frightful thing to rebel against God because He is going to judge you someday. These verses also reveal the heart of man and how dreadful the heart really is.

 

“And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” Rev 19:19-21

 

Now for the very first time hell is completely opened up. What a frightful picture this is. The Beast and the False Prophet defy God right up to the very last. They dare to make war with the Son of God. Surely, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” at the utter futility of their efforts. It is preposterous that there is such a rebellion of man against God. The outcome is inevitable. The wo arch-rebels and tyrants, the Antichrist and the False Prophet, have the questionable distinction of being the first two who are cast into hell. Even the Devil hasn’t been put there yet. Listen to me, the Word of God makes it clear that His Word is like a sword- read Hebrews 4:12; Eph 6:17; Is 11:4. Do you notice how clearly this symbol is explained in scripture? The “sword” that comes from the mouth of Jesus is His Word. It was His Word that created the universe. It is His Word that can save you. And it will be His Word that will destroy the wicked at the end of this age.

 

Revelation 20

Theme: The Millennium

 

In the twentieth chapter we are dealing with the Millennium in relationship to Christ, Satan, man, the tribulation saints, the resurrections, the earth, and the Great White Throne judgment. Now Millennium comes from the Latin word that means one thousand. In the Greek it is chiliasm and it refers also to the thousand year reign of Christ. Postmillennialism assumed that Christ would come at the conclusion of the one thousand years. The preaching of this gospel is that man would bring in the kingdom. Back at the beginning of the 20th century it looked as though there would be a great worldwide turning to Christ and the world would be converted. This viewpoint has become obsolete as it could not weather the first half of the 20th century that produced two world wars, a global depression, the rise of communism, and the atom bomb. Amillennialism has become popular in recent years and has largely supplanted postmillennialism. The addition of the prefix ‘a’ simply negates the belief in the Millennium. Amillennialism holds out no false optimism and has, for the most part, emphasized the coming of Christ. Its chief weakness though is that it spiritualizes the thousand years, as it does all of the Book of Revelation. That means that most amillennialist fit the Millennium into the present age, and all the events recorded in Revelation are somehow fitted into the facts of history like pieces are fitted in a crazy quilt, was how McGee put it. Premillennialism on the contrary, takes Rev 20 at face value, as it does all the Book of Revelation, applying the literalist interpretation unless the context instructs otherwise. Let me cite the example we gave from Rev 19:15 where it says that, when the LORD comes, out of His mouth goes a sharp two-edged sword. Does this mean a literal sword goes out of His mouth? I believe Scripture makes it very clear that the sword is the Word of God. Paul writes, Ephesians 6:17, “And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” With that kind of instruction we cannot misunderstand what John is talking about, but you must have a scriptural reason for your interpretation. No one can spiritualize scripture on any basis they choose, although that is the present custom and popular method folks like to choose today. But if we do that we are not holding to the true meaning and teaching of the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, we must accept the premillennilist view and treat the thousand years as a thousand years when Christ comes and sets up His reign. And chapter 20 makes it clear that there can be no Millennium until Christ returns. That means at least three things for us. First, there can be no Millennium until satan is removed from the earth. We cannot have an ideal state here on earth as long as satan is on the loose. Second, the curse of sin has to be removed from this physical earth before the Millennium can be established. Scripture prophesies that the desert will blossom like a rose. Finally, the Millennium is the final testing of man under ideal conditions. This is the answer to those who say there is nothing wrong in man which circumstances and conditions cannot change. Man is an incurable, an incorrigible sinner. Even at the end of the Millennium, he is still in rebellion against God. The rebellion in the human heart and the depraved nature of man are impossible for any man to comprehend. And if we could see ourselves as God sees us we couldn’t stand ourselves. Furthermore, the Millennium is God’s answer to the prayer “Thy kingdom come.” When we pray Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven Matt 6:10; this is the kingdom He is going to establish here on earth and it is called the Millennium.

 

The opening verses of chapter 20 describe what is to precede the Millennium.

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.” Rev 20:1-3

The incarceration of the devil and his total absence from the earth change conditions from darkness to light. He is the god of this age; he is the prince of the power of the air, and his power and influence are enormous; beyond the calculations of any computer. His withdrawal makes way for the Millennium, for with him loose there can be no Millennium. The devil’s relationship to the Millennium is this he is removed from the scene before it can take place. Now, we’re told here, that an angel laid hold on the dragon and bound him for how many years? After that he must be loosed for a little season, is one of the most important statements of Scripture. Why is he let loose after God once had him in chains in the abyss? Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer’s answer to this question is significant: If you will tell me why God let him loose in the first place, I’ll tell you why God let him loose in the second place.” Why did God let him loose? God has a great purpose in it. This is the great problem of evil: Why has God permitted it? The best answer I can give is that God is working out a tremendous program that is the mystery of God that is yet to be revealed to us. It will be revealed to us one day but until that day comes God has asked us to walk with Him by faith. Faith means forsaking all I trust Him. Therefore, we need to trust God and know that whatever God does is right.

 

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Rev 20:4-6   

 

Many are going to die for Christ in the Great Tribulation Period, but they will live again and reign with Christ one thousand years. The tribulation saints are going to trade in 3 ½ years for 1000. Those 3 ½ years are going to be rugged and terrible, but the 1000 years will be wonderful. Image living and reigning with Christ on the earth! This prophecy is like any other prophecy in Scripture: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” II Peter 1:20 That is one cannot just lift out a verse of scripture and base a doctrine on it; you need to have the corroboration of other scriptures. That means that the thrones are literal; the martyrs are literal; Jesus is literal; the Word of God is literal; the mark of the Beast is literal; their foreheads and their hands are literal; and the 1000 years is literal. Now the Greek word for resurrection means to stand up, a bodily resurrection. This is the word used by Paul in I Corinthians 15 for the resurrection of Christ and believers. “And I saw thrones, and they that sat upon them,” ; who are they? I believe they to be the saved of all ages; the total number of folks who have part in the first resurrection. Now the first resurrection began with the resurrection of Christ. Then we see from scripture that it is followed by the rapture of the church when God calls His bride home to heaven to be with Him. Then comes the Great Tribulation Period. And at the end of the Great Tribulation Period we have the resurrection of the tribulation saints (the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the Word of God; and whosoever worshiped not the wild beast) and the OT saints according to Daniel 12:1-2. The tribulation saints and the OT saints will reign on this earth with Christ. The church, where is she? The church is the bride of Christ and we will reside in the New Jerusalem where we will reign with Him from that exalted place. And when Christ commutes back and forth from the New Jerusalem to earth we will travel with Him. And David will be Christ’s vicegerent here on earth. Multitudes of both Israel and Gentiles will enter the kingdom in natural bodies, not having died. These are the ones, together with those who are born during the Millennium, who are tested during this millennial period. As Christ in a glorified body mingled with His apostles and followers, so the church in glorified bodies will mingle with the multitudes in their natural bodies here on earth.  The priests of God, refers to the whole nation of Israel. This was God’s original purpose for Israel: “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” Ex 19:6 In Scripture there is more prophecy on the Millennium than of any other period. The kingdom was the theme of the OT prophets.

 

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them..” Rev 20:7-9

 

Here is the last rebellion of Satan and man against God. The Millennium is a time of testing of man under ideal conditions, as this passage demonstrates. As soon as Satan is released, a great company, who have been under the personal reign of Christ under ideal circumstances, goes over to Satan. From where did such a company come is a worthy question? The answer lies in the fact that not only do multitudes enter the Millennium, but multitudes are born during the Millennium according to Is 11:6; 65:20. This will be the time of the earth’s greatest population explosion. Disease will be eliminated. Since the curse of sin will be removed from the physical earth, it will produce enough foodstuffs to feed its greatest population. The human heart alone remains unchanged under these conditions, and many will turn their backs on God and go after Satan. Seems unbelievable doesn’t it? But Jeremiah said it best friends: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  Jer 17:9. You and I really don’t know just how vile we are. We just cannot bring our old nature into subjection to God. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Rom 8:7 But let us understand this: these folks will live under ideal conditions during the 1000 year reign of Christ, and they will get tired of it. Because when Christ reigns He is going to be a dictator and they better stay in line or else. And they do not like to stay in line; therefore, when the opportunity to rebel is offered to them they will take it. And once again the nations of the earth will come under the spell of Satan.  The rebellion is labeled Gog and Magog and if you remember we have seen this before. When the Antichrist broke his false peace with Israel and showed his hand in the midst of the Great Tribulation; we saw the destruction of Gog and Magog a reference to the nations of the world at Armageddon. We have passed through a similar situation with WWI and WWII. So what is being described for us here in Revelation is Gog and Magog II. Although the names are the same, this is a different war, the last rebellion of Satan. In v 9 we see that God once again uses natural forces to destroy Satan’s armies. This last resistance is just as foolish as man’s first rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Here it is the end of man’s rebellion and disobedience against God. Nothing now remains but the final judgment.

 

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Rev 20:10

 

This most solemn of statements should bring great relief to God’s child. For both his and God’s enemy has been brought to permanent justice. Now there are several popular notions that we need to address here that this verse contradicts. First, the devil is not in hell today. He is the prince of the power of the air. He is the one who controls the world to a large extent. God has limited him in our day; the Holy Spirit and the church help hold him back, but remember when the church is raptured and the Holy Spirit is removed the devil will have his heyday during the Great Tribulation Period. Second, the devil is not the first one cast into hell. The Beast and the False Prophet precede him by 1000 years. Finally, hell is described as a lake of fire and brimstone. The Lord Jesus is the one who gave the most solemn description of hell. Consider these scriptures: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” Matt 25:41; “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt 8:12. This ought to make anyone stop and think: How can hell be outer darkness and a literal fire? Jesus also said: “And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matt 13:42. “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:44. Well fire is the best symbol that could be used of the reality that hell is. For instance, how are sins men committed in the spirit to be punished in the body? I believe that to be in outer darkness and the abyss is to be separated from God and to look back upon a life that was misspent in this world. On the other hand, fire is a very weak symbol of what it means to be lost, to be separated from God for eternity. You cannot reduce these descriptions to something less than the reality, because a symbol is always a poor representation of the real thing. Nor can you dissolve this into the thin air of make believe. Because the reality far exceeds the description and human language is beggarly in trying to describe the awful reality. Hell is a place; it is also a state. It is a place of conscious torment. This is the language of the Word of God and we cannot escape it.

 

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.” Rev 20:11

 

This is the second resurrection in which the lost are raised to be given an equitable, fair, and just evaluation of their works in respect to their salvation. It is important for us to understand that nobody here will be saved because no one can be saved by their works. Now friends, let’s be honest every man knows that about himself that he wouldn’t dare tell his closest friend. But at the white throne judgment God is going to bring it out and reveal everything. And the reaction of heaven and earth is in direct correlation to the holiness of this Throne, they flee away. John Walvoord wrote: “The most natural interpretation of the fact that heaven and earth flee away is that the present earth and heaven are destroyed and replaced by a new earth and a new heaven.” This is confirmed by John in Revelation 21:1.

 

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” Rev 20:12-13

 

Each person at the Great White Throne judgment will get a fair trial. Christ will playback your life and when He plays it back you will be able to listen to it. And it is not going to sound good to you, by any means. Are you willing to stand before Him and have Him play the tape of your life back? You will not only hear it but you will see it, do you think your life can stand the test? Thank God for His grace – Eph 2:8

Now the dead are classified as the small and the great. They are all lost, for evidently none have their names written in the Book of Life, because they never turned to God for salvation. The books that are opened are the books of record. These are the books of each individual’s life and each individual will stand before God and be judged on the basis of their works. There will be preacher’s whose messages were false, politicians, great men and little men, who will be judged. And today multitudes want to be judged according to their works and God will oblige them and they will be found wanting because no one is saved by works.

 

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev 20:14-15

 

All who stand at this judgment are lost and are cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. This is eternal separation from God, for death means separation. Death the great final enemy of man is finally removed from the scene. This is where Satan, the False Prophet, and the Beast, and all their minions were consigned. If man will not accept the life of God, he must accept the only other alternative: eternal association with Satan. God never created man to be put in this place, but there is no other place for him. Hell was created for the devil and his angels. The second death means eternal and absolute separation from God.

 

Chapter 21 – Theme – Eternity Unveiled!

 

Eternity is unveiled in this chapter! A new heaven, a new earth, a New Jerusalem, a new era for the church because as His bride we will live in the eternal abode of Christ without the old nature that manifests itself so much today. There will be a new universe and a new universe suggests new methods and approaches to life. New laws will regulate the universe and the entire life-style we have known here on will change. Allow me to mention six changes that scripture declares will take place. First, there will be the total absence of sin, temptation, and testing in the new creation. Second, the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven does not mean another satellite for earth, but rather the earth and all of the new creation with all of the galactic systems will revolve around the New Jerusalem, because it is the dwelling place of God and of Christ. Third, the law of gravity as we know it will be radically revised. There will be traffic between the New Jerusalem and earth. The church will reside in the New Jerusalem. We will have different bodies and the law of gravity that we have known on this earth will not affect us and we will be able to travel between the New Jerusalem and the new earth. Fourth, there will be no sun to give light, for God Himself will supply it directly to the universe. Since God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, that means, in the new heaven and the new earth there will be no night. Fifth, there will no longer be any sea on the earth. Today, approximately ¾ of the earth’s surface is water. Since there is no more sea there will be no more fish to eat and apparently man will be a vegetarian during the millennial reign, and throughout eternity, as he was in the Garden of Eden, and according to Revelation 22:2 fruit is the only diet of eternal man. Sixth, the presence of Christ and God together with the throne made visible, ushers in a new day for man; the new creation. Now let’s take up the first verse here in Revelation 21.

 

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Rev 21:1

 

“And I saw” is the oft repeated statement of John to remind us that he was a spectator to all of these scenes. He was a witness to the panoramic final scene which ushers in eternity. The Scripture clearly teaches that this present order of creation is to pass away in order to make room for a new heaven and a new earth. Matthew wrote in his Gospel that the Lord Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” Matt 24:35. Why you may be wondering? Because the Bible teaches us that the old creation was made for the first Adam. But Christ the last Adam, has a new creation for His new creatures. Isaiah prophesied: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” Is 65:17 and again: “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.” Is 66:22 Now friends, God had promised Abraham a land forever and David a throne forever. Daniel prophesied of “…a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed…” Dan 2:44. The new earth will see the total fulfillment of these prophecies. Consider the faith of the OT worthies: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” Heb 11:13-16. “Heavenly” does not mean they are going to heaven, but that heaven is coming to this earth. This again is what we mean when we pray as Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come…in earth, as it is in heaven” Matt 6:10. Peter wrote II Peter 3:13: “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Now Peter also declared plainly in his second Epistle that the present earth on which we live will be destroyed by fire: “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” II Peter 3:7, 10-11 The chief characteristic of the new earth, as we have suggested, is the absence of the sea. This would automatically change the climate, the atmosphere, and the living conditions. It is impossible for the human mind to comprehend the great transformations that will take place in the new creation.

 

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Rev 21:2

 

Now when you talk about going to heaven, what do you think about? To most people it is just a beautiful isle somewhere; however scripture tells us it is a definite place. It is a city called the New Jerusalem. It is a planet within itself. Listen in scripture more is said about hell than heaven. But here it is and so this should be very important to us. John writes that he saw it coming down from God out of heaven, so that we wouldn’t confuse it with the old Jerusalem. Now the New Jerusalem is the eternal home for the church that has been prepared for us. The Lord Jesus said: “…I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2-3 God could not have given us a more lovely picture than the one we have right here. This passage is the fulfillment of what Paul wrote to the Ephesian church and us today:  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” Eph 5:25-26. Listen, at the judgment seat of Christ, there will be the straightening out and the judging of believers. Everything that was wrong will be corrected. Rewards will be given out and all sin will be dealt with there in this respect: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” I Cor 3:11-15 Now God is simply telling us that He is going to cleanse the church with the Word. The Word of God is a mighty cleansing agent. And so, God is going to cleanse the church so He can present it to Himself: “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Eph 5:27 Now Paul continues on talking about this marvelous relationship between Christ and His church comparing it to human marriage down here. “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Eph 5:28-32. Now friends the marriage relationship is the most beautiful and wonderful relationship. It is the oldest ceremony that God instituted for man. It goes right back to the Garden of Eden, to the very beginning and it is all important. And Paul is speaking here to believers who are Spirit-filled. God is not giving this instruction to the lost world or the average believer, but to Spirit-filled believers. Now not every believer today is Spirit-filled; that is why Paul wrote God’s commandment to us Eph 5:18: “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Friends, this is the only commandment in Scripture in which you and I are required to do something about the Holy Spirit. Now we find another insight here that is difficult to understand, yet gives another insight into marriage. The wife is the same flesh as the man. How can that be? Have you ever seen a beautiful child that looks like the mother and had a mean disposition like her father? That is where they come together; that is where they are one flesh. But it is deeper than that. When a man loves his wife, he actually loves himself. This is true of the wife as well. When she loves her husband, she actually loves herself. And it can’t get any more intimate than that. This takes us back to the time of creation: “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Gen 2:23-25 God tells us they were naked and knew each other; so God describes for us a very personal and very intimate relationship. Listen, marriage is more than an arrangement to live and sleep together. That’s the world’s idea of marriage. But God’s Word teaches that when a man chooses a wife and a wife accepts her husband, they must understand that they are one flesh; and you wouldn’t hurt yourself, your own flesh, intentionally for anything in the world. So God is saying that a husband and a wife are not to intentionally hurt one another because they are one flesh and in doing so they only hurt themselves. This is a great mystery Paul writes, but I speak concerning Christ and the church Eph 5:32. Now in heaven who are we going to be like? Christ. And John wrote: “…it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” I John 3:2. We are going to have glorified flesh like He has. We are going to be One with Him. We are part of His body, and we are going to be joined to Him because He said I go and prepare a place for you…that where I am there ye may be also” John 14:2-3.

 

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Rev 21:3-4

 

We are told here: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men.” Tabernacle means tent. So let’s ask what is the tent? John told us that in John 1:14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” That flesh was crucified on the cross and He was raised in a glorified body. Now we’ve just learned that we too, will have a glorified body and we’re going to live with Him in the New Jerusalem. Now a lot folks talk about going to have so they walk the streets of gold. But is that really important? What difference does it make what you walk on? You see, what’s important is to know the psychological and spiritual values that will be there. And so John writes: “they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Listen certain things that are prominent today are going to be removed. Now note what will be removed: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” Friends, one thing is certain today there is loneliness, sickness, sorrow, pain, and a continual march to the cemetery. And that’s because we live today in the land of the dead; but, thank God He is taking us to the place of the living.

 

“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” Rev 21:5

 

J. Vernon McGee said of this verse: He is going to make all things new. This is more meaningful to me than anything else. I don’t know about you, but I have never really been satisfied with this life. I have found myself frustrated, hemmed in, and have never been able to accomplish all that I wanted to. I’ve never been the man, husband, or preacher I wanted to be. I just have never seemed to arrive and all my accomplishments seem to have a blot on them. But Christ says to me what He says to you, I am going to make all things new. Everyone one of us when we get to heaven will start over and there will be no end to our growth. Remember Isaiah said of Christ: “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end” Is 9:7. If no end then it is constant growth and development. That’s what awaits us!

 

“And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Rev 21:6-7

Believers in their new bodies will thirst after God and the things of God, and they will be satisfied. Jesus is the speaker in this verse and He says: “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” In Matthew 5:6 Jesus said: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” All believers are overcomers because of one thing. Do you know what that is? Faith. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world I John 5:4. And God is the One who calls us ‘my son’ here. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” I John 3:2

 

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Rev 21:8

 

There are several amazing things that we need to take note of about this verse. First, the creation of the new heavens and the new earth did not affect the status of the lake of fire and of the lost. They are going to spend eternity just that way. Second, there is no possibility of sin, which made man become fearful, unbelieving, liars, murderers, and all the rest, ever breaking over the barriers into the new heavens and the new earth. Sin and its potential is shut out forever from the new creation. Third and final, the lake of fire is eternal. It is the second death, and there is no hope of a resurrection. It is eternal separation from God, and I can think of nothing more fearful or frightful as that.

 

New Jerusalem: the description of the Bride’s eternal home.

 

The contemplation of her coming glory is a spiritual tonic for those who grow weary on the pilgrim journey down here. Now the New Jerusalem is really a postmillennial city for she does not come into view until the end of the Millennium and the beginning of eternity. That this city was in the mind of Christ is clearly evident from His words: “I go to prepare a place for you” John 14:2. Righteousness will dwell in the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is the eternal home of the church and this is the city we’re headed journeying toward today. Is your tent pitched in that direction?

 

“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.” Rev 21:9

 

Now what follows beginning here in this verse and going through verse 21 is a description of the city New Jerusalem. We’ve already seen the psychological and spiritual aspects of this city, but the physical description is also worth contemplating. This passage is a description of the adornments which reveal something of the love and worth that the Bridegroom has conferred upon His bride.

 

“And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,” Rev 21:10

 

Certainly this city has no counterpart among the earth’s cities that are built upon on earthly foundation and are built up from that base. This city comes down out of heaven. She originates in heaven, and the Lord Jesus is the builder. Although the city comes down out of heaven, there is no suggestion that she comes down to the earth. The earthly city never goes to heaven, and the heavenly city never comes to earth. Since God is creating a new heaven and a new earth, the galaxy as we know it today I believe will be different. Rather than the New Jerusalem being a satellite that orbits around the new earth as the planets today orbit around this earth; instead Scripture seems to teach that the New Jerusalem will be the center of all things. All activity and glory will revolve about this city, God will be there, it will be His headquarters, and His universe is theocentric which means God-centered.

 

“Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;” Rev 21:11

 

Paul instructs believers to “…rejoice in hope of the glory of God” Rom 5:2. This hope will be realized in the holy city. Man in sin has never witnessed the revelation of the glory of God. The experience of Israel in the wilderness taught them each time there was a rebellion in the camp the glory of God appeared in judgment. The manifestation of God’s glory strikes terror to a sinful heart, but what glorious anticipation to be able to behold His glory when standing clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Two wonderful facts make this city the manifestation of the fullness of God’s glory. First, the presence of God makes the city the source of glory for the universe. Every blessing radiates from this city. Second, the presence of the saints does not forbid the manifestation of the glory of God. Sin caused God to remove His glory from man’s presence, but in this city all that is past. Redeemed man dwelling with God in a city having the glory of God is the grand goal worthy of God. This city reveals the high purpose of God in the church, which is to bring many sons to glory Heb 2:10. The word translated “light” (phoster) is the Greek word for source of light. The city is a light giver. It doesn’t reflect light as does the moon, nor does it generate light by physical combustion like the sun, but it originates light and is the source of light. The presence of God and Christ give explanation because Jesus said I am the Light of the world; John 9:5. The whole city is like a precious gem. This gem is likened unto a jasper stone. The modern jasper is a multicolored quartz stone. The stone, referred to here, cannot be that, for this stone is not opaque.  Jasper is a transliteration of the word iaspis, which is of Semitic origin. Therefore, iaspis could mean the modern opal, diamond, or topaz. The stone is transparent and gleaming, which suggests one of these stones, most likely the diamond. The diamond seems to fit the description better than any other known to man. The New Jerusalem is a diamond in a gold mounting. This city is the engagement ring of the bride; in fact, it is the wedding ring. It is the symbol of betrothal and wedding of the church to Christ.

 

“And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.” Rev 21:12-13 

 

There are twelve gates to the city, three gates on each side. On each gate is the name of the tribes of Israel. This is very striking if you can picture it in your mind and suggest immediately the order in which the children of Israel camped about the tabernacle in the wilderness wanderings. The tribe of Levi was the priesthood and served in the tabernacle proper. The New Jerusalem is a temple or tabernacle in one sense, for God is there dwelling with man. The bride constitutes the priesthood who serve Him constantly. They serve as such in the city and dwell there as Levi did about the tabernacle. Everything in eternity will face in toward this city, for God is there. The children of Israel on earth will enjoy the same relationship to the city that they did toward the wilderness tabernacle and later the city temple. This city will be a tabernacle to Israel. The children of Israel will be among the multitudes who come into this city to worship in eternity. They will come from the earth to bring their worship and glory. They will not dwell in the city anymore than they dwelt in the tabernacle of old. Those who actually dwell there will be the priests, who are the bride. The bride occupies the closer place to God in eternity, and the bride, like John in the Upper Room reclines upon His breast. The Song of Solomon bears the truth of this: “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?...” Song 8:5. She is the bride, and she has come up from the wilderness which is this present world. But the twelve tribes of Israel will come up to the celestial city to worship, three tribes coming up on each of the four sides. They will then return back to the earth after a period of worship, but the bride will dwell in the New Jerusalem.

 

“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Rev 21:14

 

This city has twelve foundations, and the names of the twelve apostles are upon them. The church today is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone – Eph 2:20. When Christ returned to heaven He committed the keys into the keeping of the apostles. On the human level, the church was in the hands of these twelve men. They are the foundation of the church and the church today should be eternally grateful unto them. This is not to rob or does it rob Christ of His glory for He is the Chief Cornerstone, but the church is built upon the foundation the apostles laid.

 

“And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.” Rev 21:15-16  

 

The shape of this city is really difficult to describe due largely to our inability to translate our concepts from a universe of time to the new creation of eternity. But let’s see if we can describe it somewhat. Twelve thousand furlongs is given as the measurement of each side and the height of it. This means about 1500 miles. Scripture tells us the city lies foursquare which would seem to indicate that the city is shaped like a cube 1500 miles long on each side. However, is that how we normally look at things hanging out there in space? Are any of the planets we can see today shaped like this? But God says here in His Word the city is foursquare.

 

“And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.” Rev 21:17-18

 

The wall of the city is for protection. A walled city is a safe city. The New Jerusalem is safe, and those who dwell therein dwell in safety. This city will enjoy the fruits of peace and safety. It will be made up of those who found peace with God on earth, and they will experience the fullness of peace throughout eternity. The walls are a sign that this city has achieved the full meaning of her name – peace. The great height of the walls of the New Jerusalem are but commensurate with the great size of the city. Beauty, rather than protection, is the motive in design.  It is a wall with jasper built into it and is generally designated as a jasper wall. The hardest of substances and the most beautiful gem constitute the exterior of the city.

 

“And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.” Rev 21:19-20

 

The twelve foundations of the city not only have the names of the twelve apostles, but they are twelve different precious stones. The most beautiful and costly articles known to man are precious stones. These stones express in human terms the magnificence of the city. The superlative degree of gems is used to convey something of the glory of the city to those who now “…see through a glass darkly…” I Cor 13:11. We are going to see through it clearly someday. A close examination of these twelve stones in the foundation reveals a polychrome paragon of beauty; varied hues and tints form a galaxy of rainbow colors. The stones are enumerated as follows: Jasper: its color is crystal clear. And the Bible tells us that the New Jerusalem is clean, pure, and bright as a transparent icicle in the sunshine. Next we have Sapphire: its color is blue. This stone occurs in Ex 24:10 as the foundation of God, “…and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in His clearness.” Then comes, Chalcedony: its color is greenish, like an agate. Then we have Emerald: its color is green. Sardonyx color red. Sardius: fiery red. Chrysolyte is a golden yellow. Beryl is sea green. Topaz is a greenish yellow and Chrysoprasus is a golden green; and Jacinth’s color is violet, while amethyst is purple. The foundations of the New Jerusalem are constructed of the flashing brilliance of rich and costly gems. The New Jerusalem is going to light up the new heavens and earth. Everything is going to revolve around it, and the light will come from there. Color today is described to us as dissected light. If you pass a ray of light through a prism, it is broken up into three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. From these three primary colors come all colors and shades of colors. Light is a requirement for color. Where there is no light there is no color. Objects of color reveal color to the eye because of their ability to absorb or reject rays of light. A red stone absorbs all the color rays except red; it rejects or throws back to the eye the red ray, which gives it the color of red. What a glorious city the New Jerusalem is going to be!

 

“And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.” Rev 21:21  

 

Now remember v 18 said the city was pure gold like unto clear glass. We were told at the beginning of this description that this city is transparent. But note this fact: the New Jerusalem has only one street, made of pure gold transparent gold so that even the street will not hinder the light from shining.

 

“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” Rev 21:22-23  

 

God lights the new creation directly by His presence. After the entrance of sin into the old creation, God withdrew His presence, and “darkness covered the face of the deep” Gen 1;2. Then God made use of the physical lights of His universe. But now in the new creation sin is removed and God again becomes the source of light. Today in the spiritual sense Jesus Christ is the light of the world. The Bible says: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12 In the new creation Jesus will be the direct physical light as well as the spiritual light. In the OT tabernacle there was the golden lampstand, which is one of the finest pictures of Christ. in the New Jerusalem He is the golden lampstand. The nations of the world will enter the Holy city as the priests entered the Holy Place in the tabernacle for the purpose of worship. The nations of the earth, as well as Israel, will come to the New Jerusalem as the high priest of old entered the Holy of Holies. Instead of blood being brought the Lamb is there in person. What a picture we have here. The temple that supplanted the tabernacle back in the nation of Israel was an earthly enclosure for the Shekinah glory. It was a testimony to the presence of God and the presence of sin. When sin existed, God could be approached only by the ritual of the temple. But in the New Jerusalem sin is no longer but like a hideous nightmare locked out of the memory closet. The actual presence of God with the redeemed eliminates the necessity for a temple. God is present and sin is absent; therefore, an edifice of a material substance is no longer necessary. The physical temple was a poor substitute for the presence of God. The New Jerusalem possesses the genuine article; God in person. This means that the New Jerusalem will be independent of the sun and moon for light and life. What a contrast to today where the earth is utterly dependent on the sun and moon. God’s light and glory will be manifested in the New Jerusalem.

 

“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.” Rev 21:24 

 

“And the nations of the earth will walk amidst the light thereof.”  It does not say they will live there, but that they will walk in the light of it. In other words, the New Jerusalem instead of the sun and moon will give light unto the earth. “And the kings of the earth bring their glory into it.” as we have stated throughout our study there will be a tremendous amount of traffic commuting back and forth between the New Jerusalem and the new earth.

 

“And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.” Rev 21:25

 

In John’s day when the gate of the city was closed it meant that an enemy was on the outside and that they were trying to keep him there. Now God tells us in essence that the key of the gate of the city has been thrown away and will not be shut.  Since there is no night he says all day. This reminds me of Hebrews 4:16, which says: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” In heaven we will come to worship the One who sits on the throne.

 

“And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” Rev 21:26-27

 

In the New Jerusalem God will accomplish His original purpose for man; fellowship. Because no sin is present God now has a creature who is a free moral agent and who chooses to worship and serve Him eternally. There can be no darkness since the Lamb is the light and present eternally. The gates are not for protection, and they are never closed. Rather, they are the badge or coat of arms of the bride. These gates are made of pearl. And the pearl has been purchased at great price. In the parable our Lord gave about the pearl of great price Matt 13:45-46; Jesus is not the pearl whom the sinner buys. What is a sinner to pay for Christ? A sinner has nothing he can pay. In the parable the merchant man is Christ and He buys the pearl and the pearl is the church the bride. It’s interesting that a pearl is formed by grains of sand that gets into the body of an oyster. Then that little marine creature begins to put around that grain a secretion that before long makes a pearl. The pearl of great price is margarites in the Greek, and if the church has a name it is Margaret. The Lord Jesus Christ paid a great price to buy this pearl. This pearl was formed from His side. Someone has said, “I got into the heart of Christ through a spear wound.” He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities. The church will be for the display of His grace throughout eternity to the absolute myriads of God’s created intelligences. “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:7 In other words, you and I will be on display. They will look at us and say do you see those people? They deserved hell, and the Lord Jesus Christ died for them and paid a tremendous price. That man there he trusted Christ and that is all he had to offer. Now look what the Lord Jesus has done for him. He has made him fit for heaven and made him acceptable in the Beloved. This is the reason the New Jerusalem will be the center of the new heavens and new earth. The Lamb’s Book of Life contains the names of the redeemed of all ages. No one who was not redeemed by the blood of Christ will ever be permitted to enter the portals of the New Jerusalem. There is a gulf fixed between the saved and the lost Luke 16. The greatest joy that will capture the heart of the redeemed will be that of abiding in the presence of Christ for eternity John 14:3. Now remember we’ve been told v 24 that a redeemed remnant of Israel and the redeemed Gentile nations will make regular visits to the city to bring their honor and glory. But they come as visitors to the city only because they do not belong to the church because they were redeemed after the church was removed from the earth at the rapture. So they come as worshipers only. And in Hebrews 12:22 we are told there is also present an innumerable company of angels who evidently constitute the servant class. Now among the multitudes, there will not be one who will bring defilement or sin. This means that this city is far superior to the Garden of Eden where the lie of Satan made an entrance for sin. No lie or liar will ever enter the portals of the heavenly Jerusalem. All dwellers and all tourists are not only redeemed from sin but have also lost their taste for sin. They come through gates that are never closed. And they worship the King of kings and Lord of lords together with His Bride.

 

Chapter 22

Theme: River of the Water of Life, the Tree of Life, the promise of Christ’s return; the final invitation

 

This chapter brings us to the end of the Word of God. God’s final words are recorded here and because they are His last words, they have a greater significance. We are brought now to the end of man’s journey. Now the Bible opens in Genesis with God on the scene: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Gen 1:1. And now it concludes with Him on the scene and in full control of His own. He suffered, He paid a price, and He died; but the victory and the glory are His, and He is satisfied. Isaiah 53:11 states: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

This chapter opens with a beautiful description of the New Jerusalem.

 

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Rev 22:1-2

 

There was a river in the first Eden that branched into four rivers. Although there was abundance of water, it is not called the water of life. Eden was a garden of trees among which was the Tree of Life. God kept the way open for man by the shedding of blood Gen 3:24. In the New Jerusalem there is a river of the Water of Life, and the throne of God is its living fountain supplying an abundance of water. The Tree of Life is the fruit tree bearing twelve kinds of fruit each month. The menu is varied but restricted to fruits, as in the Garden of Eden. “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.” Gen 1:29-30. Why would healing be needed in a perfect universe? Look at the end of v 2: And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Why? If the universe is perfect why do the nations need to be healed? This is a good question, don’t you think? It is also a difficult problem to solve. I have to agree with J. Vernon McGee who believed that the bodies of the earth dwellers will be different from the bodies of the believers in the church whose bodies are like Christ. The bodies of the earth dwellers may need renewing from time to time. This may be the reason they come up to the New Jerusalem, not only to worship, but also to be renewed physically and spiritually. However, the possibility of sin entering in simply is not there. Whatever the reason God says the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

 

“And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” Rev 22:3-5

 

The first creation was blighted by sin, and this old earth on which we live today bear many scar marks of the curse of sin. The new creation will never be marred by sin. Sin will never be permitted to enter even potentially. It was potentially in the Garden in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The very presence of God and the Lamb will be adequate to prevent it. If you remember, it was during the absence of God in the Garden that the tempter came to our first parents. The throne of God and the Lamb are in the New Jerusalem, but we do note the absence of the Holy Spirit and this needs explanation. In the first creation, the Holy Spirit came to renovate and renew the blighted earth: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Gen 1:2. Today, the Holy Spirit is the instrument of regeneration in the hearts and lives of sinners. But in the new creation there will be no need of His word there, therefore the silence of God at this point is eloquent. We’re told “His servants shall do Him service” reveals to us that heaven will not be a place of unoccupied idleness but a place of ceaseless activity. It will not be necessary to rest in order to give the body time to recuperate and man will at last fulfill his destiny and satisfy the desires of his heart. Man will at last see God’s face. This was the supreme desire voiced by Moses in the OT and Philip in the NT. It is the highest objective for living and it will bring to man divine satisfaction. “His name shall be in their foreheads.” Each person will bear the name of Christ and the Bride will reign with Christ.

 

“And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” Rev 22:6-7

 

The important thing to note when He says behold I come quickly is that he means rapidly. This is repeated again in vv 12, 20. It is repeated three times here at the end: “Behold, I come quickly”; not shortly or immediately or even soon. These events we’ve been studying in Revelation began in chapter 4, take place in a period of not more than seven years, and most of them are confined to the last three and one-half years. The encouragement is that Jesus says that it will not be a long period. Then He puts His own seal upon this book: “These sayings are faithful and true” means that no man is to trifle with them by spiritualizing them or reducing them to meaningless symbols. Jesus is talking about reality. And if you will remember at the beginning of this Book there was a blessing pronounced upon those who would read and hear and keep these words. This is not a Book to merely satisfy the curiosity of natural man it is however, a Book to live and act upon.

 

“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Rev 22:8-11

 

John was so impressed that his natural reaction was to fall down and worship the angel. The simplicity and meekness of the angel are impressive. Though the angels were created above man, this angel identifies himself as a fellow servant with John and the other prophets. He was merely a messenger to communicate God’s Word to man, and he directs all worship to God. Christ is the centerpiece of the Book of Revelation, don’t lose sight of Him. “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book”; Daniel was told to seal up the words of his prophecy because of the long interval before the fulfillment of it Dan 12:4. Today, we have not yet come to the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy. In contrast, the prophecy given to John was even then in the process of being fulfilled. For over 2000 years now the church has been passing through the time periods of the seven churches given to us in Revelation 2-3. He that is unrighteous filthy; this is probably the most frightful condition of the lost being revealed here, even more so than at the Great White Throne judgment in chapter 20. The sinful condition of the lost is a permanent and eternal thing, although note it is not static for God is telling us that the unrighteous will become increasingly more unrighteous. The condition of the lost gets worse until each becomes a monster of sin. A frightful thought indeed. On the other hand, neither is the condition of the servant of God static. They will continue to grow in righteousness and holiness. What a wonderful prospect for the child of God we alluded to in chapter 21 we will grow in our knowledge of God for all eternity.

 

 

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” Rev 22:12-16

 

The church today should know this program of God. Our Lord promises that He is coming again. This is His personal declaration and no believer can doubt or deny this all-important personal promise of the Lord Jesus. He will personally reward each believer individually; those in the church at the rapture; and those of Israel and the Gentiles at His return to set up the Millennial Kingdom. No wonder Paul wrote: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:10-14. Again the Lord Jesus asserts His deity: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” He said this at the beginning of Revelation and He concludes with it. Only blood-washed believers have authority over the Tree of Life and access to the Holy City – Eph 1:7-12. “Dogs” come off rather badly in Scripture. This perhaps does not mean that there will be no dogs in heaven, but because dogs were scavengers in the ancient world they were considered unclean and impure. Also, dogs were the designation for Gentiles and Paul’s label for Judaizers according to Matthew 15:21-28 and Phil 3:2. Now this is a very personal message from Jesus to us because He sent His angel with it. Friend, if a person isn’t interested in Jesus down here today, I don’t know why they would ever want to go to heaven, because He is all we are going to talk about up there. He is called the “bright and morning star” to the church. Now the bright and morning star always appears at the darkest time of night and its appearance means that the sun will be coming up shortly. The OT ended with the promise that “the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings” that is the OT hope according to Malachi 4:2. But to the church He is the Bright and Morning Star who will come at every dark moment.

 

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Rev 22:17-19

 

The bride is the church. This is a twofold invitation an invitation to Christ to come and an invitation to sinners to come to Christ before He returns. The Holy Spirit is in the world today, and He joins in the prayer of the church that says, “Lord Jesus, come, come.” The Holy Spirit is performing His work in the world today converting and convicting men. He works through the Word and through the church that proclaims His Word. The invitation to men is to come and to take the Water of Life: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters…without money and without price.” Isa 55:1 The Lord Jesus stood and said: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” John 7:37. This is the invitation that goes out today. If you are tired of drinking at the cesspools of this world, He invites you to come.

 

“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Rev 22:20-21

 

Come Lord Jesus is the heart cry of every true believer. The OT ended with a curse; the NT begins with a benediction of grace upon all believers. Grace is offered to all, but if any man regardless of his merit refuses the offer that’s extended, he must bear the judgment pronounced in this Book.