Category: Revelation Study

ptōcheia (word wealth)

ptōcheia (word wealth)

Revelation 2:9  brings us to consider poverty in the New Testament Context

ptōcheia (poverty); Strong’s #4432: From a root meaning “to cower.” The word indicates a state of abject poverty, destitution, indigence, and affliction, and is used three times. In the NT it describes the voluntary poverty that Christ experienced on our behalf (2 Cor. 8:9); the condition of saints in Macedonia (2 Cor. 8:2); and the extreme want of the church of Smyrna (Rev. 2:9). The root word means “to cower,” describing the posture of a beggar.

Martus (Word Wealth)

Martus (Word Wealth)

Revelation 1:5  brings us our first Word Wealth for the Boook of Revelation…

Martus (witness); Strong’s #3144: Compare “martyr” and “martyrdom.” One who testifies to the truth he has experienced, a witness, one who has knowledge of a fact and can give information concerning it. The word in itself does not imply death, but many of the first-century witnesses did give their lives, with the result that the word came to denote a martyr, one who witnesses for Christ by his death (Acts 22:20; Rev. 2:13; 17:6).

The Conquering Imitator Part 1: Introducing the Antichrist

The Conquering Imitator Part 1: Introducing the Antichrist

Antichrists

  • There will be many who claim to speak for Christ but do not in truth (Matthew 24:5)
  • Some will have miraculous powers/manifestations to deceive (Matthew 24:24)
  • Many, including the final Antichrist, will clain that they are the Christ (Luke 21:8)
  • Antichrists are lawless and deceitful (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
  • Antichrists turn the grace of the Lord Jesus into license (Jude 4)
  • There are many antichrists (1 John 2:18)
  • Antichrists stand in opposition to God (1 John 4:3)
  • Antichrists curse God, speaking many blasphemies (Revelation 13:1-8)

 

 

I have said before, and need to repeat: it is not enough to simply believe in a Jesus, the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventists all believe in a Jesus but he isn’t the Jesus who can save from sin. Even scarier, most of what passes for Christianity does not even believe in the right Jesus- they believe in a Jesus who is a life coach or some kind of genie, not the Sovereign God of the Universe.  You must believe in the right Jesus and in the right manner if you are to have any hope of being saved from your sin.

 

What does an Antichrist look like? Frightening as it is, he could look like you or I. You see, he will have just enough truth to convince you.

 

  • He denies the apostolic teaching of Jesus as having coming in the flesh (1John 4:22 John 7)
  • He is someone who has gone out from us i.e. he has deviated from orthodoxy (1 John 2:19) and leads many astray
  • His teaching makes it impossible to remain in God forever
  • They crept in unawares (Jude 4) which is to say that they look and even sound like Christians
  • Many are in it for riches (Jude 11)
  • They turn grace into license (Jude 4)
  • They will eventually be destroyed (Jude 5)

 

Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals

 These things, the 6 seal judgments must be understood as antecedent to the judgments IN the scroll as the seals must be broken before the book is opened and the Final Judgments revealed

 

The imagery of the “four horsemen of the Apocalypse” comes from Zechariah 1:8–17; 6:1–8. The colors in Revelation correspond to the character of the rider: White, in this case, symbolizes conquest. The imagery here is said, by the idealists and the amillennialists,  to symbolize the Spirit of Conquest. That is true, albeit only partially. Remembering that all the symbols in Revelation point to real events, we are left to the conclusion that this rider is, in fact a real person.

 

Behold, a white horse: If one were to take their interpretive clues more from movies than from the Bible, it would be easy to believe the rider on the white horse is Jesus. Jesus does return on a white horse in Revelation 19:11-16 and He brings the whole Host of Heaven with Him, but this is a satanic dictator who imitates Jesus.

 

I want to point out that I agree with John MacArthur- this is not simply a single person in a single moment in time. “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 (Matt. 24:3–5).” What we must realize is that the rider on the white horse is the final culmination of a host of antichrist persons into one final Antichrist.

 

He rules (a crown was given). Though all authority in Heaven and Earth is given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18) this imitator is granted the usurpation of the authority on Earth for a season. He rules with a bow, not a sword; and he exercises dominion over the earth (went out conquering and to conquer).  Notice that the rider has a weapon of war but the absence of the mention of arrows suggests a bloodless conquering.

 

I would like to suggest to you that he rises to power in short order following the Rapture through convincing a world in chaos following the disappearance of millions of believers that he is able to solve their problems and restore peace and economic prosperity.

 

But the results of his rule, as described in the following verses, show clearly that this is not the reign of Jesus.

 

“The whole context and character of these seals absolutely forbid our thinking of this rider being the Lord Jesus, as so many affirm. His reign shall not bring war, famine, and strife in its train.” (Jennings)

 

He went out conquering and to conquer: Taking this to be the final satanic dictator over men, we see that he will be more terrible than all previous dictators were. He will rule over men as a false messiah, and lead man in organized rebellion against God, in the pattern of Nimrod, his first predecessor. He is the one often called the antichrist.

 

The idea of a satanic dictator over men goes back all the way to Nimrod, the ruler over Babel in Genesis 10:8-14, where it says he was a mighty hunter before the LORD. This has the sense that he was a mighty hunter of men, and that this was offensive to the face of God.

The Wrath to Come (Various Scripture)

The Wrath to Come (Various Scripture)

Why preach wrath?

First, the holy character of God demands it. An essential part of God’s moral perfection is His hatred of sin. A.W. Pink asserts, “The wrath of God is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin.” God is “a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29) who “feels indignation every day” (Ps. 7:11) toward the wicked. God has “hated wickedness” (45:7) and is angered toward all that is contrary to His perfect character. He will, therefore, “destroy” (5:6) sinners in the Day of Judgment.

Second, the ministry of the prophets demands it. The prophets of old frequently proclaimed that their hearers, because of their continual wickedness, were storing up for themselves the wrath of God (Jer. 4:4). In the Old Testament, more than twenty words are used to describe the wrath of God, and these words are used in their various forms a total of 580 times. Time and again, the prophets spoke with vivid imagery to describe God’s wrath unleashed upon wickedness. The last of the prophets, John the Baptist, spoke of “the wrath to come” (Matt. 3:7). From Moses to the forerunner of Christ, there was a continual strain of warning to the impenitent of the divine fury that awaits.

Third, the preaching of Christ demands it. Ironically, Jesus had more to say about divine wrath than anyone else in the Bible. Our Lord spoke about God’s wrath more than He spoke of God’s love. Jesus warned about “fiery hell” (Matt. 5:22) and eternal “destruction” (7:13) where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (8:12). Simply put, Jesus was a hellfire and damnation preacher. Men in pulpits would do well to follow the example of Christ in their preaching.

Fourth, the glory of the cross demands it. Christ suffered the wrath of God for all who would call upon Him. If there is no divine wrath, there is no need for the cross, much less for the salvation of lost souls. From what would sinners need to be saved? It is only when we recognize the reality of God’s wrath against those deserving of judgment that we find the cross to be such glorious news. Too many pulpiteers today boast in having a cross-centered ministry but rarely, if ever, preach divine wrath. This is a violation of the cross itself.

Fifth, the teaching of the Apostles demands it. Those directly commissioned by Christ were mandated to proclaim all that He commanded (Matt. 28:20). This necessitates proclaiming God’s righteous indignation toward sinners. The Apostle Paul warns unbelievers of the “God who inflicts wrath” (Rom. 3:5) and declares that only Jesus can “deliver us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). Peter writes about “the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Pet. 3:7). Jude addresses the “punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 7). John describes “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16). Clearly, the New Testament writers recognized the necessity of preaching God’s wrath.

 

Christians on Hell

It has become common for Christians to describe hell as our freely chosen identity apart from God. Hell, it is said, is not so much where God sends the wicked, as much as it is what the wicked choose or create for themselves. This is the view famously espoused by C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce. Lewis argues that hell is our own self-absorption and idolatry let loose for all eternity. Hell is God’s way of saying “Thy will be done” to us when we refuse to say “Thy will be done” to God. Hell is what we get when we choose human freedom instead of divine salvation. The gates of hell may be locked for eternity, but they are locked from the inside. We refuse to give up the hell within us, so hell is what we get around us.

 

This seems to indicate that Hell is a passive response of God toward sin. Is that all there is? Indeed not; we see images in Scripture of God actively cursing and punishing…

 

  • In the garden, God cursed the serpent, the woman, the man, and the ground. He said to the snake “I will put enmity between you and the woman” (Gen 3:15), and to the woman, “I will multiply your pain in childbearing” ( 3:16). He sent the couple away and drove them out of the garden (Gen. 3:23-24). In this first episode of sin we see the way in which covenants work. Disobedience does not just result in bad consequences; it results in divine cursing.

 

  • At the time of the flood, God responded to the rampant wickedness on the earth by declaring “I will blot out man whom I have created” ( 6:7).

 

  • In Genesis 12, the chapter where God promises to bless the whole world through Abram, he also promises to curse those who dishonor Abram ( 12:3).

 

  • In Deuteronomy 28we see the promise of covenantal blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience. Both are actively sent by God. The curse is not a passive consequence of bad choices. On the contrary, we read in verse after verse: “The Lord will make the pestilence stick to you. . . .The Lord will strike you with wasting disease. . . .The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. . . .The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt” ( 28:21-27).

 

There are even instances, such as the Law of the Sabbath, where a violation of the Divine Law carries with it the death penalty.

 

Surely that is just the Old Testament, though. Don’t we have, in Jesus, the kinder, gentler God? Afraid not.

 

  • Jesus warns us to fear the God who can destroy both body and soul in Hell (Matthew 10:28)
  • Jesus, through the pen of the Apostle Paul, warns that God will give the wicked over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1)
  • Jesus, through the pen of the Apostle Peter, Jesus warns us that the earth is being reserved for fire. (2 Peter 3:7)

 

Is the coming wrath really necessary? Yes; God’s covenant keeping nature demands that He honor that curses in the covenants that He has laid down.

 

5 Types of Divine Wrath

  1. Eternal Wrath– Eternal separation from God – the final judgment for those who reject Christ.  This is going on now for those dead, and will go on into the infinite future.

 

  1. Eschatological Wrath– The outpouring of God’s judgment during the “last days.” (Revelation 6-19).  This wrath is yet to come.

 

  1. Calamitous Wrath – Such interventions as the Noahic Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.

 

  1. Consequential Wrath– the natural results of bad choices.  Whatever we sow, we reap.  This reaping, though passive on God’s part, it still seen as God’s judgment, and wrath, on sin.

 

  1. The Wrath of Abandonment– this is being described in Romans 1, and how God judges individuals, groups, and nations.  We see this type of wrath happening in America today.

 

The wrath of God is an integral part of the Gospel but it is not revealed in the Gospel. Rather it is revealed in the facts of our experience as humans.

 

  1. Ungodliness: This refers to man’s offenses against God. Unrighteousnessrefers to the sins of man against man.

 

  1. Who suppress the truth in unrighteousness: Mankind does in fact suppress the truthof God. Every truth revealed to man by God has been fought against, disregarded, and deliberately obscured. Think about it, when is the last time you heard a good old fashioned sermon on sin? We hear about problems, illnesses, habits, hang-ups etc. but rarely if ever a sermon on sin.

 

God becomes a life coach, your granddaddy in the sky who is just waiting to lavish gifts and blessings on your life instead of the superlatively holy One.

 

  1. His invisible attributes are clearly seen: God shows us something of His eternal power and divine nature through creation, by the things that are made. He has given a general revelationthat is obvious both in creation and within the mind and heart of man.

 

Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God: The problem is not that man did not know God, but that he did know Him – yet refused to glorify Him as God. Therefore, mankind is without excuse. Instead of glorifying God we transformed our idea of Him into forms and images more comfortable to our corrupt and darkened hearts.

 

Nor were thankful: Man’s simple ingratitude against God is shocking. “I cannot say anything much worse of a man than that he is not thankful to those who have been his benefactors; and when you say that he is not thankful to God, you have said about the worst thing you can say of him.” (Spurgeon)

 

Professing to be wise, they became fools: Our rejection of God’s general revelation does not make us smarter or better. Instead, it makes mankind futile in their thoughts, and makes our foolish hearts darkened – and we become fools.

  1. The fact is once a man rejects the truth of God in Jesus, he will fall for anything foolish, and trust far more feeble and fanciful systems than what he rejects from God.
  2. This futility of thinking, darkening of the heart, and folly must be seen as one example of God’s righteouswrathagainst those who reject what He reveals. Part of His judgment against us is allowing us to suffer the damage our sinful course leads to.

 

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions: Paul wrote this from the city of Corinth, where every sort of sexual immorality and ritualistic prostitution was practiced freely. The terminology of Romans 1:24 refers to this combination of sexual immorality and idolatrous worship. The Old Testament, in fact, is replete with images of idolatry being equivalent before God as adultery.

 

Jude speaks of this in verse 4 of his brief epistle- the certain men who have crept in unawares have turned the grace of God into license.

 

John MacArthur on Divine Wrath: It is wrath against sin.  You knew that.  It’s not an uncontrolled, irrational fury.  God is not like a criminal who takes his vengeance out on the nearest person.  It is discriminated.  It is carefully pointed at the unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, asebeia and adikia.  What do these words mean?  “Ungodliness” and “unrighteousness.”

 

 

In Jude it says God is going to “come and execute judgment on all, and convict all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed.”  Three “ungodlies” in a row.  And then it says, “And of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”  Four in one verse, “ungodly,” not rightly related to God.

It refers to impiety toward God.  It refers to a lack of reverence, alack of devotion, a lack of worship.  And it leads to idolatry.  It views sin as a failure to reverence God.

Unrighteousness- When you are not rightly related to God and don’t reverence God properly, then your transactions with everyone else around you aren’t right, either.  And so ungodliness leads to unrighteousness.

All sin, you see, first attacks God’s majesty, and then His law.  And the reason – and I really believe this – the reason men treat men the way they do is because they treat God the way they do.  Ungodliness leads to unrighteousness.  People say, “Oh, what’s happening?  All the murders, and all the crimes, and all the horrible things that are going on.  Why is so man so inhumane to man?”  It’s because he is so unrelated to God.  All human relationships and all human transactions are corrupted.  And we’ll see more about that in the 2nd and 3rd chapter, as well as the remainder of the 1st chapter.

So, God’s wrath is set against sin.  Thomas Watson says, “Sin is to the soul as rust is to gold, as stain is to beauty.”  Sin in the Scripture is called a menstruous cloth.  It’s called a plague sore.  Joshua’s filthy garments were a hieroglyphic of sin.  And you know as well as I how God hates sin.

Interestingly, sin is the only thing God specifically and explicitly hates.

 

All men possess enough of the germs of divine truth and moral law to preserve them from hell, but they’ve halted the growth and development of those by the love of sin. And the wrath of God waits.

 

 

 

The Lion Who is the Lamb (Revelation 5)

The Lion Who is the Lamb (Revelation 5)

Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loosen its seals? This is a challenge no creature can answer because no creature is worthy to open this particular scroll.

No one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it: The strong angel looked through the entire universe to find someone worthy, and did not find anyone worthy to even look at the scroll.

This is testimony to the Sovereignty of the Living God i.e. His Kingship: There was no answer to the strong angel’s challenge because the creation is utterly incapable of deciding or effecting its own destiny. Someone above the order of created beings must determine the course of history – only God can unfold this plan.

 

THE FATHER’S REIGN WITH PROVIDENTIAL CARE AND GRACE

The Baptist Faith and Message connects God’s Fatherhood to his reign over all things. God reigns over the universe, his creatures, and the flow of human history.

Scripture repeatedly affirms God’s providential reign over the universe. This reign begins with his act of creation but persists throughout history. Even after the Fall, God reigns over the universe with providential care and grace. David praises God’s reign over the daily cycle of the sun, “which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat” (Ps 19:5-6). God makes the sun rise every morning. He daily gives all the earth its heat. Another Psalm similarly teaches, “Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity’” (Ps 96:10). God reigned with care by establishing the earth and sustaining its continued existence. This providential care assures us that one day he will fully judge all the people of the world throughout history. One of the final “Hallelujah” Psalms especially emphasizes God’s ongoing care for the universe as abundant cause to praise him (Ps 147). We should praise God because he created the stars (v. 4), he provides rain (v. 8), he provides food for wild animals (v. 9), he makes the seasons pass one into another (vv. 16-18).

The Bible also teaches that God providentially cares for his creatures. We’ve already considered this from Ps 147:9, but it is taught throughout Scripture. It is a major theme of God’s first speech to Job in Job 38-39Psalm 146 similarly affirms God’s care for the people he has created. He provides justice for oppressed people, food for hungry people, and freedom for captive people (v. 7). He gives sight to the blind, lifts the heads of those bowed down, and loves righteous people (v. 8). He protects sojourners, widows, and orphans, even as he punishes the wicked (v. 9). Well did Jesus comfort us, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt 10:29-31).

 

Paul makes the point: God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26). God the Father is sovereign over all things, from the stars in the sky, to the number of hairs on our heads, to the course of human history.

 

John weeps because there is no one worthy to open the Scroll. We might be tempted to look at worthiness in terms of value or ability and while those are part of it, in this case worthiness is to be equated with legal claim. Not one created being had legal claim to the document in the Father’s hand.

 

THE LION WHO IS THE LAMB HAS CLAIM TO THE SCROLL

 

Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah: One of the elders (not an angel) rescued John from his grief, showing him the one who has prevailed to open the scroll. This One was the great figure of Old Testament prophecy: the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, Messiah of Israel and of the Gentiles.

 

The Messianic title Lion of the tribe of Judah comes from Genesis 49:9-10, Isaiah 31:4, and Hosea 11:10. The title Root of David comes from Isaiah 11:10and is repeated in Revelation 22:16.

Trapp says that a Lion is a fitting image of our Messiah, “1. For the excellency of his strength. 2. For his heroical spirit. 3. For his principality; the lion is the king of beasts. 4. For his vigilance; the lion sleeps with open eyes.” Yet, when John turns to see, it is not a lion, glorious in power and beauty that he beholds. Instead…

And I looked, and behold… stood a Lamb:

John uses a particular word here. The word he uses,  “Signifies a little or delicate lamb.” (Clarke)

 

The Lamb is presented in a way both sympathetic and powerful; He is living (stood a Lamb), but He still had the marks of previous sacrifice upon Him (as though it had been slain).

 

When men want symbols of power they conjure up ferocious beasts and birds of prey such as those that represent nations and sports teams. But the representative of the kingdom of heaven is a Lamb, representing humility, gentleness, and sacrificial love.

 

You cannot help but be taken back to Ancient Israel. John the Baptist is proclaiming his message of repentance and then he sees Jesus approaching. At the sight of his cousin drawing near, John utters what has been the message of the Church for centuries, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

 

Saying the Lamb looks as though it had been slain gives us a peek into the vantage point of God the Father. The sacrifice of the Divine Son is always before His face. That is to emphasize the fact that God will not forget the sacrifice. The satisfaction of His wrath against sin stays before Him forever and ever. The sacrifice of the Son, in the fullness of His grace, restrains the wrath of God from consuming the Redeemed.

 

Having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth

 

7 Horns, no doubt arranged in the shape of a crown, picture omnipotence. In the ancient world, horns were a symbol of power. 7 being the number of completion, The image of the horns make a declaration for us: this is not just Jesus, this is Christus Pantokrator, THE CHRIST WHO IS ALL POWERFUL!!

 

7 eyes speak of omniscience-Christ does not just see, He sees it all. The image repeats the earlier declaration of Christ, “I am Alpha and Omega…” All knowledge is comprised of words, made up from the alphabet and in identifying Himself as both the first and the last letters of the alphabet, Jesus is not only declaring His omniscience, He is pointing out that He is the sum of all that is worth knowing.

 

And there it is…The Divine Son is worthy to take the scroll-He has legal claim to God’s Testamentary Document as He alone is Beneficiary and Executor thereof.

 

HEAVEN’S SECOND SONG

In Revelation 4, the song focuses on creation; here the song focuses on redemption…

 

  • The song honors the priceof redemption: for You were slain.
  • The song honors the workerof redemption: have redeemed us.
  • The song honors the destinationof redemption: have redeemed us to God.
  • The song honors the paymentof redemption: by Your blood.
  • The song honors the scopeof redemption: every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
  • The song honors the lengthof redemption: have made us kings and priests to our God.
  • The song honors the resultof redemption: and we shall reign on the earth.

 

Note: The Textus Receptus, in verse 9, reads you have purchased us. The NA28 reads you have purchased a people. It is my estimation that it is proper to say, “You have purchased us, a people…

 

 

Revelation Chapter 5 Overview

Revelation Chapter 5 Overview

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).

Heaven’s Worship Part 2 (Sermon Notes)

Heaven’s Worship Part 2 (Sermon Notes)

4:6-7 Just as the Holy Spirit is seen symbolically in the seven lighted lamps, so the “four living beings” represent the attributes (the qualities and character) of God. Some, like A.B. Simpson, also see the 4 ministries of Jesus (Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, King) as being represented in these creatures.   These creatures were, of course,  not real animals. Like the cherubim (the highest order of the angels), they guard God’s throne, lead others in worship, and proclaim God’s holiness. Four of God’s attributes, symbolized in the animal-like appearance of these four creatures, are majesty and power (the lion), faithfulness (the ox), intelligence (the human), and sovereignty (the eagle). The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel saw four similar creatures in one of his visions (Ezekiel 1:5-10).

 

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 and we can infer that each of these creatures stood with a particular face pointed toward John.

Of course these beings are symbolic of other realities. Each likeness, in this case, is symbolic of an attribute of the Lord Jesus in His heavenly majesty.  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 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.

 

Worship of God (4:8b–11). The throne room scene reaches a climax in a description of the worship of God. The worship by the living creatures takes the trishagion (threefold declaration of God as “holy”) from Isa 6:3 as its point of departure (4:8b). The next clause corresponds to the description of God in the prologue (1:4, 8—“who was and is and is coming”). In addition, God is praised as the creator of all things (4:11). However fixed the heavenly throne may be, the description of God as the coming one expresses the hope that the rule of God, creator of all, will manifest itself throughout the cosmos.

 

4:8 full of eyes- fully informed wisdom. Nothing escapes their notice.

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 (see note on Is. 6:3). Who was and is and is to come!

 

  1. Full of eyes in front and in back… full of eyes around and within: Their multitude of eyes indicates these living creatures(not “beasts” as in the KJV) are not blind instruments or robots. They know and understand, and have greater insight and perception than any man.

 

These beings of great intelligence and understanding live their existence to worship God. Thus it can be said that failure to truly worship is rooted in a lack of seeing and understanding.

 

These beings’ worship of God reminds us that our worship must be intelligent. “Our service must not be rash but reasonable, (Romans 12:1,) such as wherefore we can render a reason.

 

“The word beast is very improperly used here and elsewhere in this description. Wycliffe first used it, and translators in general have followed him in this uncouth rendering.” (Clarke)

 

Like a lion… like a calf… a face like a man… like a flying eagle: John described four cherubim, each with a different face. From comparison with Ezekiel 1:6-10, we can see that each of the cherubim have four faces, and at the moment, John saw each one of the four different faces pointed in his direction. The significance of these four faces has been interpreted in many ways.

The four faces have been said to represent the elements, the cardinal virtues, the faculties and powers of the human soul, the patriarchal churches, the great apostles, the orders of churchmen, the principle angels, and so forth.

Some commentators say these four creatures speak of the ensigns of the head tribes as Israel camped in four groups around the tabernacle in the wilderness. Numbers 2:32:102:18, and 2:25 mention this organization of the tribes under these four heads, but does not assign “mascots” to tribal banners. Seiss, Clarke, and Poole each mention this approach, and cite “Jewish writers” (Seiss), “ the Talmudists” (Clarke), and “the learned Mede… from the Rabbins” (Poole). Poole explains: “That these were the four creatures whose portraitures were in the four ensigns of the Israelites as they were marshalled into four companies, allotting the men of three tribes to each company. Judah’s standard had a lion in its colours, according to Jacob’s prophecy of that tribe, Genesis 49:9, Ephraim had an ox, Reuben had a man, Dan an eagle. This the learned Mede proves from the Rabbins, who, though fabulous enough, yet in such a thing may be credited.”

The four different faces of the cherubim are often taken as symbols of Jesus as represented in each gospel. In classical church architecture, these four “characters” are repeated often as a motif that signifies both heaven and the four gospels.

Most have seen Matthew as the “Lion” gospel, showing Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Mark is seen as the “Ox” gospel, showing Jesus as a humble servant, a worker. Luke is seen as the “Man” gospel, showing Jesus as the perfect man, the second Adam. John is seen as the “Eagle” gospel, showing Jesus as the man from heaven, the sky.

Perhaps it is safest to say that the four faces are important because they represent all of animate creation, in its utmost excellence. The lion is the mightiest of wild animals, the ox strongest of domesticated animals, the eagle king of all birds, and man is highest of all creation. “In Shemoth Rabba, sec. 23, fol. 122, 4, Rabbi Abin says: ‘There are four which have principality in this world: among intellectual creatures, man; among birds, the eagle; among cattle, the ox; and among wild beasts, the lion: each of these has a kingdom and a certain magnificence, and they are placed under the throne of gloryEzekiel 1:10, to show that no creature is to exalt itself in this world, and that the kingdom of God is over all.’ These creatures may be considered the representatives of the whole creation.” (Clarke)

 

As well, it is significant to see that the Bible associates a face with the idea of person (1 Chronicles 12:82 Chronicles 29:6Isaiah 3:1513:8). Here we have singular beings with four faces. Apparently, there are beings that can be more than one person – as our God is One God in three Persons.

Poole says that these four faces illustrate the different personalities God’s ministers have: “By them is signified the various gifts with which God blesseth his ministers, giving to some more courage and fortitude, that they are like lions; to others more mildness and meekness, that they are like oxen or calves; others have more wisdom and prudence, which most adorn a man; others a more piercing insight into the mysteries of God’s kingdom, rendering them like eagles.”

4:9 John describes these scenes in such detail because Christians in the first century came from many backgrounds. Not all of them understood Jewish history or knew the glory of the Temple. Revelation instructs us in worship. It shows us where, why, and how to praise God. Worship takes our minds off our problems and focuses them on God. Worship leads us from individual meditation to corporate worship. Worship causes us to consider and appreciate God’s character. Worship lifts our perspective from the earthly to the heavenly.

 

In considering the Lord Jesus in His glorified state, we may consider His 4 ministries which continue both in Heaven and Earth: Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, King

 

Christ as Savior

Jesus is an exclusive Savior. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name in heaven given to men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12. Contrary to what contemporary culture tells us, there are not multiple paths to God. There is only one—Jesus Christ

Jesus’ death and resurrection ensures His followers an endless list of promises from God’s Word. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, His promises are for us, including peace today and hope of eternity with Him.

Very Precious Promises

The Bible is our ultimate authority. And in God’s word are many great and precious promises. Because Jesus is our Savior, Scripture tells us that:

  • we are forgiven (Acts 2:38)
  • our guilt is gone (Romans 8:1)
  • we have peace with God (Romans 5:1)
  • God’s wrath is satisfied (1 John 2:2)
  • we have been justified (Romans 5:1)
  • Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (Romans 4:24)
  • we are “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • we have eternal life (John 3:16)
  • we have been adopted by God (John 1:12)
  • the Holy Spirit lives in us (Romans 8:11)
  • Jesus is our advocate (1 John 2:1)
  • nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39)
  • death has no more sting (1 Corinthians 15:54)
  • we have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Peter 1:4)

What an awesome list of promises from God’s Word—and this is only a partial list! Because Christ died for us, all of these are ours when we accept Him as Savior.

The Tenses of Salvation

As we consider Christ’s death on the cross, I think it’s important to look at the three “tenses” of salvation.

  • Past:First, we have been saved. We have been justified or made righteous in God’s eyes.
  • Present:Second, we are being saved. We are in the process of being sanctified or made more like Christ through the Holy Spirit.
  • Future:And we will be saved. When Christ returns, we will be glorified or made like Him. We have an eternal inheritance.

Anything else?

Four other things are important to consider about Jesus as our Savior:

  • He is a universal Savior.John 3:16 tells us that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” All who come to Him with repentant hearts, sorry for their sins, and believe that He is who He says He is, will receive His salvation.
  • Jesus Christ is an exclusive Savior.We read in Acts 4:12 that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name in heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Contrary to what contemporary culture tells us, there are not multiple paths to God. There is only one: Jesus Christ.
  • He is a comprehensive Savior.Romans 8:29-30 make it clear that our salvation, predestined from before the foundation of the world includes not only justification and forgiveness of sins but also God’s commitment to reform us into the very image of His Son and that one day, when that process is complete, we will be glorified.
  • And He is an all-powerful Savior.Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Christ’s work on the cross sealed our salvation forever. As Romans 8:38–39 tells us, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Jesus is our Savior. Nothing can separate us from His great work on the cross, from His love. That truth, that promise is at the core of who we are as part of The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

 

Christ aUnsuccessful struggle against sin and a lack of power in life and ministry frustrate those who have asked Jesus to be their Savior but not their Sanctifier, resulting in a lack of joy in their walk with Christ. At the point when we are born again, we become members of God’s family. We believe He paid the price for our sin, and we are positionally sanctified, or set apart from those who are not born again, and are seen as holy because of what Christ has done.

Part One

“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30) NKJV

The Bible teaches three tenses of salvation:

  • I have been saved: Justification
  • I am being saved: Sanctification
  • I will be saved: Glorification

Sanctification means separation

  • Separation from sin: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”1 Peter 1:15-16.
  • Separation to God: “(He) has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father…”Revelation 1:6.

We read in John 1:29, 33 that Jesus is

  • “the one who is taking away the sin of the world…”
  • “the one who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit”

Two realities—two experiences. All Christians understand the first promise. But many Christians do not understand the experience of the second. It is the experience of Christ’s sanctifying work in a believer’s life. For those who neither understand nor allow for the Spirit’s control in their lives, the results will have profound effect. Ongoing and unsuccessful struggle against sin and a lack of power in life and ministry frustrates the believer. Doubts creep in about the assurance of salvation; there is a lack of joy in the walk with Christ.

Pneumatology “101”

In the context of the following Scriptures, the Greek word for Spirit is pneuma.

  • Every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. “If anyone does not have theSpirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:9).
  • Many Christians are not (and never have been) filled with the Holy Spirit. “…be filled with theSpirit.” (Ephesians 5:18).

Two realities—two experiences. With the decision to believe Christ is Savior, the One who was sacrificed for the sin of the world, the believer is immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The believer who forsakes the flesh, allowing the Spirit’s infilling, experiences victory and deliverance not only from the penalty of sin because Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him. The Christian who is filled with the Christ’s Spirit knows deliverance from the power of sin as Christ’s righteousness is imparted to him.

Not only does the follower of Christ experience freedom from eternal death because Jesus lives in him but also freedom to live an abundant life in the present because Jesus lives through him. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit he is equipped to fight the temptations of the future.

A Sad Reality

  • Most American Christians show little evidence in their lives that they have been separated from sin.
  • Most American Christians behave in ways that make it difficult to believe that they have been “set apart” for the service of God.

Part Two

According to John 1:29-33, Jesus is:

  • the one who is taking away the sin of the world
  • the one who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit

These two realities offer the believer two experiences. All Christians understand the first but most Christians do not understand or experience the second.

Two Realities – Two Experiences

  • Deliverance from penalty of sin
  • Deliverance from the power of sin
  • Freedom from death
  • Freedom to live
  • Release from the guilt of the past
  • Equips for the temptations of the future
  • Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us
  • Christ’s righteousness is manifest in us
  • Jesus lives in us
  • Jesus lives through us

True Or False?

According to the New Testament, there are two kinds of Christians.

  • I Corinthians 3:1-4— spiritual and worldly (carnal)
  • Romans 7and Romans 8 — self-propelled and Spirit driven
  • Ephesians 5:18— filled and not filled

What does this look like?

  • “It’s all about purity.”
  • “It’s all about power.”
  • “It’s all about joy.”

Jesus tells us in John 15 that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Because of our relationship with Jesus:

  • “we will bear much fruit…” — PURITY
  • “we can ask whatever we want…” — POWER
  • “our joy will be complete” — JOY

The Steps to a Spirit Filled Life

  • You cannot make yourself holy any more than you can make yourself saved! (Rom. 6:11;Rom. 12:1-2)
  • Christ is your Sanctifier in the same way that He is your Savior! (Col. 2:6;Gal. 2:20)
  • Maintain a continuous relationship with Jesus through obedience to his Word. (John 15:1-11)

Abiding and the Word of God

  • John 17:17— “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
  • John 15:3— “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
  • John 15:7— “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”
  • Additional Scriptures to read:Ephesians 5:18, and Colossians 3:16.

Part Three

As we move forward in our understanding of Jesus as our Sanctifier, let’s review our position in Christ and find out how we can live a Spirit-filled life.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1:29–33)

Jesus is:

  1. “…the one who is taking away the sin of the world…”
  2. “…the one who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit…”

Two Realities – Two Experiences

All Christians understand the first reality, grateful and confident that Christ’s blood has atoned for their sins. They no longer need to fear eternal separation from God.

But most Christians do not understand or experience the second reality—the full reality of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Because many Christians have been badly taught, or because they have chosen to disregard the clear teaching of the New Testament regarding sanctification, they are missing much of what God has made available to every believer in Christ.

Two Kinds of Christians

The New Testament clearly teaches that there are two kinds of Christians. In I Corinthians 3:1–4, Paul talks about Christians who are “spiritual” and contrasts them with those who are “worldly” or “carnal.” In Romans chapters 7 and 8, the comparison is between those believers who are self propelled and those who are Spirit driven. In Ephesians 5:18 he implies that some are “filled” and some are “not filled.”

Steps To A Spirit-Filled Life

The opportunity to experience the two realities of sanctification is available to every believer. The path to the Spirit-filled life involves faith-filled risks that always involve change.

  • Surrender:You cannot make yourself holy any more than you can make yourself saved. Romans 6:11; Romans 12:1–2
  • Accept:Christ is your Sanctifier in the same way that He is your Savior! Colossians 2:6; Galatians 2:20
  • Abide:Maintain a continuous relationship with Jesus through obedience to His Word. John 15:1–11

By Rev. John F. Soper

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do so few Christians experience the second reality of sanctification?

  • Ignorance —Acts 19:3
  • Sin —Ephesians 4:30
  • Fear —I Thessalonians 5:19
  • Lack of Desire —Matthew 5:6

Is there a difference between the baptism and filling?

The major problem here is that the New Testament does not clearly distinguish between several different words used to describe the dealings of the Holy Spirit with God’s people. Some of these words are listed below.

  • “baptized”
  • “filled”
  • “anointed”
  • “sealed”
  • “earnest”

While the language the Bible uses to describe the experience may be ambiguous, the possibility of living a spirit-filled life is a Clear Reality

Is this a one time experience?

While the initial filling of the Holy Spirit usually comes as an experience subsequent to conversion, it is important to understand that:

  • Sanctification is also a “progressive” experience.Philippians 2:12–13; Philippians 3:12–14; Colossians 2:6
  • It is also important to recognize that we need to be filled again and again because we leak!

Two Great Errors

  1. Avoiding the Holy Spirit out of fear: Many Christians run from God because of sin or preconceived notions of inability or worthiness. When we remember to live Jesus’ words fromJohn 15, “Apart from Me you can do nothing,” we realize that our daily sanctification is dependent on our willingness to surrender to Him.
  2. Seeking an experience or feeling as the evidence that we have been filled: Experiences are temporary and feelings are fleeting. God’s Word is true and everlasting. We cannot put our faith in experience or feeling but only in His eternal Word.

A Final Thought

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to you children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)

 

“Jesus Is Still the Healer”

We find no record in the gospels of Jesus turning away anyone who came to him for healing, nor do we find that any disease was too difficult for him to heal. He even raised the dead. Miraculous healings still occur today—evidence that Christ is still our Healer.

The Purpose of Divine Healing is to Glorify Jesus. In the Book of Acts, we find three important truths we need to grasp: Jesus is still the Healer, Healing comes from Jesus alone, and the purpose of divine healing is always to glorify Him.

 

Why did Jesus Heal so Many People?

  • To draw attention to His message:Jesus knew that by meeting a physical need, healing, the door would be open to speak about Jesus’ greater mission—to bring salvation to souls. We see the same pattern throughout Jesus’ ministry. Whenever Jesus made an intangible claim, He backed it up with a tangible act of compassion. Jesus said He was the bread of life and fed 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread.
  • To prove He could forgive sin:How do you prove such an intangible thing? First, Jesus lived in a culture where the assumption was that sickness was a result of sin. Second, based on the same assumption, healing comes with forgiveness of sin. To prove that He had the power to forgive sins, Jesus said to the man who was lowered down through roof on a mat, “Friend, your sins are forgiven…take your mat and go home” (Luke 5:20).
  • To prove He was God:Jesus healed to prove He was the Messiah. Only One has authority to forgive sin—God alone—a charge the Pharisees made when Jesus healed sickness and at the same time forgave sins. He was claiming authority to be God.
  • To show His compassion:Jesus healed because he cared. There is no record of Jesus turning anyone away who asked for his help.
  • To show that He is the Lord of all of life:Jesus is the Lord of compassion—not just Lord of our souls but of our bodies as well.
  • To show that salvation starts now:Jesus’ wonderful, compassionate willingness to reach out and touch our physical needs demonstrates that it’s not just future tense but present tense. Salvation starts now. He heals in this life, in this moment, in anticipation of something much more complete as eternity rolls on.

The Healings Did Not End With Jesus 

  • He Said They Would Continue:Healings did not end with Jesus. He told his disciples they would do greater things. Although there is some dispute as to the validity of the end of Mark’s gospel (Mark 16:18), it is clear in the Book of John that Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I am doing. He will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12).
  • The Apostles Continued His Work:Nothing in the New Testament says or even implies that the healing ministry would stop at end of the New Testament. In fact, it says the opposite. Healing ministry will continue in age of the Church through His Body, the Church. The apostles continued his work.
  • Jesus Is Still The Healer!Jesus is still the healer today. Why don’t we see it as the disciples in the Early Church did? They were full of the Holy Spirit. We leak. They were fully obedient. Too often, we are not. They fully expected to see Him work. We are often surprised that He does.

The Power Comes From Jesus

  • Not From Our Faith:The power comes from Jesus. The power doesn’t come from faith. There is interaction with faith. Jesus challenged people to have faith. He even said, “Your faith has made you whole.” But faith was a response to the person of Jesus. It was power of Jesus and not individual faith that brought healing. If you believe the power comes from faith, there’s a problem. Faith is a necessary component but not what heals.
  • Not From Within:Healing does not come from within us. It is not a matter of getting everything in balance. A great, satanic error of our day teaches that healing flows from inner peace or balance, some resource inside us, even if God put it in us. That simply is not true. Healing comes only from the hand of Jesus.
  • Not From Faith Healers:Healing does not come from faith healers. There are gifts of healing. God uses prayer to raise up people who need a touch by Him. But the power is in Jesus, which means, if you need a touch from the Lord, you don’t need to look to a faith healer.
  • Not From Crystal Skulls:Healing does not come from any occult objects, such as crystal skulls.

Why Isn’t Everyone Healed?

Why do people get sick in the first place? The Bible gives a theology of sickness as well as a theology of healing. There are a number of reasons for sickness. The first is sin. The Pharisees were right that some get sick because of sin but wrong that all get sick because of sin. In 1 Corinthians, we are warned about abusing the table of the Lord. “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you sleep.”

Sometimes God allows the enemy to make us sick. Sickness definitely is related to the curse, the fall, and the work of Satan. There is no better example than Job. In the testing, our faithfulness can be perfect. God allows sickness or disabilities to teach us lessons that would not be learned any other.

Healing also can be God’s way of taking us home, the moment of eschatological healing that ultimately comes when we are made perfect. No more glasses, no more insulin pumps. I won’t walk with a limp.

How Do We Respond?

Our prayers for healing tend to be, “Jesus heal me because I want to serve you more, I don’t want pain, or I want to be a testimony of your faithfulness. See how much more faith I have now.”

The only possible right response is: “What ever brings You glory, Lord. I believe you can. With the absence of a firm word to the contrary, then I believe that you will. But the only reason I want to be healed is because I want to bring You glory. If something else brings You more glory, that’s ok with me. It’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus.”

“In The Name Of Jesus Christ Of Nazareth, Walk!”

The power comes from Jesus. The purpose is to bring glory to Jesus. It is not to meet my needs, to make me feel better, or relieve me of my pain, although that is a nice side benefit.

The disciples with Jesus encountered a blind man (John 9). One of the disciples asked, “Who sinned—the man or his parents.” Jesus explained that neither the man nor His parents had sinned but “this had happened so that the work of God would be displayed in his life.”

 

Healing is all about glorifying Jesus. It’s not about us. It’s all about Him!

Coming King

The physical return of Jesus has been the subject of speculation and controversy since His ascension into the clouds, which is recorded in the Book of Acts. Knowing that countless millions still have not heard the gospel, The Alliance is committed to doing its part to complete Christ’s Great Commission before His imminent return.

 

Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).

Sometime near the end of his life, Anthony Ashley Cooper, the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, is reputed to have said: “In the last 40 years, I do not believe that I have had one conscious thought that did not include the idea of the return of Jesus Christ.” An overstatement? Perhaps, but it goes a very long way toward explaining the amazing career of one of the Victorian era’s most successful social reformers.

That same preoccupation is evident throughout the New Testament. It is the stated or implied reason behind nearly every ethical injunction in the writings of the apostles, and without question, it framed the life of the Early Church. The first generation of Christians even began their ordinary interactions with the greeting “Maranatha,” an Aramaic expression meaning “The Lord is coming”!

“Jesus Christ, Our Coming King” is the expression that captures the same passion exemplified by the apostles, the Earl of Shaftesbury and a million other devoted followers of our Lord throughout the centuries. It is, to use the words of the apostle Paul, “our blessed hope.”

Belief in the Second Coming of Christ is rooted in the experience of the followers of Jesus who, a few days before Pentecost, gathered on a mountain to listen to the last teaching of the resurrected Christ. He commissioned them to be His “witnesses” to the entire world, and then, as they watched breathlessly, He ascended into heaven. While they stood gazing at the sky, two angels appeared and delivered this message: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11b).

The clear implication (and the equally clear teaching of the entire New Testament on the subject) is that Christ’s Second Coming will be personal—He Himself, not some representative, will return to the earth. Further, His return will be both public and visible; that is, we will be able to see Him come. In fact, the writer of the Book of Revelation says that “every eye will see him . . .” (Rev. 1:7). We are also told that when Christ returns, He won’t be alone. He will be accompanied by “thousands of his holy ones”—angels (Jude 14)—and by “those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thess. 4:15).

Many volumes have been written exploring the events that will occur when Christ returns, but here are a few things the Bible says will happen: Jesus Christ will be vindicated in the eyes of those who crucified Him (Rev. 1:7); the whole of creation will be liberated from the curse imposed upon it after the sin of Adam in the garden (Romans 8:20–21); the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord (Isa. 11:9); God’s righteous reign will be established upon the earth for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1–6); and, ultimately, the final destruction of Satan will be accomplished (Rev. 20:7–10).

Since it is clear that the writers of the New Testament expected the Lord’s return very quickly, many skeptics have suggested that nearly 2,000 years ought to be enough time to convince us that they were mistaken. The Scripture, however, anticipates that attitude and warns us (2 Peter 3:8–10) that while God restrains His judgment (just as He did in the time of Noah) so that more time can be given for men and women to repent, this gesture of patience will be misinterpreted. Most of humanity will conclude that the promise of Christ’s return is nothing more than pious fiction. His return will catch them off guard like the coming of a thief!

Maranatha! The Lord is coming. Are you ready?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven’s Worship Service Part 1: God’s Regal Priets

Heaven’s Worship Service Part 1: God’s Regal Priets

Revelation 4:4-11

From this passage forward, worship is one of the imost prominent concepts in the Revelation, occurring 23 times so I want to opent with a word study…

Proskuneo

  1. to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
  2. among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
  3. in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
    1. used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank
      1. to the Jewish high priests
      2. to God
      3. to Christ
      4. to heavenly beings
      5. to demons
  • Revelation 4:10: “him that sat on the throne, andworship him that liveth forever and ever,”
  • Revelation 5:14: “fourand twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth forever and ever.”
  • Revelation 7:11: “their faces, andworshiped God,”
  • Revelation 9:20: “of their hands, that they should notworship devils, and idols”
  • Revelation 11:1: “the altar, andthem that worship “
  • Revelation 11:16: “fell upon their faces, andworshiped God,”
  • Revelation 13:4: “Andthey worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the”
  • Revelation 13:4: “unto the beast: andthey worshiped the beast, saying, Who”
  • Revelation 13:8: “upon the earthshall worship him, whose names are not”
  • Revelation 13:12: “them which dwell therein toworship the first beast,”
  • Revelation 13:15: “and cause that as many as would notworship the image”
  • Revelation 14:7: “judgment is come: andworship him that made heaven, and earth,”

 

  • Revelation 14:9: “a loud voice, If any manworship the beast and his”
  • Revelation 14:11: “no rest day nor night,who worship the beast”
  • Revelation 15:4: “nations shall come andworship before thee”
  • Revelation 16:2: “of the beast, andupon them which worshiped his image.”
  • Revelation 19:4: “the four beasts fell down andworshiped God that sat”
  • Revelation 19:10: “at his feetto worship  And he said unto me,”
  • Revelation 19:10: “the testimony of Jesus:worship God: for the testimony”
  • Revelation 19:20: “of the beast, andthem that worshiped his image. These both were cast”
  • Revelation 20:4: “and which had notworshiped the beast, neither his”
  • Revelation 22:8: “and seen, I fell downto worship before the feet of the”
  • Revelation 22:9: “sayings of this book:worship “

 

 

Our attention now turns to the priests (Elders) surrounding the Throne. They have come to bring the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. The final blood sacrifice has been made (Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 10:12) and now forever and ever the sacrifices offered to God are praise and thanksgiving…

John MacArthur-

4:4 twenty-four elders. Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments (19:7, 8), and their golden crowns (2:10) all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed (vv. 9–11; 5:5–14; 7:11–17; 11:16–18; 14:3; 19:4). The question is which redeemed? Not 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 (cf. Dan. 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 (cf. John 14:1–4).

An alternate view: Elders represent the people of God, especially in the Old Testament. The 24 courses of the priesthood represented all the priests (1 Chronicles 24), and the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles represent all the faithful.

The alternate view is nice but the key is In Revelation 5:9-10, the twenty-four elders sang a song of praise to Jesus, and they cried out: For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. In that passage, the twenty-four elders clearly spoke as representatives of all God’s people, of the great company of the redeemed.

Clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads:

Although angels are often portrayed in white robes, they are not pictured with crowns. Paul gives us a clue in Romans 8:17and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

You would, realistically, expect to find all of the King’s children to be found with their own crowns as we see here.

The crowns are symbolic of rewards; the Bible speaking of 5 crowns as rewards for the believers.

 

Crown of Life

The Crown of Life is referred to in James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10; it is bestowed upon “those who persevere under trials.” Jesus references this crown when he tells the Church in Smyrna to “not be afraid of what you are about to suffer… Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”[7]

Incorruptible Crown

The Incorruptible Crown is also known as the Imperishable Crown, and is referenced in 1 Corinthians 9:25. This epistle, written by Paul of Tarsus, deems this crown “imperishable” in order “to contrast it with the temporal awards Paul’s contemporaries pursued”.[8] It is therefore given to those individuals who demonstrate “self-denial and perseverance.”

Crown of Righteousness

The Crown of Righteousness is mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:8, and is promised to “those who love and anticipate” the Second Coming of Christ. These Christians desire intimacy with God.

Crown of Glory

The Crown of Glory is discussed in 1 Peter 5:4 and is granted to Christian clergy, who “shepherd the flock in unselfish love being a good example to others” 1 Peter 5:2-4.

Crown of Rejoicing

The Crown of Rejoicing is also known as the Crown of Exultation, or Crown of Auxiliary. Delineated in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and Philippians 4:1, it is given to people who engage in evangelism of those outside the Christian Church.[13] In the New Testament, Paul earns this crown after winning the Thessalonians to faith in Jesus.

Let’s develop this a little further…

The use of twenty-four elders most probably derived from 1 Chronicles 24:1-5 in which the priests were organized into twenty-four groups. This “kingdom of priests” represents the church that dwells in heaven with the Lord during the tribulation period. As was pointed out by Peter, the Church is a chosen people, a royal priest hood (See 1 Peter 2:9). It is almost as if Peter has spelled out exactly what his dear friend John was shown in Heaven. The 24 Elders, or Presbyters if you like (since both are synonymous translations of presbuteros) are a type and picture of the  Royal Priesthood of which Peter spoke and which comprises the church.

This would also help alleviate the concern of Israel being represented in heaven during the tribulation period when Israel had not yet believed in the Lord on a large scale. Further, it would remove the problem of these elders representing the apostles since John himself, an apostle, was the one having the vision (Would he have seen himself as one of the twenty-four elders and not mentioned it?).

Again, while not specifically explained, the information in Scripture most likely identifies these twenty-four elders as representatives of the church, those who will dwell with the Lord during the tribulation period while God’s judgments take place on the earth. Further, this fits the historic view of elders representing leadership of local churches (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), offering a picture of God’s people worshiping God after escaping the tribulation as a result of the rapture (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

Dr. Thomas Ice discusses the significance of the number 24 and I would like to quote him at length:

 

WHY THE NUMBER TWENTY-FOUR?

Some believe that the number 24 represents all the redeemed throughout history and not just the church. It is argued that in Revelation 21:12–14 the New Jerusalem in the Eternal State is made up of 12 gates with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel written on them (21:12). In verse 14, the wall around the city is made up of 12 foundation stones with the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb written on them. Thus, 12 plus 12 equals 24 and that would mean that the 24 elders must be composed of all the redeemed, both Israel and the church.

There are a number of problems with this view. First, Revelation 21 does not use the number 24. Instead, to come up with 24 one must add the two numbers together and that requires an assumption not stated in the text. Why did Revelation 21 not use the number 24? Instead, there are two different items to which the two sets of 12 refer. The 12 gates signify the sons of Israel while the church is represented by 12 foundation stones. To mix the gates and foundation stones would be a case of mixing apples and oranges, so to speak. The 24 elders are seen throughout Revelation as a single group, whoever they represent. Revelation 21 does not use the number 24 and is not a reference to the 24 elders.

The number 24 is used in the Old Testament in a similar way that we see its use in Revelation. “There were twenty-four officers of the sanctuary representing the twenty- four courses of the Levitical priests (1 Chron. 24:4–5, 7–18), as well as twenty-four divisions of singers in the temple (1 Chron. 25).”

In Chronicles 24 was God’s choice to represent the Levitical priests and the Levitical singers. Thus, 24 appears to be a representative number in Revelation 4 as the elders denote the church in heaven before God’s war council in preparation for the judgment of the world during the tribulation.

Only in one instance does an individual from the 24 elders act as an individual (Rev. 5:5). In this instance it is to speak as the interpreting person to tell John to stop bawling because no one was found to open the scroll. The elder says, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” Why is one of the 24 elders called upon to explain things to John? One of the 24 elders is called upon, instead of an angel that normally explains things in Revelation, because they are the only ones within God’s throne-room that has personally experienced salvation. Since John’s question relates to salvation, it was appropriate for a redeemed individual to note that the Lamb of God—Jesus—was the one qualified to open the scroll. That scroll is the title deed to planet earth and if no one was able to open it then the redemption of earth and mankind could not have been carried out. That is why John was weeping, because he knew that his destiny and that of all of humanity depended upon finding one qualified to open the scroll.”

Elohim: the Author and Finisher of History (Revelation 4:2-6)

Elohim: the Author and Finisher of History (Revelation 4:2-6)

John is given a glimpse of the One who sits on Heaven’s Throne. In our overview of the chapter we saw that this view is an anthropomorphic presentation of God in His dazzling majesty so that we might begin to have a comprehension of His Person. We are about to see the Divine Judgment machine unleashed but before we do, it is helpful to see God in the stream of history… 

  1. Elohim: He that sits on the throne is the God who created

Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.” In Hebrew it is Beresheet bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz. Without trying to explain the complexities of Hebrew Grammar, I do want to point out that the Rabbis teach that this is actually out of order and, apart from Divine direction, it should read Elohim bara b’resheet. God did this on purpose; the emphasis is not on the who but is instead on the what and the when. Literally translated, this sentence should read, “At the beginning, God created…” When? At the start of all things. What happened? God created. We can logically infer that it is so obvious that no one else could create that God allowed the change in word order to emphasize the ordering of creation. Why would that matter, especially when studying the book of Revelation? Simply put, God is showing, and quite emphatically, that it is He who sets the times and seasons of all things. He caused it to be and He is the one who will cause it to end.

 

Rabbi Dr. David Stern, a Messianic Jew points out a couple items I want to bring to your mind. Quoting Dr. Stern on the name Elohim: “The root meaning of the word is unknown. The most probable theory is that it may be connected with the old Arabic verb alih (“to be perplexed, afraid”; “to seek refuge because of fear”). Eloah, Elohim, would therefore translate as “he who is the object of fear or reverence.” From this God makes clear that He is to be the object of our reverence or adoration. To a degree, there should be a fear and trembling, even among God’s special people, the Redeemed.

Dr. Stern also points out in his commenting on Genesis, that which we have already postulated, that God is placing emphasis on the what and when of creation, that God is showing us both the ordering and the giver of order.

Circling back to Revelation 4 and the description of the One who sits on the Throne…God is portrayed in His dazzling majesty. This is the fullest picture that we are given in Scripture to illuminate one of God’s titles, Melek ha’ Olam, King of All Things.

In Revelation 4 we are given a full orbed picture of Heaven’s Throne Room. Judgment is a about to begin (In chapter 5 the Judge is revealed) but God takes great care to put His Majesty, Splendor and Kingship on display. As it says later in the chapter, He is creator of all things and for His pleasure they were created. It is revealed, then that God who has created, now calls His courtiers into His presence to commence the Judgment.

Two other times, we see a foreshadowing of this moment. Isaiah and Ezekiel see the LORD. Daniel sees the Ancient of Days seated on His throne but does not give much detail. Meanwhile it is Isaiah and Ezekiel who give us a sneak preview. Let’s look…

Isaiah 6:1-4 (CSB)

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above him; they each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies;
his glory fills the whole earth.

 

The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

 

Ezekiel 1:4-28

I looked, and there was a whirlwind coming from the north, a huge cloud with fire flashing back and forth and brilliant light all around it. In the center of the fire, there was a gleam like amber. The likeness of four living creatures came from it, and this was their appearance: They looked something like a human, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the hooves of a calf, sparkling like the gleam of polished bronze. They had human hands under their wings on their four sides. All four of them had faces and wings. Their wings were touching. The creatures did not turn as they moved; each one went straight ahead. 10 Their faces looked something like the face of a human, and each of the four had the face of a lion on the right, the face of an ox on the left, and the face of an eagle. 11 That is what their faces were like. Their wings were spread upward; each had two wings touching that of another and two wings covering its body. 12 Each creature went straight ahead. Wherever the Spirit[a] wanted to go, they went without turning as they moved.

13 The likeness of the living creatures was like the appearance of blazing coals of fire or like torches. Fire was moving back and forth between the living creatures; it was bright, with lightning coming out of it. 14 The creatures were darting back and forth like flashes of lightning.

15 When I looked at the living creatures, there was one wheel on the ground beside each of the four-faced creatures. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their craftsmanship was like the gleam of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. Their appearance and craftsmanship was like a wheel within a wheel. 17 When they moved, they went in any of the four directions, without turning as they moved. 18 Their four rims were tall and awe-inspiring, completely covered with eyes.19 When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them, and when the creatures rose from the earth, the wheels also rose. 20 Wherever the Spirit wanted to go, the creatures went in the direction the Spirit was moving. The wheels rose alongside them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When the creatures moved, the wheels moved; when the creatures stopped, the wheels stopped; and when the creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose alongside them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

22 Over the heads of the living creatures the likeness of an expanse was spread out. It gleamed like awe-inspiring crystal, 23 and under the expanse their wings extended one toward another. They each also had two wings covering their bodies. 24 When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the roar of a huge torrent, like the voice of the Almighty, and a sound of tumult like the noise of an army. When they stopped, they lowered their wings.

25 A voice came from above the expanse over their heads; when they stopped, they lowered their wings. 26 Something like a throne with the appearance of lapis lazuli was above the expanse over their heads. On the throne, high above, was someone who looked like a human. 27 From what seemed to be his waist up, I saw a gleam like amber, with what looked like fire enclosing it all around. From what seemed to be his waist down, I also saw what looked like fire. There was a brilliant light all around him. 28 The appearance of the brilliant light all around was like that of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day. This was the appearance of the likeness of the Lord’s glory. When I saw it, I fell facedown and heard a voice speaking.

I could spend half a dozen sermons, easily, on the Ezekiel passage but for this lesson we will leave it as an illustration.

 

  1. God responds to sin with the promise of a Redeemer

 

Genesis 3:1

Now the serpent was more subtil…

I wonder how often we miss the serpent’s subtle whisper tempting us to say God is not enough (exactly what sin is)

The serpent often tempts not with a full throated shout, no that would be too obvious. That temptation you could see coming and resist. It’s his whisper that traps us. But its been the same question for 6000 years, “yea hath God said…?” So often we fall into the trap of thinking “good question” instead of getting out the shovel and taking off the serpent’s head.

 

Before God metes out grace, He gives a curse to the serpent and then we have the Proto euangelion…

 

“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.” (Genesis 3:15, KJV)

 

Protevangelium is a compound word of two Greek words, protos meaning “first” and evangelion meaning “good news” or “gospel”. Thus the protevanglium in Genesis 3:15 is commonly referred to as the first mention of the good news of salvation in the Bible.

Strictly speaking, the protevangelium refers to the last part of Genesis 3:15, “it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” According to H. C. Leupold, this passage uses a zeugma in the word “bruise”, which may be translated “it shall crush thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Because of the grave nature of the context, the fall of man, this passage describes more than just a man stepping on a snake’s head. The reference to the seed of the woman as Christ is believed to relate to the Virgin birth of the Messiah, as well as the Hypostatic union of the Divine nature with the Human nature of Christ.

Old Testament scholar Derek Kidner describes the Protevangelium as “the first glimmer of the gospel.” Several of the early Church fathers, such as Justin Martyr (160 AD) and Irenaeus (180 AD), regarded this verse “as the Protoevangelium, the first messianic prophecy in the Old Testament.


Exposition of Genesis, H. C. Leupold D.D, Online Bible edition, Gen 3:15

Jump up to: a b Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Eerdman’s 1996, page 294

^ Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, (IVP, 1967), p. 70.

^ Gordon J. Wenham, WBC: Genesis 1-15, (Thomas Nelson, 1987), pp. 80–81.

 

 

We then see the first blood atonement, grace’s response to sin.

In Genesis 3:21 the pattern of substitutionary atonement is set. God kills an animal or two (the Scripture does not directly say) and gave the man and the woman the skin as covering. Many believe this animal was a sheep/lamb thereby offering a prophecy of the messianic sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God.  While this view is entirely speculative, it is reasonable. I cannot say for sure what animal God may have slain. The point is, the Lord God transferred the sin to the innocent animal along with its immediate consequence, instant death. It was grace that provides this atonement.

 

III. God the Son Redeems a People

This is best explained in what we refer to as the Romans Road to Salvation:

 

It starts out with our Problem from Romans 3:23:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

It then moves to our Peril in Romans 6:23:

            For the wages of sin is death . . .

And to God’s Provision in Romans 5:8:

            But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The Romans Road culminates in our Response in Romans 10:9:

 

  1. Elohim, the Majesty on High closes History with the Judgment

 

The Rapture having now come to pass, all of Heaven turns its attention to the Throne.

 

This is, of course, not a literal throne; it is a symbol of God’s power, majesty, and regal authority (1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 11:4; 103:19; Isaiah 6:1; 66:1; Ezekiel 1:26)

 

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible has an incredible comment on this portion of the Scripture.

“The vision of the throne reveals that the King is (a) beautiful, rich, and valuable like precious stones ( jasper, sardine or red carnelian, and emerald ); (b) gracious to sinners and faithful to His covenants (rainbow; Gen. 9:12-17); (c) dwelling with His victorious old covenant and new covenant people (twelve plus twelve elders; 21:12,14) in His holy temple (lamps, sea, lion, and calf or young ox; 1 Kings 7:23-25,29,36,49,51); (d) judging according to His fearsome power and righteous law (lightnings and thunderings like Mt. Sinai; Ex. 19-20); (e) shining out in the witness of the churches by the Holy Spirit (seven lamps . . . seven Spirits; and (f) attended by servants representing all the powers (lion, calf, man, eagle) and wisdom (full of eyes) of heaven and earth (5:13; Ezek. 1:10). What a glorious King!”

 

I disagree with them on the symbolism of the 24 Elders but the rest of it, I find spot on.

 

Human monarchs are often arrayed in fine clothes and bedecked with jewels presenting a wondrous sight. However, the Holy Spirit shows John that God outshines them all. His glory is still veiled, here, so John is not incinerated by blazing holiness and yet we see that even Solomon in all his glory is but a beggar compared to the One who is Majesty on High.

 

All of history has led up to this moment. Regardless of your view on the fall-supralapsarian, infralapsarian, or sublapsarian in the order of God’s Decrees, there has never been a moment when God did not intend to be a Redeemer and now, in this moment, the Redeemed are in Heaven, ministering before the Throne. There are still some Redeemed to be gathered in during the Tribulation, but here, all the Redeemed of the Church Age stand before the Throne and we, along with the Four Living Creatures, lead the worship in Heaven.

 

Why do the Elders cast their crowns and the feet of the One on the Throne? It is an emphatic declaration. “You, our Lord and our God ARE our reward and our treasure.”  Any crown we are given, though glorious, will not compare to being face to face with the King. Why bother with feeble accoutrements when Majesty Himself is now with us and we with Him, never to again be separated.

Views on the Rapture

Views on the Rapture

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (Page 1019)

 NO RAPTURE

There is the view among some Christians that there will be no Rapture at all. They claim it is an unscriptural idea invented by John Darby and Cyrus Scofield. This is either a statement of ignorance or complete disingenuousness. As we saw last week, there are clearly passages which teach a rapture of the church. To each otherwise is error at best and sin at worst.

I would be charitable and say that this idea is error. These believers are generally faithful brethren but they disagree with the dispensational understanding of Scripture and so they discard the idea of a rapture altogether.

POST TRIBULATION

The Post-Tribulation Rapture theory teaches that the Church will not be raptured before the Tribulation but that it will pass through the Tribulation, and only when Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation will the Church be caught up. This theory must pass two tests. First, Does the Bible plainly say that the Church will be raptured when Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation? and second, If we adopt that position, how will it affect other events clearly foretold in Scripture? for “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20).

We must understand that the Rapture relates exclusively to Church-age saints. It does not include Old Testament saints who were raised when Christ rose and took paradise to heaven (Matthew 27:50-53; Ephesians 4:8-10; 2 Corinthians 12:1-4).

 

Also, the Rapture described in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 is for those who are “in Christ”, which uniquely describes all believers since Pentecost. These have been baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), and it is obvious that IF the Rapture of the Church were to occur at the end of the Tribulation there would be a serious conflict with other Scriptures.

 

TEST NO.1: Are there any Scriptures which speak of a resurrection of Church-age saints, both living and dead, when Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation?

The answer is, No. There is a resurrection of saints at the Second Coming (Revelation 20:4) but it is only for martyrs at the hands of Antichrist during the 7- years of Great Tribulation. It may be argued that Antichrist and his followers will receive their resurrection bodies at that time and will be “cast alive into a lake of fire” according to Revelation 19:20; Daniel 12:2; and Matthew 25:41, however, there is a total absence of any Scripture which states that there will be any resurrection of living saints when Christ returns. On the contrary, the living saints, both Jews and Gentiles, who survive the Tribulation, continue with natural bodies into the millennial kingdom.

Elsewhere we read that when Christ returns the saints come WITH Him, which requires that they be previously taken to heaven (Jude 14; Zechariah 14: 5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13). At the Rapture, however, Christ comes exclusively FOR His Church, which cannot include Old Testament saints or Tribulation saints. The saints who are alive on earth at the Second Coming are not resurrected but go alive into the kingdom (Zechariah 14:16-21).

 

TEST NO.2: The Post-Tribulation Rapture theory is in conflict with the main sequence of events in the last days.

We know that the “end of the age” will be a short period of 7 years called the Great Tribulation or “the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), after which Christ will come. Matthew wrote:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall…appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven (Matthew 24:29-30).

 

When the Lord appears in His glory He will set up a throne of judgment  at Jerusalem and judge the living nations who survive the Tribulation. Redeemed Israel (the Lord’s brethren) and the saved Gentiles (sheep) will go alive into Christ’s millennial kingdom, and the unsaved Gentiles (goats) who followed Antichrist in the Tribulation period will be cast into ”everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:31-46). This sequence of events would be impossible if there was a post-Tribulation Rapture. Why?

 

Because IF there was a post-Tribulation Rapture every saved person on earth would have a resurrection body when Christ returned, and there would not be anyone left on earth for the millennial kingdom. However, Zechariah says that “everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).

 

IF all the saved are raptured when Christ returns to reign it would be impossible for babies to be born in the millennial kingdom because Jesus said that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30). Babies will be born, however, because at the end of the 1,000 years some unsaved will be deceived and rebel against Christ (Revelation 20:7-9). Resurrected saints could not have children, or be deceived.

 

IF there was a post-Tribulation Rapture there would be no need for sacrifices in the millennial kingdom. However there are sacrifices in the Millennium in memorial of Christ’s sacrifice (Ezekiel 43 & 44; Zechariah 14:20-21).

We ask, Why would it be necessary for the ships of Tarshish to bring the saved Jews back to the land at the beginning of the Millennium, IF they have ALL been raptured? They would hardly need the ships of Tarshish to bring them in resurrected bodies, “with their silver and gold” (Isaiah 60:9).

 

Many other prophecies conflict with a post-Tribulation Rapture, and it is worth noting that the Seventh Day Adventists and Amillennialists hold to this view. Both fail to understand that the Great Tribulation is for only 7 years, and both completely miss Israel’s role in the millennial kingdom. The Post-Tribulation Rapture theory results from a failure to appreciate the relationship between Israel and the Church.

 

 

PRE-WRATH

 

The pre-wrath rapture theory says that the rapture occurs before the “great day of . . . wrath” (Revelation 6:17). According to the pre-wrath view, believers go through most of the tribulation but not the time of God’s wrath just before the end of the tribulation (Matthew 24:21). The church will endure Satan’s fury and man’s persecution, but will be spared God’s wrath. Before God pours out His final judgment on the world, the church will be caught up to heaven. Here is a brief summary of the pre-wrath rapture position.

The pre-wrath rapture theory views the trumpet and the bowl judgments (Revelation 7–16) as the wrath of God, from which the church is exempted (1 Thessalonians 5:9). However, the first six seal judgments (Revelation 6) are not considered the wrath of God; rather, they are viewed as “the wrath of Satan” or “the wrath of the antichrist.” This is because there is no direct mention of God’s wrath until after the sixth seal is broken (Revelation 6:17). According to the pre-wrath rapture theory, the church will be present to experience the first six seals.

Comparing Revelation 6 with Matthew 24, the pre-wrath rapture theorists identify the first seal judgments with Jesus’ description of the end times in Matthew 24:4-7. Jesus then refers to these events as “the beginning of birth pains” (verse 8). In verses 29 and 30, “the sign of the Son of Man” appears in the sky, and it is at this time, according to the pre-wrath rapture theory, that the rapture of the church occurs.

One weakness of the pre-wrath rapture position is its presumption that the “elect” mentioned in Matthew 24:2231 are church-age saints. These saints could just as easily be individuals saved during the seven-year tribulation; in fact, Jesus tells those who flee the antichrist’s persecution to pray that their flight does not occur “on the Sabbath” (verse 20). Since the church is not under the Mosaic law and does not keep the Sabbath, Jesus’ words cannot be directed to the church.

Another flaw in the pre-wrath rapture theory is its teaching that the first seal judgments are not the wrath of God. Scripture shows that it is the Lamb who opens the seals (Revelation 5:56:1). No other man is found worthy to open them (5:3-4). It would seem, then, these are not man’s judgments, but God’s. The tribulation begins when Jesus opens the first seal, and from that point on, the wrath of God is meted out on a sinful world.

A final weakness of the pre-wrath rapture view is shared by the other theories: viz., the Bible does not give an explicit time line concerning future events. Scripture does not expressly teach one view over another, and that is why we have diversity of opinion concerning the end times and some variety on how the related prophecies should be harmonized.

 

PRE-TRIBULATION
Pretribulationism teaches that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation starts. At that time, the church will meet Christ in the air, and then sometime after that the Antichrist is revealed and the Tribulation begins. In other words, the Rapture and Christ’s Second Coming (to set up His kingdom) are separated by at least seven years. According to this view, the church does not experience any of the Tribulation.

Scripturally, the pretribulational view has much to commend it. For example, the church is not appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:9-105:9), and believers will not be overtaken by the Day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9). The church of Philadelphia was promised to be kept from “the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10). Note that the promise is not preservation through the trial but deliverance from the hour, that is, from the time period of the trial.

Pretribulationism also finds support in what is not found in Scripture. The word “church” appears nineteen times in the first three chapters of Revelation, but, significantly, the word is not used again until chapter 22. In other words, in the entire lengthy description of the Tribulation in Revelation, the word church is noticeably absent. In fact, the Bible never uses the word “church” in a passage relating to the Tribulation.

Pretribulationism is the only theory which clearly maintains the distinction between Israel and the church and God’s separate plans for each. The seventy “sevens” of Daniel 9:24 are decreed upon Daniel’s people (the Jews) and Daniel’s holy city (Jerusalem). This prophecy makes it plain that the seventieth week (the Tribulation) is a time of purging and restoration for Israel and Jerusalem, not for the church.

Also, pretribulationism has historical support. From John 21:22-23, it would seem that the early church viewed Christ’s return as imminent, that He could return at any moment. Otherwise, the rumor would not have persisted that Jesus would return within John’s lifetime. Imminence, which is incompatible with the other two Rapture theories, is a key tenet of pretribulationism.

And the pretribulational view seems to be the most in keeping with God’s character and His desire to deliver the righteous from the judgment of the world. Biblical examples of God’s salvation include Noah, who was delivered from the worldwide flood; Lot, who was delivered from Sodom; and Rahab, who was delivered from Jericho (2 Peter 2:6-9).

One perceived weakness of pretribulationism is its relatively recent development as a church doctrine, not having been formulated in detail until the early 1800s. Another weakness is that pretribulationism splits the return of Jesus Christ into two “phases”—the Rapture and the Second Coming—whereas the Bible does not clearly delineate any such phases.

Another difficulty facing the pretribulational view is the fact that there will obviously be saints in the Tribulation (Revelation 13:720:9). Pretribulationists answer this by distinguishing the saints of the Old Testament and the saints of the Tribulation from the church of the New Testament. Believers alive at the Rapture will be removed before the Tribulation, but there will be those who will come to Christ during the Tribulation.