Category: Revelation Study

7 Bowls of Wrath

7 Bowls of Wrath

7 Bowls of the Final Judgment

Revelation 15:1 (NLT)
1  Then I saw in heaven another marvelous event of great significance. Seven angels were holding the seven last plagues, which would bring God’s wrath to completion…

The terrible time has now come; in the full fury of His indignation, the Holy God will pour out the final measure of His wrath. Revelation 14 well spoke of the Winepress of God’s Wrath; the cup is now full and the obstinately wicked will drink the full measure of judgment. For ages, man has said, “any god but YHWH,” and now, at last the Righteous One can no longer have His hand stayed. There is no more mercy, no more intercession. God, having finally had enough of wickedness and rebellion turns back His hand of mercy and will, essentially say, “have it your way.”

 

The sadness of judgment is that the wicked choose it and this, also, is the sadness of eternal Hell. Those who are there are there because they refuse to have God and instead will only have their sin in its momentary pleasure and then will be destroyed forever in Hell. Were there anything that should bring a tear to the eye, it is this. These last seven judgments are the most severe that man has ever seen.

 

The First Bowl: Malignant Sores

This would seem to be similar to the sores that affected the Egyptians (Exodus 9:9-11) and that afflicted Job (Job 2:27). Note that in Job’s case they were a test and in the Egyptians’ case, it was a judgment. In the case of the final boils it will be both, a test that proves men will not have God and the resultant judgment for that choice.

 

The 2nd Bowl: Death in the Seas

Hearkening back to the 2nd Trumpet Judgment, the 2nd bowl plagues the waters of the ocean. However, this time every living thing in the oceans will die. The waters will become thick as blood (probably mixed with the blood of the decaying former sea life.) The stench this causes will be almost unimaginable.

 

The 3rd Bowl: Death in the Rivers and the Lakes

If life for the wicked was not miserable enough, the 3rd bowl takes the 3rd trumpet to its total conclusion and now, just like what happened to the oceans, every living thing in the lakes and rivers dies.

 

Bowls 2 and 3 are commented upon in Revelation 16:6; the wicked have spilled the blood of the saints for centuries and now God gives them blood to drink. What is scary about this is the fact that there are still 4 bowls remaining and they get progressively more terrible. By the time the Kingdom comes, there will not be much left standing…

 

The 4th Bowl: The Sun and God’s fury

The sun, which was needful to sustain life on earth is now weaponized. That which was a source of comfort (heat, light, etc.) literally has its heat turned up and scorches the earth and the obstinately wicked who refuse God’s grace.

The 5th Bowl: Darkness and pain

This is much more than a solar eclipse. God, who is Himself the Light, has taken away the light of the sun. Many is no longer cursed because of living in the darkness but is now cursed to live in the darkness.

 

The gnawing at the tongue is doubtless to relieve, or rather attempt to relive, the relentless pain caused by the severe heat, drought, and, most probably, dying of thirst.

 

A human can live, without God depriving them of death, for between 3 and 8 days without water. Thus we are left to conclude that that 7 Bowls are either, incredibly rapid and span a time of no more than 8 days or that God continues to deprive the wicked of finding relief through death. Since I do not believe God to be cruel, I tend to presume the former.

 

The 6th Bowl: Euphrates Dries Up & the World takes sides for battle

God providentially dries up the river Euphrates as a confederation comes from the east. “the kings from the east. God providentially draws these kings and their armies in order to destroy them in the battle of Armageddon (v. 14). Their reason for coming may be to rebel against Antichrist, whose failure to alleviate the world’s suffering will no doubt erode his popularity. Or, this may be a final act of rabid anti-Semitism intent on destroying Israel, perhaps in retaliation for the plagues sent by her God. Since the sun may have melted the ice caps on Ararat, flooding the valley of the Euphrates as the river overflows its banks and bridges, the land will be swamped. God will have to dry it up miraculously for the eastern army to get to Armageddon.”
The MacArthur Study Bible.

 

Tetelestai: The Final Bowl and the Great Earthquake

This is the final shaking, literally, before Christ comes. All the world is gathered against God at Har-Megiddo for the final battle before Christ inaugurates the Kingdom. The worst earthquake the world has ever seen hits the planet as God, personally, declares it is done.

 

Final Judgement Begins

Final Judgement Begins

Revelation 14

14:1 the Lamb. Our focus quickly shifts back to Jesus, who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Mount Zion. The city of Jerusalem, where Messiah will return and plant His feet (Psalm 2; 48:1, 2; Isaiah 24:23). In this passage, though, we are probably looking forward to the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22-24)

It would seem that we are, for a brief instant, looking forward, in time, to the moment when Christ has consummated Redemptive History and stands ready, along with His whole host, to bring swift, final, and crushing victory to His enemies.

one hundred and forty-four thousand. These are the same that we saw in Revelation 7. Their presence, here, is, perhaps, the strongest testimony, in the Scriptures, to the security of the believers and the certainty of their salvation.

name. This is conceptually similar and the counterpart to the mark of the beast. It is the stamp that will identify the 144,000 as belonging to God. Those with the Name of the Lamb and of God on their forehead are marked out for total redemption in the same way that those with the Mark of the Beast are marked out for total destruction.

14:3 new song. The song of redemption, which is being sung by these redeemed saints in one gigantic choir. They are rejoicing over the accomplishment of God’s entire redemptive work before Christ’s return (Psalm 33:1-3; 40:3; 96:1; 144:9, 10; 149; Luke 15:10;). It is interesting that John does not share the lyrics to this song suggesting that it goes beyond just being special and is a unique hymn not available to the other redeemed.

the four living creatures and the elders. Here we have one of the most beautiful scenes in Revelation. As the song plays out, the 4 special angels who are attendant upon the Throne and the Raptured Church (the Elders) fall down in worship, having seen God do all He said He would do and thus getting justly deserved praise.

14:4 not been defiled with women. (Note from New Interpreters Study Bible) By depicting the redeemed as males who have not defiled themselves with women, John uses OT imagery to represent the church as God’s victorious army. “Defile” does not suggest that either women or sex is “dirty.” John here speaks of ritual defilement and of ceremonial purity. One might think of the way we in the nuclear age speak of “contaminated” objects that have been exposed to powerful radiation. John stands in the Hebrew tradition, which regarded sex, fertility, and all associated with them as potent with the mysterious power of life (cf. the regulations for the ritual containment of the power of menstrual blood, which “defiles,” in Lev 15:19-31). Because these forces are so powerful, they must be ritually insulated from normal life. The same was true of the Scripture, which was said to “defile the hands.” Persons engaged in special occupations or missions, such as the priesthood or God’s army, were expected to refrain from sex during the time of their ser vice, not for moralistic reasons, but to insulate the sacred service from other powers (Deut 20:1-9; 23:9-10; 1 Sam 21:5). Since John pictures the church as the army of God—as in 7:1-8 the word thousands here conjures up military units—and as priests (1:6; 5:10), the church is therefore pictured as a community of chaste “virgins.” Another of John’s images for the church is that of the ideal prophetic community (see 11:1-13). Since in early Christianity prophets lived a somewhat ascetic lifestyle, leaving home and family and traveling wherever needed in the service of Christ, here the whole church is presented as virgins that follow the Lamb wherever he goes. Virgin also connotes the pure bride of Christ, in contrast to the harlotry with which idolatry was equated (cf. 21:2 with 17:1). All these converging and overlapping symbols that characterize the nature of the church are suggested by John’s evocative language.

follow the Lamb. The victorious 144,000 are unwaveringly loyal to Him, whatever the cost (Matthew 16:24; Mark 10:21; Luke 9:23; John 10:27; 12:26; 14:15).

14:6 midheaven. From a Gr. term denoting the point in the noonday sky where the sun reaches its zenith. This is the highest and brightest point, where all can see and hear.

an eternal gospel. The angel is preaching the good news concerning eternal life and entrance into the kingdom of God (cf. Matthew 24:14; 1 Corinthians 15:1-10). He is urging the people of the world to change their allegiance from the beast to the Lamb. It is also called in the NT the gospel of God, the gospel of grace, the gospel of Christ, the gospel of peace, the glorious gospel, and the gospel of the kingdom. It is good news that God saves by the forgiveness of sin and opens His kingdom to all who will repent and believe. The whole world will hear this preaching by the angel as God graciously calls all to salvation.

14:7 Fear God. Not Satan, nor Antichrist. This is the theme of Scripture, calling people to give honor, glory, worship, and reverence to God (Proverbs 23:17; 1 Peter 2:17).

hour of His judgment has come. The last moment arrives to repent and believe before God’s wrath is poured out. This is the book’s first use of the word judgment, a term that has the same meaning as wrath. In mere moments, the Courtroom of Heaven will convene and the final seven judgments, the Bowls of Wrath, will commence. These final judgments are so terrible that if God did not have mercy and shorten their days no one would survive.

14:8 fallen is Babylon. Lack of response to the first angel’s message causes a second angel to pronounce this judgment. Babylon refers to the entire worldwide political, economic, and religious kingdom of Antichrist. The original city of Babylon was the birthplace of idolatry where the residents built the Tower of Babel, a monument to rebelliousness and false religion. Such idolatry was subsequently spread when God confounded man’s language and scattered them around the world (cf. Genesis 11:1-9). Now, finally, what had begun at Babel is completed. Babylon, who led many into whoring after strange gods, is left naked and ashamed. There is no more mercy for her. Having thumbed her nose at God one time too many, the Great Whore is exposed, judged, and destroyed.

wine of the passion of her immorality. Babylon has caused the world to become intoxicated with her pleasures and enter an orgy of rebellion, hatred, and idolatry toward God; she has led many nations to the bed of adultery with strange gods who cannot see, hear, or save. Fornication is spiritual prostitution to Antichrist’s false system, which will fall for such iniquity.

14:9 worships the beast. Damnation is certain for these. In this context, worshipping the beast is both a literal act, as he will have declared himself to be god, and a figurative one. The world essentially says to YHWH, “any god but you.”

14:10 cup of His anger. Anyone loyal to the Antichrist and his kingdom will suffer the outpouring of God’s collected wrath, done with the full force of His divine anger and unmitigated vengeance (Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15, 16). Divine wrath is not an impulsive outburst of anger aimed capriciously at people God does not like. It is the settled, steady, merciless, graceless, and compassionless response of a righteous God against sin.

What you have to understand here, is that in hell, people have finally gotten exactly what they wanted. Time and again they have said, any god but YHWH and His Christ, and so, in hell God has, in His justice, granted their request. They will spend all eternity without YHWH. Christ will no longer be available to them and since He is the Agent of God’s grace and mercy, those are no longer available either.

I do not, for the slightest instant, believe that the people who are consigned to the eternal fire will ever wish to be with God. Yes, they will wish to be saved from the eternal damnation but they will still not want God. It is those who desire Christ and God the Father who are in Heaven, not those who simply desired not to go to hell. The desire to have Christ or the lack thereof is fully remunerated in Heaven and Hell, with each man receiving his desire, Christ or the lack thereof.

 

Both George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde are reported to have said, ” There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” Thus hell is the ultimate tragedy because there is no changing of the mind once there.

 

fire and brimstone. These are two elements that are often associated in Scripture with the torment of divine punishment (Genesis 19:24, 25; Isaiah 34:8-10). Here the reference is to hell, the lake of fire (19:20; 20:10; 21:8).

14:11 torment goes up forever and ever. A reference to the eternality of hell (Matthew 3:12; 13:41, 42; 25:41; Mark 9:48). Torment is the ceaseless infliction of unbearable pain (Luke 16:23, 24), here prescribed for all who are loyal to Satan’s leader.

14:12 This is excellent scriptural support for the doctrine of perseverance, which assures all true believers in Christ that they will never lose their faith. The regenerate will continually endure, right to the end, in obedience to the truth, no matter what may come against them

 

The remainder of the chapter gives two word pictures of the Judgment to come. Christ is seen wearing the Victor’s Crown (Normally a laurel wreath though this time cast in gold) to show that He is the final victor and the conquering king.

A Monster on a White Horse: The Beast from the Sea (Reveation 13)

A Monster on a White Horse: The Beast from the Sea (Reveation 13)

This lesson is a bit of a parenthetical as we look back to the Rider on the White Horse from the 1st Seal. Here, though, John gives us much more detail into the spirit behind the rider and the character of the rider as he describes the Beast from the Sea…

Where does this beast come from? John describes him as arising out of the sea, but we know that this is obviously not literal, so we must ask what this imagery means. In order to properly understand Revelation, we need to understand a little about Jewish literature. In Jewish literature, the sea is a metaphor for the Goyim (literally the nations) or as we call them, gentiles. The beast will come from the Gentile world. However, he also arises out of the abyss. In several passages, we see that the sea is also a metaphor for the abyss (Job 26:12; Psalm 74:13-14; 89:9-10; Isaiah 27:1), so the beast is also from the abyss.

A unique description paralleling the dragon

The old saying goes, “like father like son” and there is no one who will be more a son of Satan than the beast. If you look back to chapter 12, you will see that the dragon is also described as “having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems.” Much as a son comes in the name and likeness of his father, so the beast will come in the name and likeness of his father, the devil.

Let’s consider some of the comments from the ESV Study Bible…

“As the dragon stands on the seashore (12:17), a beast emerges from the sea. This beast is sometimes identified with the Antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7) or the man of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:3–12). Its blasphemous words and demand for worship reinforce the connections between these predictions of a final, future opponent to Christ’s reign. Yet the imagery of Daniel 7 that appears in the description of the beast shows that it represents not only a future individual but also present world powers that wage Satan’s war against the Lamb and his church. Most dispensationalists, and many other futurists, think the first beast (Rev. 13:1–10) is a political world leader and the second beast (vv. 11–18) is his religious counterpart, who enforces worship of the first beast.”

We need to be abundantly clear: The Antichrist Spirit is already at work in the world today, the system of lawlessness that will enable the Antichrist is present already, but the Antichrist (person) is not yet here. The Bible uses the term Antichrist to speak of a person, his kingdom, and the spirit behind them both.

Calling forward the imagery from the prophet, Daniel we see The beast looks like a leopard but has feet like a bear’s, a mouth like a lion’s mouth, and ten horns, and it wages “war on the saints” (v. 7). Thus it resembles all four beasts that Daniel saw emerge from the sea before the Son of Man appeared (Dan. 7:1–8, 21). As those beasts symbolized kingdoms (Dan. 7:17, 23), so this beast, a composite of them all, represents every human empire—Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and their successors—that demands absolute allegiance and trust, enforcing its demand with coercion. To be sure, the beast IS a person, but he is clearly associated with the fallen world system.

One of his heads was wounded as to death but the deadly wound was healed.

Literally, is says the head was slain to death. Talk about a show stopper. In a way which we do not yet know, the beast will suffer a fatal wound and die. He will be resurrected from that death and, at that point, declare himself to be God. Having parroted the defining moment in redemptive history, the beast will declare himself God and demand the whole world worship him. The technology exists today for the entire world to see these events and possibly watch them live. It will be no small wonder when the world follows after him. After all, dead men do not usually rise up and walk.

 

I am purposely ending the study notes, here. I do not want to fuel the rampant speculation and nonsense that frequently comes along with this chapter

Jehovah’s (True) Witnesses

Jehovah’s (True) Witnesses

Text Revelation 11

 

One of the biggest mysteries in the Bible is the identity of the Two Witnesses in Revelation. I have heard them identified as being Enoch and Elijah (the only two men in the Bible who have never tasted death) and the late Dr. Tim LaHaye has identified them as, perhaps, being Moses and Elijah. Further many of my amillennialist friends identify them as being representative of Christians proclaiming (witnessing) Christ during the final days.

 

While I do not think these two are Moshe (Moses) and Eliyyahu (Elijah), spcifically, I do think that they are representative of the Law and the Prophets.

 

There are two reasons for my thinking the Two Witnesses are representative of the Law and Prophets: First, duplicates of miracles of Moses and Elijah and, secondly, Moses and Elijah representing Law & Prophets were at the Transfiguration. Let’s take a look…

 

Jesus as fulfillment Law and Prophets (Matthew 5:17): Jesus specifically tells us that He has come as the fulfillment of the both the Law and the Prophets.

 

Matthew 7:12, containing the Golden Rule, is the essence of both Law and Prophets. Hillel the Elder, a contemporary of Jesus stated that this verse is the whole Law and all the rest is commentary. I would go so far as to say that this is one of the foundational verse upon which the Christian Faith is built.

 

In Matthew 17, we see that Moshe and Eliyyahu join Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Why are they there? The whole of the Old Testament, which was referred to as the Law and Prophets in the days of Jesus, point to Christ. Jesus spells this out directly in John 5:39,

 

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (NLT)

 

The entire story of Scripture is the story of Redemptive History. Central to that Jesus the Redeemer and as Christ is about to undergo His final coronation as King of the Earth, having taken it back from the usurper, Satan, these witnesses point, a final time, to Christ. At the point that they are taken up to heaven in a cloud, the final choice will have been made. Men will have either chosen Christ or judgment.

The Sounds of Judgment: 7 Trumpets

The Sounds of Judgment: 7 Trumpets

Text: Revelation 8-11

This is the 2nd set of judgments in Revelation, beginning at the breaking of the 7th Seal in the Book of Redemptive History. These judgments grow progressively more frightening and terrible as God ramps up the Divine War Machine and prepares to unleash His full fury.

There is some frightening imagery, here but it is important that we do not abandon the Literal Principle here and begin to allegorize the text. Remember, there are NO allegories in Scripture.

1st Trumpet: Hail and Fire mixed with blood is cast to the earth. 1/3 of all trees and all the grass is burned up.
This is quite possibly a comet. If you have ever seen one through a telescope, the description is quite similar to what we have in this text. It is also possible, as Dr. MacArthur points out, that “This may describe volcanic eruptions that could certainly result from the earthquake in v. 5. The steam and water thrown into the sky by such eruptions could easily condense into hail and fall to earth along with the fiery lava (Ex 9:13-25). Dust and gases may so contaminate falling liquid water that it appears blood red. A lava storm would certainly create a blazing fire that devastates one-third of the earth’s forests.”
2nd Trumpet: a “mountain” is cast into the sea and destroys 1/3 of all sea life and ships
While the first trumpet could very well be a comet colliding with the earth, the result of this trumpet almost certainly is an asteroid colliding with Earth. The gasses surrounding the asteroid would ignite due to the tremendous heat generated while passing through the atmosphere.
The unmitigated heat would instantaneously kill every living thing in the impact zone and the shockwave, depending on the size of the asteroid would destroy all life for hundreds of miles. As to the ships, the sea would “swallow them whole” by way of the massive tidal wave an asteroid’s impact would cause. Doubtlessly, the blood red appearance would be the blood of the inhabitants of the ships, most likely ripped apart in the destruction.
3rd Trumpet: Wormwood and the waters are poisoned
It is clear that this is some form of celestial body that is cast to the earth. This time, though, the object disintegrates as it careens toward the planet. 1/3 of all the rivers and springs are rendered non-potable. Now, this is truly frightening; in His wrath, God allows the waters to be struck and absent drinkable water, death will be prolonged and miserable. (Normally it takes 10 days to die from dehydration. In this case, those 10 days will be experiencing continued judgment and the agonies will begin to mount.)
4th Trumpet: Celestial bodies are struck

The sun, moon, and stars lose 1/3 of their power. This would cause a drastic shift in climate (temperature, tides, etc).

Looking to the IVP New Testament Commentary:
“The four areas affected–earth, sea, fresh water and sky–made up the whole of the human environment as the ancients perceived it. These four spheres were what Jews and Christians acknowledged as God’s creation (compare 14:7). Despite the discovery of new oceans and continents, even the exploration of space, these four–earth, sea, fresh water and sky–are still the natural components of the human environment as we define it today.”
To this point, the Trumpet Judgments have dealt with the physical world. The next judgments are brought about by God unleashing demons to torment men and the sons of men.

5th Trumpet: The Abyss is opened and the judgment of locust like creatures

I have heard all manner of insanity in trying to describe what these may be. However, the Scripture is clear that these are demons. In his New Testament Commentary, John MacArthur explains,

“The demons incarcerated in the abyss are undoubtedly the most wicked, vile, and perverted of all the fallen angels. Jude describes some of them as “angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode,” noting that God “has kept [them] in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 6-7). That passage describes certain fallen angels who left the angelic domain to indulge in sexual sin with humans, just as the men of Sodom and Gomorrah attempted to engage in perverted sex with angels (Gen. 19:1, 4-5).”

And John Phillips gives us the following picture,
“Picture what the world would be like if we were to open the doors of all the penitentiaries of earth and set free the world’s most vicious and violent criminals, giving them full reign to practice their infamies upon mankind. Something worse than that lies in store for the world. Satan, cast out of heaven, is now permitted to summon to his aid the most diabolical fiends in the abyss to act as his agents in bringing mankind to the footstool of the Beast. (Exploring Revelation, rev. ed. [Chicago: Moody, 1987; reprint, Neptune, N. J. : Loizeaux, 1991], 125)”

So begins the End of Days…Often we have heard “it was Hell on Earth,” but this time it will be. As the final 3 Trumpets sound Satan summons his most insidious allies to wage the final holocaust of judgment against a Christ rejecting world. Fear though, because even in this terrible trumpet judgment, there remain 9 more, 2 Trumpets and 7 Bowls and each will be more horrible than the last…

6th Trumpet: The Angels of Death are loosed

In certain portions of Jewish and some Christian sects, the angels Azra’el, Samma’el, and Salathi’el. There is no 4th angel associated with death. Note: The names of these angels are not found within mainstream Christianity and the Bible does not mention a specific “Angel of Death.”

These 4 angels are, again, fallen angels, since the Bible never refers to holy angels as being bound. The army that they command is not a human army, that will come in the next trumpet. Rather, this is a demonic horde that is unleashed and it is granted to them to kill 1/3 of humanity.

Before describing the horses, the actual agents of destruction, John briefly described those who sat on them. He noted that the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone. The color of fire is red; that of hyacinth, dark blue or black like smoke; that of brimstone, a sulfurous yellow, describing the rock which, when ignited, produces a burning flame and suffocating gas. Those are the very colors and features of hell (cf. 14:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8), and they paint a terrifying picture of God’s wrath poured out on the sinful world by these demons. These colors are reminiscent of the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the nearby cities (Gen. 19:24-28). {MacArthur NT Commentary}

At that future point in world history, idolatry, mysticism, spiritism, satanism, and all other forms of false religion will become pandemic, as demons lead people into more wicked and vicious behavior. Unbridled, unrestrained, escalating wickedness will run amuck as never before in human history (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13). As a result, in addition to idolatry, violent crimes like murders will be rampant. Bereft of any sense of morality, evil, unrepentant people will imitate the demon horde’s murderous blood lust. Believers in the true God will no doubt be their prime targets, as they lash out seeking revenge for the disasters God has brought on them. (MacArthur NT Commentary)

There is an interlude in chapter 10 and most of 11, a parenthetical of sorts that we will cover in our next lesson…

7th Trumpet: God answers and Christ is Coronated

The 7th Trumpet, as the 7 seals, is telescopic and contained in this Trumpet Judgment are the 7 Bowl Judgments, the final judgments mankind will face as God brings history to its close.

Instead of calling for the moment of the Rapture of the church, as the “last trumpet” does, the seventh trumpet calls for prolonged waves of judgment on the ungodly. It does not parallel the trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52, but does parallel the trumpet of Joel 2:1-2: “Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

The seventh trumpet not only announces consuming judgment on unbelievers, but also the coronation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament trumpets were frequently sounded at the coronation of a king. During his attempted coup against his father David, “Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, “Absalom is king in Hebron”’” (2 Sam. 15:10). At the coronation of David’s true successor, Solomon, “Zadok the priest … took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, ‘Long live King Solomon!’” (1 Kings 1:39). Trumpets also sounded at the coronations of King Jehu (2 Kings 9:13) and King Joash (2 Kings 11:12, 14). {MacArthur NT Commentary}

In chapters 15 and forward we will see the results of this horrible judgment…

Spiritual Israel?? 144,000 and the Salvation of a Nation

Spiritual Israel?? 144,000 and the Salvation of a Nation

Text: Revelation 7

As opposed to simply providing lesson notes, which is my normal custom, I want to address objections and disputations with regard to this passage of Scripture.

Objection: The Bible says not all of Israel is Israel (Romans 9:6), so you cannot say that all of Israel will be saved in the Tribulation.

Answer: The Bible does indeed make the statement that not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel but to imply that this verse means that “all” of Israel will not be saved is specious at best. I heard a sermon from John Piper wherein he says “Israel is God’s chosen people and most of them are perishing, cut off from the Savior, Jesus Christ. And the reason it is a crisis for you, and not just for Jews, is that, if God’s promises to Israel do not hold true, then there is no reason to think his promises to you will hold true. The rock solid security of God’s elect in Romans 8 (Verse 33: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies!”) – this security that we exult in, at the heart of our faith, is worthless if God proves unfaithful to his covenant people. If God does not keep his promises to Israel, will he keep the promises he makes to us?”

Statement of Fact: A number of sound Bible teachers teach that the 144,000 are not to be taken literally and, instead, are a representation of all that will be saved during the tribulation.

Answer: This is an understandable sentiment but it is deficient for 2 reasons. First, there is no reason to assume Revelation needs to be “spiritualized” There are figurative aspects to be sure and they need to be dealt with according to the normal rules of language. Secondly there is nothing in Revelation 7 that indicates that the 144,000 and the multitude are the same. I would argue the opposite is true; the multitude and the 144,000 cannot be the same because one is from Israel and the other is from every tongue and tribe (often times referred to as ha’Goyim/the Nations) and thus the multitude are still more gentiles who are saved.

Question: Is it logically possible that all Israel will be saved?

Answer: That all Israel will be saved is, in fact, a logical possibility. Moreover it is plausible, and guaranteed. 

In two of the sets of judgments, we see the unmitigated death and destruction that the Holy God allows to be unleashed on a Christ Rejecting world. What we do not see, in Revelation, is how many of those who are killed are part of Israel and as a consequence we do not know how many Israelites are left alive to be saved although Zechariah 13:8 states that 2/3 will be cut off and die. We can, then, infer that the salvation of the remaining 1/3 as “all” Israel to be saved is logically possible. As to probability, bear with me…

7 Seals Judgment

Rev.6:3-2nd Seal: Wars on earth

Rev.6:7-4th Seal: Death released. 1/4 of the worlds population to die by plagues, disease, and beasts of the earth

Rev.6:9-5th Seal: Persecution and mass killing of God’s people worldwide

Rev.6:12-6th Seal: Massive earthquake wrath of God.

TRUMPETS

Rev.9:13-6th Trumpet: demons released and 200 million army kills 1/3 of the world’s population.

Some points from the Revelation Teaching Series by another of my mentors

  1. “shall be saved”…salvation by faith in Jesus Christ vs works

Genesis 15:6 Habakkuk 2:4 Romans 4:9 – 5:1 Romans 9:24-26 Galatians 3:16-29

  1. “all Israel”

Romans 2:25-29 Romans 9:6b Romans 9:27 Ezkekiel 20:5, 8, 13, 16-17, 33-44

 

We come to some questions:

  • When will God rule over Israel…when will God be Israel’s King?
  • When will Israel pollute His name no more?
  • When will Israel be sanctified before the Gentile nations?
  • When will Israel know that Jesus Christ is Lord?
  • When will Israel loathe themselves and their tawdry history?
  • When will the Lord purge Israel of the rebels/unbelievers?

 

The answer to all of the above questions is

During the 70th Week of Daniel  (Dan 9:24)

Ezekiel 36:16-31 Zechariah 13:8-9 Romans 11:25-29

“all Israel” are those who believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, their King and Savior

Ezekiel 40-48

Question Does any reputable Bible teacher believe all Israel will be saved?

Answer:

Dr. MacArthur points out that “all Israel” means all of those members of the nation of Israel that survive the Time of Jacob’s Trouble/Great Tribulation.

Romans 11:17- only some branches are broken off, so a believing remnant are being preserved unto/until salvation.

Before all Israel is saved, its unbelieving, ungodly members will be separated out by God’s inerrant hand of judgment. Ezekiel makes that truth vividly clear:

“As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. And I shall bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; and I shall bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I shall enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord God. “And I shall make you pass under the rod, and I shall bring you into the bond of the covenant; and I shall purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I shall bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezek. 20:33–38, emphasis added; cf. Dan. 12:10;Zech. 13:8–9)

Those who hear the preaching of the 144,000 (Rev. 7:1–814:1–5), of other converts (7:9), of the two witnesses (11:3–13), and of the angel (14:6), and thus safely pass under God’s rod of judgment will then comprise all Israel, which—in fulfillment of God’s sovereign and irrevocable promise—will be completelya nation of believers who are ready for the kingdom of the Messiah Jesus.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israeland with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israelafter those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jer. 31:31–34; cf. 32:38)

God’s control of history is irrefutable evidence of His sovereignty. And as surely as He cut off unbelieving Israel from His tree of salvation, just as surely will He graft believing Israel back in—a nation completely restored and completely saved.”

Most importantly, the reason why, at some point, the entirety of Israel looks upon Him whom they pierced, mourns, and turns to Christ is the fact that God does not change

Malachi 3:6

I, the Lord, do not change

Hosea 2:14-20

14“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness,

and speak tenderly to her. 15And there I will give her her vineyards

and make the Valley of Achore a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolishf the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

1 Samuel 15:29

29 “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind”

Psalm 102:12 & 25-28

12 But Thou, O LORD dost abide forever; And Thy name to all generations. . . 25 Of old Thou didst found the earth; And the heavens are the work of Thy hands. 26 Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. 27 But Thou art the same, And Thy years will not come to an end. 28 The children of Thy servants will continue, And their descendants will be established before Thee”

Beloved, I hope this is helpful. Until next time, grace to you.

You Can’t Have a Post Tribulation Rapture

You Can’t Have a Post Tribulation Rapture

In Christian eschatology, the post-tribulation rapture doctrine is the belief in a combined resurrection and rapture of all believers coming after the Great Tribulation. This position is fundamentally flawed and, in my estimation, does not fit with the Bible.

 

  1. The Great Tribulation is a time of judgment and the true Church was judged at Calvary

12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Hebrews 10:12-13

One sacrifice for sin for all time…If your sin was paid for at the cross, it in manifestly unjust to pay for it again in the tribulation.

  1. The Tribulation is the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” and Israel (Jacob) is not the Church

‘Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.

Jeremiah 30:7

Quoting Got Questions Ministries, “In the previous verses of Jeremiah 30, we find that the Lord is speaking to Jeremiah the prophet about Judah and Israel (30:3-4). In verse 3, the Lord promises that one day in the future, He will bring both Judah and Israel back to the land that He had promised their forefathers. Verse 5 describes a time of great fear and trembling. Verse 6 describes this time in a way that pictures men going through the pains of childbirth, again indicating a time of agony. But there is hope for Judah and Israel, for though this is called “the time of Jacob’s distress” (NASB), the Lord promises He will save Jacob (referring to Judah and Israel) out of this time of great trouble (verse 7).”

The Tribulation is a time of purification for Israel during which the obstinately unbelieving will be destroyed leaving the faithful remnant to enter the Kingdom.

Ezekiel 37:21,22 Zephaniah 3:19,20 Romans 11:26,27

  1. The Church is not mentioned from Revelation 4-19

            There is not really much extrapolation needed here. If the Tribulation were, in fact, something the Church were expected to endure, surely the Holy Spirit would have warned us. I would go so far as to say that it requires a dismissal of logical inference to presume the Church will go through the Tribulation.

  1. Revelation 3:10 and tereso oras peirasmou

Tereso oras peirasmou (I will keep you from the hour of testing.) The hour of testing being referred to, here, is the Tribulation and it is Christ Himself who says that He will keep from the hour of testing.

  1. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

Where, exactly, is the comfort in facing the Tribulation?

  1. The Blessed Hope

The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.

1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 Romans 8:23 Titus 2:13 1 Corinthians 15:51,52

  1. There will be a final judgment but the Tribulation is not it

There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works but this is not the tribulation period. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Matthew 25:46 Mark 9:43-48 Revelation 19:20 Revelation 20:11-15   Revelation 21:8

  1. Lastly, the final judgment for believers is the Bema Seat not the Tribulation.

Quoting Got Questions Ministries, “Romans 14:10–12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. . . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (ESV). Second Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” In context, it is clear that both passages refer to Christians, not unbelievers. The judgment seat of Christ, therefore, involves believers giving an account of their lives to Christ.

The judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (1 John 2:2) and our faith in Him (John 3:16). All of our sins are forgiven, and we will never be condemned for them (Romans 8:1). We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives. Yes, as the Bible says, we will have to give an account of ourselves. Part of this is surely answering for the sins we committed. However, that is not going to be the primary focus of the judgment seat of Christ.

At the judgment seat of Christ, believers are rewarded based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27; 2 Timothy 2:5). Some of the things we might be judged on are how well we obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), how victorious we were over sin (Romans 6:1-4), and how well we controlled our tongues (James 3:1-9). The Bible speaks of believers receiving crowns for different things based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27; 2 Timothy 2:5). The various crowns are described in 2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10. James 1:12 is a good summary of how we should think about the judgment seat of Christ: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

 

The Book of the 7 Seals

The Book of the 7 Seals

So now we come to it. Christ has revealed Himself as Lord of the Church and has delivered His 7 Messages to them. We have seen Him as the Lamb who is also the Lion and, now, we see Him opening the Book of the 7 Seals and giving perfect justice. We will see that He came to save and He is coming to kill. Those who refuse to repent, who continually reject Christ, who blaspheme the Father now get what is coming to them in the form of the Wrath of the Lamb….

Text: Revelation 6

From this point forward, we are dealing almost entirely with judgment. However, in the midst of the destruction that has now come from the Day of Wrath, we will see God’s infinite mercy on display in the sealing of 144,000 Jewish Witnesses to Christ, the salvation of Israel following the purging of the obstinately unfaithful, and at least one parenthetical look at Redemptive History as God the Father pours out His wrath, the Divine Son serves as the Father’s executioner, and the Holy Spirit seals and protects those saved out of the Tribulation. Indeed, we shall see the entire Trinity is active in the Final Judgment and the Final Redemption.

6:1 the seven seals. In chapter 5, we noted that Christ was the only One found worthy to open the little scroll, the book which contains both the title deed to the earth as well as the proscriptions for the culmination of Redemptive History. As He breaks the 7 seals that secure the scroll, each seal unleashes a new demonstration of God’s judgment on the earth in the future tribulation period.  These seal judgments include all the judgments to the end. The seventh seal contains the 7 trumpets; the seventh trumpet contains the 7 bowls. If you will remember, 7 is the number of completion in the Bible and so each set of judgments echoes the completion and finality of judgment

6:2 a rider on white horse. The animal represents an unparalleled time of world peace—a false peace that is to be short-lived. This peace will be ushered in by a series of false messiahs, culminating with the Antichrist (Matthew 24:3-5). Some of these false messiahs will, doubtlessly come from within the Church herself in a partial fulfilment of Matthew 24:24. (Those coming from within the Church will precede the Rapture and the false messiahs will continue to come until the final Antichrist) The true Church, however, will resist because it will not be possible to completely deceive the Elect.

he who sat on it. I agree with John MacArthur, the 4 horses and their riders do not represent specific individuals, but forces. Many solid teachers identify this rider with Antichrist, and, although he will be the leading figure, John’s point is that the entire world will follow him, being obsessed with pursuing this false peace.

bow. We know that the bow is an instrument of war, but notice the absence of arrows; This is a bloodless conquering since the world will have grown weary of war. The war tired world will follow the Antichrist in his promise of peace (Daniel 9:24-27).

crown. This word is stephanos. Here is what Strong’s Dictionary tells us: 4735 stéphanos – properly, a wreath (garland), awarded to a victor in the ancient athletic games (like the Greek Olympics); the crown of victory.

It “was given to him.” Antichrist thus becomes king, elected by the world’s inhabitants regardless of the cost, and will conquer the entire earth in a bloodless coup.

6:4 another, a red horse. A blood red horse testifies of the holocaust of war (Matthew 24:7). God will grant this horse and its rider the power to create worldwide war. Antichrist will find his “peace” to be very short lived, but as horrible as this judgment is, it will be only the “birth pangs,” the beginning pains of God’s wrath (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:7, 8; Luke 21:9).

men would slay one another. Violent slaughter will become commonplace.

sword. This is not a long, broad sword, but the shorter, more easily maneuvered one that assassins often used and that soldiers carried into battle. It depicts assassination, revolt, massacre, and wholesale slaughter (Daniel 8:24). It seems as though intrigue will abound along with plotting, counter plotting, and a wholesale killing that even the most treacherous despot would not imagine in his wildest fantasies.

I would like to suggest, at this point, that we begin to see what Total Depravity actually looks like when unfettered by the Holy Spirit.

6:5 black horse. Famine. (Lamentations 5:8-10). Worldwide war will destroy the food supply which spawns global hunger. pair of scales. The common measuring device—two small trays hung from each end of a balance beam—indicates that the scarcity of food will lead to rationing and food lines.

6:6 quart of wheat. The approximate amount necessary to sustain one person for one day. denarius. One day’s normal wage. One day’s work will provide enough food for only one person. three quarts of barley. Usually fed to animals, this grain was low in nutrients and cheaper than wheat. A day’s wage provides enough for only a small family’s daily supply. oil and the wine. Although the point could be that these foods will not be affected by the famine, a more straightforward meaning is that bare staples—oil was used in the preparation of bread, and wine was considered necessary for cooking and purifying water—suddenly will become luxuries that have to be carefully protected.

Note well, that the famine causes inflation to skyrocket. Later, as the final days draw near, men will literally sell their souls, taking the mark of the beast, to be able to have bread.

6:8 ashen horse. “Ashen,”  is the Greek word, chloros,  from which the English word “chlorophyll” comes. It describes the pale, ashen-green, pallor characteristic of the decomposition of a corpse. God grants this horseman the authority to bring death to 25 percent of the world’s population.

Many people think the rider is Death but this ashen horse is, without doubt, Pestilence; famine and pestilence usually come together. It would not be a stretch to think that the global famine will be so terrible that people will eat anything that could pass as food, including rats and other disease ridden animals. Side note: in its definition of pestilence dictionary.com says that the definition specifically connotes bubonic plague and, perhaps it is an antibiotic resistant strain which travels around the world.

Word Study: Hades (Nelson Study Bible)

“(Gk. hades) (6:8; 20:13, 14; Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31) Strong’s #86: The Greek term means “the place of the unseen.” It designates the invisible world of the dead, as does the Hebrew word sheol. All people who die go to Hades because all pass from the visible world to the invisible. The association between Death and Hades is therefore a natural one. Unfortunately, this word has often been associated with hell, a place of eternal punishment. But there is a different Greek word for hell; it is gehenna (see Mark 9:43–45). We cannot avoid Hades, but we can avoid hell, by believing in Jesus and receiving eternal life.”

6:9 fifth seal. The fifth seal focuses on martyrs slain for standing for the word of God and Christ’s testimony, the very reasons John was exiled to Patmos (1:9). These martyrs’ souls are under the altar because sacrificial blood was poured beside the base of the altar in the temple (Exodus 29:12). The martyrs are impatient for the Lord to avenge their blood and to judge all those who are not among His redeemed (5:9). This vengeance will not be carried out completely until 19:2. Its events will begin in the first half and mark the mid-point and events following, in the 7-year period, which is called the Great Tribulation (2:22; 7:14; Daniel 9:27 Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4). The second 3½ year period (11:2; 12:6; 13:5) features the Day of the Lord, in which God unleashes His judgment and wrath on the earth in intensifying waves.

6:11 white robe. Each martyr is given the white robe of the overcomer (3:5) and told to rest until God’s appointed time. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord (see Deuteronomy. 32:35; Romans. 12:19); it will come in His perfect timing.

rest for a little while longer. God will answer their prayer for vengeance, but in His time.

until the number… would be completed. God has predetermined the number of the righteous whose death He will allow before moving to destroy the rebels.

6:12 sixth seal. The force described in this seal is overpowering fear (cf. Luke 21:26). While the first 5 seals will result from human activity God used to accomplish His purposes, at this point He begins direct intervention (Matthew 24:29; Luke 21:25). It is now time for God to unleash the full fury of His indignation.

The previous 5 seals will be precursors to the full fury of the Day of the Lord which will begin with the sixth seal (v. 17). The events described in this seal unleash the seventh, which contains the trumpet judgments (chapters 8, 9; 11:15) and the bowl judgments (chap. 16).  There is essentially a shift, here. While there will be more and more people saved, mercy has run its course and can bring no relief from the escalation of God’s judgments; In a very real sense, at the 6th seal, mercy is no more.

great earthquake. There have been many earthquakes prior to this (Matthew 24:7), but this will be more than an earthquake. All the earth’s fault lines will begin to fracture simultaneously, resulting in a cataclysmic, global earthquake. It is hard to convey the destruction that this event will cause because it is nearly impossible to imagine. To say that this earthquake causes unparalleled destruction would be no understatement. We should also note: An earthquake previously announced the terrifying arrival of the Lord in His glory (Exodus 19:18; Psalm 97:5; Ezekiel 38:19–20), but His final coming will shake both earth and heaven (Haggai 2:6; Hebrews 12:26–27).

moon became like blood. Accompanying the earthquake will be numerous volcanic eruptions; and large amounts of ash and debris will be blown into the earth’s atmosphere, blackening the sun and giving the moon a blood-red hue (Zechariah 14:6, 7). In my lifetime, as recently as 2014 and 2015, there was a lunar tetrad with “4 Blood Moons” and many, who do not know the Scriptures well, thought that this portion of the prophecy was coming to pass or that the moons portended to some other apocalyptic sign. You can be sure, though, that when we finally reach the point spoken of in this verse, there will be no question that it is being fulfilled as it will come on the heels of terrible destruction.

6:13 stars of the sky fell. The word “stars” can refer to any celestial body, large or small, and is not limited to normal English usage. Most probably this is a meteor shower of some form. There are times in the Bible when angels are referred to as the stars of heaven but I do not believe that angels are in view here.

unripe figs. Winter figs that grow without the protection of leaves and are easily blown from the tree.

6:14 sky was split apart like a scroll. it actually reads as receded in in the ancient language. Receded is apechōristhē . The term is used to describe the parting of Paul and Silas from Barnabas and Mark (Acts Acts 15:39). The sky receded causing it to be “split apart” (NASB). At the appearance of the Judge at the Great White Throne Judgment, “the earth and heaven fled away and there was found no place for them” (Revelation 20:11). The psalmist predicted a time when the heavens would “grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them” (Psalm 102:25).

It is easy to read a verse like this and be tempted to go to a symbolic interpretation but I would caution against that. There is no reason to assume a symbolic interpretation; the entire created order is, quite literally coming apart at the seams during God’s judgment.

every mountain and island were moved. Under the stress created by the global earthquake, great segments of the earth’s plates will begin to slip and shift, realigning whole continents. I would not be surprised, in the least, if entire mountain ranges suddenly found themselves flattened.

6:16 wrath of the Lamb. Earth’s inhabitants will recognize for the first time the source of all their trouble. Incredibly, prior to this they will be living life as usual (Matthew 24:37-39).

“In order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding on the source of these disasters, God will open the heavens for an instant, and the people on earth will be given a glimpse of God and the Lamb on their thrones (6:16). Suddenly, earth can peer into Heaven as Stephen did in Acts Acts 7:56. Man sees Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. Men will know they are experiencing the wrath of God, and this knowledge will be even more fearsome to them than the great natural catastrophes they will have endured.” Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987),

The true terror of this particular verse is the fact that men realize this judgment is coming from God yet they do not repent of their sins and neither do they try to appease God.

6:17 great day. The 6th seal commenced the arrival of that great and terrible day, the Day of the Lord, which is also called the Day of Vengence.

There is no more turning back. Sin must be paid for and for those who have rejected Christ again and again, the judgments in Revelation are a down payment on the wrath to come in the Lake of Fire.

The Lamb is the Lion: Judgment begins

The Lamb is the Lion: Judgment begins

Text: Revelation 5

5:1 a book (scroll). There are several possibilities here: Dr. MacArthur has suggested, in several sermons, that this scroll is the title deed to Earth. Dr. Ryrie has suggested that it is the “Book of Redemption” telling the story of Redemptive History (See Ryrie Study Bible notes on Revelation). In the New Oxford Annotated Bible we are presented with the idea that this scroll contains the Divine Plan of Judgment and Redemption.

written inside and on the back. This is typical of various kinds of contracts in the ancient world, including deeds, marriage contracts, rental and lease agreements, and wills. The inside of the scroll contained all the details of the contract, and the outside—or back—contained a summary of the document. In this case it almost certainly is a deed—the title deed to the earth (Jeremiah 32:7)

sealed up with seven seals. Romans sealed their wills 7 times—on the edge at each roll—to prevent unauthorized entry. Hebrew title deeds required a minimum of 3 witnesses and 3 separate seals, with more important transactions requiring more witnesses and seals.

This is like the scroll given to Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:9–3:3) and given that it is sealed it is both unalterable and unknown until God chooses to reveal the contents.

5:2 strong angel. The identity of this angel is uncertain, but it may refer to the angel Gabriel, whose name means “strength of God” (Daniel 8:16). If you look at Luke’s Gospel, we see that the angel who visits Zacharias says “I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God and am sent to bring you these tidings (Luke 1:19).” This lends itself to the idea that the angel who speaks is in fact Gabriel. The only other angel specifically named in the Bible is Michael. I find it doubtful, though, that this would be Michael since he is usually portrayed as a warrior.

5:3 in heaven or on the earth or under the earth. This common biblical expression denotes the entirety of the universe and it is not intended to teach 3 precise divisions.

5:2-4 The scroll awaited one worthy to open the scroll and break its seals, and no servant of God introduced so far—neither elders nor living creatures nor anyone else in heaven, on earth, or under the earth—had sufficient authority to unveil and implement God’s secret agenda. Sensing that the church’s hope stood in jeopardy, John began to weep loudly.

5:5 the Lion… from the tribe of Judah. One of the earliest titles for the Messiah, it speaks of His fierceness and strength, which although glimpsed in His first coming, do not appear in their fullness until the moment anticipated here.

the Root of David. Another clearly messianic title, it anticipates His being a descendant of David, who with devastating force will compel the wicked of the earth to succumb to His authority.

I have an amillennialist friend who believes that this moment pictures the moment of Christ’s ascension; I disagree. It seems as though the logical conclusion, here, is that we see a reverse hierarchy i.e. the potential openers of the scroll are listed in ascending order and no one in the created order is worthy. John mistakenly concludes that there is no one worthy to open the scroll because none in the created order are worthy. Where the angel says behold, I think “wait!” is a better translation. Wait! Look, the creation cannot open it but the Lion of Judah, who is the Creator is worthy.”

5:6 Lamb. Hearing of a lion, John turns to see a lamb (lit. “a little, pet lamb”). God required the Jews to bring the Passover lamb into their houses for 4 days, essentially making it a pet, before it was to be violently slain (Ezekiel 12:3, 6). This is the true Passover Lamb, God’s Son (Isaiah 53:7; Jeremiah 11:19; John 1:29).

as if slain. The scars from its slaughter are still clearly visible, but it is standing—it is alive.

seven horns. In Scripture, horns always symbolize power, because in the animal kingdom they are used to exert power and inflict wounds in combat. Seven horns signify complete or perfect power. Unlike other defenseless lambs, this One has complete, sovereign power.

5:8 harp. These ancient stringed instruments not only accompanied the songs of God’s people (1Chronicles 25:6; Psalms 33:2), but also accompanied prophecy (1Samuel 10:5). It should be noted that these would be smaller and much more portable than what we know as a harp today. The 24 elders, representative of the redeemed church, played their harps in praise and in a symbolic indication that all the prophets had said was about to be fulfilled. Spontaneous praise is almost always the response of the saints.

bowls full of incense. These are golden, wide-mouth saucers similar to those which were common in the tabernacle and temple (Remember that the tabernacle and the temple were pictures of heavenly realities. Incense was a normal part of the Old Testament ritual. Priests stood twice daily before the inner veil of the temple and burned incense so that the smoke would carry into the Holy of Holies and be swept into the nostrils of God. That symbolized the people’s prayers rising to Him.

prayers of the saints. Specifically, these prayers represent all that the redeemed have ever prayed concerning ultimate and final redemption.

5:9 new song. The Old Testament is filled with references to a new song that flows from a heart that has experienced God’s redemption or deliverance (Psalm 33:3; 96:1; 144:9). This new song anticipates the final, glorious redemption that God is about to begin.

purchased for God with Your blood. The sacrificial death of Christ on behalf of sinners made Him worthy to take the scroll (1Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:3; 1Peter 1:18, 19; 2 Peter 2:1).

A note on the translation of verse 9: The KJV and the NKJV translate this as “purchased us/redeemed us” Revelation 5:9 is entirely dispensational

5:10 a kingdom and priestsreign upon the earth. The earth will not always be tyrannized by Satan and destroyed by his followers (Rev. 11:18; 12:12; 13:8). The first heaven and earth, stained by the curse through human sin, will be replaced by a new (or fully renewed) heaven and earth (21:1, 4) in which Christ’s saints will reign in righteousness (2 Pet. 3:13).

5:11 myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands. The number is to express an amount beyond calculation. The Gr. expression can also be translated “innumerable” or “many thousands” (Luke 12:1; Hebrews 12:22). Essentially, this is a limitless host. On its surface, it would appear that the whole of Heaven responds to Christ in an atiphonal chorus of praise. This is the clearest picture that we are given, in the Bible, of Jesus as being the center of everything.

5:12 power… and blessing. This doxology ascribes, to the Lamb, the sevenfold tribute that He is worthy of… power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, blessing

5:13–14

Finally, every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea (Psalm 146:6) offers a fourfold doxology (blessing, honor, glory, might) to God and to the Lamb. Eventually, every knee “in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” will bow and “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).

Divine Worship as Judgment Begins

Divine Worship as Judgment Begins

Text: Revelation 4

Several visions of the heavenly throne-room occur in Revelation, usually preceding punitive actions on earth implying divine sovereignty over all earthly events, for events in heaven determine events in the world (7.9–17; 8.1–5; 11.15–19; 14.2–3; 15.2–8; 19.1–10; 21.3–8; see also 1 Kings 22.19–23; Job 1.6–12; 2.1–6).

 

Overview

This chapter is all about praise to God, the Creator of all. In the first vision, John sees the one God enthroned over the whole universe, praised as the Creator of all. This scene provides the setting for the remainder of the book. Faith in one God is at the core of both the Jewish and the Christian faiths (Deut 6:4-5; Mark 12:28-34; Rom 3:30; Gal 3:20; Jas 2:19).

In chapters 4 and 5 we get a glimpse into the Divine Throne Room as YHWH prepares to judge a Christ rejecting world.

Revelation 4

4:1 Come up here. This is not a veiled reference to the rapture of the church, but a command for John to be temporarily transported to heaven “in the Spirit” to receive revelation about future events. The Rapture has occurred somewhere between chapters 3 and 4. We note that it is not mentioned again until chapter 19 and God is specifically calling John into the Throne Room of Heaven to see:

what must take place after these things. According to the outline given in Chapter one and verse 19, this begins the third and final section of the book, describing the events that will follow the church age. We need to be absolutely clear here, the events which are described in chapter four and following do not concern the Church. This is the time of Jacobs Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) and is for the purification of national Israel.

4:2 throne. This is not necessarily a piece of furniture; it is, however a symbol of sovereign rule and Divine authority (7:15; 11:19; 16:17, 18; Isa 6:1). The Throne is the focus of chapter 4, occurring 13 times, 11 times referring to God’s throne.

4:3 It is unlikely that this is a description of God Himself. More likely what John is describing are the colors he sees as the Lord’s Crown reflects His radiant majesty. jasper. John later describes this stone as “crystal-clear” (21:11). He is probably referring to a diamond, which refracts all the colors of the spectrum in wondrous brilliance. A jasper/diamond would amplify the brilliance of Divine Majesty

sardius. A fiery bright ruby stone named for the city near which it was found (The sardius stone was commonly found near the city of Sardis).

emerald. A cool, emerald-green hue dominates the multi-colored rainbow surrounding God’s throne (cf. Ezekiel 1:28). From the time of Noah, the rainbow became a sign of God’s faithfulness to His Word, His promises, and His Noahic covenant (Genesis 9:12-17).

4:4 twenty-four elders. Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments, and their golden crowns all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed (verses 9-11; 5:5-14; 7:11-17; 11:16-18; 14:3; 19:4). The question is which redeemed? These Elders cannot be Israel, since the nation is not yet saved, glorified, and coronated. That is still to come at this point in the events of the end. Their resurrection and glory will come at the end of the 7-year tribulation time (Daniel 12:1-3). Tribulation saints aren’t yet saved (7:9, 10). Only one group will be complete and glorified at that point—the church. Here elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption (5:8-10). They are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus (John 14:1-4). We need, also, to remember that the term elder is used to describe the Sanhedrin, which these are not, and it is also the title of the leaders of the Church. Since the Elder (presbuteros) stands before God to represent the flock, it is logical that the elders mentioned here are analogous to the Church.

4:5 lightning… thunder. Not the fury of nature, but the firestorm of righteous fury about to come from an awesome, powerful God upon a sinful world (8:5; 11:19; 16:18). Much like a storm that blows up on a lake, this is sudden and severe. It will seem like a surprise to the unredeemed world but to God it will not be a surprise but will come at exactly the time He plans for it.

seven Spirits of God. The Holy Spirit in His full perfection.

4:6 sea of glass. There is no sea in heaven (21:1), but the crystal pavement that serves as the floor of God’s throne stretches out like a great, glistening sea (Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:22).

four living creatures. Lit. “four living ones or beings.” These are the most likely cherubim (sing., cherub), those angels frequently referred to in the OT in connection with God’s presence, power, and holiness (Ezekiel 1). Although John’s description is not identical to Ezekiel’s, they are obviously both referring to the same supernatural and indescribable beings (Psalm 80:1; 99:1; Ezekiel 1:4-25

full of eyes. The description of them as being full of eyes is reminiscent of the seraphim in Isaiah chapter 6. However, while these 4 Living Creatures could be seraphim it is more likely they are cherubim. The eyes are metaphoric in nature; although they are not omniscient—an attribute reserved for God alone—these angels have a comprehensive knowledge and perception. Nothing escapes their scrutiny, hence a description of being full of eyes.

4:7 first… like a lion. In what is obviously intended as symbolic language, John compares these 4 beings with 4 of God’s earthly creations. Ezekiel indicates that every cherub has these 4 attributes. The likeness to a lion symbolizes strength and power.

second… like a calf. The image of a calf demonstrates that these beings render humble service to God.

third… face like that of a man. Their likeness to man shows they are rational beings.

fourth… like a flying eagle. The cherubim fulfill their service to God with the swiftness of eagles’ wings.

4:8 full of eyes. See v. 6

Holy, holy, holy. Often God is extolled for His holiness in this 3-fold form, because it is the summation of all that He is—His most salient attribute (Isa 6:3). Here, again, is why I bring up the possibility that the 4 Living Creatures are seraphim. As in Isaiah, these angels call out holy, holy, holy in what is most likely an antiphonal chorus.

who was and who is and who is to come 

This is the eternal nature of who God is. He always has been (Psalm 90:2), He is I AM (Exodus 3:14), and He always will be (eis tus aionos tau aiono) (Revelation 22)

4:10 cast their crowns. Aware that God alone is responsible for the rewards they have received, they divest themselves of all honor and cast it at the feet of their King.

4:11 You created all things. It is the Creator God who set out to redeem His creation.

Heaven’s response to the person of God and to everything He does is praise. The Church joins in that worship. We join in because He is not just our King, He is our Redeemer and for that, we praise Him

Categories

Search the Bible

Lookup a word or passage in the Bible


BibleGateway.com
Include this form on your page

Daily Dose of Bible

Reformed Bible Teaching