Jesus Christ is - The Wonderful One
To Him be the glory both now and forever.  Amen.

Revelation Book Study

Revelation

Daily Bible Verse

By Charlie Garrett

Compiled by Rory Wilson until Revelation 12:2 when he went home to meet his Lord in glory.

 

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.  Psalm 115:1

 

Introduction to Revelation

In the next 404 days we will see the culmination of God’s great plan of redemption as detailed by the Apostle John. This book has been taken in many ways and the book marks a large dividing line between denominations and sects within Christianity. Because there are many ways to approach the book and many opinions on the book’s meaning and fulfillment, it is often ignored, often misused, and often maligned. In the end though, it is a book of complete truth because it is a part of God’s word. Therefore, we mishandle it or misinterpret it at our own peril – just like all of Scripture. Three prevalent views (and many lesser views) detail the timing of the book –

1) Preterist View – This view claims that the events of Revelation are already fulfilled: preter meaning “before.” The preterist view was developed in large part by Alcazar, a 17th century Jesuit scholar. The belief in this view is that the destruction of the temple in AD70 was the time of the book’s fulfillment. Some preterists believe Christ returned at that time (a heresy known as hyper-preterism) and others believe this is still future but the rest of the book is already fulfilled. Preterism is incorrect and this study will disregard it completely except to occasionally note claims of preterists during the study if applicable.

 

2) Historicist View – This view sees Revelation as on-going and being fulfilled through history. Revelation’s prophecies then are believed to be fulfilled in major events of human history and are recognizable as such. Historicism as an overall approach to Revelation is incorrect, but this doesn’t negate the fact that many patterns and parallels have occurred within history that match the events of the book. The Church Age has many exciting parallels to the time of the Law and the Temple in Jerusalem which overlap in amazing ways as well. As Ecclesiasts 1:9 states – “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” Therefore, it is no surprise to see major events in Revelation fitting into the overall Church Age in recognizable patterns. But Historicism overlooks the important fact that Revelation 4-19 is dealing not with the church, but with the nation of Israel.

 

3) Dispensationalist View – This view looks at the Bible as occurring in “dispensations.” There are seven of them – Innocence, Conscience, Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and Millennial Kingdom. The Tribulation period detailed in the book of Revelation is not a separate dispensation. Rather it is the final seven years of the Dispensation of the Law. One must read and understand Daniel 9:24-27 to be able to fully grasp what is occurring in the book of Revelation. In those verses, God gave Daniel an outline of the history of the nation of Israel; a prophetic timetable comprising a 490 year timeframe. The fulfillment of the first 483 years came to an end on 6 April 0032 when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, five days before His crucifixion. The prophetic calendar stopped at that time for the nation of Israel. The Church Age began approximately 2 months later on the day of Pentecost and has continued since then. When the Church Age ends at the rapture of the church (coming soon to a trumpet blast near you…) the nation of Israel will again be the focus of God’s attention on earth. The seven years detailed in the book of Revelation are the final seven years of Daniel’s “70 7’s” or 490 years.

 

Revelation then is a book of hope, not only for the people of the Church, but also for God’s beloved people Israel. Rather than a long breakdown of the book into an overall and all-encompassing outline which you can find on many dispensationalist websites, here is a brief synopsis of what is ahead –

Chapters 1-3 are directed to the church. The seven letters to the seven churches are symbolic of the seven types of churches which characterize the Church Age.

 

Chapters 4-19 concern the nation of Israel and describe the seven years of Daniel’s 70th week.

 

Chapter 19 details the return of Christ to Israel as prophesied in the Old Testament and confirmed by Jesus’ own words. The church will return with Jesus at this time.

 

Chapter 20 describes the Millennial Kingdom (a 1000-year reign of Christ on earth, from Jerusalem) which was prophesied in the Old Testament and confirmed by Jesus’ words. After this period is the Great White Throne judgment of humanity.

 

Chapter 21 describes the completion of God’s plan for humanity when He creates a “new heaven and a new earth” which will be the eternal state of the believers. What was lost will be restored, but it will be far better because in the dispensation of innocence there was no possession of the knowledge of good and evil. What is coming will be with the possession of this knowledge and thus the redeemed of the ages will be able to appreciate the greatness of what God has done for His redeemed creatures.

 

Chapter 22 finishes the book and the Bible with an admonition, a blessing, and a warning along with other details.

 

Are you ready? Let’s discover the fulfillment of the ages as we explore Revelation!

 

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Revelation 22:20, 21

 

 

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,… Revelation 1:1

 

Revelation means “unveiling,” therefore, this book is the “unveiling of Jesus Christ.” The entire Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, is about Jesus Christ. However, much of the Old Testament is veiled and requires looking back from the clear focus of the Cross of Calvary to understand the types and pictures which were “shadowed” in the time prior to the incarnation.

 

The four Gospel accounts present a full picture of the Lord which was evident, but veiled, such as during the theophany seen by Ezekiel – “As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle.” Ezekiel 1:10. This theophany of the LORD (Jehovah) describes the four faces of Jesus presented in the Gospels – Matthew presents Jesus as the King (represented by a lion); Mark presents Jesus as the Servant (the ox); Luke presents Jesus as the Son of Man (the man); and John presents Jesus as the Son of God (the eagle).

 

Revelation is fully unveiling Jesus for His beloved Church to understand that they have an assignment in holding to doctrinal purity and to maintaining His church in the manner prescribed in the New Testament. It also has a second assignment which is to understand that He is not yet finished with His people Israel.

 

The fulfillment of His promise to Israel through Daniel is realized in the coming pages and it is a duty of all Christians to understand this and to support the nation of Israel, even during their time of “spiritual blindness” as is indicated by Paul in Romans 11:25. Today’s verse says “which must shortly take place.” This is indicating that the Church Age is an indeterminate amount of time and that when the time of Tribulation comes, it will come quickly.

 

The messenger of God, the angel, was sent to show John that which was coming. The Church Age will end and the time of Tribulation upon the world (the time of Jacob’s Trouble) will follow. Jesus is coming again, first for His church at the rapture, and then to His people Israel as He declared with His own mouth to Jerusalem, the seat of power in Israel – “See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” Matthew 23:38, 39

 

Lord, it is with eager anticipation that we begin the book of Revelation. Please help our eyes to be open, our doctrine to be pure, and our hearts to be receptive to the glorious truths that it contains for the people of the world. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

…who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Revelation 1:2

 

Jesus’ beloved disciple John is the one who bears witness “to the word of God.” This is a definitive claim by John that what is recorded here is Scripture. For this reason, liberal scholars will attempt to deny this was actually received and then penned by John. If, in fact, he received it, then they would have to admit it is inspired of God. If it is inspired by God, then it is God’s word. If it is God’s word, then it is authoritative in all it contains and proclaims. However, much of Revelation concerns judgment and woe. If one wants to live out a “social gospel” or a “prosperity gospel” then Revelation becomes an immense problem because both of these approaches to the gospel are proven false…easier to dismiss it than to heed its warnings.

John also bears witness “to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.” Again, the book is centered on Jesus Christ. If this is so, then it is authoritative for the Christian on all matters it proclaims. Jesus Christ is the Word of God and the second member of the eternal Godhead. One cannot disassociate Revelation and all that it proclaims without diminishing the very structure and authority of the Bible.

 

Taking all this into consideration, it is at one’s own peril that they dismiss the authority of the book of Revelation and it is at one’s own loss that they don’t read it, study it, and heed it just like the rest of Scripture. It is for these reasons that John, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned the words in today’s verse.

 

God is competent, God is in control of His word, and God has provided us with this book for our warning and for our blessing. Let us look with anticipation at the marvels ahead of us in this wonderful study!

 

Oh Yes Jesus! I thank You for the words to come which were given to John and which have been recorded in Your Holy Bible. The parts which are difficult or highly debated… please help us to understand them and to take them in the context which You intended. Thank You for Your Word, O Lord! Amen.

 

 

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. Revelation 1:3

 

There is a blessing promised to those who (in context of the time this was written):

 

1. Read – the one who recites the words of the book of prophecy aloud to others.

 

2. Hear – those who listen to the reader as it is read aloud.

 

Both of these categories will receive their blessings if they “keep those things which are written in it.” In other words, we need to heed the words of James 1:22-25 –

 

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

 

Anyone can sit and read the Bible or listen to it being read and then go on with their life, completely unaffected by its message. But it takes a discerning soul to hear the words, believe them, and apply them to their lives. This then is where the blessing comes from.

 

John finishes the verse with “for the time is near.” The Church Age is of indeterminate length. Just because John wrote this almost 2000 years ago has no bearing on the nearness of the moment from God’s perspective. It is a mistake in thinking that because the amount of time has been lengthy from our perspective that the admonition here is somehow faulty. We don’t know the times and seasons which are at God’s authority. We are to live our lives as if Jesus’ return could come at any time.

 

Lord, as the words of Revelation unfold before me, help me to take them to heart and apply them to my life. May I be changed by the words You have given us so that my perspective will be Your perspective and my heart will follow Yours. Thank You for hearing and responding to my prayer of faith. Amen.

 

 

John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, Revelation 1:4

 

John is writing to seven churches in the province of Asia, now a part of Turkey. These seven churches fanned out about 50 miles from Ephesus, but they are not the only seven churches in that area. Rather, they were carefully chosen because they had specific problems which needed to be addressed and which most likely represent the same situations which have crept up in churches since that time. In other words, they are emblematic of the entire Church Age – from Pentecost to the Rapture.

 

John sends a double blessing – “grace to you and peace from Him.” Peace, or shalom, is the common Old Testament greeting, but John adds in “grace” as well. This is found God’s gift of Jesus. The One “who is and who was and who is to come” is applied to God the Father here because verse five says “and from Jesus Christ.” However, in verse 8 we will see the same term “who is and who was and who is to come” applied to Jesus. This is a clear indication of the eternality of Jesus. He is not a “created being” but is the eternal God. This is a similar analogy to Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” John goes further though. To confirm Jesus as “Jehovah” of the Old Testament he says the blessing also comes from “the seven Spirits who are before His throne.”

 

This hearkens back to Isaiah 11:2 and the “sevenfold Spirit” – “The Spirit of the (1) LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of (2) wisdom and (3) understanding, The Spirit of (4) counsel and (5) might, The Spirit of (6) knowledge and of the (7) fear of the LORD. Jesus is the central focus of the biblical message and He is the incarnation of the LORD (Jehovah) of the Old Testament. He is God.

 

Yes! Jesus is Lord. I acknowledge that He is the One to whom my heart, my love, my devotion, and my allegiance belong. He is the One who reveals the heart of God the Father and it is through Him that I receive the blessed and precious Holy Spirit. Hallelujah to Jesus! Amen.

 

 

…and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, Revelation 1:5

 

The source of the “grace and peace” being bestowed in yesterday’s verse is even more specifically relayed today. It is “from Jesus Christ” who is identified in three specific ways.

 

1.) He is the “faithful witness.” Jesus is the complete expression of God in a form that we can understand. He declared, or revealed to us the Father that was otherwise unknowable except though creation.

 

2.) He is “the firstborn from the dead.” Being fully man, He was able to suffer and die, which He did. But “it was not possible that He should be held by” death (Acts 2:24). The term for firstborn also indicates His ruling authority. According to biblical custom, the heir is the one to receive all the rights of leadership. In Psalm 89, David is spoken of in this way –

 

symbolism which prefigured Christ. In Colossians 1, the same Greek word for “firstborn” is used to declare His preeminence in all ways. This word indicates not a created being, but the heir of Creation. If it indicated Jesus as a part of creation, a different Greek word would have been used. Firstborn then has nothing to do with Jesus’ being a part of the created order.

 

3.) Finally, He is called the ruler over the kings of the earth. He is, as we will see in chapter 19, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

 

We also see that it is Jesus who “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” The word used here for “washed” indicates complete cleansing from sin and is representative of the sacrifice of Jesus that saves us once and for all. On the night of His crucifixion, He used two words for washing in John 13:10 – “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean.” In other words, the “bath” represents justification, or being declared “not guilty.” The word in “wash his feet” indicates our sanctification. As we sin after salvation, we confess it and are cleansed from that sin; a sin which doesn’t affect salvation, but rather our on-going relationship.

 

What an immensely great God we serve in the Person of Jesus Christ. He is the finite expression of God’s infinite being…the expression of God in a form we can comprehend! Thank You, O God, for honoring us with Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

…and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  Revelation 1:6

 

When Israel was called out of Egypt, God told them in Exodus 19:5 that they would be a special treasure unto Him. The term “special treasure” is the Hebrew word segulah which denotes personal property. In the next verse (19:6) we read these words, “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

 

The same terminology is used in today’s verse and was used by Peter in 1 Peter 2:9 –

 

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

 

What is happening here is that the gentiles who were once excluded from the covenant promises “have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (See Ephesians 2:11-13). Together, the believers of all ages are built into a spiritual temple and our duties and offices come from God’s selection of us, not from genealogy or family inheritance but because of our faith in Jesus Christ. God is taking for Himself a collection of humans to be for His praise and glory and we will serve Him as kings and priests. Now, through the blood of Christ, all have access “through the veil” and into the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 10:19). Jesus Christ is our King and our High Priest and we will serve under Him as a kingdom of “kings and priests to His God and Father.” John says “to Him be dominion and glory forever and ever.” In the proper context based on verse 5, it is evident that he is speaking of Jesus – “…Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” The same dominion terminology is used in 1 Peter and is ascribed to Jesus as the 2nd member of the eternal Godhead. Because we have been so chosen as a kingdom of kings and priests, let us forever ascribe to the Lord His worth and thus praise His glorious name. Amen!

 

Lord God, it is beyond my comprehension that You would look at me as one who is fit and qualified to serve in Your kingdom. I know that it is only through Jesus and His work that this is possible and so I rise to give glory, honor, and praise to You – You alone who are worthy of it. Amen.

 

 

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7

 

Behold! John’s word today brings excitement to the believer, hope to Israel, and woe to those who have rejected or fought against the truth. Revelation is a book of severe warning of the consequences of rejecting God’s offer of salvation, which is noted even in today’s verse.

 

Jesus is coming “with” or “in” the clouds. This is a reference back to Daniel 7:13, speaking of the coming Messiah – “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.” Jesus quoted this passage and applied it to Himself in Matthew 24:30 while teaching on the Mount of Olives – “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” He again applied this terminology to Himself while standing on trial before the High Priest of Israel in Matthew 26:64. When He did so, the high priest tore his robes – clearly Jesus was claiming to be the Incarnate Messiah of Israel and was stating that the whole world would someday see and recognize this fact, “even they who pierced Him.”

 

This portion indicates Israel’s rejection of their Messiah. The term for “pierced” appears only one other time in the New Testament – in John 19:37 when Jesus had a spear thrust into His side after His death on the cross. In that account, John referred back to Zechariah 12:10 – “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.”

 

John says next that “all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.” This then is not a happy reunion with people who have longed for His return. Instead it is the King of the Universe come to inflict punishment upon those who have rejected Him, aligned themselves against Israel, and have filled up to the highest measure the wrath of God in themselves. The world which has come against their Creator will now face Him for judgment in the Person of Jesus Christ.

 

Lord Jesus, I long for Your coming and Your gathering together the faithful of the ages at the rapture. But I understand that for those who are left behind, times of great woe and tragedy are coming. Please make me a useful tool of bringing the message of salvation now, before that time comes. Your word is written and will come to pass. May I act now! Amen.

 

 

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

 

When we looked at verses 4 and 5, it was determined that “Him who is and who was and who is to come” was speaking of God the Father because it went on to say “and from Jesus Christ.” Today this is speaking of Jesus Christ. How can we know? Because in Revelation chapter 22 it says this of Jesus – “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Everything must be taken in context. If Jesus is all of these things in Revelation 22, then today must be speaking of Him as well.

 

As you can see, the same titles are given to both God the Father and God the Son. This does irreparable harm to the claim of cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim Jesus isn’t God. Either Jesus is God, or the book of Revelation is a confused document and God has allowed unbelievably sloppy work to be included in His word!

 

Jesus is “the Alpha and the Omega.” These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, comparable to saying “A to Z.” Interestingly, the middle word of the first sentence of the Bible is a word comprised of the first and last letters of the Hebrew aleph-bet – the Aleph and the Tav. A study on this word clearly points to Jesus as well.

 

Jesus is also “the Beginning and the End.” He is “firstborn over all creation” as indicated in Colossians 1. This word “firstborn” signifies an existence prior to creation, not a part of it. He is eternally existent. Jesus is also the One “who is and who was and who is to come.” Jesus is not only First and Last, but everything in-between. He is the Divine Visitor of the Old Testament – the Angel of the Lord who met Abraham at Alon Mamre, Moses at the Burning Bush, Joshua at Gilgal, Gideon at Ophrah, and numerous other visits throughout the Old Testament. He is the Lord of, above, and in creation. He is the image of the invisible God. John says He is also the “Almighty.” This signifies Him as El Shaddai (God Almighty) of the Old Testament – the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. He is Jesus.

 

Glorious Almighty and ever present Lord Jesus – my mind cannot grasp the enormity of who You are. You are the Creator who loved us enough to participate in Your creation by uniting with it in human flesh. How can my mind grasp such an incredibly glorious thing? Surely You have done, are doing, and will continue to do great things for us. Holy is Your name! Amen.

 

 

I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 1:9

 

Revelation was most likely written at the time of Domitian (AD81-96). This was a time of great persecution and John “was on the island of Patmos for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” He was in exile and suffering for his faith. His use of the term “the word of God” and “the testimony of Jesus Christ” indicates these are almost synonymous. Again, this is an indication of Jesus’ deity – equating Him with God.

 

Patmos is a small, rocky, and barren island about 60 miles southwest of Ephesus and John was probably sent there for hard labor in the rock quarries. For an aged man, this would have been a brutally hard existence and so he states he is a “companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.”

 

In Revelation, John will address all three of these issues. Here is how they are explained in the New Testament –

 

1) Tribulation – Never in the Bible is there a guarantee that believers will be free from suffering in this life. In fact, based on the example of the apostles, the opposite can be expected. Paul explains the purpose of our tribulations. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

 

2) Kingdom – Peter admonishes us about the kingdom. “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10, 11

 

3) Patience – Patience is a product of the testing of your faith. James explains this in his epistle. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2

 

Lord, I ask that you allow me to glory in tribulations, have patience as I await the consummation of Your kingdom, and maintain fortitude as my faith is tested. I don’t ask that you remove trials from me, but that I will learn from them and become a well-rounded and faithful Christian through them….to Your glory!! Amen.

 

 

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,… Revelation 1:10

 

John was a faithful man and was “in the Spirit” when he received the Revelation. He was certainly praying and was filled with the Holy Spirit as the words of the book came to him.

 

This was “on the Lord’s Day.” There are probably two meanings tied into this one concept. First, John was fellowshipping with the Lord on a Sunday as was customary elsewhere in the New Testament –

 

“Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” Acts 20:7

 

Ignatius of Antioch used the term “the Lord’s Day” for Sunday all the way back in AD110, shortly after Revelation was written. This is the literal reading of what John is saying. However, there’s most likely a symbolic meaning to the “Lord’s Day” as well.

 

John was “in the Spirit” and was transported to the future to see the events unfold which we will see in the chapters ahead. The book of Revelation details the great Day of the Lord where judgment comes upon the world. This term is used many times in both testaments such as when Paul used it in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 –

 

“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.”

 

Finally in today’s verse John says he heard “a loud voice, as of a trumpet.” The trumpet symbolism goes back to the receiving of the Law at Mount Sinai

 

“Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.” Exodus 19:18, 19.

 

The same God who spoke the universe into existence, who gave the Law at Sinai, and who sent tongues of fire at Pentecost spoke to John to reveal His coming words of woe.

 

Awesome and splendid are You, O God. When You speak, the mountains tremble and hearts become like stone. Your voice controls the creation and determines the future. And so we look to the pages of Revelation and know that You are in complete control. My heart sings praises to You today my awesome and glorious God! Amen.

 

 

…saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”  Revelation 1:11

 

To understand textual differences between translations is a study which could go on for years, but just so you can get a sense of varying texts, here is the same verse from the NIV –

 

“…which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

 

As you see, there’s quite a difference between the two verses. However and despite this, the differences will be made up elsewhere. In other words, the terms dropped in the NIV translation are included at other points in Revelation and confirm Jesus’ deity. These changes may have been accidental, but if someone intentionally added or deleted the verses, it was most probably not to hide this fact because the precept of Jesus being fully God is undeniable unless one comes already believing that it couldn’t be so.

 

Jesus is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.” As the book was written in Greek, anyone reading it would understand that Jesus is claiming in both instances to be eternal. He is the beginning of all things and so He existed before those things began; He is God. He is also the end of all things.

For example, He is the Messiah – the only Messiah and the last Messiah. No other true Messiah will come, only a false one.

 

The Jesus properly presented in the Bible is the God of the Bible. If one denies Jesus’ deity, then He is following a false Jesus and a false Messiah. Misdirected faith is wasted faith and will result in eternal condemnation, so getting Jesus right and not following cults which deny His deity is of paramount importance.

 

Next, John is told to write in a book. This would have most likely been a papyrus scroll. Once he had written all that would be presented to him, he was to send it to the “seven churches which are in Asia.” These seven churches are listed in a geographical order in a somewhat circular array. The coming letters will express the heart of the Lord for His church and the people in it.

 

Glorious Almighty God! The doctrine of the Trinity is difficult to grasp, but it is what the Bible clearly teaches. Help my faith in this matter that it will be properly directed and firmly grounded in the truth. I ask this so that You will be glorified through my belief in Jesus, the Lord of Creation and the Lord of the Church. Amen.

 

 

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, Revelation 1:12

 

John, in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, heard the voice of the Lord God Almighty – who is Jesus – and turned to behold the source of the voice that was “as a trumpet” and who was directing him to write to the seven churches in Asia. When he turned, his eyes were filled with a dazzling vision which we’ll look at in depth in the days ahead. Today says that when he turned, the first thing he noticed was seven golden lampstands. The King James Version describes these as “candlesticks” and thus loses the modern symbolism of what is being related.

 

The “lampstand” terminology goes back to the Old Testament and is first described in Exodus 25. This ornament of the tabernacle (and later the temple) was filled with olive oil for burning, not wax as one might assume today with a “candlestick.” The gold reflects the purity of the heavenly realm in which God lives and also the purity and glory of Christ in His deity.

 

The olive oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit who issues from God through Christ and who illuminates the truth of God to us, particularly through His word. The lampstands were placed to illuminate Christ as He reveals God the Father to us.

 

As we will see and revisit in the coming passages, the lampstands in today’s verse represent the seven churches. We will also see that Jesus has the right and authority to remove the lampstand from any church who strays from His message. In the Old Testament description of the lampstand, it says that it was shaped with a central shaft and six branches, three on either side; in other words, a menorah.

 

On the menorah were bowls and decorations in the shape of almond flowers and buds at specific places as directed by God. These signify the ever-present and watchful eye of God. The word for both “watching” and for “almond” in Hebrew is shaqad. In other words, the intent of these ornaments was to signify that God is “watching over” His people, be it the people of Israel during temple times or the people of the church during this age.

 

Nothing is missed by the ever-present, all attentive, and always alert eye of Jesus as He moves among the lampstands, which symbolize His church.

 

Lord, You alone have authority over the churches of the world and each church rejects You and Your word at its own peril. I know that You are watching the conduct of each church to ensure that it is being run according to Your standards and so I pray for the church I attend, that it will be obedient and faithful to You. Amen.

 

 

…and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. Revelation 1:13

 

Today opens with John’s vision of One “In the midst of the seven lampstands…” Although not fully explained until verse 20, yesterday we noted that the lampstands represent the seven churches.

 

“One like the Son of Man” is in their midst. The Son of Man terminology is directly linked to Daniel 7:13 – “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven!” A description of Him closely resembling today is given in Daniel 9:5, 6 – “I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.” The Son of Man motif is the overall theme of the book of Luke as well. Again and again, Jesus is portrayed as the God/Man and everything about these many descriptions is meant to make this connection.

 

He is “clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.” This description is the uniting of the garments of both the High Priest and the King into one office. Jesus replaces the Aaronic line of Israel’s priests and He fulfills the promise of eternal kingship made to King David. The book of Matthew displays Jesus as the King and John shows Jesus as the High Priest; both of these are more fully explained in the book of Hebrews. Jesus, who is our Great King and High Priest is the One who is always in the midst of the church, watching over us and directing us according to His purposes. Those churches who glorify Him will receive their reward; those who fail to do so will be removed from His presence.

He is our God and worthy of our devotion, adoration, and praise.

 

The Church serves the One true, eternal, and awesome God – Jesus! It is You who reveals the Father and it is You through whom the Holy Spirit is given. You are the focus of our faith. You are our glorious and reigning King and our High Priest who mediates on our behalf. You are most glorious and worthy of all praise! Amen.

 

 

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; Revelation 1:14

 

Again we return to Daniel’s visions in the Old Testament to learn more about the exalted Christ. John says, “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow.” This same terminology is used to describe “the Ancient of Days” or “Jehovah” in Daniel 7:9 –

 

“I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire.”

 

This symbolism identifies Christ Jesus’ absolute purity and complete holiness. He is the One who prevailed over death because He never sinned and He is the One who “has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Colossians 1:21, 22. As Isaiah foresaw hundreds of years earlier –

 

Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

 

John also says today that His eyes are “like a flame of fire.” This reaches back to Daniel 10:6, “… his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire.” Jesus is the One who looks deeply into the human soul and knows every thought and every deed. All our actions are laid bare before His penetrating gaze and therefore His judgment is just. Again, in the Old Testament, this ability was ascribed solely to “Jehovah” – “…for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.” 1 Chronicles 28:9.

 

As has been the case and will continue to be the case, the argument against Jesus’ deity crumbles into emptiness before the words of John as he relates what he sees in the glorious person of Jesus Christ.

 

Lord, I know that it is by Your righteousness that I am purified and my sin is removed. I also know that it is Your penetrating gaze which looks upon my heart and which knows every deed I commit, both good and bad. Because of this, I cannot hide my sin, but confess it to You openly, asking that You cleanse me, purify me, and restore me as I stumble an fall. Amen.

 

 

His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; Revelation 1:15

 

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…” Isaiah 52:7. Jesus’ feet here are described as being “like fine brass.” The Greek word translated as “fine brass” is chalkolibano and is used only twice in the New Testament, here and in Revelation 2:18, which again describes the Lord’s feet.

 

This word is actually of doubtful meaning and must be inferred rather than knowingly translated, but it certainly reflects the same concept as is carried forward from instances in the Old Testament such as Daniel 10:6 –

 

“His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.”

 

Another time in the Ezra 8:27, two vessels being carried to Jerusalem with the returning exiles are considered as “precious as gold” –

 

“...twenty gold basins worth a thousand drachmas, and two vessels of fine polished bronze, precious as gold.”

 

Taking all of this into consideration, Thayer’s Lexicon says it seems “to have been in the writer’s thought” to “compel us to understand some metal like gold, if not more precious.” The intent is that the color is magnificent, pure, and representing strength, purity, and judgment, all of which can be inferred from other Old Testament passages.

 

The “voice as the sound of many waters” again comes from OT symbolism –

“And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.” Ezekiel 43:2.

 

As with yesterday’s description, there can be no mistaking that John intends for his readers to understand Jesus as the incarnation of “Jehovah” of Israel’s past. He is the Mediator and Advocate for believers between God and man and He is the image of the invisible God in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He is Jesus.

 

It is glorious to contemplate Your majesty as described by the pen of John, O Lord. Surely Your glory is greater than anything in creation. How wonderful to think that someday we will stand in Your presence and behold Your glory with our own eyes, ever hailing the splendor of the King of kings! Amen.

 

 

He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. Revelation 1:16

 

The “seven stars” are later explained as the “seven angels of the seven churches.” The term “angels” means “messengers” and can denote either real angels from the spirit world or maybe the pastors of the churches. Being dogmatic on this would be silly but whichever is meant, they are “in His right hand.” The right hand is the biblical position of power. It’s also the place where activity normally occurs. The symbolism then is that they have the power of the risen and exalted Christ to move forward, ever advancing the Gospel message. At the same time they have the complete protection and security of His power. As we’ll see in the coming chapters, both of these are conditional upon obedience and faithfulness to His word.

 

“Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.” The Old Testament notes the sword as a devouring instrument. The “edge of the sword” in Hebrew is literally “the mouth of the sword.” Elsewhere, the sword is noted as the power of the Spirit of God and as the word of God, the Bible. All of this points to an instrument which is authoritative, all-powerful, and able to consume anything which comes against it. It is effective in both directions (two edged) as it can be used 1) internally in the church for judgment –

 

“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.” (1 Peter 4:17),

 

and 2) externally for destruction of the enemies of God –

“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.” (Revelation 19:15).

 

Finally, “His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” The sun at midday, and particularly in an arid region like the mid-east, is what’s being referred to here – a dazzling brightness. When the Lord appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, His radiant glory blinded him. Human eyes can’t perceive the fullness of the glory of God, and this is what Jesus is, the unveiled an infinitely glorious revelation of the unseen God. He is the One who created the universe, the One who sustains the universe, and therefore the One who is more glorious than anything in His creation. He is Jesus.

 

O God, how glorious You are. The picture that John presents of You is One of majestic splendor and worthy of infinite praise. May our hearts never be arrogant towards You, but may we humbly walk in the radiant light of Your glory, ever boasting in You alone. Amen.

 

 

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.” Revelation 1:17

 

John was completely overwhelmed by the vision he saw of Christ and it mentally shut him down so that he collapsed at His feet. This appearance was similar to one John had witnessed many years earlier as a young man. When Jesus took Peter, James, and him up on a mountain alone, they saw Jesus transfigured – a slight foretaste into the glory to come. However, this appearance in Revelation 1 reflects the full glory of the Risen Christ in His entire splendor. John was completely overwhelmed by what he saw. His reaction is similar to one during a visit paid to Daniel in the Old Testament.

 

The description of the Lord in Daniel’s vision matches that of John’s and he had the same reaction to it; he fell into a deep sleep. Both were restored by the gentle touch and comforting words of the Lord.

 

“Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, ‘O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.’ While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel…’” Daniel 10:9-12.

 

Both were considered “beloved” of the Lord, both were given the blessing of seeing the Lord of creation, and both were told to not be afraid. The power of God in Jesus Christ is one of comfort for the faithful believer because He is “the First and the Last.” He is the Creator and consummator. He is the First to prevail over death and has opened this same avenue for all who follow Him. He is the Lord who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

He is before all things and He holds all things together by the power of His word. He is the Lord of the universe and the Lord of His people. He is Jesus.

 

Lord, because of You I have no fear. Trials cannot overcome me, pains cannot consume me, and death cannot hold me. I know that I am safe in the power of Your right hand and that nothing in all of creation can separate me from You. All my hope, all my trust, and all my confidence is in You alone. You are great and greatly to be praised. Amen.

 

 

I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  Revelation 1:18

 

There’s an abundant amount of theology tied up in today’s thought.

 

1) “He who lives” is certainly a reference to the “Living God” of the Old Testament. This is a term used no less than 12 times when speaking about the God of Israel – “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 1 Samuel 17:36. The Living God is the eternally existent God who breathed the breath of life into man.

 

2) “And was dead” identifies Jesus with the most feared and final of human experiences. Death is the result of and payment for sin; it is what humans receive – all humans. It is a final tragic end which results in separation from the Creator who is perfect and sinless.

 

3) “And behold, I am alive forevermore” is the greatest note of victory ever penned. Peter explained how it happened when speaking in Acts 2:24 – “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Because death is the result of sin, and because Jesus never sinned, it was “not possible” for death to hold Him; prevailing over death was the only possible option for the sinless Son of God.

 

4) “Amen” means “truth” and when spoken by Jesus, who is the embodiment of truth, there is not only a calm certainty in the statement, but the confident backing from the Creator that it can be trusted.

 

5) And I have the keys of Hades and Death. Hades is the repository for disembodied spirits, like a holding chamber of the dead. Toward the end of Revelation, a Great White Throne judgment is described in exacting detail.

Once the dead of the ages have been judged there, both Hades and Death will be cast into the Lake of Fire. After this, there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain for those who are granted eternal life through Jesus Christ. Today’s verse clearly teaches that the eternal destiny of all humanity is completely under the jurisdiction of Jesus Christ – only He prevailed over death. There is no other way to avoid hell than through Him. He holds the key to life, He is the judge of man, and He is the eternal hope and joy of the believer. He is Jesus.

 

The victory is won through the work of Jesus. Now death and hell have no power over the sons of Adam. Instead, Jesus holds the keys to them and I know that by faith in His work I am saved from both. Glory to God in the highest – Jesus was victorious! Amen.

 

 

Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. Revelation 1:19

 

The book of Revelation, like many other biblical books, can be divided in a various number of ways. It can be divided into chapter/verse divisions, topically, chronologically, as based on the Hebrew aleph-bet, etc. One way of dividing the book is given in today’s verse - “the things which you have see, the things which are, and the things which will take pace after this. This may seem cryptic, especially when it was written almost 2000 years ago, but it is a logical and carefully worded exhortation directly from the risen Christ and so is to be thoughtfully evaluated.

 

 

One needs to be careful especially because the words translated as “after this” which are meta tauta in Greek are repeated nine times in the book. The context of a verse is always king in biblical interpretation and so the context of John’s revelation and how it pertains to God’s redemptive workings in human history needs to be considered today.

 

1) “The things which you have seen” is certainly speaking of everything from verse 1:1 to 1:18; that which opened the book to us.

 

2) “The things which are” is a definite amount of time based on some event in God’s redemptive history. In context, it is the Church Age, also known as the Dispensation of Grace. Jesus was speaking to the Apostle John who was a part of that dispensation, just as all members of the church are. There is a point, however, when the Church Age will end.

 

At this time, God will unfold 3) “the things which will take place after this.” As we can determine the Church Age from the book’s own content, then we can determine what will come after it. The church is the focus of Jesus’ words from Revelation 1:1 until Revelation 4:1. It is mentioned directly or indirectly numerous times during these verses. However, starting with Revelation 4:2, the church is never mentioned again until Revelation 19:14, when it returns with Christ at the end of the Tribulation Period. Therefore, “the things which will take place after this” begins at Revelation 4:2 and continues on until that time. From looking around us in the world, that may be soon!

 

Lord God, it is abundantly apparent from Your word that the church is not the end of Your dealings with human kind, but that You will again work through the people of Israel during the Tribulation period. For this reason, I pray for the nation of Israel as it seems that the time is drawing near when You will return them to the center of Your focus. Amen.

 

 

The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. Revelation 1:20

 

Today is a bit of a review from what we’ve previously addressed except to say that this is the last verse of Chapter 1. We have only 21 exciting chapters left after today and the coming pages are gloriously filled with the splendor of God, the majesty of Jesus Christ, and the judgment of the ages coming upon an unrepentant world. In the midst of this is the salvation of God’s long-wayward and yet beloved people Israel. Until we get there, we will review the meaning of today’s verse.

 

We see the answer to the meaning of the sevens stars in Jesus’ right hand – they are the “angels of the seven churches.” The term angel is the Greek word angelos and occurs 26 times in the book of Revelation. This word fundamentally means “messenger” and therefore can be 1) a heavenly messenger – an angel. If this is what is intended, then this could be the patron angels of individual churches. It could also simply be referring to 2) the pastor of the particular church. Either way, they are in the “right hand” of Jesus and are under His complete control and authority.

 

The seven lampstands are the seven churches. This terminology indicates that the churches are accepted by Jesus as functioning properly, at least to some degree. A lampstand is intended to give light. If a church is failing to be a light as intended, then the lampstand would be removed. This has certainly occurred over the ages as individual churches fail to properly preach and teach the gospel. When a church apostatizes, or “falls away” from the truth, it is no longer a valid church and its lampstand is removed; it becomes a haunt of darkness and uncleanliness.

 

Evaluate the church you’re in right now. Is it following the Bible? Is it straying? Has it completely left the Lord’s commands? Take time to evaluate where you attend and if necessary make the move to a congregation the Lord would approve of.

 

Lord Jesus, in Your hand is all of the rule and authority over Your church. Help the church that I attend to be a properly functioning one which brings You and Your glorious gospel the honor it is due. Help me to be responsive to the needs of our congregation and to be a person who helps keep our church in line with Your word. Amen.

 

 

“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: Revelation 2:1

 

Verse 1 of Chapter 2 begins the actual letters to the seven churches, starting with Ephesus. Each of the letters follows the same basic pattern. They begin with a specific address to a specific church followed by a description of Christ already noted in Chapter 1.

 

Today is “He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.” After this opening, the letters (with two exceptions – Sardis and Laodicea) have a word of commendation and then a note about the state of the church which leads to a word of correction (with the exception of Smyrna and Philadelphia where no correction is noted). After any correction, a note of encouraging approval and a challenge to persevere is normally given to close out the letter.

 

This style of writing can be equated with a sandwich. The bread is at the beginning and the end and anything you may or may not like is in the middle. This type of letter eases into correction and eases out of it and is a good way of dealing with difficult issues. In the cases where no easing in (or out) occurs, it is because the church is in such a bad state that any commendation may be taken as approval when no approval is due. As these letters represent problems systemic throughout the Church Age, we can easily determine what type of church we are in when compared to these seven letters.

 

Look around you as you attend your church. Have you allowed perversion to creep in? It’s addressed in these letters. Have you allowed wealth and comfort to replace a heart for Jesus? It’s in these letters. Unfortunately, we can normally see deficiencies in other churches better than we can in our own. Jesus holds the stars in his hands – they are under His authority. Jesus also walks among the churches, noting deficiencies, commending approval, and is ready to remove the lampstand from whatever church turns away from the truth of His gospel and His word.

 

Lord Jesus, we are Your people and the sheep of Your pasture. Please note deficiencies in the churches we attend and put it in the hearts of Your people to correct those areas which are weak and to strengthen that which is acceptable and good. Thank You for being attentive to the state of each church and each individual as well. Amen.

 

 

I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;… Revelation 2:2

 

The church in Ephesus is unique in that it is the only church detailed in three different locations in the New Testament. It is mentioned in Acts 18:18-19:41; it is addressed in its own letter by Paul; and it is addressed in one of the seven letters to the seven churches here in Revelation.

 

Today Jesus notes them as a church of 1) Works – they accomplished tasks for and in the name of Jesus. They were bearing out the fruit of their salvation as should be the case with saved believers.

 

2) Labor – not only did they bear out fruits, but they did it in an on-going manner, laboring to do these right deeds continuously.

 

3) Patience – their works and labor were done in a manner which reflected determination. At times, the fruits of our labors don’t come quickly and we tend to fall away from the effort because it appears there is no reward for the task. However, striving patiently will usually end in seeing maturity of those fruits. Such was the case in Ephesus.

 

4) You cannot bear those who are evil – How many churches, in an attempt to be “inclusive” allow perversion, greed, idolatry, etc. to enter into its fellowship? The Ephesians weren’t like this. Instead, they held fast to the truth of the gospel – that the ungodly will not inherit salvation.

 

Finally, 5) they tested supposed apostles – They listened carefully as visiting people spoke and then checked what they heard against the standard which they had. This standard is two-fold –

 

a) The Old Testament – which Jesus proclaimed as completely authoritative; and

 

b) The words of the known true apostles – either as received orally or, by the time Revelation was written, in the letters of the apostles which had been thus far accepted by the church. Today, we have two major lessons to learn from this verse:

 

1) Strive to emulate that which Christ Jesus commended, and

 

2) Stand against false doctrine and false teaches as Jesus cited as noteworthy. Unless we know our Bibles well, the second point is impossible to accomplish and so it implies that we are to be well grounded in its teachings.

 

Lord Jesus, today we see what You hold as commendable in the church at Ephesus. Help me to remember this verse and to act upon it in my own congregation – assisting in right deeds and labors, being patient in what we do, standing up against evil, and testing visitors’ words and actions against the Holy Bible. May You be pleased with how our church is run. Amen.

 

 

…and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Revelation 2:3

 

Yesterday we noted 5 commendable points in the Ephesian church – their works, labor, patience, intolerance of evil, and testing of those who proclaimed to be apostles. Today Jesus turns around and restates in a positive way the fortitude of those who have so conducted themselves.

Let’s take both verses together in context –

 

“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.”

 

As you see, today’s verse bears witness to their 1) Perseverance – They continued on despite what must have been long, tedious, or difficult circumstances. This is exactly what perseverance implies; it’s like continuing up the side of a mountain after the point of exhaustion is reached.

 

2) Patience – through their struggles for His name’s sake, they waited patiently for the fruits of the labors to be realized. Instead of losing heart and getting redirected to something less important, they waited with the assurance of the coming actualization of their efforts.

 

And 3) they labored for Jesus’ name sake without becoming weary. – The perseverance and patience they demonstrated was reflected in their tireless efforts. This is highly commendable in any situation because fatigue and frustration can easily tire out the strongest athlete in any type of race, but this was a race of the highest order – for the name of Jesus. They followed Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 –

 

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

 

Thank You Lord for the positive examples displayed by the church in Ephesus and that we can know how to likewise conduct ourselves. By noting what You have found commendable in them, we can maintain a like-mannered conduct of our own congregation. By doing so we will be pleasing in Your sight and likewise commended by You on the day You visit! Amen.

 

 

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Revelation 2:4

 

Getting notes of approval and encouragement is always exciting and uplifting. Here comes the boss, telling you in front of everyone else that you’ve been doing great things for the company while you brim with pride and confidence. And just then he stops and says “nevertheless…”

 

The Ephesians must have read the first few sentences and thought they were in tight with the Lord – “Look at our works, our labor, our patience, our doctrine, and our perseverance. We’ve dotted every “i” and crossed every “t!” But Jesus says that with this type of discipline and stamina, they had let something far more valuable slip to the wayside – “You have left your first love.”

 

The church was so heavily into doing good deeds, helping others, taking care of needs, checking the visitor’s doctrine, and moving forward in self-confident assurance, that they’d forgotten the very heart and purpose of all of their labors – Jesus Christ. As you think on this, don’t say to yourself, “That will never happen to me.” If you look back and carefully analyze your situation, it probably already has.

 

Bible study is meant to reveal Christ to us, not to become a match where we out-study, out-learn, and out-do everyone else. Church outreach isn’t intended to make the church look better; it’s to demonstrate Jesus to the surrounding area. Church services (get ready for this one) aren’t meant to be uplifting to us or to lead us to some higher point of emotion; they are intended to worship Jesus Christ. There can be far more heartfelt love and worship of Jesus in a church with no instruments at all than in a church with an orchestra or band. The purpose of worship isn’t to uplift us; it is to … worship.

 

The dictionary defines worship as “to treat somebody or something as divine and show respect by engaging in acts of prayer and devotion.” This is an upward directed action. The church in Ephesus was doing many good deeds, but their hearts, thoughts, and eyes had become misdirected from their first Love.

 

Jesus, remind me again today and every day that my service, my devotion, my heart, and my love belong first and always to You. Please keep my heart from being misdirected into deeds which are cold and without love. Instead, rejuvenate me each day with Your Holy Spirit, filling me with the desire to bring You the worship You are due. Amen.

 

 

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:5

 

For all the commendation of verses 2 and 3 and with what seems to be merely a mild rebuke in verse 4 “nevertheless… you have left your first love” we suddenly have words of overwhelming importance. Apparently, leaving our “first love” is far more important than we may imagine and in fact it is the basis for complete rejection by the Lord.

 

Tied up in today’s verse are three specific verbs which need to be evaluated.

 

1) Remember. Jesus says to go back and look at where we started in our Christian walk, in our church establishment, in our road to His kingdom;

 

2) Repent. This word signifies a change in mind and attitude and in context it is to return to the attitude the church displayed at first;

 

3) Do. Tied up in the acts of remembering and repenting is the command to “do.”

 

Jesus asks them to remember their first love, change their mind about their actions now which aren’t directed at all to that first love, and to go back and “do” those things which glorified their first love.

 

In 2 Corinthians 11:2, 3, Paul says this, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” What Paul says is reflected in Jesus’ words today. When we marry, we do things for our bride that we later forget about. Our hearts turn away from that first love and the excitement we felt for her. Jesus says this type of attitude towards Him is intolerable and if this condition persists He will “come quickly and remove your lampstand from its place.”

 

All the good works in the world, without a heart and love for Christ, are simply a waste of time. He wants our love and devotion, not showy deeds. The penalty for this wrong attitude is a dead church which proclaims a social gospel; one which is directed horizontally, not vertically.

 

Lord, it’s apparent that any gospel which fails to glorify You is a false one. It’s also evident that those who practice deeds for others to see while forgetting to bring You honor are simply wasting their time. In the end, it’s all about You or it is wasted effort. So Lord, help our hearts to be directed to You, our First Love, and our actions will be as they should. Amen.

 

 

But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Revelation 2:6

 

Today’s verse has been debated, manipulated, and distorted at times over the centuries in order to meet the specific agenda of individuals or groups.

A good example of this would be the commonly promoted doctrine that this is referring to churches, such as the Catholic Church, which have established hierarchies. By dividing the word “Nicolaitans” into individual root words – nikao meaning “to conquer” and laos meaning “laity” the idea is that these people have taken over the laity of the church and “compelled them to submit to the arbitrary dominion of men.” Analyses of this type are always set forth as a polemic against individuals or denominations. The problem with this particular analysis is that Revelation was written approximately AD90 and the hierarchies in churches such as Ephesus were those established according to the biblical model.

 

The “deeds of the Nicolaitans” although not entirely certain, are most likely as identified by Irenaeus, a Church Father, who wrote about a century later. He said they were people who lived lives of unrestrained indulgence. His analysis is that the name “Nicolaitan” came from Nicolas who is mentioned in Acts 6:5, but there is otherwise no proof of this. It could be (all mere assumption) that Nicolas pastured a church and that church later turned to indulgence of fleshly desires, thus tying his name to it.

 

Regardless of the source of the name, and there are other attempts to reconcile this name with other promoters of sexual misconduct, the deeds are what the Lord hated. Sexual sin is particularly offensive. Paul explains why in 1 Corinthians 6:18 – “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” Let us, therefore, attempt to live holy lives for the glory of the Lord and abstain from the deeds which He finds so offensive that He states emphatically that He “hates” them.

 

Heavenly Father, please help me in my personal conduct towards others and to never fall into sexual sin. It is my desire to be wholly pleasing to You in all ways and I ask for strength and fortitude as I face trials and temptations in this or any other manner which could result in sinning against You. Amen.

 

 

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. Revelation 2:7

 

To “overcome” is a concept mentioned 11 times in the book of Revelation. One who overcomes is the victorious believer in the Person of Jesus Christ. Do you remember these verses from Genesis 3 – “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’ therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.” There’s symmetry to the Bible that can’t be mistaken – something is lost, something is regained; something goes, something returns. It all fits so incredibly well that it’s hard to imagine people not saying “I’d better check this out a little more.”

 

God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden so that he could worship and praise his Creator for all eternity. God had already supplied everything necessary for the man and all he had to do was to direct his attention upward towards God and bask in the glory he beheld. Instead, man exercised his free-will in disobedience to what God had offered and his life would, from that point on, be directed toward the ground – a hard master.

 

“Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

 

But God did a great and marvelous thing in another garden when His own Son pleaded that the cup of His Father’s wrath be taken from Him. Instead, the Son followed His Father’s will and thus prevailed over the devil’s work. The Tree of Life, a representation of Jesus Christ, now stands available to all who will partake. Eternal fellowship, worship and praise, glorying in the Creator – all these are available to those who overcome. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Glory to God in the highest in the name of Jesus! Hallelujah and Amen.

 

O God! Where Adam disobeyed and lost His right to live in Your presence, Jesus prevailed and regained that right. Now, through faith in Him and His wondrous work man can again be reconciled to You. Direct our eyes, our minds, and our thoughts to the wondrous work which was accomplished for the fallen children of men – the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, “These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:” Revelation 2:8

 

Today we start our look into the second letter to the seven churches addressed by the Lord, Smyrna. The word “Smyrna” has a close association with the word “myrrh.” Myrrh in turn symbolizes death. The history of Smyrna and the words to them from the Lord fit this picture quite well.

 

Smyrna’s history was one of being sacked, torched, and destroyed. One of the earliest and certainly the most famous bishops of Smyrna, Polycarp, was himself set ablaze, burned for his witness of Christ. Again the symbolism of death and incense (Polycarp’s life as an offering to God) fits so perfectly into the symbolism offered to Smyrna by Jesus. Here are the last words of Polycarp –

 

“Eighty and six years have I now served Christ, and he has never done me the least wrong: How then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior? …Thou threatenest me with Fire which burns for an hour, and so is extinguished; but knowest not the Fire of the Future Judgment of that Eternal Punishment which is reserved for the Ungodly. But why tarriest thou? Bring forth what thou wilt!”

 

After this, they lit the fire and burnt him to death. However, this certainly isn’t the end of the story for Polycarp. As today’s verse indicates, Jesus is the “First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.” Jesus prevailed over death and through faith in Him and His deeds we too are assured of victory over death. As Paul so joyfully penned in 1 Corinthians 15 –

 

 “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”

 

God offers eternal life to all who call on Jesus. The question then is, “Have you called on Jesus?”

 

Lord Jesus, I call on You, understanding that no deeds of mine are sufficient to save me but that by faith in Your work I can have peace and restoration with God. Thank You for Your cross and Your victory over death. I can say with all assurance, “It is well with my soul.” Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Revelation 2:9

 

Jesus, as with all of His churches, monitored the state of Smyrna carefully.

He noticed their 1) Works – like Ephesus, they accomplished tasks for and in His name. They were bearing out the fruit of their salvation as should be the case with saved believers.

 

2) Tribulation – this word means “great difficulty, affliction, and distress.” This is what the faithful believers in Smyrna had to face, but like faithful Christians throughout the ages, they remained steadfast in their loyalty and devotion to Jesus Christ. It is a sad state of affairs when Christians expect blessings and miracles, riches and ease, when the Bible never promises these things. Those in Smyrna understood this.

 

3) Poverty – being rich or poor is no indication of divine favor. The Bible makes this abundantly clear. The “prosperity gospel” which is taught in America today is not only a heresy, but it is one of the devil’s greatest tools against true faith and a Christ-honoring church. Jesus said that even though they were poor (meaning in worldly wealth), they were rich. They had treasures stored up in heaven which moth and rust could never destroy.

 

Jesus next targets “the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” This has been misapplied to false Christians, heretical denominations, etc., but it isn’t referring to any of those. Instead it is referring to Christ-rejecting Jews. A Jew is a Jew and a gentile is a gentile. Christians didn’t become Jews when they accepted Christ and the church has not replaced Israel. These Christ-rejecting Jews were hostile to Christians and blasphemed the name of Jesus in their rejection of Him. Jesus had strong words for such types during His ministry – “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44.

 

All people are either in Christ or they are of the devil. The Jews referred to by Jesus in today’s passage were of the devil and attended a synagogue of Satan.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the faithful believers in Smyrna who set forth an example for us of how we can live and faithfully please You. It is not through wealth or “stuff” that we have joy, but rather it is through the knowledge of, obedience to, and love for You. How great it is to be called Your servant! Amen.

 

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10

 

 “Do not fear…” Throughout the Bible, the Lord admonishes His people to not fear. In John 4, Jesus tells us that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

 

Today Jesus tells those at Smyrna not to fear over “any of those things which you are about to suffer.” The suffering they faced is inconsequential to the torment of condemnation. As Jesus says in Matthew 19, “… do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 

The letter’s recipients could expect to be harassed by the devil, placed in prison “that you may be tested,” and their tribulations would be for “ten days.” These “ten days” may be literal, but they also might be derived from the Bible’s numerical pattern of testing, which is the number ten. In Genesis 31 Numbers 14, Nehemiah 4, and Job 19 the people explain their testing in an idiom as “ten times” and in Daniel 1 (which uses the same terminology as today’s verse) they were tested for “ten days” – “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.” Jesus uses this same terminology and applies it in the context of the suffering of those in Smyrna.

 

In what was about to come on them, He instructs them to “be faithful until death.” This seems contradictory in any other context except the Christian one because Jesus is the “Firstborn from the dead” and the one who holds the “keys of Hades and Death” in his hand. In their persecution and suffering which for some would lead to death, Jesus promises them the “crown of life.” This is the victor’s crown which James refers to as well in his epistle –

 

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

 

Jesus has prevailed over death and He promises the gift of eternal life to His faithful followers.

 

How great it is, Lord, to know that nothing in the entire universe can separate me from You. You prevailed and through faith in Your mighty accomplishments, I too have the promise of eternal security and eternal life. No fear here… I am a servant of the Most High God! Amen.

 

 

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. Revelation 2:11

 

Today’s verse contains Revelation’s second note of the blessing of “overcoming.” To overcome must occur in this life and “he who has an ear” should pay close attention to the warning. This is our one big chance to get it right. The book of Hebrews, makes this perfectly clear in verse 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, …” Jesus, through the eternal Spirit, calls out to the churches and warns us of the consequences of not calling on Jesus as Lord. For those who do, they “shall not be hurt by the second death.”

 

This by implication means that those who fail to do so will be sent to the Lake of Fire. “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14,15 When speaking to the people of Israel in a discourse about the judgment of the nations, Jesus says that the Lake of Fire was designed for the devil and his angels, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…” Matthew 25:41

 

The intent for man was eternal life in the presence of God. However, God grants all of us free-will and we are expected to use it wisely. Those who want to live apart from God now, will live apart from God for all eternity. And this place won’t be a joyous party where friends will get together. Jesus describes it as “outer darkness” and a place where there is “gnashing of teeth.” The Lake of Fire is eternal and it is self-inflicted. When God judges, no one will be able to complain that the judgment was unfair.

 

Now, while there is breath in your lungs, is the time to call on the name of Jesus and get right with God. Anything else will result in the eternal sadness of the “second death.”

 

Lord God, thank You for Jesus and His cross because I know without that, there would be no hope at all. But because He prevailed over death, I too can prevail over it. I receive Jesus as Lord and I will live for You as You give me wisdom and strength. All glory to Jesus! And it is in His name I pray. Amen.

 

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: Revelation 2:12

 

Pergamos was, at the time of Revelation, the capital of the province of Asia. As recorded by an ancient witness it was “given to idolatry more than all Asia.” There were temples including the one dedicated to Zeus who was called Soter Theos, or the Savior God. When Caesar worship became acceptable, it was the first city in the area to build a temple dedicated to Augustus. Pergamos was also famous for its medical schools and the god of health, Asclepius, which was symbolized by a serpent, was noted there as well. It is into this setting that the church is addressed.

 

The two-edged sword, as noted in Revelation 1:16, is representative of an instrument which is effecting in cutting in both directions. It is also effecting in deep thrusts. As noted, the Old Testament Hebrew uses the term “the mouth of the sword” (pe chereb) for its edge. The New Testament describes the sword as both the Spirit of God and as the word of God (the Bible). Jesus is getting ready to explain the symbolism that goes along with the sword and how it pertains to the church – both internally in the church (cutting in one direction) and externally (cutting in the opposite direction) in the surrounding area “where Satan’s throne is.”

 

You see, God is an impartial judge. When the church errs, it receives judgment too. We can’t openly flaunt sin in the church and expect to get away with it. The Bible notes in both testaments that judgment begins at the house of the Lord. Only after wickedness and disobedience are taken care of in God’s house does He turn to remove it elsewhere. Let us remember this lesson as we conduct our lives in His presence!

 

Righteous and holy is the Lord God Almighty. Just and true are His judgments. May we, the sheep of Your fold, be obedient to Your word and walk and act in line with what You determine for each of us. Help us to live our lives as honest and faithful Christians – to Your glory. Amen.

 

 

I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. Revelation 2:13

 

Yesterday we noted that Pergamos was the capital of the province of Asia and that there were temples including the one dedicated to Zeus, one dedicated to Augustus, and one dedicated to Asclepius. There was also another one dedicated to the goddess Athena nearby as well. It was a place full of idolatry, a practice which inevitably leads to all sorts of wickedness and would have been a place conducive to the persecution of Christians who believe in the One true God at the exclusion of all others.

 

Jesus said to them, “I know your works…” Despite the idolatry and persecution, and also being “where Satan’s throne is,” they held fast to his name. They were so grounded in their faith, that they “did not deny” His faith “even in the days in which Antipas” was faithfully martyred. This is the only mention of Antipas and nothing is certain about him beyond this, but his “witness” or “martyrdom” (both terms come from the same Greek word and therefore this word will be translated differently in different versions) were of such note that Jesus had him recorded for posterity as a remembrance of his deeds.

 

The name Antipas means “instead of all.” Could it be that he chose to die instead of others in the congregation? If so, then his name matches his deeds, thus following the Lord’s words – “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13 Whatever the truth is about Antipas’ martyrdom, the people of Pergamos held fast to the words and truth of Jesus and did not deny him, even in the face of what occurred.

 

Around the world today, such as in Egypt which was recently overthrown, Muslims are martyring Christians in huge numbers. These faithful Christians will be remembered by Jesus and rewarded on the Great Day of Judgment which lies ahead. Satan’s throne seems to have moved to a new location, but his attacks on the faithful continue. Fear not, Jesus will right all wrongs. It is He who holds the keys to death and Hades.

 

Lord Jesus, surely we are weak, but through faith in You we can be strong – even in the midst of persecution and trial. Today we say a special prayer for those Christians who are facing death at the hand of Your enemies. May they be strengthened by Your comforting Holy Spirit. We know that judgment belongs to You, so please give them strength in their trials. Amen.

 

 

But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Revelation 2:14

 

Jesus complimented the church as a whole for their works, holding fast to His name, and not denying the faith – even in the face of death. However today He rebukes them for allowing into the fellowship (or not excluding from the fellowship) “those who hold the doctrine of Balaam.”

 

The story of Balaam is in the book of Numbers. In chapter 25 Balaam’s cunning led Israel to “eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality.” By doing so, he caused many to stumble and brought disgrace upon the people and the name of Jesus whom they were called to serve. There were obviously people in Pergamos who were acting out their sexual and idolatrous behaviors in the area rather than separating themselves from such things. To Jesus, who bought the church with His own blood, this was (and still is) intolerable.

 

In Numbers 31 it’s recorded that Balaam was “killed with the edge of the sword.” In verse 31:16 it says “…through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.” Could Pergamos expect any less if they failed to handle the situation? No! And this is certainly the reason why the particular symbolism of Jesus was presented to the congregation – “These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword.”

 

In other words, the sword was the chosen description for this church indicating that the same judgment of Balaam was destined for those who failed to repent of their misdeeds. Jesus is not the “cosmic pushover” that He is often portrayed as being. He is the Lord God Almighty and will punish disbelievers and those who arrogantly put His grace to the test.

 

Lord Jesus, you know each one of us intimately and you know the secret faults of our hearts and our deeds. Turn our hearts to You and away from that which is dishonorable and wicked. Especially Lord, please help us with our personal struggles, be they drug, alcohol, gambling, sexual, or other addictions. Through You we can gain victory. Amen.

 

 

Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Revelation 2:15

 

Our verse today is very similar to Revelation 2:6 and shows just how much Christ Jesus hates this particular doctrine. In two separate churches, He has singled out “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans” for condemnation. As we noted in the previous occasion, this is certainly not referring to churches, such as the Catholic Church, which have established hierarchies.

 

Over the years, denominational bias and infighting has resulted in this thought. By dividing the word “Nicolaitans” into individual root words – nikao meaning “to conquer” and laos meaning “laity” people have tried to equate the Nicolaitans with those who have taken over the rightful positions of the laity of the church and forced them into subjection. This isn’t what’s being condemned here. Rather, taken in proper context with the surrounding verses, it is referring to sin of a sexual or indulgent nature.

 

It may or may not have included idolatry, but it certainly involved rejecting the oral and written words of the apostles which implore us to flee from sexual immorality. Paul lays out the stern warning for the church in Galatians 5:16-21 –

 

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

Lord Jesus, twice You have rebuked Your seven churches for participation in the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, and twice You have adamantly told us that You hate it. Help us then to be pure in heart, body, and soul and to refrain from such licentiousness. May You be pleased with how we conduct our lives, living to Your glory alone. Amen.

 

 

Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.  Revelation 2:16

 

Jesus has just openly presented the sins of those in Pergamos and now He instructs them to “repent.” Our own deeds are what testify against us. The question has been asked many times in history, “Why does God send us to hell unless we do what He demands?” This question holds to the fundamental error of misunderstanding the nature of God and the nature of hell.

 

As previously noted, hell was a place prepared for “the devil and his angels,” not for man. Therefore, it is we who choose the path to hell. Instead of God saying, “If you don't do what I say I will send you to hell,” the Bible teaches that, “If you do what I say, I will keep you from hell.” Freewill is what makes the difference possible. Therefore, how we exercise our freewill is of eternal importance.

 

If we fail to respond to His counsel wisely, He will actively fight against us with the sword of His mouth. Remember from chapter 1 the lesson of the sword. The sword is noted as the power of the Spirit of God and as the word of God, the Bible. Because this is so, the sword coming from Jesus’ mouth is authoritative, all-powerful, and able to consume anything which comes against it.

 

In today’s verse, it is used within the church for judgment – “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.” (1 Peter 4:17). This judgment, which begins at the house of God, will remove all who fail to make the right choice concerning their relationship with Christ. Again, this is our choice. Assigning blame to God for the consequences of our own actions is like a child blaming a parent when it steals a cookie after being told not to. It is incorrect thinking on our part. When we understand the relationship between us and God, our reaction to judgment and hell shouldn’t be, “Why O why;” instead, it should be, “How great thou art!”

 

Lord, help my confusion concerning the things which I don’t understand. Help me to make right decisions based on Your nature and Your character, and not from my limited perspective. You are the Creator and I know that Your will, not mine, is what is right and good. Lead me in paths of right thought and right understanding. Amen.

 

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. Revelation 2:17

 

 “He who has an ear, let him hear.” Jesus, through the Holy Spirit is speaking to His people and imploring them to pay attention. If they listen and take to heart what has been said, Jesus promises that they would “overcome.” This verse gives the third set of honors for those who do overcome.

 

He promises to “give some of the hidden manna to eat.” This represents the food which will not only grant salvation, but which will also sustain us for all eternity. The Bread of Life, who is Jesus, is the only one who can do this. When speaking to the people of Israel, He told them about the bread of God who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. In response, they said, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” By faith in Jesus and His work, we are granted the hidden manna and will share in the eternal joy of His presence. In addition to this, today’s verse makes a second promise.

 

He promises those who overcome “a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” In the culture of the time, and even in certain instances today, when a vote was cast a white stone meant “not guilty.” Jesus handing us a white stone means that we are not guilty before God and we will never be judged for condemnation. This wonderful release from sin comes from Jesus’ shed blood. By trusting in Him, He has become our substitute. He bore the wrath that we deserve. On this stone, the new name indicates a new nature has been granted to us. With that new nature comes a full inheritance as sons.

 

Paul explains that the moment we trust in Jesus, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit which guarantees this will take place – “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13, 14

 

It is beyond comprehension, O Lord, that You would do all the work to save us. All we have to do is, by faith, accept Your deeds. How great is Your love that You have done this! Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit which is the guarantee of the good things to come. Amen.

 

 

To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. (NIV) Revelation 2:18

 

We begin the fourth letter from Jesus to the churches – “to the angel of the church in Thyatira.” This is the smallest of the seven cities being addressed and yet it has some very big problems as we’ll see in the days ahead.

Thyatira was on a trading route to the southeast of Pergamos and at the time of this letter, it was becoming more prosperous. The city had many trade guilds including wood, linen, garments, leather, tanning, potting, bakers, slave dealers, and workers in bronze. In Acts 16, we see a woman named Lydia who was a dealer in purple cloth who came from there. Jesus identifies Himself here as “the Son of God.” He is going to address issues in this church which mandate divine judgment and so He begins by indicating that He is the one who will be dispensing that judgment. To suit this position, the two descriptions of Him for this letter both speak of that judgment.

 

The first is His “eyes are like blazing fire.” His eyes burn through any attempt at hiding sin and get to the very heart of the matter, piercing deeply into the soul of man. Nothing in creation is concealed before His piercing gaze.

 

The second description is that of feet “like burnished bronze.” The word used for “burnished bronze” here is chalkolibano and is used only one other time in the Bible – in Revelation 1:15. This bronze symbolizes several things, including that it is magnificent, pure, and representing strength, purity, and judgment, all of which can be inferred from other Old Testament passages.

 

It is the “judgment” aspect which is particularly notable today though. When mentioned along with His eyes, this is certainly the intent of the symbolism. In the temple, the altar of sacrifice was made of bronze. This altar was symbolic of the judgment upon sin. The Israelite people would confess their sins over an innocent animal and then slay it. An animal slaughtered in such a way was completely burned up on the altar, thus signifying complete destruction of that sin. This then is the symbolism we can glean for these aspects of Christ as reveled in today’s verse.

 

Lord, understanding that You see every sin, know every thought, and will judge every action, I ask that You guide me in my walk so that my life will be acceptable to You. On my own, I mess up at every turn, but if I follow You, I know my steps will be proper. Keep me from straying and lead me upon paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Amen.

 

 

I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.  Revelation 2:19

 

Jesus compliments the church in Thyatira in five particular areas –

Works – The things they did as individuals and collectively brought glory and honor to the Lord. They continued on doing good after the initial spurt of works normally sputters. In fact, their most recent works were “more than the first.” They were growing in their good deeds.

 

Love – The church differs from Ephesus who had left their first love. In other words, their works were being done for the honor of Jesus, not self. The love they had for the Lord wasn’t diminished and their works remained directed towards His glory.

 

Service – The Greek word here, diakonian, is used elsewhere when speaking of the prophets, apostles, deacons, etc. The term is also used when speaking of spiritual gifts as well. The word can be broken down into two separate words – dia meaning “through” and kones meaning “dust.” The people were willing to do the jobs of service without fear of getting their feet dirty.

 

Faith – This is what the ancients were commended for as is noted throughout the Bible and as highlighted in Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews. They retained their faith in Jesus as they worked out their spiritual lives. Too often people get misdirected in their faith and everything else gets misdirected with it. But because of properly directed faith, their other areas of spiritual growth were also properly aligned.

 

Patience – Patience is a result of a close walk with the Lord and a clear communion with the Holy Spirit. When we have our eyes properly directed on the Lord and our minds and souls in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we can be patient through any suffering or affliction.

 

O God, if only I could consistently emulate the five areas where the Church of Thyatira was strong! I know that I so often fail you in any and all of these areas and that I fall short of what You would expect of me. Strengthen me and give me the resolute and determined purpose to continue to grow in my spiritual walk. Amen.

 

 

Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. Revelation 2:20

 

Nevertheless… After complimenting the church on where it was doing well, Jesus comes to the point about their failings today. He brings against them a charge which involves sin directly within their walls. They had allowed a woman, whom Jesus calls “Jezebel,” to run amok within the church.

The name “Jezebel” was and still is synonymous with a woman of great wickedness. The name goes all the way back to the wife of King Ahab of Israel. To call her Jezebel was to equate her with someone filled with open immoral behavior and an enemy of God. Some manuscripts say “your woman” instead of “that woman.” If this is the correct rendering, then it is referring to the wife of the pastor. This would make sense because, being in a position of authority, she would be able to sway the believers more easily. Either way, she “calls herself a prophetess.”

 

Unfortunately, people have continued doing this down through the ages. However, claiming the title of “prophet” almost always includes the perception that they receive revelation from God. This is certainly not the case. The Bible is the rule and guide for faith within the church and claims of extra-biblical revelation are not to be accepted – ever. This woman was teaching aberrant doctrines, seducing them “to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”

 

In 1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10, Paul explains the details of eating meat sacrificed to idols and how a Christian should handle such things. In the context of what Paul says, is that if someone knowingly does this, they are sinning by condoning the sacrifice and are thus implicitly acknowledging the idol’s value. This “Jezebel” was openly sacrificing to idols and thus was violating the prohibition already laid out by Paul.

 

Lord, it is often hard to know when someone is presenting a truthful message and when someone is simply taking verses out of context and applying them in a way which twists the truth. Please Lord, keep me from being manipulated by deceivers and help me to more fully grasp the right and true doctrines of Your word. Amen.

 

 

And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Revelation 2:21

 

The God of the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, is accused of being harsh and angry without demonstrating mercy and patience. However, from the earliest pages of the Bible in Genesis, even to the last pages of the Bible in Revelation, a completely different view of God is given.

 

Abraham was promised that his descendants would receive the land of Canaan as an inheritance, but it wouldn’t be given to him right away. The reason is given at the time of the covenant in Genesis 15:15, 16 – “Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

 

God gave the people in the land 400 years more to repent and to seek Him out, but in the end there was simply no remedy. The same is true with the people of Israel in Isaiah 65:2 – “I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts.”

 

Were God to destroy humans every time they sinned, there would be no humans on earth in a single day. Were God to give humans a week to repent and then destroy them, there would be no humans at the end of the week. People who point fingers at and accuse God simply deny the reality of their own state and rule that God is unfair to judge them when in fact He is more than fair.

 

Jezebel was given time to repent as well… “and she did not.” Churches that mix shrines and relics in with their worship will be held accountable. Churches that mingle humanistic philosophies and ideologies will be held accountable. Mingling the holy with the profane is intolerable and will be punished. This is reality and this is just. Pointing one’s finger at God is merely a reflection of a problem with self, not a problem with God.

 

“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-12

 

I know, O Lord, that if You were to count our sins against us as we deserve, none could stand in Your presence. But You are merciful and abundant in kindness to the children of men. Cleanse me Lord; wash me in the blood of Christ and I will be clean. Thank You for the forgiveness that comes through His mighty and glorious deeds. Amen.

 

 

Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. Revelation 2:22

 

The woman in Thyatira who “calls herself a prophetess” had taught and had seduced the people there to “commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” Despite her doing this willfully and against the teachings of the apostles, Jesus graciously “gave her time to repent.” It is His intention that people turn from their wickedness. However, there is a time when there is no longer a remedy for such aberrant behavior.

 

Today Jesus promises to “cast her into a sickbed.” The mode which He may have used to bring about such a sickbed isn’t hard to imagine. Sexual sins, throughout the ages, have led to the explosion of disease. Entire villages, cultures, and groups of people are destroyed through such diseases. For example, this occurred in Athens in 430BC and 1/3rd of the people there died. AIDS is certainly such a punishment on sexual sin as are syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases.

 

No matter how the sickbed came, when it did Jesus promised her and those who participated with her that they would receive “great tribulation.” The Greek term is thlipsin megalin. This indicates great suffering which is immensely intense in nature. All of this is the result of the selfish lusts of the flesh and rejecting the truth and beauty of the gospel message. Jesus asks us to turn from such things before they bring about unimaginable pain and agony.

 

Finally today, in comparison to Jezebel of the Old Testament, Jesus saying she will be “cast” onto her sickbed. This is reminiscent of Jezebel’s final moments as she was hurled out of the window on a high wall – “…she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window. …Then he said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses; and he trampled her underfoot. … So they went to bury her, but they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands.” (Portions of 1 Kings 9:30-35)

 

Lord, I know we have choices to make and that we face the consequences of our own free-will. My choice is to follow you and my will is to serve You with wholehearted devotion. Thank You for the release from sin and its consequences. I love You my Lord. Amen.

 

 

I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Revelation 2:23

 

Far too often, people make the mistake of speaking of God’s love while ignoring His judgment. Jezebel and “her children” would not be the recipients of His love.

 

The term “her children” is speaking of those who followed her in her idolatrous and immoral practices. They are her spiritual offspring and would suffer her fate. If Jesus cast her on a sickbed of suffering, the chances are that whatever communicable disease she got spread through her followers as well. But this is probably speaking of more than just physical death.

 

The term “kill her children with death” sounds like a redundancy, but is most likely referring to the second death. They would die as physical beings, but they would also die the second death in the Lake of Fire. Such is divine judgment and such is the nature of God’s wrath on sin.

 

For the next thought, we need to remember the pictured symbolism of Jesus for the church of Thyatira. He is the one with eyes like a flame of fire and feet like burnished bronze. We learned that the eyes reflect his ability to search out sin, even in the deepest recesses of the human heart. Also, He will judge all sin, totally destroying it through judgment which is symbolized by His feet of bronze.

 

If you’re still struggling with the deity of Jesus, today is another verse which equates Him with the LORD (Jehovah) of the Old Testament. It says “I am He who searches the minds and hearts.” This ability was reserved for God alone in the Old Testament such as in 1 Chronicles 28:9, “…for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.” Jesus is fully God and He is intolerant of sin. Judgment awaits those who fail to come to terms with this.

 

However, Jesus is a fair judge and He will “give to each one of you according to your works.” Believers have the full assurance of eternal salvation and rewards based on their faithful service. How much better is this than the prospect of the second death? Live for Jesus and bask in His grace.

 

Jesus, please walk among the church I attend and weed out anything which is contrary to what would please You. Change the hearts of those who are sinning, strengthen the hearts of those who are struggling, and continue to bless the hearts of those who are standing strong and faithfully in You. Glory be to Your wonderfully precious name! Amen.

 

 

“Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. Revelation 2:24

 

 “To the rest in Thyatira…” Jesus now addresses those who haven’t been pulled in by the Satanic influence of the woman He calls Jezebel. Instead of rebuke, He gives them comfort… “I will put on you no other burden.”

 

Going back to verse 19, we are reminded that the church as a whole was doing a good job already, ““I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.” In addition to such faithful service, they had kept away from what was obviously wrong in Jezebel’s doings. She was most likely teaching doctrines which supposedly revealed deeper and hidden truths of God, something that cults have continuously done since then as well. The problem was that the things she was teaching were neither “truths” nor were they “of God.”

 

Jesus says that the faithful had “not known the depths of Satan” indicating the things she was presenting. Her proclamations and actions came from Satan and Satan’s teachings are always false and destructive. As Jesus said in John 8:44, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

 

Always be careful of someone proclaiming “something deeper” or “something new.” Check everything you hear against the Bible and what has been considered orthodox for the past 2000 years. Jesus Christ doesn’t change and neither does the word which proclaims Him. Hold steadfast to sound doctrine and His instructions won’t be burdensome. As He proclaimed, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

 

Thank You Jesus for the promise of teaching me if I will only listen to Your words. Thank You also for the promise of rest. In this troubled world of strife and anguish, the promise of rest is my heart’s desire. My heart sings out in joy at the prospect of sharing eternity with such a kind and wonderful Savior! Hallelujah to Your name. Amen.

 

 

But hold fast what you have till I come. Revelation 2:25

 

Short and to the point… to the faithful in Thyatira, Jesus – who has already acknowledged their good points – asks them to “hold fast.” When an individual or a group is doing what’s right, it’s often difficult to continue on as things deteriorate around them or attacks come against them. But Jesus is aware of our weaknesses and limitations and isn’t there to place additional burdens on those who are doing what’s right. Instead, He asks them to simply “hold fast.” And the time isn’t indefinite.

 

There is a time for the works to end and the relief to come. The beauty of what Jesus did was to leave that moment unknown to His children. By promising to return, but by not giving us the date, it could be at any moment. The anticipation of His return, therefore, should be on the minds of all who have called on Him in two ways:

 

1) They should be of the mind that what they are doing is of eternal effect in the lives of others. This is because if they don’t go about their business and the Lord comes, then those they neglected will never have the knowledge which leads them to salvation.

 

2) They should be aware that if what they are doing is inappropriate or disobedient, then their last deeds before the judgment will be open and exposed as insufficient for commendation.

 

Jesus is coming and though we are hindered by the knowledge of when that we will be, we are also bolstered by the same fact. The masterful plan of Jesus is that He is coming and therefore we should all be about His business every moment of our lives. Should He tarry, all we can do is praise Him for His patience in dealing with the wayward sons of Adam. Let us remember the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10 –

 

“For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

 

How good it is to know that I could be in the generation which experiences Your return for the church. May this be a motivating factor in my wanting to continue on despite trials, setbacks, and frustrations! O Lord, may You be pleased with the conduct of my life as I hold fast to the good works which are pleasing to You. Amen.

 

 

And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— Revelation 2:26

 

This is the beginning verse of the fourth set of honors promised to those who “overcome.” The one who overcomes is the one who trusts in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, calling on His name and being cleansed by the power of His shed blood. In order to keep this in context, we need to return to 1 John 5:4, 5 –

 

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

 

Jesus today says, “…and keeps My works until the end.” This implies that not everyone who is saved (which is eternal) will be given this power. Of course, this then is a special blessing to those who not only call on Jesus Christ for salvation, but those who also keep His works.

 

There will actually be some who are brought up at the rapture who will be completely surprised by the event. We read this in 2 Peter 1:9 –

“For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”

 

Peter is speaking about a person who “was cleansed from his old sins” and yet had forgotten about it. This person won’t be the ruler of the nations, but will spend his time watching others, who were faithful in their walk, exercising authority that they will be denied. Make sure that you don’t fall away from the sure rewards that await those who remain steadfast in Christ!

 

Lord, in and of myself I am prone to falling away from full attention to my Christian responsibilities. Therefore I ask that You guide me, carry me, and strengthen me as I go forth. Keep me from falling away and ensure my life is properly directed to the things that You deem proper and appropriate in my Christian walk. Amen.

 

 

“’He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’— as I also have received from My Father;” Revelation 2:27

 

Today’s verse is in the middle of the honors bestowed upon those who “overcome” in Christ. It’s noted that they will share in His triumph and will, together with Him, rule the nations. Here is the promise made to Christ from Psalm 2:7-9 –

 

“I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

 

This rod of iron is the shepherd’s rod. The faithful shepherd carried it in order to dash to pieces the enemies of the sheep. Jesus speaks of the completion of this in Matthew 25:31-46. Here are verses 32 & 33 –

 

“All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”

 

The sheep are the nations who will support and protect Israel during the Tribulation period and the goats are those who will be belligerent to her. How do we know this? It’s because Jesus was speaking under the Old Covenant and about the Kingdom Age, not the Church Age (which was still a mystery according to Paul’s later writings).

 

In His discourse in Matthew 25, Jesus refers to those needing help and comfort as “my brethren.” Therefore, He is speaking of the Jews and is referring to the Tribulation as described in the book of Revelation. Jesus was, is, and always will be a Jew. His brethren are the Jewish people. Those who are on Christ’s side during the Tribulation will likewise support the nation of Israel. Take this note for understanding from Ezekiel 36:22 –

 

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.”

 

Despite their unfaithfulness, God’s name is upon the Jewish people and He still has a plan and purpose for them. The Kingdom Age is coming and Christ will rule from Jerusalem in the midst of His people Israel.

 

Jesus, how can I fight against You and Your word. You have shown us what is right and this includes Your sovereign decision to defend and support the nation of Israel. I will commit to pray for them and for their eyes to be opened to Your glorious majesty. May the day come soon when You will rule from Jerusalem in the midst of Israel. Amen.

 

 

…and I will give him the morning star. Revelation 2:28

 

We read these words in Revelation 22:16 – “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Today’s verse ends the list of honors mentioned in the letter to Thyatira that will be granted to the one who overcomes.

 

Jesus promises to give no less than Himself to His faithful believers. We will share in His goodness for all eternity and He will lead us to the still waters and the soft grass of the Garden lost so long ago. Although the Bible in general and Revelation in particular are full of judgment and woe, this judgment is on sin and those who act contrary to God’s will. God gives us the choice and when we exercise it contrary to His ordinances, it is always at our own loss.

 

God is gracious and abundant in mercy and He wants to lavish His goodness upon each of us. Because He created us, He knows what is best and what we should avoid. The prospect of sharing in the Person of Jesus for all eternity is the most wonderful prospect of all. He is the Bright Morning Star and the One who illuminates the splendor of God to us.

 

Peter also speaks of Jesus as the Morning Star in his second epistle. We read these words in 2 Peter 1:19 –

 

“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;…”

 

All of the “prophetic word” is meant to direct us and guide us to Jesus. It is a light shining in the dark world in which we live and it is there to tell us of God’s great love for us and His great Gift to us – Jesus. Don’t miss the bigger picture of what God is doing by getting bogged down in judgment and destruction. These things are necessary in order for us to be at peace with our Creator.

 

O Lord God! Thank You so much for the promise that we have of ever-dwelling in Your marvelous light. Thank You for Jesus our Lord who is the Bright and Morning Star. May we walk by His light and stay on the proper path until that great day when we are called to our true home. Thank You for your grace, your love, and your mercy! Amen.

 

 

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 2:29

 

Amazingly, we’ve already come to the end of chapter 2 of Revelation and the end of the fourth letter to the seven churches. Each letter has received the same warning and admonition as we have today. Jesus says, “He who has an ear…” Let’s open our ears and listen to what’s being read, let’s open our hearts and take heed to the message we’ve been given. Let’s open our eyes that they may be fixed “on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Isaiah said this when speaking to the people of Israel

 

“Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”

Isaiah, not understanding, then responded:

 

“Lord, how long?” And He answered: “Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, The houses are without a man, The land is utterly desolate, The LORD has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.”

 

We need to be attentive lest we drive ourselves out of our own favorable situation. Failure to respond to the Spirit’s words can only result in sadness and excommunication from God. Again as before, today’s verse says “…what the Spirit says to the churches.” Each letter is an individual one for a particular congregation, but it is directed to all churches at all times. The warnings, the promises, and the doctrine are meant for all. Take heed and be blessed!

 

Lord, You have given us a true and faithful record of Your love for us, Your expectations of us, and how we can share in Your divine blessings. Thank You, O God, for all You have done, are doing, and will do for Your chosen people. May we return our praises to You. Amen.

 

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1

 

The name of Sardis means “red ones” and it’s not certain where the word is derived from, but it is fitting of a church full of dead people. Isaiah saw the need for cleansing from a dead-red condition almost eight hundred years earlier – “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.’”

 

It isn’t our “works” that will cleanse us. In fact, the things we do often separate us further from God. This is because we are trusting in ourselves to earn eternal life and are thus setting ourselves up as idols. It’s amazing how the very things we think will earn God’s favor only cause the division to widen. Jesus has done all that is necessary for us to be saved and it is faith in Him alone that can justify us.

 

In this letter Jesus presents Himself as the one “who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.” As we noted in Revelation 1:4, the “seven Spirits” refer to Isaiah 11:2, the seven-fold Spirit of God – “The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might,


The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” The Spirit searches out the state of the churches and knows which are alive and which are dead.

In Jesus’ hand are also the “seven stars.” It was noted that these could either be protecting angels of each church, or they could be the individual pastor. Either way, they are under the authority and control of Jesus. The Spirit checks the health of the church and then Jesus exercises His authority. In the case of Sardis, the checking had been done and the church was found deficient. They, as a group, receive no commendation – only rebuke. Coming up in a few verses is a great word of comfort for some individuals though.

 

Lord, please look on the congregation I attend and revitalize it in the areas where it is spiritually dead. Help us to do works that are honoring of and for You and help us to never trust in our deeds in order to obtain Your favor, but only to bring You glory. Amen.

 

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

 

All hope is not lost for those at Sardis, but they had really let things slip. Jesus warns them to:

 

Be watchful – they were relying on past deeds and not looking for new opportunities to move the church forward in a Christ honoring way. They were also obviously not looking out for trouble that could infiltrate their worship, their doctrine, and their congregation. As the psalmist said so long ago –

 

I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.
My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word. Psalm 119:147, 148

 

The psalmist would rise early, petition God for help in his walk, put his trust in God’s word, and stay alert even in the night, always watchful for the troubling enemy’s attacks.

 

Strengthen the things that remain – there isn’t much good left, but they can at least shore up the walls of the few things they’re getting right. Churches that have let things slip will normally still be strong in one area or another simply because they feel their works will justify them. They won’t of course, but these works aren’t wrong in and of themselves. They just need to be redirected to the honoring of Jesus instead of self justification.

 

Jesus closes by saying He hasn’t found their works perfect before His God. This in no way indicates Jesus is less than God. He is a member of the Godhead and therefore is subordinating Himself to it in this phrase. He is the second member of the Trinity and therefore He has a right to evaluate and make judgments on the works of His church and its members.

 

Jesus, thank You for watching over our congregations and correcting us when necessary. On our own we tend to stray and get misdirected. So please keep us on the right and proper path which will honor You and keep us from personal boasting. To Your glory! Amen.

 

 

Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Revelation 3:3

 

Jesus asks those in Sardis to “remember.” The subject of remembering and forgetting and the call to remember is mentioned many, many times in the Bible. In the 78th Psalm, we read this –They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy.

 

Like Israel who was redeemed from Egypt, the church in Sardis was redeemed from sin. But they both forgot that time and strayed from God. We likewise do the same and Jesus, through His seven letters, calls each of us to “remember.” And we are to remember “how” we received and heard not just “what” we received and heard.

 

When we were called through the gospel, it was with tears of joy. Our hearts were directed to the things of God and we had a passion for His name. Jesus asks us to revisit that moment, hold fast to it, and repent (or turn back to it). If we fail to do so, He “will come upon” us as a thief. It will be sudden and it will be final.

 

Is this speaking of the second coming or of judgment on the individual church? In the end, it doesn’t matter as much as the fact that He is coming and judgment waits. Those who aren’t ready at the rapture will be left behind to suffer through the tribulation period when the world will be plunged into complete disarray. Those who aren’t ready at their death will be separated from God eternally. And those who aren’t ready at the fall of a church won’t even know that they are being led down a road of apostasy which will end in destruction. We need to be ever on guard and continuously “remember” our Lord and His mighty deeds which were done on our behalf.

 

Lord, as the psalmist said so long ago “I remember Your name in the night, O LORD, And I keep Your law.” Help me to continuously ponder the great things You have done for me and to never forget Your love, grace, and mercy – all poured out on me at the cross. Thank You for Your patience and caring direction in my life. Amen.

 

 

You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. Revelation 3:4

 

When people point fingers and accuse other churches of being wayward, they need to be careful to understand that even in bad churches there are good people. Jesus has had strong and disapproving words for the church at Sardis and He certainly has strong and disapproving words for many churches and denominations in the world today. But Jesus searches the hearts and the minds of every person and seeks out those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. He will find good people in bad churches and bad people in good churches. He will weed out the bad and gather the good into His storehouses.

 

When it says, these “few names even in Sardis” haven’t “defiled their garments,” it’s speaking of those who have donned the perfect righteousness of Christ and who aren’t trusting in their own works to save them.

 

In Leviticus 13:47-59, instructions are given concerning the garments which are infected with a leprous plague. These instructions were given in order to protect the people physically, but the symbolism points to spiritual matters. The garments were to be cleansed and any defect was to be removed, but if the plague returned, the garment was to be destroyed because “it is a spreading plague; you shall burn with fire that in which is the plague.”

 

The same is true with those who purport to call on Christ. A first examination may reveal they have done so, but when their actions testify against them, Christ, who has looked into their heart, sees that they never were truly cleansed. This isn’t pointing to works-based salvation. Instead it is looking at the heart of each person to determine their relationship to Christ. Those who have accepted His work have been cleansed and are secure. Isaiah 1:18 gives us the sure promise of the LORD –

 

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

 

I stand on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His righteousness. In Him alone do I trust, and I refuse to stand on my own works – works which are nothing compared to the marvelous work He wrought on my behalf. Anything I add to His work would only tarnish what He has done! And so in Christ alone I make my stand. Amen.

 

 

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Revelation 3:5

 

The honors to those who overcome at Sardis (and thus to all the faithful of the ages) are given today. First Jesus promises that they “shall be clothed in white garments.” Later we will read this in Revelation 19:8 – “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” This is a less fortunate translation than the King James Version which says “righteousness of the saints” rather than “righteous acts of the saints.” What is being bestowed upon the saints is not a garment of white because of anything we have done. Rather it is bestowed upon us by the work of Jesus Christ alone.

 

It is His righteousness which is imputed to us. There is nothing we can do to either merit God’s favor or to add to the work of Jesus Christ. The white garment then is a gift to the person who has, by faith alone, called on Christ as Lord. The second honor is that He “will not blot out his name from the Book of Life.” This means that all people on earth are potentially in the Book of Life but not all are actually there. This is the same as all people being potentially forgiven in Christ, but not all are actually forgiven.

 

It is rather unfortunate that people, when speaking of forgiveness, say that others “must forgive everyone who offends them.” This is not the biblical standard. Offering forgiveness and actually granting it are two different things. God, through Jesus Christ offers forgiveness to all, but not all are actually forgiven. To state otherwise is the heresy of universal salvation. To be saved, one must call on Jesus Christ and on Jesus Christ alone. There is no other way to the Father except through Jesus Christ. When a person does this, He promises that He will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” What an honor to those who believe! Jesus will openly acknowledge them to the Heavenly Host! Hallelujah and Amen!

 

Jesus, give me the desire, the ability, and the wisdom to step out and proclaim Your name to the people of the world now, before the time comes when it will be no longer possible. Help me to make the best use of my time for Your name’s and for the sake of Your coming kingdom. Amen.

 

 

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:6

 

Again as with the previous four letters, the same admonition is given – “He who has an ear, let him hear.” Although we all have ears, we all don’t always listen. Having a physical attribute is no guarantee that it will be used. If you’ve ever done something unusual for the first time, for example water skiing, you will find that the muscles you don’t normally use will hurt the next day. If you’re not used to studying, when you attend a college class for the first time, you’re brain will feel overloaded. If you’re not normally a public speaker and you’re asked to give a presentation, you very well may have a sore throat the next day. All of this occurs because you’re using a part of you that isn’t normally exercised.

 

In the same way, when we don’t pay heed to spiritual things, we get dry, cold, and lethargic in our spiritual lives. Jesus asks us to wake up from this spiritual condition and open the spiritual ears of our souls and “hear what the Spirit says.” How many times have you picked up the Bible and read a passage and put the Bible back down without it changing you at all? The words went into your eyes, passed right around your brain, and disappeared into the ether. Unless we combine the reading experience with the mental and spiritual process of thinking through what is being said, we’ve miss the most valuable part of our interaction with God, His word, and the influence of the Holy Spirit.

 

When you read the Bible, take a moment to pray and ask God to open the eyes of your heart to a deeper understanding of what He is presenting. Hear what “the Spirit says to the churches.” The words aren’t only for the individual church being addressed, but for all people throughout the Church Age and in every denomination. Every heart should be open to what God is relating through the pages of the Holy Bible.

 

Yes Lord! Open the eyes of my heart and give me a mind of wisdom to understand the spiritual applications which are being presented in the Bible. If this is truly Your word, and it surely is, then it has the power to change me, to mold me, and to direct me in wonderful ways which will bring glory to You. And therefore, may it be so. Amen.

 

 

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” Revelation 3:7

 

Jesus addresses now the church of Philadelphia. This church receives only commendation and is a sound and faithful church. Because of this and because of their “little strength” that will be mentioned tomorrow, the letter is addressed from:

 

He who is holy” – The Holy One is a title ascribed to deity in the Old Testament, thus Jesus is equated with God and is therefore capable of protecting and maintaining His church.

 

 “He who is true” – Jesus is the embodiment of truth and therefore His words are completely reliable and the promises He will make to Philadelphia will come to pass.

 

 “He who has the key of David” – In Isaiah 22, the key of David is referring to the authority of the House of David and the honors of the King of Israel. Jesus is claiming that He is the ultimate fulfillment of this honorific title and therefore the promised Messiah. He has all the authority of the kingship in His hand. Therefore, He is the One “who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.” In other words, His decisions are final and all authority belongs to Him. If He accepts a person or a church, nothing can separate them from Him. If He rejects them, then the decision is final and eternity settling for them.

 

In the ultimate sense, Jesus has complete and sole authority over the door to either life or death for all humanity. Amazingly, He leaves the choice up to us as to which we will walk through. When the decision is made, it is sealed with His blood for salvation or for condemnation.

 

I choose Jesus! Lord, be with me in my walk and be with my church in our worship and pursuit of You. Help us to make right decisions, and to stand firm even in times of trial or persecution. I know that all power belongs to You and so I have nothing to fear. Amen!

 

 

I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Revelation 3:8

 

Jesus acknowledges that He is aware of the works of the church in Philadelphia. This in turn tells us that He is aware of the works of all churches – both good and bad. He is surveying the tasks and devotion of His people and is not simply a sideline quarterback.

 

Instead, we read He has “set before you an open door, and no one can shut it.” This means that despite their “little strength” He will never abandon them. However this is most likely not referring to little spiritual strength, but rather that they were continuously opposed by powerful satanic forces. No matter what the enemy threw against them though, He would carry them through to a successful completion and at their end He would grant them access to heaven. The door is open to them and it is a door no one can shut. We see in John chapter 10 what He’s talking about –

 

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. vss 7-9

 

How do we know if this access is granted for us? Jesus gives us the answer in the rest of today’s verse. Despite having little strength, those who have truly called on Jesus will keep His word and will never deny His name. If you have called on the risen Lord, then by nature you will never deny Him.

 

This is why Paul says in Romans 10:9, “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Only a dummy would call on a dead Lord! Rather, we serve the Risen Christ – the One who holds the keys to death and Hades in His hand and the One who has victory over them both.

 

Great and majestic are You Lord God Almighty! When the world comes against us, You are there strengthening us and giving us the hope of eternal glory. I know that nothing in heaven or on earth can separate me from the love which You displayed in Christ Jesus my Lord. Thank You for Your sure and eternal promises! Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Revelation 3:9

 

God is working through history and every promise of the Bible will be fulfilled. In an amazing turn of events, Jesus tells the church at Philadelphia that the Jews who had rejected Christ (the synagogue of Satan) would “come and worship at your feet.” What is so amazing is that several times in the Old Testament, God promises that the gentiles who have opposed and oppressed Israel will bow in submission to them –

 

Also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 60:14

 

This will come to pass, but it will only happen after Israel, as a nation, has fallen down in worship of Jesus in the presence of the church. The time of the Tribulation is coming when the world will align itself against Israel. When all hope seems lost, there will be a conversion of heart and mind in the nation of Israel and they will call on Jesus as Lord, acknowledging their previous rejection in remorseful repentance (Zechariah 12). When this happens, Jesus will return to the land and set up His millennial kingdom.

None of this is fantasy, but rather it is the reality of what will surely come to pass. For the church now, we can know that He has loved us and will continue to do so. We are secure in our faith of Jesus Christ.

 

 “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

 

Lord, Your plan for the ages and the people of the world is simply astonishing. You have bound all under disobedience that You may have mercy on all. By simply acknowledging You as Lord and believing in our hearts that God raised You from the dead, we are saved. What an amazing demonstration of Your wisdom and kindness! Amen.

 

 

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3:10

 

The “hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” is certainly referring to the Tribulation period of the book of Revelation. To come to any other conclusion is to deny the entire premise of the book and is to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the timeline given in Daniel 9:24-27. A 490 year period was promised to the nation of Israel in those verses, and they are supported by dozens of other passages in the Old Testament which point to this period; they are directed at Israel.

 

In this timeline, 483 years have come to pass, leaving 7 years to be fulfilled. These 7 years are the contents of the book of Revelation, beginning with verse 4:2 and continuing until Christ’s physical return in chapter 19. Jesus’ comments about the end times in the gospels, such as Matthew 24, are also speaking of this time and His words are directed to Israel, not the church. The church was still a “mystery” yet to be revealed when Jesus made these comments and they are therefore directed to Israel. However, the promise in today’s verse is made to the church (to whom the seven letters are addressed). Therefore, when Jesus promises He will “keep you from the hour of trial” He means the church.

 

There are two views on what Jesus means. The first is that He will keep the church in, but carry it through, the tribulation period. The second is that He will take the church out of the world through the rapture. The second option is correct. Nothing else would make literal sense of the other passages in the New Testament which speak of the rapture. It also fills the Old Testament typology where Lot was taken out of Sodom before the destruction took place. It makes no sense to say that Israel would be kept in, but carried through, the tribulation and then to repeat the same promise to the church.

 

The rapture will happen and it will be before the tribulation period of the book of Revelation. Get your timeline straight, don’t mix dispensations, and have faith in the plain, clear, and obvious sense of passages which may seem incredible, but which are given to us to be taken in a literal sense. The rapture is the blessed hope of the Christian – and it will happen just as promised.

 

What a gloriously wonderful promise Lord Jesus! That you would come for us in the twinkling of an eye and carry us home to be with You is the most precious thought I carry with me each day. Thank You for Your sure word, Your solid promises, and the security of knowing that we shall live eternally with You in glory. Hallelujah and whooo hooo! Amen.

 

 

Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. Revelation 3:11

 

The church in Philadelphia had “a little strength,” but they still held fast to the truth of the gospel and the message of Jesus Christ. In today’s verse He then says, for the third time in His letters to the churches, “I am coming quickly.” We as Christians are not to miss this fact.

 

A haphazard attitude toward our faith will only result in sadness. When the Lord returns for the church, it will be in the “twinkling of an eye.” Whether you believe this or not or whether you accept the premise of the rapture or not, it is what the Bible teaches. We all have our warning and none of us can say we just didn’t know or we needed a little bit more time.

 

The areas of the Bible we struggle with are no excuse for being lax in what we do understand. Therefore, Jesus asks us to “hold fast” to what we have. The areas that we are performing well in are areas we need to shore up for the long haul because we don’t know the day of the Lord’s return. If we do hold fast, we can be sure that no one will take our crown.

 

This crown is called the “crown of life” by James and the “crown of glory that does not fade away” by Peter. The crown then is far more valuable than whatever temporary benefit we think we have in this life. Nothing in our current walk is worth the glory which will be manifested in us if we endure in our faith. Hold fast and keep your eye on the prize, just as Paul did.

In his second letter to Timothy, this is how he presents the subject of our anticipated crown –

 

2 Timothy 4:7, 8 – “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

 

Lord Jesus, of all the things I look forward to in my life’s walk, nothing is more precious to me than knowing that You came to restore me to life and that You are coming again to grant that life. I love the thought of Your appearing and it is the joy that carries me through this world of trials and grief. I simply can’t wait to be in Your presence! Amen.

 

 

He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. Revelation 3:12

 

Today marks the honors which will be rewarded to the overcomer. First, Jesus “will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.” The word for “temple” is the word nao and elsewhere it refers to the temple in Jerusalem, but specifically to the sanctuary itself. Jesus equates this temple with Himself in John 2:21 and then in Paul’s writings he says that when we call on Jesus, we become such a temple. This is because the Holy Spirit resides in us. Paul then says that the members of the church are being built into a temple of the Lord. All of this shows the progression of what has been and what will be.

 

Today’s verse then is telling us of the great glory to come which will be bestowed on the believer. We will eternally be in the very presence of God, in the Most Holy Place. Because we are termed “pillars” it speaks of immovability and permanence and this is confirmed by “and he shall go out no more.” In addition to this marvelous honor, Jesus says He will “write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem.”

 

Being sealed with the name of God indicates a complete connection with His authority, His nature, and His being. Having the name of the New Jerusalem on us indicates that we are citizens of this eternal city of glory – a citizenship which can never be revoked and which entitles us to all its rights and privileges. This city is coming “down out of heaven from My God.” Jesus as the second Person of the Trinity is the One who is building this city for His people and of His people and when we attain our eternal state at the resurrection, He will write on His faithful His new name.

 

This name is alluded to in Revelation 19:12. It is a name which no one knows except Himself. When He writes it on us, it means that we are given His authority. As Paul says

 

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16, 17

 

Lord, the honors which You have promised to Your faithful are more grand and glorious than we can imagine. We are undeserving of Your honor and only deserving of Your wrath, but You promise to crown us with eternal riches and glory. How can we but praise You! Amen.

 

 

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:13

 

This is the sixth of seven times that the Lord repeats this advice – “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

 

Hearing, in these cases, implies more than just sound going into the ear and causing the little ear-bones to resonate. It implies understanding leading to faith and faith leading to obedience. Hearing without acting upon Jesus’ words would be no different than smelling a gas leak in the house and lighting up a burner on the stove anyway. When the stove is lit, you will find yourself making an unanticipated and forced exit through the kitchen window and out of the house.

 

In the same way, there are people in the seven churches, and in all churches since, who have heard the words of the Bible which were given through the Spirit, but who will find themselves unexpectedly and against their will tossed into “outer darkness” where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The question for each of us as we read today is this, “Have I read and thought through the admonition given to these churches?”

 

Just because we’re reading a daily devotional doesn’t mean we’re getting the message. Are you in a church that condones homosexuality, even from the pulpit? Are you in a church that’s doing good stuff for people without giving Jesus all the credit? Are you in a church that has idols that people service in one way or another? Guess what, these have all been addressed in the first six letters and Jesus doesn’t tolerate these things.

 

It’s time for each of us to really evaluate where we stand and take to heart what the Spirit is saying. We have one more letter to go and then we’ll be off of the subject of the state of the churches. When Jesus returns, if you haven’t taken to heart what’s been relayed to you, then why should He return for you? He is coming, and when He does may He find each of us ready for that unexpected and sudden moment.

 

O God, turn my heart to the voice of Your Spirit as it speaks to me through Your word. Help me be attentive to what He says and to be obedient to His words as I faithfully act upon them. May You receive the glory You are due as I live my life in Your presence each moment. To Your praise and honor I pray… Amen.

 

 

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:’” Revelation 3:14

 

We now come to the final letter addressed to the seven churches. This one is mentioned last and it certainly fits the state of many churches in the world today. Therefore it’s befitting that we should take the words from the Lord to heart and carefully contemplate what’s being said. There are no words of commendation given in this letter. The church is wealthy, arrogant, and dead in its own self-satisfaction. And because of this corrupt state, Jesus identifies Himself as “the Amen.” He is the God of truth who was revealed to us in Isaiah 65:16 –

 

So that he who blesses himself in the earth
Shall bless himself in the God of truth;
And he who swears in the earth
Shall swear by the God of truth; Isaiah 65:16

 

Amen is a word spoken to indicate security, soundness, reliability, and complete assurance – all things which are lacking in this corrupt church. He is also “the Faithful and True Witness.” He testifies to His own nature, needing nothing to be added to it.

 

In both testaments the “testimony of two or three witnesses” establishes a matter. But Jesus testifies to Himself because He is the second member of the eternal Godhead; He is complete in and of Himself. His witness therefore testifies to His gospel upon which the faithful can peacefully rest. And His faithfulness means that He is true and His word is true. They can be fully relied upon.

 

Finally He says He is “the Beginning of the creation of God.” No, this doesn’t mean He was created. It means that He is the First Cause of the creation and is therefore the sovereign Ruler of it. He is “Jehovah” revealed in His fullness. He was, is, and ever will be. He is unchanging and immutable. He is also the initiator of all things and the One who will bring all things to their satisfactory completion. We serve in the Risen Lord the eternal and glorious manifestation of God. He is Jesus.

 

Oh Lord Jesus! The thought of You and Your greatness fills my soul with joy. I know that I can trust completely and wholeheartedly in You. You are ever faithful and ever true and Your glory fills the earth as the waters cover the sea. Praises belong to You alone! Amen.

 

 

I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. Revelation 3:15

 

The name Laodicea comes from two separate Greek words, laos which is a gathering of people, normally of the same stock and language, and dike (pronounced deekay) which is translated elsewhere in the New Testament as “judgment,” “vengeance,” and “punish.” It is associated with a judicial hearing or decision which especially contains a sentence of condemnation. What a fitting name for the words which will come from the Risen Lord.

 

Jesus starts His condemnation with a metaphor that they would be completely aware of. Two other cities were nearby to Laodicea. The first was Hierapolis, a city with hot springs which would have been a tourist attraction. They would use the water for health spas and in other relaxing ways. The other city was Colossae (also known as Barclay) which was renowned for its pure cool water. Archaeological finds show that there was an aqueduct which carried the water from the hot mineral springs to Laodicea which was about 5 miles away. By the time this water got there, it would have been tepid. It also would have been hard water.

 

As you can see, the picture here is that just as the water they had was blah and unpalatable, so were the people in the congregation. Hot water has its usefulness and cold does too, but the tepid water was comparatively disgusting. This is exactly how Jesus saw the Christian in Laodicea – disgusting. Tomorrow we’ll see exactly how much their lukewarm attitude affected Him.

 

This is a lesson and a warning for all of us. Jesus wishes for us to be either hot or cold. Those who are on fire for Him will receive a great reward and those who are cold will receive their just condemnation. But those who are regenerated by the Spirit but who are unwilling to act like it are a hindrance to the cause of Christ. Their lives in Christ are wasted and there will be no reward for works. What a waste of the victory Jesus wrought on their behalf!

 

Lord, I often get cold about my Christian life and I know this is displeasing to You. Please rekindle the spark in my soul and bring me back to the place I should be…burning with the fire of the Spirit and bringing great honor and glory to You. I pray this that You will be praised among the people I interact with. Amen.

 

 

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:16

 

What is it that makes you sick enough to vomit? Sometimes a certain smell can affect us enough to make us throw up. Sometimes people will get sick when they seen something happen – maybe a car accident or they come upon something dead. Certainly tasting something revolting will cause us to wrench. These are all associated with our natural senses and this is the description Jesus uses for comparison – something lukewarm. In our natural senses we have a strong distaste for what is lukewarm. But to Jesus, drawing from this comparison for our benefit, He tells us that a lukewarm state of spiritual life is what is revolting to Him. In order for something to be vomited out of one’s mouth, it must be in that mouth first.

 

Jesus is telling the church at Laodicea that if they don’t change and return to a state of spiritual activity and vibrancy, He would no longer confess them as His people. Their status as “Christians” would be by name only, but they would have no affiliation with Christ in any meaningful sense. Therefore, to be spewed out of His mouth would mean that He would no longer even speak of them; they would be disavowed.

 

Just look around at denominations and churches today which once held to the Bible as the rule and guide of the faith. If they have been replaced with a catechism, a book of order, a book of discipline, or any other general guideline then they may no longer be a group on fire for the Lord. Instead, they are on fire for themselves, setting up channels of self-satisfaction and personal theology.

 

Don’t just rely on the words of the local church you belong to, but go online and check the overall doctrine of the denomination you’re in. You may be appalled at what you see. If you are, how much more is Jesus? Don’t get cut off from the prize because of your love for a church when it is a heart for the Lord which matters.

 

Lord, I certainly enjoy the fellowship of the congregation I’m in, but I love You far more. Open my eyes to know whether You are pleased with where I worship or if I should be working to restore it to a spiritually alive state or if I should be looking for another church home. I want to honor You first and foremost. Amen.

 

 

Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— Revelation 3:17

 

What was the root cause of the lukewarm state of the church at Laodicea? There are two major views on it. One view is that the people of the church were wealthy and prosperous in money and possessions and felt secure in their lives of comfort. If this is the case, then they can be equated with a large portion of believers in the wealthier nations of the world today. “Look how God has favored us! We have a big church and nice cars, money in the bank, and not a care in the world. We ‘have need of nothing.’”

 

The other view is that the church felt they were spiritually prosperous and had a command of the things of God. This church then would have felt much more “spiritual” than those around them and that they were somehow better than the other congregations. “Look out our religion! It’s pure and undefiled and we’re not like the rest of the sinners around us. We’ve dotted every ‘t’ and crossed every ‘i’ and no one can tell us the error of our ways.”

Unfortunately, they missed the fact that “t’s” need to be crossed and “i’s” need to be dotted. They’ve made the fundamental error of trusting in religion for the sake of religion, but have missed the point of true faith and worship.

There is a third option and one that is more than likely. The people at Laodicea fit both views. They had worldly wealth and also a superior attitude in their religious dealings. You see, the two go hand-in-hand quite well. The poor generally have a heart for the things of God, but as societies or groups become prosperous in material possessions, they also tend to solidify their religious lives in a way which exalts the mode of worship over the object of worship – which should always be the Lord Jesus.

 

How or where we worship is far less important than Who we worship. This doesn’t mean that chaos should rule in our meetings, but it does mean that formal gatherings with no heart for the Lord leaves us wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. We stand shameful, hopeless, worthless, confused, and exposed before the eyes of the One who observes our hearts and attitudes.

 

Lord Jesus, let our hearts not be stolen away from You by worthless material gain nor by worship which is cold and lifeless. Let us never cling to rules of order which make our worship the very object of our worship, but help us to use our hearts, breath, actions, and souls to glorify You alone. Amen.

 

 

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. Revelation 3:18

 

From time to time we need advice, and so we seek out a person we can trust – whether we know them personally or not. If we need financial advice, we’ll find a sound advisor for our money – “Mr. Kane, I’m facing bankruptcy…help!” If we need marital advice, we may talk to a pastor – “Pastor Carlin, my husband isn’t caring enough. What do I do?” And if we’ve had psychological trauma, we may go to a world-renowned psychologist – “Dr. McCabe, I’m struggling with the memory of my car accident from a year ago…I don’t know what to do.” In the case of all spiritual matters, the advice comes directly from the Author of our existence – Jesus.

 

We don’t need to ask others for the answer to most spiritual matters because they’re already given right in the pages of the Bible, including the cure for a spiritually lethargic or dead state. Today’s verse is precious counsel from Christ. He says to, “…buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich.” In 1 Peter 1:6 & 7 we see the explanation – “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” Our faith simply needs to be properly directed towards Jesus and we will have eternal riches – “more precious than gold that perishes.”

 

The “white garments” were explained previously. These are the pure and undefiled garments of Christ’s righteousness which are imputed to us when we accept Him as Lord and Savior. All our sins are covered by the precious blood which cleanses. Jesus, and only Jesus, is able to cover the shame of our nakedness. This means that our sins are taken away from before God who must judge every misdeed.

 

Finally, we are told to anoint our eyes with eye salve that we may see. One of the things Laodicea was famous for was the production of eye-salve made from Phrygian powder mixed with oil. Jesus was using this notable product to tell them that the true cure for spiritual blindness rests in Him. The eyes of our heart need to be opened and receptive to the word of God and then we shall truly see.

 

Lord Jesus, help me to take to heart the advice You have given to me throughout these seven letters. Help me to apply them to myself and to watch for those things You warn of in my church as well. Thank You for Your tender care of my spiritual state. Amen.

 

 

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:19

 

Jesus really slammed the Laodiceans for their lukewarm attitude. He gave them no commendation, and He rebuked them… but there is hope. “As many as I love” indicates that Jesus hasn’t departed the halls of the church yet. They still have their lampstand and He is still walking among them, if only they will repent.

 

Because He loves them, His words are to “rebuke and chasten” and not simply to condemn. In this sentence, the “I” is emphatic. This means that He is personally making the plea and there is nowhere left for them should they reject His words of kindness. Here is how Solomon puts such a concept –

 

For whom the LORD loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding; Proverbs 3:11, 12

 

Jesus is “just as a Father” and is talking to “the son in whom He delights.” Eventually we will all stand before Him for either judgment leading to rewards or losses or for condemnation. Let’s strive to gain understanding before that day and let us take to heart His words of rebuke.

 

We need to “be zealous and repent.” This is written in the present tense and is therefore a continuing action and something we need to do constantly. May each one of us evaluate ourselves closely and hold fast to the words of our Lord, Master, and Savior. Let us hold fast to Jesus.

 

Glorious and wonderful Lord! Even in the midst of Your strongest words of correction, Your love for us is evident. Help us to never take this love for granted, but to hold fast to it as a precious jewel of truth…that we can repent and turn to You for life and for eternal joy! What a wonderful, glorious King You are! Amen.

 

 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

 

After taking a strong and disapproving stand against the church at Laodicea because of their lukewarm attitude towards Him, he lovingly calls them back to repentance with a most precious offer. When we deal with those we know, the friendships develop in various ways. Some stay friendly but social, some become “go to the movies” friendly, some never really develop, and some make us rejoice when we draw near. But the friendships which become the most heartfelt and personal are the ones which involve a meal.

 

“Come to my house for dinner” normally means a close and personal friendship has sprung up and the type of conversation is far different than that of other interpersonal relationships. Jesus says to the Laodiceans, “I have offered My life for you and you haven’t respected that offer, but I’m willing to completely change the relationship if you will only let Me.” And so the Lord stands at the door and knocks. In other words, He isn’t going to force Himself on anyone, but will rather allow them to open the door of their own volition. And it only takes one person to open a door, not the entire congregation.

 

That one person may be the inspiration to revive the entire group. If you’re in a church which is in a poor spiritual condition, are you the one who will step forward and help revive the hearts of stone? Jesus is knocking and He is patiently waiting. When the door is open, He will flood the room with His glory. This verse isn’t meant to be applicable solely to the group, although it could be if the whole group responds. Instead, His terminology is personal “I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Jesus is calling the individual and he who responds will have a meal with the King of kings. That heavenly supper is coming and it will be a banquet like no other. Get yourself ready for the most choice dining experience you can imagine… a meal with Jesus!

 

O God, to sit and dine with my Lord and Savior! It’s more than I can imagine - nourishing myself with the Bread of Life and drinking wine from the Cup of Salvation. Even now, I have a foretaste of this glorious meal as I partake of the elements of communion, but these only foreshadow the feast to come. And may it be soon! Amen.

 

 

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:21

 

Today we see the final honor granted to those who overcome. Before we evaluate that, let’s be reminded of how one “overcomes.” We’re given the vital information in 1 John 4, 5 –

 

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

 

The only way to overcome the power of the devil and the world he controls is by faith “that Jesus is the Son of God.” If one denies this, then they remain under the control of the devil and will never participate in the glories to come. However, for those who call on Jesus by faith, we have a final wonderful promise – we will sit with Him on His throne.

 

The throne is the position of ultimate rule in a kingdom and Jesus grants authority for us to share that with Him in His. And how exalted is this position? It is the very throne of the Father. As Jesus said in Matthew 28:18,  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

 

The throne signifies something else which is wonderful as well. In the temple, there was no place to sit. The work of the priests was never done because sin continuously needed to be atoned for. But Hebrews 1:3 says that when Jesus had purged our sins He “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” In other words, the work was finished and the “rest” which man was offered in Eden became available to all who trust in Him.

 

Hebrews 4:3 says that “we who have believed do enter that rest.” Jesus Christ promises us so very much if we will simply demonstrate faith in Him and His works. The glorious promise of reigning and resting with Him is the crown of the honors we will receive. Isaiah 11:10 says that place of His rest will be glorious. Hallelujah and Amen, He sat down!

 

Lord Jesus, just to see Your face is enough for me… I long for that day with a burning desire. But You have promised us so many glories in addition to this. I am overwhelmed by the great Grace and Mercy You lavish upon me, Your unworthy servant. Praises be to You. Amen.

 

 

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:22

 

This is the end of the seventh letter to the seven churches. It’s also the seventh time that Jesus has made this call for us to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” And today marks the last verse of Chapter 3. If you’ve been carefully following the words of Jesus as given to us in these seven precious letters, and if you’ve taken to heart the messages He’s given us, then you should be fully prepared to know when you or your church is diverting from His admonitions and you should have an understanding of how to handle such a diversion.

 

Jesus isn’t the cosmic pushover that people portray Him as. He is the Prince of Peace, but He is also the God who avenges His people, the Judge of sin, and the One who will someday return to weed out all wickedness and unrighteousness. Jesus is speaking this one last time to “He who has an ear” and when we listen and take heed, we will receive all of the wondrous promises given to the one who overcomes. Let’s review the blessed promises He has given to the obedient soul –

 

(1) Jesus will allow him to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

(2) He shall not be hurt by the second death.

(3) He will be given some of the hidden manna to eat. Jesus will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

(4) Jesus will give him power over the nations—“He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessel”—as Jesus also has received from His Father; and He will give him the morning star.

(5) He shall be clothed in white garments, and his name will not be blotted out from the Book of Life; Jesus will confess his name before His Father and before His angels.

(6) He will be made a pillar in the temple of God, and he shall go out no more. Jesus will write on him the name of His God and the name of the city of His God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from His God. And He will write on him His new name.

(7) He will be given the right to sit with Jesus on His throne, as He also overcame and sat down with His Father on His throne.

 

Thank You Lord Jesus for the wonderful promises You have given to the One who trusts in You alone for their salvation. Thank You for the seven letters You’ve given us which are meant to guide us, correct us, and lead us to You. Give me the wise understanding to follow the words of these letters all the days of my life. Amen.

 

 

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1

 

Today’s verse marks the major dividing line given back in verse 1:19 – “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” The “things which are” is the church age and its description ends with today’s verse. The “things which will take place after this” is the tribulation period, the millennial reign of Christ, and the new order of things when there is a new heavens and a new earth. The “door standing open in heaven” is Jesus. For this we go back to Revelation 3:8 which says, “See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it.”

 

As we noted in that verse, this is specifically referring to Jesus’ claim to be “the door” in John 10:7-9. By faith in Him, we are granted access into heaven and the call in faith is rewarded with eternal salvation. When a person calls on Jesus, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14) and this is irrevocable.

 

At some point in the future, Revelation 4:1 will be fulfilled in the rapture of the church. The voice like a trumpet and the call to “Come up here” is explained in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 –

 

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

 

Whether you believe in the rapture or not is irrelevant; it is what the Bible teaches. There is no other way to interpret these verses in their literal sense.

 

If you are a saved believer in Jesus Christ and you have been taught that there is no such thing as the rapture, then the only difference between you and believers who do accept this doctrine is that you will be surprised at Jesus’ coming, whereas they won’t. Those who are waiting for this day are those who have the blessed assurance of a God who doesn’t lie and doesn’t make things up to confuse His people. As Paul states so well in 2 Timothy 4:8 – “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

 

Yes Lord, I love the thought of Your appearing and the great call for us to rise to You at the rapture. It is my greatest hope, my most joyful thought, my heartfelt prayer, and the desire of my heart. To be with You! Oh, to see Your face and rejoice in the glory of Your presence for eternity is the most precious gift of all! I wait anxiously for that day. Amen.

 

 

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.  Revelation 4:2

 

No sooner had the call been made, “Come up here” than John was “immediately” in the Spirit. As we learned yesterday, this is the rapture of the church. The past three chapters have dealt with the church and its conduct during the Church Age, but today transitions to the things which follow this period. The church won’t be mentioned again, in any way, until we get to chapter 19 when it returns with Jesus at His second coming. How quickly is “immediately?” Paul explains the rapture’s speed in 1 Corinthians chapter 15:51, 52 –

 

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

 

The human eye blinks in about 300 milliseconds and a person can blink 5 times in a single second. When the Lord calls His church home, it will be over before anyone knew it occurred. The door will be shut and those left behind will enter the tribulation period. As soon as we depart, we will be in the presence of God and beholding His throne.

 

The One sitting on the throne here is Jesus. God doesn’t have parts and cannot be seen; He is Spirit. Jesus is the One who ever reveals God the Father to us and this will always be the case. Every manifestation of God that is given in the Bible is seen through the Person of Jesus Christ. This is important to understand because there will be many views of the heavenly throne room and many participants interacting with this throne – and each is God manifesting Himself through the Person of Jesus. Although this isn’t something we can fully grasp, He is the One we are seeing in each instance. There is a day ahead when the church will be called home. The question we need to evaluate personally is, “Am I ready for that day?” Be wise and call on Jesus now!

 

Heavenly Father, I have friends and family who haven’t yet called on You. I pray that You will call them, open their eyes, and reveal Yourself to them before the trumpet sounds and we are gone. I wish for them to be saved from the great and dreadful tribulation which is coming upon the entire world. Amen.

 

 

And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Revelation 4:3

 

The comments on yesterday’s verse included the thought that “every manifestation of God that is given in the Bible is seen through the Person of Jesus Christ.” Far too often, Bible commentators attribute this scene or others like it to God the Father. Such is not the case. To understand who this is speaking of, we need to refer to 1 Timothy 6:14-16 –

 

“…that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power.”

 

As God the Father reveals Himself to us, He does it through His Son, Jesus Christ – the “blessed and only Potentate” and the “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

 

The heavenly throne room we are viewing is the glorious position of Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of God the Father. This is not a physical position, but rather a position reflecting authority. John must have been completely overwhelmed by the amazing sight because he doesn’t attempt to describe Him “who sat there” other than to say He “was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance.”

 

Jasper and “sardius” (carnelian) are red stones. The name “sardius” comes from the region where it was often found, Sardis, one of the recipients of the seven letters to the seven churches. This blood read appearance symbolizes the redemption found in the shed blood of Christ.

 

Around the throne there is a rainbow “in appearance like an emerald.” This emerald color symbolizes the mercy which can only be found at the throne of grace. All believers who behold the blood red appearance of the Lord will also know that it is through His redemption that we find mercy.

 

This rainbow is thought to be circular, surrounding the entire throne and thus signifies an unending mercy to those who have called on the Lord by faith.

 

What a glorious vision John saw and what a wonderful message it holds for those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! Lord, how wonderful it will be to walk in the light of Your glory and to behold Your splendid majesty for all eternity. What a wonderful hope the believer in You has. Hallelujah… my heart rejoices in Your glory! Amen.

 

 

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. Revelation 4:4

 

Jesus’ throne isn’t the only one in this heavenly vision. Around it are “twenty-four thrones.” The same word is used for both Jesus’ throne and for these twenty-four. There is certainly debate about who these 24 “elders” are. Some say they are angels, some find other meaning. Let’s look into the matter…

 

The word for “elders” is the Greek word presbeterous (the word from which we derive “Presbyterian”) and it is the same word is used in the gospels and Acts for leaders in the Jewish community. In the epistles, time and again, it’s used to describe the leaders of church congregations. However, it is never used of angels. These elders are “sitting” meaning their work is done and they have authority to rule. Angels are “ministering spirits” which seems to imply they will always be at work. Also there is no indication that they will ever be seated in rule or authority.

 

The elders are “clothed in white robes.” This goes back to Revelation 3:5 where one of the honors of the one who overcomes is that they “shall be clothed in white garments.” These garments are Christ’s righteous which is imputed to them rather than being a righteousness of their own.

 

And these twenty-four elders have “crowns of gold on their heads.” The crowns indicate royalty and the right to rule. This is something which was also promised to the one who overcomes in Revelation 3:21 – “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Jesus, when speaking to his disciples said this in Luke 22:28-30 –

 

“But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

 

Because of these things, and so many more which are found throughout the Bible, it is probable that these twenty-four elders represent the 12 sons of Israel and the 12 apostles of Jesus and thus they are representatives of the redeemed of all the ages.

 

Lord Jesus, it is hard to imagine that human beings will sit on thrones around Your heavenly throne to judge and minister on behalf of Your redeemed. How can it be that You have so favored the wayward work of Your hands, that You would redeem us and then favor us with heavenly rule? What a gracious and glorious God You are! Amen.

 

 

And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Revelation 4:5

 

In Exodus 19:16, we read this description of the time when the Ten Commandments were given to the people of Israel

 

“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.”

 

In Acts 2:3, 4 we read about the moment the Holy Spirit was given to the people –

 

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

 

Today’s verse takes us to the very place where these past events originated – the throne of God Almighty. At Sinai, the people heard the law written which would be engraved on stone. They were given a law they couldn’t fulfill to demonstrate to them the grace they needed.

 

Those in Jerusalem received the sealing of the Holy Spirit on hearts of flesh. They received the grace necessary for salvation from the Lord who fulfilled the law on their behalf. What will proceed from the throne here in Revelation will be judgment upon the world which has rejected those precepts and the grace offered through Christ and have decided to do things their own way. Just, righteous, and holy is the Lord who will judge the unrepentant world during the tribulation period. This time of trouble is drawing near for the people who have rejected Him.

 

Lord, if wayward man only knew the tribulation that will really come upon the world; if he only knew the absolute holiness of You who created him; if he could only reason out the more important issues of life… Lord, help me to be a faithful witness to Your grace before the days of judgment issue forth from Your throne. Amen.

 

 

Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. Revelation 4:6

 

The term “sea of glass” most probably indicates the state of the sea, not the material. “Like crystal” then would indicate its purity and clarity. This sea is “before the throne” indicating that it must be crossed in order to reach the throne. If the ark symbolized the throne of God in the tabernacle and temple, then the comparison is being made to the bronze laver (a large basin used for ceremonial ablutions) in the tabernacle and the bronze sea at the temple. The laver and the sea were used to hold water for ceremonial washing of the priests as they performed their duties. They were to “wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die…”

 

According to Exodus 38, the laver was fashioned out of bronze mirrors used by the serving women and thus was the finest and purest bronze. This washing purified the priests externally so that they could minister. In John 13, Jesus washed the disciple’s feet. When he got to Peter, there was this exchange –

 

“Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean…”

 

Jesus used one word for “bath” and another for “wash.” In order to come to the heavenly throne (as promised by Jesus in Revelation 3:21), one must be pure and undefiled. We are given our “bath” when we call on Jesus and are sealed with the Holy Spirit. To be “washed” as Jesus did with the disciple’s feet then is the on-going sanctification of the believer which was represented by the laver in the tabernacle. This is serious and holy business and we need to conduct our Christian lives properly.

 

The “four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back” are “around the throne.” These creatures are certainly the same as seen by Ezekiel in Chapter 1 and 3 of his book. That they were full of eyes is significant because nothing misses their gaze and they are ever-vigilant as they look from the throne of God and to the throne of God. Their symbolism will be more fully described in the verses ahead.

 

Simply amazing! To know that someday faithful believers will actually gaze upon the throne of God and see the majesty of our Lord and Savior in His glory is beyond comprehension. How wonderful is the picture you give us in the pages of Your word! Glory to God and amen!

 

 

The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. Revelation 4:7

 

As noted a few times, these four living creatures have appeared elsewhere in the Bible. In Ezekiel chapters 1 & 3 they are seen –

 

Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings…As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Ezekiel 1:5, 6 & 10

 

There is also a veiled reference to these four faces in the Genesis 2 story where the river in Eden branches into four riverheads. These four riverheads – the Pishon, the Gihon, the Hiddekel (Tigris), and the Perath (Euphrates) are a veiled reference to one of these creatures. But what do they fully symbolize? They symbolize the work of Jesus Christ as revealed in the four gospel accounts –

 

The Lion symbolizes Jesus as portrayed in the book of Matthew; it reflects

 

His kingship because Matthew portrays Jesus as the “King of the Jews.”

 

The Ox reflects Jesus as portrayed in the book of Mark; it reflects His servant-hood as portrayed there (the ox being a servant animal).

 

The Man symbolizes Jesus as portrayed in the book of Luke; the Man reflects Luke’s designation of Him as the “Son of Man.”

 

And finally, the Eagle symbolizes Jesus as portrayed in the book of John; the Eagle reflects His deity and John’s designation of Him as the “Son of God.”

 

In the end, everything points to Jesus either directly or indirectly. What is veiled is there for us to unveil as we read and meditate on Scripture. The Person of Jesus Christ is the full and complete revelation of God to us in a form that we can understand. He is the glorious image of the invisible God. He is Jesus.

 

How wonderful it is to see my Lord and Savior revealed in the pages of the Holy Bible. Thank You for opening these pictures of Jesus to us in a manner we can understand and appreciate. Surely You are a great and awesome God! You are full of splendor and majesty and You are worthy of all of our praise and devotion! Amen.

 

 

The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8

 

Isaiah 6:1-3 says this – “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!’” As you see, there are similarities and differences.

 

The four living creatures are called seraphim in Isaiah. This word means “burning ones” and their burning appearance certainly comes from reflecting the glory of God. This is similar to Moses’ face when he spoke with God. Afterward, his face shone radiantly. These creatures are always in the presence of God and therefore burn intensely. The creatures in Revelation are described as being “full of eyes” and “they do not rest day or night.” In other words, they behold the glory of God directly and therefore they are continuously strengthened in their being.

 

They are ever being revitalized from the glory of what they see and will be eternally awake, alert, and responsive to what they behold. And their response is to repeat an eternal chant proclaiming the sight – “Holy, holy, holy.” The word “holy” indicates “separation.” God is infinitely holy, or infinitely separated from what is fallen or sinful. In this repetition of “holy, holy, holy” there is an emphasis on God’s supreme holiness and also a hint at His triune nature within the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But holiness doesn’t just separate “from,” it also separates “to.”

 

When someone or something is dedicated and purified, there is a separation “to” God. The perfect separation to God for humans is to be united to Him through Christ and His work on our behalf. Another difference between Isaiah’s vision and John’s is when the seraphim in the temple at Jerusalem spoke; they said “The whole earth is full of His glory.” However, the angels in John’s vision say, “Who was and is and is to come.” The difference is that Isaiah was on earth and God’s presence in the temple was radiating out through the world, illuminating it with His splendor. John, however, was taken to the heavenly throne room and therefore instead of speaking of His illumination of the creation, the creatures proclaim His eternality – He is the one who transcends time, space, and matter which comprise His creation. He is infinitely and timelessly holy.

 

Simply unimaginable! O God, to gaze upon Your infinite glory and beauty is the desire of my heart. Now I have Your word to meditate upon and to see what Your glory is like but I know that in the future I will know intimately that which I now know only in my mind’s eye. I long for that wonderful day when I behold You through my own living eyes! Amen.

 

 

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, Revelation 4:9

 

In this verse, the Greek word hotan is used for “whenever.” It is indicating that this isn’t a rote form of worship, but rather it comes at different levels and that it occurs periodically but continuously. They give glory or doxan which forms our word “doxology.” Thayer’s Lexicon says this is to “give or describe glory to God, why and how being evident from each case in the context: thus by declaring one’s gratitude to God for a benefit received.” They also give honor or timen in Greek. This is described as “the honor which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds.” And they also give thanks or eucharistan which forms our word “Eucharist.” The case in which this word is used indicates “of the person to whom thanks are given.”

 

A similar phase to the one in today’s verse is used eight other times in the book of Revelation. The number 8 in the Bible is used to indicate new beginnings and it has a specific reference in the absolute sense to Jesus Christ. He is the one who makes all things new. These four living creatures, covered with eyes so that they always behold the glory of the Lord, are eternally in awe of the One “who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever.”

 

We normally have the human form of Jesus firmly fixed in our minds and when we hear that glorious and exalted name, it is this human form which we tend to think on. But Jesus Christ is also fully God and He is the “image of the invisible God.” In other words, all of the glory of God is revealed through the Person of Jesus Christ. Every good and wonderful thing we see with our eyes came from God and is therefore only a minute reflection of the infinite glory of our Creator – the Creator who is our eternally glorious and worthy Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

May we never fail to remember that He is wholly worthy of our glory, honor, and thanks.

 

What an amazing and glorious King of the Universe is revealed to us in the pages of the book of Revelation. If the heavenly creatures stand in awe of the splendor of the Lord, how much more should we. Let us never forget that the One who washed the dirty feet of the disciples is also the Lord of all Creation. He is Jesus. Hallelujah and Amen!

 

 

…the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:…  Revelation 4:10

 

Today’s verse continues from yesterday’s verse. As the four living creatures “give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever” these twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne. They prostrate themselves before the King of kings.

 

They have been given golden crowns which signify their right and authority to rule, but they defer the honor to the One who seated them. Jesus is the One who bought each person back from a state of spiritual deadness and restored to them the blessing of eternal life. Therefore, when they “cast their crowns before the throne” they are acknowledging this. Three more times in the book of Revelation we will see these elders prostrate themselves in worship.

 

In all ways, what we have came from Him. He gave us life as the Creator; He gave us freedom from the law as our Redeemer; He gave us the power to grow in holiness as the One who sanctifies us; and He has given us the future promise of glorification.

 

Jesus was there at the beginning, He is here now, and being eternal, He will always be before us. Some commentaries state that the One on the throne to whom the elders cast their crowns is God the Father, but as we analyzed before and will again many times in the coming chapters, Jesus is the One who reveals the unseen God. Therefore, every manifestation of God that we see is Jesus continuously revealing the Father. We can know this is certain in the current heavenly seen because it says the elders “worship Him who lives forever and ever.” This is a restatement of Revelation 1:18 –

 

“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.”

Jesus Christ is fully God and is the One sitting on the throne of God Almighty. To Him be the glory now and forevermore! Amen.

 

We fall down, and lay our crowns, At the feet of Jesus
The greatness of, Mercy and love, At the feet of Jesus
And we cry holy, holy, holy. Amen.

(Chris Tomlin)

 

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11

 

This verse forms the first doxology of praise from the 24 elders and it encompasses the concept of creation. In the next chapter, there will be a doxology of redemption. These same concepts form the reason for the 4th of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 and they are given in the same order. Thus these doxologies are tying the Lord (Jesus) of Revelation in with the LORD (Jehovah) of the Old Testament.

 

Let’s review those – “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” (Exodus) /// “And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy)

 

This Creator, the Lord Jesus, is worthy “to receive glory and honor and power” because He created all things. He is the One who was there at the beginning – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If He created these things, then He was there before they came to exist. He created what is, from what was not (something from nothing) and therefore He was before they came to be. Everything was in His mind and then He spoke them into existence. Because of this, everything belongs to Him and the purpose of His act of creation is to bring Himself glory.

 

And not only did He create all things, but by His “will they exist.” In other words, He is currently and continuously sustaining all things. Jesus is this “Sustainer” as is noted in both Colossians 1 and Hebrews 1. Interestingly enough, man doesn’t need the Bible to understand the necessity of a Creator and a Sustainer.

 

These concepts can be thought through, understood, and supported by reason and intellect alone. Once these things are grasped, then all mankind needs to do is to search out where this infinite Mind has revealed Himself. There is only one text which accurately defines what we can know about this glorious Creator and it is the Holy Bible. Reason alone excludes all other religions and religious texts on earth and establishes the God of the Bible as the One true God. Jesus Christ is the full, complete, and only revelation of this Creator. He is the Lord God Almighty… He is Jesus.

 

Oh God! To plumb the depth and riches of Your word, the Holy Bible, is something that we will be able to do forever. There is no end to the wisdom and beauty of what You have given us in its pages. You are worthy, O God, to receive glory, and honor, and power. Amen!

 

 

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Revelation 5:1

 

We begin chapter 5 with the One seated on the throne – the Lord God Almighty, who is Jesus – who has in His right hand a scroll. Again, we need to note that Jesus is He who continuously reveals the unseen God to us. As we continue along, we’re going to see other representations of Him interacting with each other – all of them are Jesus. There is no contradiction here, but each is simply one aspect or another of God revealing Himself to us through Jesus.

 

This scroll is “in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.” The right hand is the position of authority and is where Jesus rules from (see Acts 2:33 for example). This indicates that Jesus has the authority over what is in the scroll. The scroll is “written inside and on the back.” Normally scrolls only had writing on one side, particularly if they were papyrus scrolls. This is because of the way they were made. The pen used for writing would easily catch on the vertical cracks of the back side of a scroll. This scroll then is of great importance because John specifically notes that it has writing on both sides.

 

It is “sealed with seven seals.” Ancient Roman wills were sealed with seven seals and this is certainly what is being referred to here – a will or title deed. A parallel from the Old Testament comes from Jeremiah 32:6-15 where Jeremiah is told to purchase land and the deed is recorded on a scroll –

“Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days.”

 

This account occurred when the land of Israel would be lost due to their rebellion and the forces of evil Babylon would take control of it. But Jeremiah was given a sure promise, “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.’”

 

Just as fallen man lost the right to the title deed of the land he was given, Jesus regained that right, having purchased it with His own death after fulfilling the Law in Himself (the earthen Vessel where the law was kept.) “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.” Hebrews 9:16

 

O God! That You had a plan, even from the very beginning to restore us to Paradise through the life, death, and resurrection of Your own precious Son, our Lord Jesus. He came and dwelt in a jar of clay that we might be reconciled to You… Glory to You O God! Amen.

 

 

Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” Revelation 5:2

 

Yesterday we were introduced to the scroll sealed with seven seals in the “right hand of Him who sat on the throne.” This scroll had writing on both sides and is the will or title deed to which Adam lost the right when he disobeyed God. Since that time there have been many billions of humans on the earth and the question is now put forth, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” Is anyone who has lived since Adam qualified to restore and accept responsibility for that which he willfully lost?

 

The question is asked by a “strong angel.” It has been surmised that this is the angel Gabriel who has been the bearer of God’s revelation to certain people throughout redemptive history. He specifically appeared to Daniel, Zechariah, and Mary and may have appeared at other times as an unnamed herald of God’s message. Gabriel means something like “mighty one of God” and this would fit the description here of a “strong angel.”

 

The words are waiting to be unsealed which implies that they were once sealed, that they have been sealed since then, and that someone is expected to unseal them at some point. In Daniel 12:4 there is a parallel thought concerning sealed words – “And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”

 

This statement was precipitated by the following words –

 

“At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.”

 

Daniel was told about the events of a coming day which would be centered on the nation of Israel but which would encompass the entire world in mass destruction. This time is known as the Tribulation Period and is the focus of the rest of the Bible…if only someone is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals. Stay tuned.

 

Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals? Lord, I know that I am not. Where Adam failed, I continue to fail. I have been disobedient to Your law and have not been perfect. But thank You O God that my sins are covered by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I know that because of Him, my sins are forgiven. Thank You, O God, for Jesus! Amen.

 

 

And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. Revelation 5:3

 

The scroll has been presented and the question to all humans who ever existed has been put forth, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And the answer has been determined –

 

No one.

 

There is a three-fold dimension to the answer as well.

 

(1) No one in heaven – No human being who has ever lived and who is currently in the heavenly realms is qualified. Enoch, the seventh man from Adam, was translated directly to heaven because he “walked with God” – unworthy. Elijah, the great prophet of Israel, also went directly to heaven in a chariot of fire – unworthy.

 

(2) No one on the earth – Think of the people on the earth today who you may admire. Billy Graham – Unworthy; Tim Tebow – Unworthy; Some politician – unworthy; You – unworthy; Me – unworthy. Repeat this for the other 7 billion people on earth – all unworthy.

 

(3) No one under the earth – Every human who has ever existed since the creation of Adam and who is now resting in the dust from which they came… just think about it! Great men of God; great world leaders; missionaries; evangelists; heroes of the Bible – all unworthy. And not only are we unable to open the scroll, we aren’t even worthy to look at it.

 

We have inherited Adam’s sin directly in three ways: Legally – we are legally in Adam because He is our federal head. Potentially – the very fact that we could exist as human beings brings us into direct contact with Adam. Seminally – all humans who actually exist (from the very moment of conception) are stained with Adam’s sin, having inherited it as a result of the fall. Death, which is the wages of sin, proves this. Even infant babies aren’t excluded.

 

As an important note, this verse today disproves the immaculate conception of Mary. If Mary were born and had remained in a sinless state then she would be worthy. But no one, including Mary the mother of Jesus, is worthy. This frightening passage should leave all of us humbled. We have no claim to boast before God because we are unworthy.

 

Lord, when I get thinking too highly of myself, simply looking into Your word reminds me that I am unworthy – wholly and completely. My very existence testifies against me and I stand condemned. That You would send Jesus to cleanse me has all the more significance when I see my own fallen state. Thank You, O God, for Jesus. Amen.

 

 

So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. Revelation 5:4

 

John “wept much” at the state of what he was seeing. Other translations say he “wept and wept” or “wept bitterly.” John was overwhelmed at the reality of what he was being presented with in this heavenly vision. He had been told in verse 4:1, “I will show you things which must take place after this.” But now that he was in the heavenly throne room, it appeared that the vision may be one of eternal condemnation for all humanity. Not a soul in all of human history was worthy to “open and read the scroll” or even “to look at it.”

 

The effects of sin permeated every person who was ever born. Only a sinless being would be qualified to replace the failings of Adam… but no one came forward. No one else was worthy. Even John who was “in the Spirit” (4:2) wasn’t found worthy. Remember yesterday’s verse – “no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.” The three possible categories of man’s state are covered in this verse and the ruling has been handed down… “No one.” But John, in his moment of grief had forgotten the words of Paul as recorded in Philippians 2:9-11 –

 

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

There is a name that is above every other name and One to which “every knee should bow.” This One came and fulfilled the Law on behalf of Adam’s seed. Being born of a virgin, he didn’t inherit sin as other humans do and was therefore qualified to face the devil head on. He prevailed where Adam had failed and so He can now speak on behalf of “those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.” Don’t weep John; there is an answer to your immense grief. He is coming and His name is Jesus.

 

That Name above every other name fills my soul with joy. When I think on my sin and fallen state, I look around and see that everyone else is just like me. We all fall short of Your glory, O God. And it makes knowing Jesus all the more precious. In all of human history, only One has gone without sin and it is to Him that I direct my glory, honor, and thanks. It is Jesus. Amen.

 

 

But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5

 

While John was overwhelmed with the thought of humanity lost in sin and removed from any possibility of returning to Eden, one of the 24 elders calmed his sadness. “Do not weep.” Like each of us, he had to wait on the Lord to reveal His plans. “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah!”

 

As we saw in the symbolism of the four living creatures before the throne, the lion symbolizes rule, authority, and kingship. When blessing his sons before his death, here is what Israel said to Judah

 

Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.”

 

This “Lion” prophesied by Israel about 1700 years earlier came in the Person of Jesus and was being unveiled before John’s eyes. The elder also calls him the “Root of David.” This refers back to Isaiah 11:10 – “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.”

 

Later in Revelation 22 Jesus says, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David.” In other words, as the Root, He is prior to David and as the Offspring, He issues from David. He is both the Creator and Son of the great King of Israel. This glorious ruler “has prevailed to open the scroll and loose its seven seals.” What appeared to be a loss for humanity has become a victory – but only because of the intervention of God. The incarnation of Jesus Christ was the only hope for man because all men are conceived in sin through Adam and thus receive his fallen nature. But Jesus came through a woman and by the Holy Spirit and therefore didn’t inherit Adam’s sin. He was qualified and He prevailed. He is the great King. He is Jesus!

 

Lord, when things seem out of control in our lives and we are at our moment of greatest sadness and despair, You are there and in complete control. What have we to fear when You have gained the victory? You not only conquered death and defeated the devil, but You have promised to include us in Your great plan for the ages. Praises belong to You alone, O God. Amen!

 

 

And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Revelation 5:6

 

John heard the voice say, “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” Expecting a kingly figure when he raised his eyes from weeping he instead saw… a Lamb. And this Lamb looked “as though it had been slain.”

 

The scroll which is to be opened is a will or title deed and as we previously noted, “…where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.” Jesus Christ gave up His perfect life to establish the New Covenant and to regain the title deed to fallen humanity. The scroll which is to be opened will contain judgments upon the world and the One who opens it will be the executor of those judgments. When they come, the people of the world will not be able to ask why the executor isn’t also participating in these judgments. His scars testify that He already has. He already took the judgments that the world can now expect and He prevailed over what He was given. He gave His life in the task before Him and, being sinless, was resurrected. Those who call on Him will likewise be given eternal life. Those who don’t will receive what they deserve for rejecting His gracious offer.

 

The slain lamb that comes forward has “seven horns and seven eyes.” These are explained as being “the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

 

In verse 4:5, we read this – “Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” In other words, these “seven Spirits of God” that burned before the throne – illuminating the splendor of God have now become the active agents of the Lamb which will go forth in judgment. The eyes see every hidden thing and the horns, a symbol of strength, will execute the judgment upon the unrepentant world. This lamb is no longer the meek and mild suffering Servant. He is now the One who comes to bring destruction on all who have rejected Him. He is the Lion and the Lamb. He is Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, when I think on the slain Lamb, innocent and spotless, standing in the heavenly throne, I can’t help but praise You. In humility and kindness You came to this world and in love You have offered peace and restoration. And yet the world has mocked, ridiculed, and rejected You. Surely You are righteous in the judgments to come. Amen.

 

 

Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Revelation 5:7

 

Again, it needs to be stressed that what we are seeing is Jesus continuously revealing the unseen God. The One on the throne is Jesus as we previously noted. And both the Lion and the Lamb are Jesus. He is both the First and the Last and He is the Beginning and the End. The Lamb “came and took the scroll.” This hearkens back to the book of Daniel. In Daniel 7:13, 14, we see this awesome heavenly scene –

 

 “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.”

 

The right to touch and to open the scroll has been given to the Lion of the tribe of Judah who is the King of kings, and the right has been given to the Lamb of God who fulfilled the law on behalf of fallen man and then paid the penalty for their sins at the Cross of Calvary. His blood was shed as a substitution for those who are willing to accept Him. The guilt is transferred and the sins are removed; the righteousness is thus transferred from God to man.

 

The scroll came “out of the right hand” of the One on the throne. Remember, Jesus sits “at the right hand of God.” This is not a physical position of God which He sits at, but a position of authority. Jesus has won the victory and gained the right to the title deed and He has paid the price for those who call on Him. He offers mercy based on His paying this price, and He has provided the grace by exalting all who accept the call. The choice is made and now the scroll can be opened. When it is, the entire earth will be affected by the result.

 

Get ready, big events are on the horizon…

 

All hail the great and exalted name of Jesus. He is the Lord God Almighty who rules the universe; He is the Lion of Judah who rules the earth; He is the Lamb of God who provides atonement for His people; and He is the One to open the scroll and let loose judgment upon an unrepentant world. He is Jesus – Hallelujah and Amen… He is Jesus!

 

 

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:8

 

The Lamb is worthy and He has taken the scroll! The right to the deed has been established. Until now, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders have fallen down before the One on the throne – the eternally existent God and Creator of all things, who is Jesus. But now it says they “fell down before the Lamb.” Jesus is God united with human flesh. From the time of His cross and resurrection, this will always be so. He will never cease to be other than the God/Man and it is to Him that our attention, thoughts, allegiance, and worship are to be directed. This is the point of the symbolism we’ve been given. Jesus has prevailed!

 

“Each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense” isn’t descriptive enough to tell us whether this means the living creatures and the 24 elders or only the 24 elders; it is, however, most likely just the elders. Either way, they have:

 

1) Harps – these are translated from the Greek word kitharas which is where our modern word for “guitar” comes from. These are not the harps of David’s time, known as gittiyth and kinor. Nor are they the Greek style of lyres. Instead, these are more closely associated in sound and style with guitars.

 

2) Golden bowls full of incense – these would be the same type of censers as were used in the temple times in Israel when the priests performed their duties. The symbolism of the incense is explained here and therefore when reading about incense elsewhere in the Bible we are to let the “Bible interpret the Bible.” In other words, incense was and is representative of the “prayers of the saints.” Because incense is a picture of prayer, it is important to understand that God only accepts the prayers of faithful believers.

 

In the Old Testament, authorized incense was never to be mixed with any other. On two occasions, when it was, the people offering it died. This lesson is important for us to grasp – we are never to pray with non-believers in inter-faith prayer gatherings. By doing so, we are telling them that their prayers are as valid as ours and are, by default, condoning the false god they worship. Only one type of prayer is acceptable to God and that is prayer offered to and through Jesus Christ.

 

What a magnificent thought – God has never lost control! When we thought all was lost, His plan was being carried out in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Lamb of God has prevailed and we are saved! Praises be to You for the marvelous workings of Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.

 

 

“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9

 

Worthy! The Lamb is worthy; the Lion has prevailed; the scroll will be opened after all. The Creator is now the Redeemer.

 

Before, the call was made to all humanity – Is there “no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth” who could open the scroll, or look at it? When all looked lost and we were dead in our sins, the slain Lamb stepped forward – the One who redeemed us to God by His own precious blood. God’s plan for the ages is fulfilled in the God/Man – Jesus Christ.

 

And this plan isn’t for a certain group of people only. Jews are covered – yes of course. They are the line from whom Jesus can trace His earthly lineage. But this isn’t just about the Jews… This is about “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

 

Do you dislike someone because they’re Asian? Jesus has shed His blood to redeem them too.

 

Do you feel somehow superior to the Mexicans who moved in down the road? Jesus’ life was given so that they have a right to eternal life.

Does the thought of sharing a table with an African upset you? Jesus has offered them a seat at the Feast which is coming – a heavenly banquet.

 

When you were stationed in the Philippines, did the customs of the locals just make you long for home to get away from such people? Jesus has sent them an invitation too.

 

If you’re bearing some ill will towards a different ethnic group, culture, nation, or language, you need to re-evaluate your thinking. They are God’s image bearers and equal with you in all ways. Acts 17:26 bears this out –

“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”

 

We all came from one man – Adam. And we are all one group – human beings. And we are all given the same opportunity – call on the name of Jesus. God is no respecter of persons. The Lamb died for all.

 

Lord, its true… I have held bitterness towards people of other cultures and I have felt ill will towards them. I have failed to look at the greater picture – that they are, in fact, a part of the same human family as I am. We came from the same father and they bear your image too. Give me the sense, the will, and the heart to love those whom I have not loved. Amen.

 

 

And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10

 

Today’s verse is from the NKJV. The NIV however reads, “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” In verse 9, it said “us” and in this verse it says, “us” and “we.” If this is the correct reading, then the 24 elders are certainly redeemed people and not heavenly beings. If not, then it isn’t certain who they are. Based on the symbolism though – the white garments, kings crowns, etc. – which we have already analyzed, the NKJV is certainly more likely. These things are important, but we need to focus on the greater picture – that there will be “kings and priests” to God from the redeemed of the world and they will “reign on the earth.”

 

This is important especially because this is what was promised to Israel back in the book of Exodus –

 

“And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (19:6).

 

It is also something Peter wrote about when writing to the “pilgrims of the Dispersion” in chapter 2 of 1 Peter. Resulting from the work of Jesus Christ, we have the authority to rule and to serve. Jesus received the right to the kingship through the line of David, but David also indicated that the right to the priesthood would come to the Messiah as is stated in Psalm 110. This is fully explained in the book of Hebrews. Jesus is the King/Priest and the offices are united into one as was prophesied in Zechariah 6:13 –

 

“Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

 

Jesus has merged the two offices into one and He now shares those duties with His redeemed. As a saved believer in Jesus Christ, you have a right to authority and rule. Because this is so, now is the time to begin to act on that by exalting Him for His work of redemption in your life.

 

What a wonderful Lord, what a wonderful Savior! You brought me out of the chains of sin and condemnation and have freed me to be Your servant. But even more – You have given me the right to rule and to serve You in Your kingdom. I stand up and praise You, O God. Thank You for the precious gift of Jesus Christ my Lord! Amen.

 

 

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, Revelation 5:11

 

The Lamb is worthy and has taken the scroll. When He did, those around the throne fell down before Him and sang the song of Redemption. John heard the glorious words, knowing now that the Creator who was worshipped in the previous song (Chapter 4, verse 11), is also the Redeemer. All things belong to Him and He is worthy of all praise.

 

Next John’s attention comes upon a marvelous sight and surely a glorious sound – he “heard the voice of many angels around the throne.” People write songs about the voices of angels, knowing that they must be the sweetest sound of all – like a heavenly concert. And there weren’t just a few, but “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” The word for “ten thousand” here is a myriad. A myriad means “ten thousand” and it was the largest number in the Greek numbering system. In other words, the sight which John saw encompassed a number of angels which was simply impossible to count.

 

So just think on what is being relayed. Jesus, before His crucifixion, said this – “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” All of the power of the heavenly hosts was at Jesus’ disposal and yet He willingly suffered for the sins of fallen man. If you wonder what you are worth to Jesus, it is reflected in this thought today. All of the power of heaven could have been brought to save Jesus from the cross, but He died for you.

 

Jesus said something else on similar lines – “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” In other words, all of the riches of the world aren’t worth one human soul. What we can’t always see clearly is brought into absolute clarity of focus at the cross of Jesus. And so the angel’s voices proclaim His majesty – “Worthy is the Lamb.” So should we proclaim our Lord!

 

Lord, when I have doubts about my own worth, all I need to do is to reflect on the cross. What You did for fallen man includes me, even me. I am so sorry for the sins of my life and I am sorry that they necessitated Your sacrifice. I will forever sing Your praises as we gather around Your glorious heavenly throne. Amen.

 

 

…saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12

 

The heavenly choir of angels – an innumerable number of them – joins with the living creatures and the elders to proclaim the worth of the Lamb. This Lamb was slain and bears the marks of His death as a testament to the ages that He paid the price for the people of the world. They call out seven ways in which He is worthy –

 

To receive power – As the Creator, He was entitled to all power and authority, but He set that aside to walk and dwell among us. However, after the resurrection, He said this, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” With authority comes power. Jesus has complete and absolute power over the created order because of His having prevailed.

 

Riches – This includes every tangible part of the creation. Not only does He have rule over the creation, but He is the owner of it. He is the Creator and He is the Redeemer and so everything belongs to Him alone and we are only His servants participating in the abundance of His wealth.

 

Wisdom – In 1 Corinthians 1:24, Christ is called “the wisdom of God.” What God has done has been done through Jesus Christ. Both the way creation occurred and continues to work, and the way God has preordained the plan of redemption demonstrate the execution of His infinite intelligence. The depths of His wisdom are embodied in the Person of Jesus.

 

Strength – The concept of strength belonging to God permeates the Bible, such as in the psalms – “To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises.” Jesus Christ is worthy to receive this honor because it came from Him and is now returning to Him as the victor.

 

Honor – This includes reverence, respect, and worship. Because He prevailed, Jesus has the right to all of these now and forevermore. When we bow before God, when we proclaim the majesty of God, when we pray to God, we do these things through Jesus Christ.

 

Glory – In God there is no darkness. He is the infinite brightness of splendor and radiance and Jesus Christ is the One who reveals this to us. Towards the end of Revelation, it says this “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” Jesus Christ receives and directs the full glory of God. He is the very light which dispels the darkness.

 

Blessing – There are two types of blessing that should be noted. The first is the blessing from a greater to a lesser, such as when a father blesses his son. The other blessing is the one spoken of here and can be equated with “praise.” Jesus is worthy of all blessing and praise. He created us and therefore He is to be blessed. He redeemed us, and therefore He is to be blessed. He sustains us, and therefore He is to be blessed. For all eternity, may the souls of God’s people bless the Lord!

 

Worthy is the Lamb. Worthy is Jesus!

 

O Lord our God, You are infinitely worthy of power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing! May we never fail to give You these through the Person of Jesus. He is the One who humbled Himself even to death so that we may have life. Allow us the honor of ascribing to Him the splendor and majesty that He is due! Amen.

 

 

And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

 

All blessing and honor and glory and power “to Him who sits on the throne.” This is Jesus, the Creator of all things. “And to the Lamb” – this is Jesus, the Redeemer. This all-encompassing doxology hearkens back to the 148th Psalm which is directed to the LORD “Jehovah” in the Old Testament. Jesus is the full revelation of the Person of Jehovah. Let’s praise Him together –

Praise the LORD!

 

Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!  Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away. Praise the LORD from the earth, You great sea creatures and all the depths; Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; Mountains and all hills; Fruitful trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and flying fowl; Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and maidens; Old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven. And He has exalted the horn of His people, The praise of all His saints—Of the children of Israel, A people near to Him.

 

Praise the LORD!

 

Oh Lord Jesus, may You be praised and held in the highest honor among Your people! You are the King of glory and are worthy of every blessing and honor that can be given. All things come from You and to You are all things. Glory to God in the highest! Glory to the Lamb of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus! Amen.

 

 

Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. Revelation 5:14

 

The cry of “Amen” from the four living creatures and the prostrated worship of the twenty four elders returns to “Him who lives forever and ever.” In other words, it has come full circle from where it started in chapter 4. The attention has focused on the One on the throne who lives forever and ever, and then to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, and then to the Lamb who was slain. And now, after demonstrating that He was the qualified Redeemer who descended from David and yet was David’s Source, the attention is redirected to Him as He sits on His rightful throne.

 

The term “Him who lives forever and ever” is used seven times in Revelation and it shows us the eternality of the Lord. Here in the last verse of Chapter 5, it is repeated to remind us that everything we’ve experienced in this heavenly scene is given to show us the magnificence of Jesus. He is our Creator. He is the One who directed history toward the people of Israel and then to the tribe of Judah. From the tribe of Judah redemptive history came into focus in the great king, David. And from David the genealogy continued (as is recorded Matthew 1 and Luke 3) to the Christ – our Lord Jesus.

 

The gospels then tell us of His work, His death, and His resurrection. The establishment of His church is recorded in Acts and then the importance of His work is explained in the epistles. Here in the book of Revelation we have the on-going unveiling of Him in His entire majestic splendor – showing us in apocalyptic form what the Bible has presented. And now our attention is refocused on the throne from which He came – eternity itself.

 

Jesus stepped off of this throne and united with human flesh to do His amazing work and then He returned to it – there in heaven to “sit at the right hand of God” with “angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”

 

Lord God Almighty! It all makes sense when we stand back and look at what is presented from a historical perspective. Yes, it all comes into focus! All things are from You, belong to You, have been accomplished by You, and they return to You. You are the entire focus of it all. May my eyes never be directed away from the splendor of Your glory! Amen.

 

 

Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” Revelation 6:1

 

We’re at the beginning of chapter six and the opening of the seven seals. From this point on, even until chapter 19 (with some interesting inserts along the way), we will be viewing the 7 years of tribulation which will come upon the whole world. This is the “70th week” of Daniel’s 70 weeks as was revealed to him in Daniel 9:24-27. This is the correct view – that the events are yet future and are centered on the people and nation of Israel. As Daniel was told – “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city…” Daniel was a Jew and Jerusalem is Daniel’s holy city. No other interpretation is acceptable for this.

 

The fact that this is future is completely evident from a proper study of those four verses as they are revealed in human history and as is confirmed throughout the rest of the Bible. The Lord Jesus was also born a Jew, lived as a Jew, died as a Jew, and was resurrected a Jew. He ascended from the Mount of Olives and promised to return at some future point – and His return will be to that same spot, literally and physically (see Zechariah 14:4). When He does, He will return to His people – Israel. Only a poor interpretation of the Bible will come to any other conclusion.

From the opening of the seven seals and through the trumpet judgments and bowl judgments, there is an immense amount of disagreement as to the timing and meaning of what is occurring. Because these things are future, it would be inappropriate to be dogmatic about much of the interpretation. A careful evaluation of what will be presented is needed without being adamant about that which we can’t know for certain. What is past is certain and what is clear is certain. That which is veiled will be fully realized only when it happens.

 

In today’s verse, the first seal is broken. The Lord is opening up the title deed. As the seal is broken, one of the living creatures around the throne calls to John, “Come and see.” John’s eyes will behold and his pen will write the events which are coming. The world is being warned in advance. God has graciously offered us to see these future events. When they arrive, no one can say they weren’t warned.

 

Lord Jesus, open our eyes and our hearts to appreciate the meaning of the symbolism to come. As we peer into these things, may our study help us to more fully appreciate that You are in complete control of the future and that nothing coming upon the world is therefore out of Your control. We thank You for Your perfect plan of the ages. Amen.

 

 

And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. Revelation 6:2

 

John’s direction is turned toward a white horse and someone sitting on it with a bow. A crown was given to him. This crown represents authority to rule. The rider “went out conquering and to conquer.” There are two major views on who the rider is. The first is that it’s Jesus. Some reasons for this view are that he is on a white horse and Jesus comes back to earth on a white horse in Revelation chapter 19. The bow without arrows supposedly then represents Jesus’ victory without using military might. And a crown is given to Him, indicating His right to rule. This view is unlikely at best. The second major view is that this is the antichrist… big difference there!

 

The white horse was ridden in ancient times by the leaders of conquering armies, so comparing the white horse here with the one in chapter 19 is not a necessary connection at all. The bow is a symbol of battle and just because there are no arrows mentioned is irrelevant. What the rider was wearing as far as battle armor isn’t mentioned either, but any warrior would certainly wear it.

 

The crown which was given to him in no way ties him to Jesus because “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 9:1)

 

This rider has been given authority to do his work during the time of the tribulation period. Eight more times in the coming chapters, the term “was given” is used to indicate an allowance of evil power, so the argument cannot be made that this is Jesus from that term either. The term “anti” when applied to the antichrist” means “instead of.” And this is certainly what is expected during the tribulation period based on the figure mentioned in Daniel 9:26 – “the prince that shall come.”

 

This prince is anticipated to come in the final 7-year period mentioned in Daniel’s vision and that 7-year period is still future; it is the tribulation period of Revelation. The figure in today’s verse then is certainly this coming antichrist – going out conquering and to conquer.

 

Lord, the best part about reading today’s verse is to know that I am already safe in You. The antichrist who is coming has no authority over me because I am Yours! Hallelujah and amen to this! Lord, I pray for my family and friends today who still don’t know you. Please open their eyes now so that they will be spared from this time of trial to come. Amen.

 

 

When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” Revelation 6:3

 

The Lamb opens the second seal and the second living creature called out “Come and see.” The question may come to mind, which of the living creatures is this? When the first seal was broken, it simply said, “one of the four living creatures.” But this verse says “the second living creature.” Therefore, they are calling out in order. The first one in verse 1 then was the lion and the one here in verse three would be the ox. After this will be the man and then after that will be the eagle.

 

If you remember, these are also represented by the four gospel accounts. Matthew depicts Jesus as the King, symbolized by the Lion; Mark as the Servant, symbolized by the Ox; Luke as the Son of Man, symbolized by the Man; and John as the Son of God, symbolized by the Eagle. The living creatures around the throne are named in the same order as the gospels and they are calling out in the same order as the gospels. What is revealed in the four gospel accounts is the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

 

For those who accepted the message before this time of tribulation, pardon of sins was granted and eternal life was given. They were taken at the rapture, escaping the things to come. But now, those same gospels which were rejected by the remaining people on earth, testify against them. The living creatures are calling out the destroyers, one by one, who will bring judgment on the earth to those who are left behind to endure the tribulation.

 

There is an order to all things and God displays His divine order in the Bible. It is consistent and it is verifiable. Because of this, His judgments also follow His divine order. We need to carefully and sacredly handle the gift He has given us in the pages of the Bible. They demonstrate the great wisdom of our Creator and they show His plan for us. Let us take heed to the words given.

 

Thank You Heavenly Father for the great book You have revealed to us – the Holy Bible. It is one of comfort, of wisdom, of joy, and of blessing if we handle it properly. Help us to do so and to study it and love it all the days You have set before us. Amen.

 

 

Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword. Revelation 6:4

 

This second horseman is symbolic of war. Just as the planet Mars, the Red Planet, is a symbol of war. This probably isn’t coincidence as even from the first chapter of the Bible, the heavenly objects are meant “for signs and for seasons.” Planets and constellations are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible in this way. However, we shouldn’t make the error that we can either predict the future by these things, nor should we look to them for divine guidance. Instead, we have the pages of the Bible to tell us the meaning of heavenly occurrences.

 

This one, symbolized by a rider on a red horse, has been “granted to take peace from the earth.” This is coming after the rapture as is revealed in 2 Thessalonians 1-12. Specifically, verse 7 says this – “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” The world is already filled with war and lawlessness, but it is restrained by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Were it not for this presence, the world would have already come to its end.

 

However, when the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence is removed, the world will be left to do things on its own. How do we know this is after the rapture? It’s because believers are already “sealed” with the Holy Spirit according to Ephesians. If the Holy Spirit is removed, then the believers must be removed too because the Holy Spirit is also a “guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Once this occurs, mayhem will ensure.

 

The word “kill” in today’s verse is sphaxousin. This term means “to kill by violence” rather than by means of war. The world will devolve into a place of chaos and mayhem. Murderous bands of thugs will prevail over the weaker and then they themselves will slaughter each other. There will be few left when the seven years of tribulation are over. Now is the time to call on Jesus. Those who do will be taken out before that time of trouble comes.

 

Lord God, I look around and see the world in chaos and distress and yet I know that it could be so much worse. Thank You for Your calming Holy Spirit upon the nations. Thank You for Your patience with the unruly sons of man. Help me to be a light to Your goodness during my walk here – to Your honor and glory. Amen.

 

 

When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. Revelation 6:5

 

The third horse is let loose – he is black and its rider “had a pair of scales in his hand.” The first horse was white and carried a rider with a bow who “went out conquering and to conquer.” The second horse was red and “it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth” through war. Now comes famine and hunger – the result of the first two horses. If you see the logical progression, the entire world is following the same path that Nazi Germany went down and the same path that many other countries have gone down.

 

They started with a leader who supposedly could conquer and provide peace (the white horse), but he instead brought war (the red horse) and its result is famine and suffering (the black horse). These will be followed by one more, but before that one arrives there is going to be the time of rationing which is symbolized by the scales. Leviticus tells of this type of horror – “When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.” Because the rationed food won’t be enough to satisfy, people will secretly hide anything they can eat even from their own family. The horrendous consequences of rejecting God will result in what is now unimaginable.

 

Deuteronomy 28:56, 57 shows us the level that humans will sink to when the food runs out. Be warned that these words are as shocking as anything you may ever read and therefore, you may want to skip the following quote – “The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of her delicateness and sensitivity, will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, her placenta which comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of everything in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates.”

 

Such is the state that the entire world will be reduced to in the years ahead. This type of situation will fill the world because of our rejection of the love of God in Jesus so we can do things our own way.

 

Lord, I am overwhelmed by the scene being presented to me and it horrifies me that the world will turn to this low level of existence. It’s so hard to even comprehend when right now there is abundance and prosperity. But You are righteous in Your judgments because we have left You out of our lives. In wrath remember mercy, O God. Amen.

 

 

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.” Revelation 6:6

 

A voice “in the midst of the four living creatures” gives the order to the rider on the black horse. The voice then is that of the Lord Jesus. We can tell this because the same term is used three times in Revelation – in 4:6, 5:6, and 6:6. The other two times it is also referring to Jesus. The amazing symmetry should be noticed and it calls out that Jesus is

 

1) The Lord God Almighty in verse 4:6 (the Creator);

2) The Lamb who was slain in verse 5:6 (the Redeemer); and

3) The Director of judgment in verse 6:6.

 

These three roles of Jesus are displayed in the symmetrical verses and each point to the His deity. He directs the rider to bring the world to a state of famine which is horrific to imagine – “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius.” A denarius was equal to an entire day’s wages at the time of John. A hired worker or a soldier could expect no more and it is symbolic of a day’s wages in any time. A quart, or a choinikes, of wheat is enough to sustain one person for one day. In other words, the famine coming upon the world will reduce a person to working simply to survive.

 

If he has a family to feed, then instead of wheat he will have to buy the lesser quality barley to feed them also – but it will only feed three. If the family has more, the food will either be divided to less-than subsistence amounts or choices will have to be made about who will do without. There will be no extra money for anything else. Such is the state of man for rejecting the Lord and throwing their allegiance behind the antichrist. 

 

“Do not harm the oil and the wine” goes back to Deuteronomy 28:51 – “And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you.” Along with farm animals, oil and wine were considered valuable commodities for daily life, but there will be no such extras in the time of tribulation. The wealthy and elite will bring the masses to a state of complete ruin.

 

Heavenly Father, we take the normal commodities of life as a given and never consider that a time is coming when they simply won’t be available. The world is heading towards disaster and we need to spread the word that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God.” May we impress this up them now! Amen.

 

 

When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” Revelation 6:7

 

The fourth living creature, the eagle, makes the call as the fourth seal is broken. Again the words call out, “Come and see.” Thus far, there have been three calls resulting in three horses – a white horse with a rider going out to conquer; a red one with a rider going out to take peace from the earth; and a black one going out to bring famine upon the earth.  The number four is used consistently throughout the Bible as the number dealing with the earth.

 

Therefore, without even reading the next two verses, we can make the connection that this too will be a horse with a rider and it will affect the earth in a way which logically follows a pattern we can see in past history.

 

As we review these verses we will see what this pattern is and how the people of the earth will be affected – on a global scale. Until then, let’s consider that these tragedies are being released from the four living creatures around the throne and that these creatures symbolize the four-fold facets of Jesus – the King, the Servant, the Son of man, and the Son of God. In other words, what is occurring is happening because these revelations of Jesus have been rejected by the people of the world.

 

Their rejection naturally leads to a breakdown in morality, because God is the Author of morality – it being His very nature. It leads to a breakdown in justice, in righteousness, in truth, in mercy, in grace, in holiness, and in love.

 

All of these have been set aside by a world at enmity with God and who now will reap the rewards of wanting to do it their own way. Some will say that God then is the Author of evil, but this isn’t the case. A rejection of God is what will bring on these evils. Micah tells us how they could have been avoided – “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” When we don’t walk with God, He leaves us to our own devices and the evil which results is our own fault.

 

Lord Jesus, give us the ability and the desire to walk in agreement with You, in a humble, just, and merciful way towards others and in a way which will glorify You. Thank You for the Gift of Your good and Holy Spirit to guide us in our walk with You. And please give us the wisdom to rely on His counsel and not on my own earthly desires and understandings. Amen.

 

 

So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:8

 

John’s eyes are directed to the last horrifying horse and rider. He is on a “pale horse.” The word in Greek is chloros and indicates, like Clorox Bleach, a sickly greenish color. Without explicitly saying so, this is a horse of sickness and plague – an obvious connotation from the color.

 

The rider is Death – the destroyer of the body, and following him is Hades – the consumer of the soul. The people killed by this symbolic figure equal a quarter of the population of the entire earth and they receive the punishments of the other riders as well – the sword, hunger, and death. And a new mode is brought in to work its destructive ruin – “the beasts of the earth.”

 

How could we imagine that humans with modern weapons, such as guns, could be outnumbered by “the beasts of the earth”? It happens every day in the world around us – through the diseases they carry. At an alarming rate, new variations of swine flu, equine influenza, bird flu, mad cow disease, ebola virus, typhoid, AIDs, malaria, and so on arise and we respond as quickly as possible, normally containing the outbreaks to small numbers of people. However, when the world is economically destroyed and war is prevalent, these animal-caused and animal-carried diseases will rapidly move to human beings and will be able to kill in the billions with little chance of containing them.

 

What seems like a world of peace and prosperity right now could, within an extremely short period, turn into a world of war, famine, disease, and utter ruin. Not only could it, it will happen. When the rapture occurs, it will be a mere seven year period before man, who numbers about 7 billion right now, will be brought almost to extinction. By Jesus’ own words – “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”

 

O great God Almighty, I look with dread at what is coming upon the world and it tears at my soul that what is coming could have been avoided – simply by acknowledging Jesus as our Creator and Redeemer. I pray that many will realize this before it is too late. Amen.

 

 

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. Revelation 6:9

 

The fifth of seven seals is broken and the resulting scene changes. The past four seals have released the four horsemen upon the earth for judgment, but today’s seal directs John’s attention to the altar. In commentaries, this altar is often associated with the brazen altar of sacrifice in the tabernacle, but that is not the altar being referred to here. The altar of sacrifice was used for the transference of sin from a guilty person to an innocent animal. The blood of that animal was then poured out at the base of the altar. However, the people mentioned in today’s verse have already transferred their sins to the Lamb of God, Jesus.

 

There is no altar of sacrifice in this heavenly scene because Jesus has already cleansed His people. The altar in today’s verse is referred to in both Revelation 8 and 9; it is the golden altar of incense. In the tabernacle, this altar was in the Holy Place, directly before the veil which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place where the ark was kept. At Jesus’ death, this veil was rent in two (a picture of His body) and access to God was restored.

 

Therefore, the altar of incense mentioned here is directly in the throne room.

When we get to Revelation 8:3, we will read this, “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” The incense is “the prayers of the saints.” Today’s saints have “been slain for the word of God.” In the psalms, it says this, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15. The souls under this heavenly altar are eternally safe and their precious prayers are heard by the God who judges their death. He will avenge their shed blood.

 

Lord, surely many faithful souls have been martyred over the centuries for their witness of Your wonderful work, but surely many more will die when the tribulation period starts and wickedness has taken over the world. But those who have died for the glorious name of Jesus are secure and their blood will be avenged. Hallelujah to the God who remembers! Amen.

 

 

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Revelation 6:10

 

Today we see the Lord presented as the Avenger of Blood. This term goes all the way back to the Old Testament. The first time the avenger is mentioned is in Numbers 35 when speaking of someone who willfully kills another person. If they do, the avenger is to take that person’s life. The avenger had the right to take the life of any person who killed a close relative, willingly or unwillingly, but provisions were set up to protect the person who killed unintentionally. However, when the murder was intentional, “The avenger of blood himself shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death.”

 

The term for “avenger” is the Hebrew word goel and this same term is applied also to the kinsman redeemer. Jesus is both to us because He is our nearest relative. The people, as it said yesterday, were martyrs – thus implying that they were God’s witnesses of Jesus Christ; saved believers. Because of this, they are to be avenged. They cry out “How long?” This same term is used several times in the Old Testament.

 

Isaiah wanted to know how long he had to witness to the people of Israel. Zechariah asked the Lord how long He would withhold His mercy from Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah. And Daniel, cried out to God wanting to know how long until the visions he was given would come to pass. The Lord is working on His own timetable and we must be patient as we wait on His plans.

 

These martyrs call on the “Lord” by using a term meaning “master.” By doing so, they are recognizing His divine authority to judge. The question that logically needs to be asked is, “Who are these souls under the altar that are calling out?” Because the rapture has already happened, all the martyred saints of ages past have already been glorified. Therefore, these people have accepted martyrdom for the name of Jesus after the beginning of the tribulation, not before it. As we will see in the chapter ahead, there will be many, many of them.

 

Jesus, it is comforting to know that You are our Avenger and that You will surely judge any who come against us. It is also comforting to know that You are our closest relative, even closer than a brother. You are our glorious Kinsman Redeemer and You have paid the ransom price for our souls with Your own precious blood. Thank You, O Lord! Amen.

 

 

Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. Revelation 6:11

 

 “A white robe was given to each of” these martyrs. The symbolism reaches all the way back to Genesis chapter 3 where “for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” This was done only after Adam demonstrated faith in the promise of a Redeemer to come.

 

By naming his wife “Eve” he indicated his belief in the promises of God; Eve means “life.” This pattern continues without wavering throughout the Bible. Only when faith in God and His promises are made can anyone be clothed, or covered by Him. This clothing then signifies that a right relationship with God has been restored. Before that time, a person is separated from Him because of their sins, but when we demonstrate faith in God’s word, we move from a position of guilt to a state where we are free from guilt. In essence, God bestows upon us the righteousness of Jesus Christ, symbolized by the white robe.

 

Isaiah speaks of this blessed state – “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” These martyrs of the tribulation period have demonstrated faith, even to the point of death, and can now rest in the eternal security which is the reward of this faith.

 

Jesus spoke of this trial that would be faced during the tribulation – “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.” Obviously, if someone had been put to death and yet “not a hair of your head shall be lost” then Jesus was speaking of the eternally secure state of these martyrs. And so now they wait patiently, covered in His righteousness, while “the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”

 

Despite the bloodbath of this horrific period, there is an appointed end to the death and destruction. God knows, in advance, how many will be martyred. When that number is complete, He will act by sending Jesus back to reign from His throne in Jerusalem.

 

Lord Jesus, today’s verse, despite being about martyred believers, is one of comfort and assurance. You have promised that You have them safely in Your care and that they will receive the eternal inheritance of everlasting life. I can look to Your word and then to the future and have nothing to fear – You have everything under control. Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. Revelation 6:12

 

The first four seals dealt with the judgments upon the earth, symbolized by the four horsemen. The fifth seal took us to the heavenly altar and the souls of those who were martyred for faith in Christ during those judgments. John is now directed back to the earth and the “two great lights” of Genesis 1, the sun and the moon.

 

It says on the earth there will be a “great earthquake.” The Bible records several earthquakes in the past and in the future. This one is tied in with the sun and moon being darkened. There is no reason not to take these things literally. What is most likely viewed here is an earthquake large enough to cause volcanoes or some other natural disaster which will spew great volumes of dust and debris into the atmosphere. This will cause the darkening of the sun during the day and the moon looking red like blood at night.

 

As the events of the Bible are generally surrounding the Middle East, it is certain that this is the view that will be seen from there and particularly in Israel. Based on the terminology in the rest of this chapter, it’s likely that this will not be isolated to the Middle East though, but will encompass the whole earth.

 

In Acts 2, Peter speaks of this occurrence. His words are quoting Joel chapter 2 and they are often applied to Pentecost in the year of the resurrection of Jesus in a symbolic fashion, but this isn’t a full picture of what Peter was speaking about. Instead, he was saying these things would come because of Jesus’ work, not that they had come in their fullness at that time though. The context of Peter’s words must be evaluated based on the original prophecy in Joel. They are future to us, even now, and they will be fully realized after the rapture of the church in and through the people of Israel.

 

How great and wonderful You are, O God. You have given us a look into these future events and what is coming upon the whole world. And You have also given us the way to avoid being caught up in them – by calling on Jesus now. Help us to focus our thoughts, hearts, and minds on Jesus and tell His message to others before that Day comes. Amen.

 

 

And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Revelation 6:13

 

There are two general thoughts on what is occurring in today’s verse. The first is that these are literal meteors in the heavens falling to earth, which to John would appear as stars. This then could indicate the timing of the surrounding events – such as during a Perseid or Leonid meteor shower.

 

This would be perfectly in line with the symbolism of the sun and moon being darkened in the preceding verse and the earthquake before that – each of which are both plausible and likely events to be taken literally. If this natural explanation is correct, it is important to remember that the Bible describes events as they would appear to the spectator, not in scientifically accurate terms.

 

What is written is from our human perspective. Even in modern times we do this, such as saying, “The sun will rise at 7:10 am.” The sun doesn’t actually rise, but from our perspective it does. Therefore, the Bible cannot be accused of dishonesty when such pronouncements are made. They are for the benefit of the reader.

 

There is a second option too. This is that the stars are references to people in high religious positions. This terminology is used elsewhere in the Bible, such as in Daniel 8:10 – “And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.” If this is the correct interpretation, then the nations are abandoning their religious allegiances and focusing on the anti-Christ. Not only then is military power being solidified, but also the religious activities of the world are being brought into one large body of apostasy.

 

Either way, literally or symbolically, the world is in its tailspin and the events are on a global scale. The term “as a fig tree drops its late figs when shaken by a mighty wind” is probably referring to figs that didn’t ripen during the season and which are still green when the strong winter winds begin. The symbolism is that there will be a large number of the stars and they will fall all at once.

 

Thank You Lord for allowing us to peer into these future events and see what is coming, although we can still struggle with individual interpretations, we know the overall outcome. It is wonderful to know that you have complete control over the future and that we are already safe in You. Glory be to God and amen.

 

 

Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Revelation 6:14

 

If you read Isaiah, you will see that a large amount of the symbolism in Revelation comes from that book. As you can see in the following verse, yesterday’s reference to figs falling and today’s reference about the sky receding is from Isaiah 34:4 –

 

All the host of heaven shall be dissolved,
And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll;
All their host shall fall down
As the leaf falls from the vine,
And as fruit falling from a fig tree. Isaiah 34:4

 

One must consider, like yesterday that the heavenly events being viewed are from a man standing on earth. The “sky receding as a scroll” is most probably a result of the earthquake. Just as when there is a nuclear detonation and the sky appears to roll up. This earthquake will be so large and so widespread that it will affect the atmosphere of the earth. Side effects of earthquakes are numerous and so this is not at all implausible or to be taken symbolically.

 

The cataclysm to come will cause such a tectonic disturbance that even “every mountain and island” will be moved out of its place. A global catastrophe like this will shake the very foundations of society and will certainly cause immense economic upheaval. These things really are coming on the earth and we need to be right with Jesus before such calamity occurs.

 

Lord, I see that the disasters coming on the earth are natural as well as man made and they are leading to a cumulative effect of woe and misery. Use me, O Lord, as an instrument of Your good news now so that many will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus before this time of tribulation. Thank You for the protection and security that comes through you alone! Amen.

 

 

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, Revelation 6:15

 

There are seven classes of people mentioned in today’s verse.

The kings of the earth are those leaders who have sovereign authority over their lands. Even today, kings reign in countries of the world.

 

The great men would be comparable to our presidents, prime ministers, dictators, etc. They are those who were elected into office or gained their rule through force, but are not considered kings.

 

The rich men are obvious even in today’s world. They are people who have immense wealth and can wield that wealth behind the scenes to bring about their agendas. These people have authority in media and access to their leaders in a way others don’t.

 

The commanders known in Greek as chiliarchs are the high military officers who exercise the military powers of their nation.

 

Mighty men is referring to people who exercise power which is not specifically military in nature and yet their power is of great strength – lower levels of governmental authority, industry, etc. may fall under this term.

 Every slave is a designation of anyone who generally exerts himself and his efforts on behalf of another. This can be applied to servants and even to blue collar workers who are kept in the bonds of low level work just to make end’s meet.

 

Finally, every free man would apply to the rest of the people on earth – self employed, small business owners, even the retired who are living in an uninhibited way.

 

In other words, all the categories of people on the earth are listed here. And when the great cataclysm mentioned in the preceding verses occurs, they will know that God is sovereign over His creation. All of their power, position, and wealth won’t be able to save them in that time. They will hide “themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains.”

 

In Ecclesiastes, we’re told that things repeat themselves and that there is nothing new under the sun. We can go back to Isaiah 2:19 to see that this is true – “They shall go into the holes of the rocks, And into the caves of the earth, From the terror of the Lord And the glory of His majesty, When He arises to shake the earth mightily. Isaiah 2:19

 

Lord, thank You that the rapture means that I will be spared from the terrifying calamities to come. Even the great and mighty will be fearful and hide at what is coming, but I know that I will be secure in Your glorious presence through it all. Thank You Lord! Amen.

 

 

…and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  Revelation 6:16

 

Let’s put this verse in the full context of the sentence– “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’”

 

The people “hid themselves,” but that wasn’t enough. There is no place safe from the coming wrath and no place that the Lord’s eyes don’t roam.

 

There is a parallel back in the book of Joshua chapter 10 – “‘The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.’ So Joshua said, ‘Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them.’ … Then Joshua said, ‘Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave.’” These kings hid, just as the kings of the earth will hide in the future time of tribulation, but they know they can’t hide securely so they call out to the mountains and rocks. Instead of making a plea to the Creator of the rocks, they simply ask nature to hide them. But then in a typical contradictory process, they acknowledge who they are hiding from… the Creator!

 

It is confused thinking by a confused generation that will deny the Creator while simultaneously acknowledging Him. But this is exactly how the world is turning, even now. And what are they hiding from? “The face of Him…”

 

Peter explains what this means in his 1st epistle – “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” They know that their lives have been conducted in evil and they know that what is happening now is just and deserved and so they call out to a secondary force, nature, to hide them from the ultimate force – the wrath of the Lamb.

 

Lord, surely we think unclearly about who You are and what You have done for us. Instead of holding fast to You and acknowledging you now, we live our lives in selfish pursuit and reckless abandon. But You are holy and deserving of so much more. Forgive us for our transgressions and give us the heart and desire to serve You now and always. Amen.

 

 

For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6:17

 

There are verses in the Bible which seem to contain oxymoron because they don’t fit our thinking of how things are. For example, we are asked to be a “living sacrifice.” A sacrifice, by its very nature, is something that dies. Someone not understanding the significance of the Christian life can’t grasp such a concept. But the informed believer knows that we are to be “dead to sin” and to offer our lives to God apart from the body of sin and death which is in the world and in our flesh.

 

Verses 16 and 17 contain what would otherwise be considered an oxymoron – the wrath of the Lamb. How can a lamb demonstrate wrath? For some, even the “wrath of God” makes no sense. They can only see the Creator as a big fluffy pushover who dotes on us and gives us candy and prosperity. But God is holy. Our sin, no matter how small, is an affront to God. Multiply that by the billions of people on earth who have rejected Him, and His righteousness demands justice.

 

God doesn’t change during this process. Think of a column which is fixed and unmoving. On one side of the column is written “peace” and on the other side is written “strife.” If you are on the “peace” side, then peace reigns down on you, but if you move to the “strife” side, then you have become the object of punishment and pain. This is how we interact with God. We change in relationally to Him; He does not change in position to us. When we are covered in Christ, we are on the “peace” side, but without His covering, we remain on the “strife” side.

 

Once we are at strife with God, we can never again be on His good side by anything we do. It is an eternal change and only an eternal correction – one from outside of the created order – can rectify the situation. This is Jesus. He is the payment for an infinite crime against and infinite Creator.

Unfortunately, in the tribulation the world has rejected Jesus and therefore tastes the fruits of that rejection – the wrath of the Lamb. One can’t be right with God without accepting Jesus Christ. He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” No one comes to the Father except through Him.

 

Lord God, I understand that a finite crime against You bears an infinite penalty. I also understand that I can never pay the fine necessary to be right with You. But I know that Jesus could – He is fully God and fully Man and therefore is qualified to do so. I accept His payment on my behalf. Thank You for the Lamb of God; thank You for Jesus! Amen.

 

 

After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Revelation 7:1

 

We’ve come to the beginning of chapter seven and immediately there arrives a brief interlude between the opening of the sixth and seventh seals. “After these things” shows a progression of thought and time and so what is coming now is sequential to what has occurred with these other seals. Whether it’s sequential to John only, meaning he is being shown these things one at a time even though they overlap, or whether the events of the opening of this seal are sequential to the previous ones is uncertain. However, the events coming through verse 8 are probably at the beginning of the tribulation period and so the first option seems correct. Either way, there are “four angels standing at the four corners of the earth.”

 

This is not to be taken that the Bible proclaims a square earth, it doesn’t. In Isaiah 40:22 the Bible speaks of the “circle of the earth” meaning an orb, not a cube or flat square. In the book of Job, the Bible says that the Lord “hangs the earth on nothing.” The four winds then, like other references in the Bible, is merely speaking of the four general directions of the earth and not set points.

 

There are also several examples to validate this throughout the Bible. The angels are “holding the four winds of the earth.” The winds are the peoples of the world and the perspective is from Israel. Quite a few references in the Old Testament substantiate this. In Daniel 7, we read this – “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.” The Great Sea here is the mass of humanity and the winds are what churn and rile them up. This is the vision that John is seeing and it’s telling us that there will be a “time of calm before the storm.” This restive period was seen by Zechariah hundreds of years before John received his vision – “We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quietly.”

 

Lord, the world will believe they have the peace they seek and they will delude themselves by it. Even today, we rage against You and look to cast off Your sovereign rule. Forgive our stubborn and rebellious hearts and help us to hold fast and faithfully to You. No matter what is coming those who have called on You will be safe. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,… Revelation 7:2

 

John’s attention is directed to “another angel ascending from the east.” The Greek says “from the rising of the sun” which is obviously from the east. All the way back in Genesis 3, we read “So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Later, when the temple was built in Jerusalem, it was oriented east and west. The Most Holy Place was to the extreme west and so worshippers appropriately would face west, away from the rising sun. This was to prevent idolatry of the rising sun. Instead the people would look to God for their life.

 

In Ezekiel 10, the glory of the Lord departed from the temple because of the idolatry of the people. When it did, it left going out over the threshold which is on the east. In Ezekiel 43, when describing a future temple, the glory of the Lord returns from the east. And in Haggai 2:9, we read this, “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem from the east as an Israelite and His veiled glory was seen among the people.

 

In the future, there will be a group of Jewish people who will come to understand this and accept Him as the Messiah they had long rejected. The coming verses will explain what will be done to and for them. Today though, we will note that this angel has “the seal of the living God.” Believers today are marked with the seal of God, which is the Holy Spirit, the moment they put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1 tells us that this seal is a deposit or guarantee of our future redemption. As God is sealing us, there is no greater seal possible and therefore our salvation is eternal; it can never be lost. The angel in today’s verse carries such a seal – an everlasting mark of God’s faithfulness.

 

What a majestic and splendid display to behold! We can look to the pages of the Bible and see a heavenly drama being played out before our very eyes. It is amazing and awesome to be allowed to peer into these events and see the very workings of the heavenly throne room. Thank You, O God, for the things You are showing us! Amen.

 

 

…saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” Revelation 7:3

 

This fifth angel of the preceding verses directs the four angels “holding the four winds of the earth” to wait and not “harm the earth, the sea, or the trees.” The judgments coming on the earth will affect everything and there will be great destruction as they accomplish their tasks. But before this happens, the “servants of our God” are to be sealed on their foreheads. The angel uses the term “we.” It is uncertain who “we” means, but if we go back to Ezekiel chapter 9, we may find an answer.

 

In Ezekiel’s vision, there was a call made for those “who have charge over the city” to draw near. When they did, they were given instructions. One of them had an inkhorn and was told to “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.” After he accomplished this task, the others were told to destroy anyone without the mark. The mark in this account is the word “tav.”

 

The word is the same as the 22nd letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet and the ancient tav was in the shape of a cross. In other words, these “servants of God” in today’s verse have accepted the work of Jesus Christ and are being sealed “on their foreheads” just as those in Ezekiel’s time were – probably with the tav or cross. This seal isn’t necessarily a visible mark, but a change in attitude; an understanding in their minds of who Jesus is and their role in His work. Such a mark is given with the inner sealing of the Holy Spirit. These people are being saved by God and for His purposes.

 

The term for “servants” is the word doulous, and can also be translated as “slave.” Such a person was usually captured during battle. These are captured in the great battle for the human soul. This is the spiritual battle between light and darkness. These people who are to be sealed have been brought into the marvelous light of the glory of Jesus Christ before the angels are unleashed to bring destruction on the earth.

 

Lord God, it is ever so comforting to know that I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit from the moment I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I know that You don’t make mistakes and therefore, I am eternally saved despite myself. When I stumble and fall, I can still trust that You have already forgiven me of these sins. Great and wonderful You are, O Lord! Amen.

 

 

And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: Revelation 7:4

 

Important: The “children of Israel” is speaking of Jewish believers, not anyone else.

 

John “heard the number of those who were sealed.” This call was from the “angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God.” When the call was made, there was also the important detail of how many were to be included, and the number is one hundred and forty-four thousand. The number 12 is a number of a structural or governmental authority in the Bible. Therefore, there is a complete structural unity to the number of people being sealed.

 

There are 12 tribes of Israel who will be sealed and there are 12,000 to be sealed from each of these tribes. There are variations of the names of the tribes from those mentioned elsewhere in the Bible and so these people are sometimes thought to be symbolic of all of the redeemed of the ages, or possibly “spiritually” children of Israel, but this is not right. These being sealed are in the tribulation period, not during the church age.

 

The tribulation period is the 70th “week” or 7-year period of Daniel’s 70 weeks (see Daniel 9) and it is speaking about the Jewish people and it is centered on Jerusalem, not the church. Only an extremely poor and/or anti-Semitic view of the Bible could come up with a “spiritual Israel” interpretation. Rather, these are blood descendents of Abraham, through Isaac, through Jacob/Israel. They are Jews and are being sealed for God’s purposes as He deals with the world through the Jewish nation once again.

 

The church is not in the equation because the church has already been raptured. There are also fringe cults who claim that they are the “144,000” or have them in their ranks. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, believe this. But as stated before, this thinking comes about from poor Bible interpretation and involves self-delusion as well. The “children of Israel” are really “the children of Israel.”

 

Lord God, help me from being deceived by those who would purposely or carelessly misapply the clear and concise statements of the Bible for selfish, hateful, or other reasons. May You open my eyes to the truth of Your word and lead me in the proper handling of it so that You will be glorified through my studies. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

…of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; Revelation 7:5

 

Judah is the first tribe sealed. The modern term “Jew” comes from Judah and it is therefore the prominent tribe even today. It is from the tribe of Judah that Jesus came, through the House of David. Judah means “praise.” Here we have a lesson which is seen time and again throughout the Bible – “Let the Praise of God always go first.” This is a great spiritual application that we should apply to our own lives and our prayer time as well.

 

Reuben was the firstborn of Israel, but he lost his right to the birthright because he slept with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. Reuben means “See, a son.”

 

And Gad was the firstborn of Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah – Jacob’s first wife. Gad means “a troop” or “fortune.” Here are the blessings for each of these sons of Israel as given by their father before his death –

 

 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you.  Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him?  The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.  Binding his donkey to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, And his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, And his teeth whiter than milk.”

 

 “Reuben, you are my firstborn, My might and the beginning of my strength, The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.  Unstable as water, you shall not excel, Because you went up to your father’s bed; Then you defiled it—He went up to my couch.”

 

 “Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him, But he shall triumph at last.”

 

You have ordained all things, O Lord, and You have safely protected what You have ordained, including the children of Israel. Thank You for Your everlasting faithfulness to those who have not always been faithful to You. I know that because of this, I am secure in You. Amen.

 

 

…of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; Revelation 7:6

 

Asher was the second son born to Leah’s handmaid Zilpah. His name means “happy.”

 

Naphtali was the second son of Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah. His name means “my wrestling.”

 

And Manasseh was the firstborn son of Joseph, Rachel’s oldest son. His name means “forgetting.”

 

When Israel moved to Egypt, he took Joseph’s two sons for his own, to be counted as a part of his clan. By doing this, they were elevated to the same level as his 11 other sons and this meant that the double portion which came with the birthright was given to Joseph. Although this may be a bit confusing, it was a way for Israel to honor Joseph. Here are the blessings bestowed upon these three by Israel

 

“Bread from Asher shall be rich,
And he shall yield royal dainties.”

“Naphtali is a deer let loose;
He uses beautiful words.”

 

To Manasseh (and his brother Ephraim) - “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day, The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

 

Lord, it is so wonderful to see how You have worked through real people in human history to unfold Your beautiful plan of redemption. Use me also, Lord, in the way which will bring You the most honor and glory. I thank You that I am a small part of Your loving work in and through the people of the world. Amen.

 

 

of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; Revelation 7:7

 

Simeon and Levi were the second and third sons of Israel’s wife Leah, and Issachar was her fifth son. Simeon means “heard;” Levi means “attached;” and Issachar means “wages.” An interesting part of today’s verse is the mentioning of Levi. Under the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant, Levi had no inheritance of land because they were the priests. Because of this, they were given cities within the land areas of the other tribes. But here in revelation, they are sealed among the other tribes. This means that one tribe, Dan, is left out of these verses. What this appears to indicate is that Levi is to no longer be singled out as a priestly class, but is on the same level as the other tribes. And considering the tenets of the New Covenant, this makes complete sense. Here are the blessings of these sons by Israel from Genesis 49 –

 

“Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob And scatter them in Israel.”

 

 “Issachar is a strong donkey, Lying down between two burdens; He saw that rest was good, And that the land was pleasant; He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, And became a band of slaves.”

 

Israel noted that Simeon and Levi would be divided in Israel and this is what happened. Levi, as the priestly class, was disbursed among the tribes and Simeon received its land within the borders of Judah. The tribe not sealed in Revelation, Dan, never claimed its property inheritance in the Old Testament and this may be why they aren’t mentioned here.

 

Lord, it is so precious to look into Your word and to contemplate the reasons for the mysteries it holds. Open our eyes and our understanding to ensure that what we conclude is proper and aligned with Your intent. Let us not deviate from sound and reasonable explanations of these hidden treasures. Thank You for Your precious word! Amen.

 

 

…of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

Revelation 7:8

 

Zebulun was the youngest son of Leah and his name means “dwelling.” After him are listed the two sons of Rachel. Joseph means “he will add” and Benjamin means “son of my right hand.” Joseph’s youngest son, Ephraim, isn’t mentioned in this sealing of the 12 tribes, but he was given the greater blessing by his grandfather Israel and therefore is certainly represented by Joseph. In other words, where Joseph is mentioned, we can infer that these 12,000 sealed include the tribe of Ephraim. Thus all of the tribes, with the exception of Dan are mentioned and sealed.

 

Many have tried to insert the church into these verses and claim that what we’ve seen is the church spiritually representing Israel. This is nonsense. Only an extremely poor interpretation, one biased against a literal reading of the Bible and one which is possibly anti-Semitic, could hold this view.

 

Here are the blessings given by Israel to these three sons –

 

 “Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea; He shall become a haven for ships, And his border shall adjoin Sidon.”

 

 “Joseph is a fruitful bough, A fruitful bough by a well; His branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly grieved him, Shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, And the arms of his hands were made strong By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), By the God of your father who will help you, And by the Almighty who will bless you With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.”

 

 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; In the morning he shall devour the prey, And at night he shall divide the spoil.”

 

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to the sons of Israel, even in the midst of their unfaithfulness. You keep every promise and are ever-faithful in Your dealings with those You have called and redeemed. I know that, despite myself, You will also keep me and bring me to Your everlasting home – because of Jesus and His work. Hallelujah and Amen!

 

 

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,… Revelation 7:9

 

Today we start a second scene of the vision John has been viewing which occurs between the sixth and seventh seals being broken. “After this” indicates a progression of time. Again, progression in Revelation doesn’t always mean from our viewpoint, but can often simply be from John’s. What he sees as sequential may be overlapping within the stream of time to us.

 

John sees “a great multitude which no one could number.” Who are these people and at what point in history do they appear? The answer will be given in the verses ahead, but for clarity now we will note that they are martyrs of the tribulation period – the final seven years before Christ’s return.

 

They are “of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues.” These are not the same as the 144,000 Jews who were sealed in the first half of the vision. Jews may be included in their number, but they are in a different category.

 

There will be people saved out of the tribulation from around the earth, having realized too late for the rapture that Jesus really was who He claimed to be. Now they have to prove their faith by being faithful even unto death.

How do we know? It is because they are “standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” They are in heaven and have left the earthly behind. These martyrs are “clothed with white robes.” We’ve already seen the symbolism of this given before. It is the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ which they have received. The robes are emblematic of this and we saw the same symbolism in Revelation 3:5.

 

Along with the robes, they have “palm branches in their hands.” If you remember, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people cried out Hosanna and waved palms recognizing Him as the Messiah who saves. But these palm branches also point to the Feast of Tabernacles, where God dwells with man. This will be evident in the verses ahead.

 

Hallelujah and glory to God in the highest! Salvation has come to men in the Person and work of Jesus Christ our Lord. He has fulfilled the law, paid our sin debt, and prevailed over death – all the work of our Messiah and our King. Praise You, O God, for the glorious work of Jesus Christ Your Son. Amen.

 

 

…and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:10

 

In this amazing heavenly scene, John beheld a great multitude which was beyond counting from every tribe and people and tongue. These are standing before the throne and before the Lamb and are adorned in white raiment and holding palm branches. With a resounding voice of the multitudes, they cry out “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.”

 

This terminology goes back to many occurrences in the Old Testament, but specifically to Psalm 3:8 which says –

 

Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah

 

Salvation is of the LORD, meaning “Jehovah” of the Old Testament. This is yet another example of the deity of Jesus Christ being proclaimed. It is He who sits on the throne as the Creator and it is He who is the Lamb as our Redeemer. He fills both roles – He is the Beginning and the End of our walk with God. He is the one who calls us and the one who completes the work in us.

 

In a pun demonstrated throughout the New Testament, the word “salvation” is used in conjunction with Jesus. The name “Jesus” is derived from Yeshua and this specifically means “salvation.” Therefore, the play on words is saying that Jesus is the One who is God and who is also the Lamb. He is the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form and the One who reveals the Father to us. This book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ because it is revealing Him. To find any other symbolism than the Person and work of Jesus is to deny the very foundation of the Christian faith. He is our Lord, He is our God, He is Jesus!

 

Truly salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb! It is to Jesus that we direct our hope, our love, our devotion, and our praise. Glory to God in the highest for having revealed Himself to us in such a beautiful and loving way! May we as faithful Christians ever praise the beauty of the Lord in the Person of Jesus Christ! Amen.

 

 

All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,… Revelation 7:11

 

Here we see an amazing heavenly sight. These angels “stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures.” But earlier it says that there was a “great multitude…before the throne.” These angels are outside of the area where the great multitude is and where the 24 elders and the four living creatures are. The four living creatures have already been identified as representing the four facets of Christ as presented in the gospels and the 24 elders are possibly representative of the 12 sons of Israel and the 12 apostles. Next are the redeemed of the Lord who are “clothed in white robes.”

 

There is a heavenly hierarchy being presented here and the angels – beings who were created sinless and who have never sinned, are outside of the redeemed who have sinned. How can this be? Ephesians 2:13 explains what occurs when we receive Christ as Savior – “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

 

Because of Jesus Christ’s work, we are covered in His perfection, symbolized by the white garments. It is as if we have never sinned and our past sins can never be brought forth again.

 

Jesus Christ’s work was accomplished on our behalf and now we can come near even though we were once far off. The infinite gap between God and fallen man is restored through the Person of Jesus Christ. The angels come after us because they are, as stated in Hebrews 1:14, “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation…” The honors granted to the fallen sons of Adam are immense when Jesus is received as Lord. Sins are washed away and the benefit of being in the very presence of God is restored. Hallelujah and amen for our great and awesome Lord!

 

Lord, it’s hard for me to grasp the complete significance of what You have done for me. I have sinned and rebelled and yet You have lovingly granted me restoration to You and release from the debt I owed. How can I do anything but praise You for Your majesty and glory. Thank You for every good and kind blessing You have bestowed upon Your unworthy servant. Amen.

 

 

… saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 7:12

 

A moment ago in this great heavenly scene, the redeemed (the 24 elders and the great white multitude) cried out “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Now, and only now, the angels join in the exultation of God. The angels could not join in the previous doxology because angels cannot be redeemed; only humans have that privilege and grace bestowed upon them. But together with the redeemed of the world, the angels can rejoice, just as they have since the beginning –

 

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

 

Because they can rejoice in the salvation of humans, they join the heavenly cry saying, “Amen” or “truly.” After stating the finality or truth of the matter, we are told what is contained in that truth – blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might. But the Greek gives us more information than the English translation. It says “The blessing; The glory; The wisdom; The thanksgiving; The honor; The power; and The might.” These then are stated in their highest form.

 

We can give blessing, but it is only based against an ultimate standard of blessing – “The blessing.” We can bestow power (such as on an elected official), but this is being gauged against the ultimate power. Such is the nature of God… that He embodies the fullest expression of the things we can only partially understand or convey. He is the richest and most complete expression of every good and perfect thing and to Him alone belongs acknowledgment of this. Let us never fail to return to Him the fullest praise He is due.

 

Great and awesome and powerful God – You alone are worthy of our highest praise and honor. Forgive us when we fail to give it to You and help us never to exalt a part of Your creation above You. All things are from You and therefore, to You alone belongs the deepest stirring of our souls, expressed in worship and praise. Amen.

 

 

Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” Revelation 7:13

 

One of the 24 elders comes to John and asks him today’s question. Interestingly, if the elders represent the 12 sons of Israel and the 12 apostles, then there is a 50/50 chance that John already knew the elder and a slighter chance that he could be talking to himself in a vision of the future. Whatever the case, the elder asks about the great multitude standing there praising God.

 

The elder’s question implies that John should know the answer. He may have been getting him to think on the matter. John had already heard the words of Jesus in Revelation 3:5 about those who “shall be clothed in white garments.” It’s a good lesson for all teachers of the Bible – just because you know the answer, doesn’t mean you should just give it out. Asking questions of those you are teaching stimulates them to think for themselves. Likewise, when studying your Bible, you should ask questions of the text and pray for the Holy Spirit to illuminate the glorious words of life to you.

 

We’ll see John’s reaction tomorrow, but here are two verses that he penned with his own hand and which should help him discern at least a portion of the correct answer –

 

Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5

 

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Revelation 3:5

 

Who are these clothed in white? Stand by for the answer, but just remember the lesson from today – We overcome the world by faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and when we do, we are covered in His righteousness and will be granted eternal life. What a bargain!

 

O Yes Lord God! How wonderfully beautiful it is to stand in Your glorious presence and know that I am free from the guilt of sin – not because I deserve it, but because of simple faith in the work of Jesus! I stand grateful and humbled by the wondrous workings of You in my life. All glory, all power, all majesty, all honor – they belong to You alone! Amen.

 

 

And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Revelation 7:14

 

John has been asked who these people are and he respectfully defers back to the elder, “Sir, you know.” The answer from the elder, although very clearly stated, is one of great debate among scholars. The reason is that people view the book of Revelation in various ways.

 

Some believe the tribulation being mentioned encompasses the entire church age, beginning right in the first century. Various passages and statements from both Jesus and the apostles seem to indicate this. In Acts 14:22, we read this – “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

 

Others believe that the tribulation being mentioned refers only to the second half of the tribulation period. In other words, the tribulation doesn’t turn into the “Great Tribulation” until a set point just before the opening of the seventh seal.

 

Although the first option, the entire church age, is a possibility, the second – that it is referring to the second half of the tribulation period – is not clearly thought out. The reason is that if the church age ends at the rapture and these redeemed are only from the second half of the tribulation period, then you have all the people between the rapture and this expected “Great Tribulation” period in some sort of limbo that the Bible doesn’t mention. It is not a good view.

 

The most likely answer is that these people have come out of “the great tribulation” (a definite article is used in the Greek also) which means the seven year period encompassing the book of revelation. One main purpose of the book of Revelation is to provide insights into this period and this is, therefore, the most likely answer.

 

Many people will face the hard choice of accepting Christ and being martyred, but they will prevail. Because they properly direct their faith, they will have their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. The immense grace of God is demonstrated, even in this time of great tribulation. Faith has been, is, and always will be the way to be right with God.

 

Lord Jesus, I know that there is no point in time where Your grace and mercy will fail. Instead, You remain the same yesterday, today, and forever. All You ask is that we demonstrate faith in Your work on our behalf and to understand that our work is insufficient to bring us back to You. All the credit belongs to You alone. Amen.

 

 

Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. Revelation 7:15

 

This great multitude has regained what was lost in Eden – direct access to God and the joy of worshipping and serving Him. Despite translations which say that man was meant to “tend and keep” the garden, he was actually placed there to worship and serve the Creator.

 

Man was created outside the garden and only placed there afterwards. When he was placed in the garden, it was with the intent of eternally fellowshipping with God. That right was lost when Adam sinned and man has been toiling the ground ever since. But today records that this heavenly congregation is “before the throne of God.” This means they are in His presence and view Him directly. They will “serve Him day and night in His temple.” This is the restoration of what was lost – granted to the fallen and redeemed sons of Adam. It is the hope of the people of God and the joy which each of us should long for with every fiber of our souls.

 

In the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33), God “will dwell among them.” The Greek word for “dwell” is skenosei and is literally “to tabernacle.” A different form of this same word was used in John 1:14 – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus Christ came and tabernacled among us. But His glory was veiled during His earthly ministry. When we see Him in His temple, it will be with all of His unveiled glory. He will spread His glory over His people and they will never again fear or want. This is the great hope of all believers in what God has done through Jesus Christ.

 

Lord, it is so marvelous to think on what You have done – a plan which spans time itself and which was meant to restore that which was lost so long ago. It is so beautiful to see how You have progressively revealed Yourself through the pages of the Bible and how those things are coming to a glorious fulfillment. Thank You for the story of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;… Revelation 7:16

 

Revelation builds heavily upon Old Testament concepts and passages. Today’s comes from the first half of Isaiah 49:10 –

 

They shall neither hunger nor thirst,
Neither heat nor sun shall strike them;

 

This immense multitude has come out of the Great Tribulation where they couldn’t buy or sell anything (See Revelation 13:16, 17). Food would have been almost impossible to obtain and they would have been immensely hungry all the time before their death. Water would have been equally unavailable. What little fresh water is left to the world during this period (see Revelation 16:4-6) will certainly be controlled by those who can profit from it. As we’ll see in the chapters ahead, water will indeed be scarce.

 

Likewise, the sun will blaze heavily on the people of the world – “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.” Revelation 16:8. The time of the tribulation will be agonizing even for those who can buy and sell – who have received the mark of the beast. How much more difficult for those who have chosen Christ over the devil and are willing to die rather than take the mark?

 

As Jesus spoke to His people during the Sermon on the Mount – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” For those who fail to call on Jesus before the rapture there will be a chance to turn to Him during the tribulation, but it will be a terrifying time of deprivation and death. How much better to get right with the Lord now and avoid the terrible choices which must be made during the horrific days to come! Don’t wait until the world quakes with war, famine, disaster, and calamity. Call on Jesus now.

 

Jesus, You are abundantly wonderful to the fallen sons of man. How great is Your love and Your mercy that You will continue to stretch out Your hands to man, even during the time of tribulation! Your promise to those who respond to the call is beautiful – never again shall they hunger or thirst or be destroyed by the heat of the day. Glory to You in the highest! Amen.

 

 

… for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Revelation 7:17

 

Yesterday we cited the first half of Isaiah 49:10 which corresponded to Revelation 7:16. The thought continues today in verse 17 and finds its parallel in the second half of Isaiah 49:10 –

 

For He who has mercy on them will lead them,
Even by the springs of water He will guide them.

 

Along with this, comes the fulfillment of another blessing first penned by Isaiah in verse 25:8 –

 

He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;

 

These promises are accomplished for the redeemed by “the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne.”

 

A Lamb will shepherd his own flock and will be their Shepherd. The shepherd symbolism was anticipated by David in the 23rd Psalm and it was claimed by Jesus in John chapter 10 when He said, “I am the good Shepherd.” Likewise, the living waters also are fulfilled in the Person of Jesus as noted several times in the Gospel of John. Because of Jesus, we will go out and find good and safe pasture in a land of plenty.

 

The green grass will be vibrant from the abundant waters they receive. In that day, we will be comforted by the pure and perfect love of God and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. These promises come to us, not because we deserve these things, but because God is gracious and merciful to those who accept the finished work of Jesus Christ, trusting not in their own deeds, but in His work alone.

 

O God, how great Thou art! Who could ever imagine the wondrous promises of Your word while living in this fallen world. We have fears, we have hunger and thirst, and we have pains and sorrows. But You have promised that this order of things will someday be replaced with complete and perfect joy! Thank You for the surety we have of that coming day. Amen.

 

 

When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Revelation 8:1

 

We’ve arrived at the first verse of chapter 8 and the opening of the seventh seal. The previous verses detailed the sealing of the 144,000 on earth and then the heavenly scene of the great white multitude. The next verses will go from the heavenly scene back to earth as the seven trumpet judgments follow from the opening of this seventh seal.

 

When the seal is opened in today’s verse, heaven falls silent for “about a half an hour.” The term for “about a half an hour” is used only once in the entire New Testament. This period is like the calm before the storm that is experienced on earth. Something is coming and everything falls silent in anticipation of it. Because the tribulation period is centered on the people and the land of Israel (the church has already been raptured), we can see a prophetic parallel from the book of Zechariah –

 

And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!” Zechariah 2:12, 13

 

The earth is coming against the nation of Israel and against the purposes of God. The land of Israel, and specifically Jerusalem, is where Jesus is returning to. When He does, He will establish His kingdom and rule from there. Before this occurs, the world is destined to great trouble – all for having rejected His offer of peace which is found in Jesus Christ. “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!”

 

Thank You Lord for allowing us to see this great and awesome scene as it will take place at some point in the future. You have given us the insight and ability to know what is coming so that we can choose to make the right decisions now. Humble our hearts that we may be receptive to the message before the time is gone and You come to judge the world. Amen.

 

 

And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Revelation 8:2

 

John’s attention is now directed to seven angels standing before God. These angels aren’t named and they don’t receive any other type of identification. However, because they are the sounders of the trumpets, we can infer that they are directors of the next major sequence of events.

 

The trumpets are probably not ram horns (shofar), but rather are hammered metal trumpets – either of silver or gold. Here is a portion of the account concerning the use of hammered metal trumpets from Numbers 10 –

 

“Make two silver trumpets for yourself; you shall make them of hammered work; you shall use them for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps. … When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies. Also in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be a memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God.”

 

As you can see, these trumpets were for signaling major events surrounding the people of God, including war. When these seven trumpets begin to blow in Revelation, great and awesome events will follow them on the earth. The cataclysms which come with these trumpets are being shown us in advance so that we can make the right choices now that will save us from the pressures and trials they will usher in. Now truly is the time to call on Jesus and be spared from the difficulties ahead.

 

Lord Jesus, You have graciously given us these precious insights into the future so that we can make the right choice now. Give the readers of Your word understanding to call out on Your name before these terrible times arrive. Thank You for Your word and thank You for the sure promises they contain for those who choose You now. Amen.

 

 

Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. Revelation 8:3

 

Another angel, besides the seven that were given trumpets, comes forward now. He has “a golden censer.” This is an implement used for carrying incense. This angel “came and stood at the altar.” This would be the true altar of incense which was symbolized by the one in the tabernacle described in Exodus chapter 30.

 

The altar of incense was placed “before the veil that is before the ark of the Testimony.” However, the altar in heaven is in the very throne room of God, not outside a veil. The tabernacle was made by Moses to be a type, or picture, of the true throne of God. However, until Christ died, access to God was restricted. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil was torn at that same moment signifying that access to God had been restored through His torn body.

 

In heaven there is no separation between where the incense altar is and where the throne is because there is no need to separate fallen man from the presence of God. All who are received into heaven have come through the sacrifice of Jesus.

 

This angel is “given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of the saints.” The incense has already been described in verse 5:8 as representing the prayers of the saints; they are the same thing. Therefore, these prayers are being offered directly to God in a great quantity. Probably they are the prayers of all of God’s people in anticipation of the coming of His kingdom.

 

God’s wrath at sin and His judgment upon the world must come first though in order to cleanse the world. After this happens, then there can be the establishment of this kingdom. The prayers of the saints are coming now and they will precipitate the great trumpet and bowl judgments upon the earth. God hears and responds to the prayers of His people. Now that they are being brought before Him in great numbers, it means that the time of wrath is at hand.

 

It is incredible to imagine that the prayers of ages and ages of saints reach even to the throne of God and are heard by our Creator! We long for the day when You will establish Your kingdom in righteousness and we pray that it will be soon. Yes, our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name. Thy kingdom come, and may it be soon. Amen.

 

 

And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Revelation 8:4

 

As we noted yesterday, Revelation 5:8 says that the incense is the prayers of the saints. The smoke then is the incense (or prayers) being lifted to God’s presence as they are carried in the form of smoke. The symbolism is that they are lifted in unison to the throne of God. Our prayers are made acceptable to God, not because they are prayers of any human beings, but because they are prayers made by believers in the work of Jesus Christ. It is He who makes our prayers acceptable to God. Ephesians gives us this insight –

 

 “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:2

Jesus’ life and work became an “offering and a sacrifice to God.” When we call on Him, we receive life and justification because of what He did. Paul then gives an insight into the prayers being offered by the angel in today’s verse –

 

 “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

 

We, including our prayers, are “the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” As we will see in the verses ahead, our prayers to God for His kingdom to come and our requests for His justice to be served, will be responded to.

 

It is so wonderfully beautiful to see how Your word fully supports itself in every way. What came from the hand of the prophets and apostles, that which speaks to the work of Jesus Christ, is simply astonishing in its detail. Thank You for Your wonderful, beautifully crafted, and trustworthy word, O God. Thank You and Amen.

 

 

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.  Revelation 8:5

 

After the angel who offered the prayers of the saints with the smoke of the incense was finished, it now throws the censer to the earth. The prayers of the saints were for the avenging of their blood and also a petition for the coming of God’s kingdom. Because of this, the censer is symbolically thrown to earth, indicating that God has received and heard their prayers and will now act on them. Their blood will be avenged and His kingdom will be ushered in.

 

Accompanying this action are “noises, thunderings, lightenings, and an earthquake.” This is similar to the great display which occurred when the Law of Moses was received on Mt. Sinai. The judgment on the world is based on this standard, which no one can meet. As Paul says in Romans 3:20 – “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The law was given to show us our desperately sinful state and that we needed something more…the righteousness of Christ. The world has rejected this and will now be judged based on the law and not on Christ’s imputed righteousness.

 

God has given His word and allowed the world over 2000 years to learn it and apply it. When the Day of Judgment comes, the world won’t be able to say they weren’t afforded abundant opportunity to repent and call on Christ.

 

The term for “noises” in the Greek is the same used for the blast of a trumpet. In Zephaniah 1:14-16, we see that he anticipated this coming day of destruction and the blast of the trumpet, warning what would occur at some point in the future –

 

“The great day of the Lord is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers.”

 

Oh God, when we are given these heavenly insights into Your great throne room, it allows us to understand how You tenderly receive the prayers of Your people and how You do act on them. I can see that every prayer is precious to You and that in Your wisdom You respond to them at just the right moment in history. Thank You for hearing our prayers. Amen.

 

 

So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. Revelation 8:6

 

After the opening of the seventh seal there was silence in heaven which was followed by these seven angels being handed their trumpets. These then stood by while another angel was given a censer and incense which was offered before God.

 

The incense, representing the prayers of the saints went up with the smoke as an offering and a petition. When this was received, the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and cast it down to earth. At that moment came an end to the silence and the earth received its warning of the doom to come in the form of noises, thunderings, lightenings, and an earthquake. These events have brought the world to the point of the trumpet judgments which will follow.

 

Angels have been used in history as God’s ministers of such judgment including the land of Egypt when they enslaved Israel

 

He cast on them the fierceness of His anger,
Wrath, indignation, and trouble,
By sending angels of destruction among them. Psalm 78:49, 50

 

These coming trumpet judgments will be directed at the world which is actively working against Israel, God’s covenant people. Just as during the opening of the seals, the first four trumpets will come as a group and then there will be two distinct trumpets, and then a last trumpet. The symmetry in these different judgments is remarkable and shows the consistency of how judgment is dealt with by God.

 

Lord God, I know that You hear the prayers of Your people and are always there to defend them. I can look at the events coming in the tribulation period and know that just as You will be a Defender of Israel then, that You are my Defender now. What have I to worry when You are always attentive to my needs and my protection? Thank You for this. Amen.

 

 

The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. Revelation 8:7

 

The first of the seven angels gives a trumpet blast and the result is similar to the 7th plague to come against Egypt before the exodus –

 

“And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.” Exodus 9:23, 24

 

There are differences though. Along with the hail mixed with fire, John notes that the trumpet judgment is “mixed with blood.” Is this symbolically representing the blood of the saints who have been mentioned in the previous verses? Whatever the cause, the result is that “a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.”

 

The earth is going to go from its current state to a dry and arid place very quickly as the vegetation is destroyed on a global scale. And this is a sudden occurrence. The trees and grass are green before the plague, not already withered. This judgment is immediate and devastating.

 

Imagine the result on the earth when the plant life is so quickly destroyed. Any rains will cause mudslides and flooding. Food will become exceedingly scarce and expensive. Disease will begin to run rampant. You can see how the plagues of the four horsemen can quickly come to pass with just the sounding of this first trumpet. And yet there are six more trumpets to go. The world is beginning a cataclysmic tailspin. Things will get progressively worse, not better, as the judgments unfold.

 

Oh God, how sobering it is to see what the results of our sin are. Rather than humbling ourselves and being obedient to You, our Creator, we dismiss You, mock You, and only bring calamity on ourselves. Help me be a light to those around me now before these great judgments start.  Amen.

 

 

Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. Revelation 8:8

 

The first trumpet took only one verse and then immediately follows this second blast. When the angel sounds, John sees “something like a great mountain burning with fire.” Although we can’t be dogmatic, this is most likely an asteroid falling from space. A second option is a good sized nuclear missile, but this will seem less likely when the third trumpet sounds.

 

Whatever it is that’s coming, it will be “thrown into the sea.” Both would have the same visual effect to John when it impacted the oceans, but an asteroid would have the “great mountain burning with fire” effect prior to impact. This would be lacking in a nuclear warhead. The effect of the impact is unmistakable though, regardless of the instrument of destruction. “A third of the sea became blood.” This is reminiscent of the first plague of the Exodus when blood struck the Nile

 

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.’” Exodus 7:19

 

The blood in today’s verse is probably that of the sea creatures which are destroyed in the event, although there could be another symbolic meaning, such as the water simply turning red as the sea-bottom is churned up. No matter what, the loss of life will be immense and the waters will be negatively affected by the event.

 

Lord, you are in control of all the heavenly bodies and they move at Your command. If one of Your judgments involves the impact of a meteor, it is because You directed it and we can only acknowledge that You are sovereign over Your creation. Help us to understand that these are a result of our sin and not a result of an arbitrary or uncaring Creator. Amen.

 

 

And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. Revelation 8:9

 

Yesterday we read this, the result of which is today’s verse – “Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.” There will be an immensely powerful impact in one of the world’s seas, most probably from an asteroid. This impact will be so devastating that a “third of the sea became blood.” The sea becoming blood certainly includes the immediate death of “a third of the living creatures in the sea.” It may also contain the idea of the polluted state of the water. In other words all of the dead sea life will surely contaminate the sea and cause further death – a cycle of death.

 

Along with the sea life though, “a third of the ships were destroyed.” The impact will certainly send out shock waves, both through the atmosphere and through the water. When this happens, the ships that are in the impact zone and even ships many thousands of miles away could be equally devastated. A tsunami going in all directions could take out ships along all coastlines of this sea. This would only add to the polluted state of the water because of the immense amount of toxic material going down with the ships.

 

Humans aren’t mentioned in today’s verse, but ships don’t sail themselves. In other words, a great deal of human life will be lost on those ships and probably many will die from the coastal tsunamis. The tsunamis generated by the Indonesian earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of people all along the Indian Ocean. The disaster of the second trumpet will probably be much, much worse.

 

Another result of this will be the economic chaos which will result from the loss of all the shipping and the loss of the coastal industries. Finally, the loss of marine life for food will continue to strip the world of food resources. Catastrophe is coming and times will get increasing hard for the people of the world.

 

O God, all of the tragedy we’re reading about in these judgments could be avoided if we would just bow our hearts and our knees to You now. In Your wrath, remember mercy, O God. We certainly don’t deserve it, but without it there will be nothing left. But we know already the outcome and we do know that mercy will be coming as well. Thank You O God. Amen.

 

 

Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. Revelation 8:10

 

The third angel sounds his trumpet and the battle cry is responded to with a “great star.” The Geek word for star here is used for meteors and planets as well as other heavenly bodies. It’s also used in a metaphorical sense for people, angels, and even Jesus Himself. Because of this, some commentators have come to the conclusion that this (and the previous object) is actually an angel who has been cast out of heaven and is now in the earthly realm causing havoc. This is a completely unnecessary evaluation and denies what should otherwise be pretty obvious in the modern world.

 

When the previous trumpet blast was given, “something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea.” This was noted as most likely being an asteroid – a natural event. This trumpet is most likely releasing a nuclear or chemical warhead missile – a man-made event. The description is certainly fitting. The object “fell from heaven, burning like a torch.” To John’s eyes, this is exactly what such a missile would look like. And the effects of this type of warhead would be as one might anticipate.

 

This object coming in from above “fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.” What this could mean is that John saw only one of an entire arsenal of nukes. In other words, this very well may be describing a nuclear exchange between two or more countries. It would certainly explain why a third of the rivers and springs of water are affected.

 

A single object from the sky – be it a natural event like an asteroid, or a man-made event like a single nuke, wouldn’t be enough to affect a third of the world’s rivers. A bunch of them would though. Tomorrow’s verse will describe the effects that are brought about by such weapons and these effects will certainly do as one would expect.

 

O God, we look to the passages in Revelation and it seems incredible and yet distant. But these things really are coming to pass and real people will be affected by them. Help us to get the word out that there is salvation in Christ Jesus. The more we delay, the more people won’t hear the good news. The time of tribulation is coming, so stir our hearts to action. Amen.

 

 

The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter. Revelation 8:11

 

Yesterday we saw the sounding of the third trumpet. At that time, “a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.” There we made the speculation that this may actually be symbolic of nuclear or chemical warheads being used. The result is that “a third of the waters became wormwood.” In other words, the water has become contaminated and poisonous. Wormwood is the name of a plant with extremely bitter juice.

 

In the Old Testament, it represents contamination by sin. In Proverbs 5, it’s equated with following the advice of an immoral woman. The parallel then is clear – the world has followed the advice of the immoral woman of apostasy and false religion. This is symbolized by the great harlot coming up in chapter 17. The world will listen to the lies of false religion and will drink the cup of her bitterness. In Jeremiah 9:15 we also read the effects of wormwood –

 

 “Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.”

 

As you see, the wormwood is connected here with gall which is mentioned in Deuteronomy and Lamentations. Gall is what was offered to Jesus at the cross as well – which He rejected. The rich symbolism shows us the painful effects of sin. The wormwood of this cataclysm is much stronger than ordinary wormwood which normally doesn’t cause death. The wormwood which infects the waters does and “many men” will die because of its effects.

 

Such is the nature of sin and our need to stay away from heresies and false religion. The time is coming when these things will lead to great cataclysms and destruction. Hold fast to Jesus and the truth of His word.

 

 

Oh God, again we see a terrifying judgment upon the world because of the effects of our sin and our willingness to reject the truth and follow after lies and deceit. In the end, these things will only lead to bitterness and death. Thank You for giving us these warnings and help us to heed them so that we will follow only the truth. Amen.

 

 

Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night. Revelation 8:12

 

The fourth angel gives his blast and the result isn’t the same as the first three. Those were directed against the earth, but this one is directed against the sun, the moon, and the stars. This is reminiscent of the ninth plague against Egypt where darkness covered the land. An important difference is that this is on a global scale.

 

Another difference is that in Egypt, the darkness was absolute –

 

“‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.’ So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days.” Exodus 10:21-23

 

Standing back and looking at the sequence of events gives us an indication as to how this trumpet judgment came about. The first trumpet had hail and fire mixed with blood directed at the earth. The second was something like a great mountain burning with fire which was thrown into the sea. The third was a great star from heaven burning like a torch. Regardless of what the analysis of these three judgments is, they are all things coming from space and colliding with the earth. The impact of them has thrown an immense amount of debris into the atmosphere and it has reduced the clarity of the atmosphere by 1/3. Hence, a third of the sun, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars aren’t seen.

 

There are two possibilities for this as well. The first is that the entire earth’s atmosphere is affected, so that 1/3 of these are dimmed on the whole planet. The second option is that the debris in the atmosphere follows the jet streams and covers 1/3 of the planet and the light is completely obscured in those places. Either way, it is a heavenly sign of God’s disapproval of the actions of man and they are being judged for them.

 

Lord, when these judgments come about, the people of the earth only need to look into the pages of the Bible to see that You foresaw them thousands of years ago. I pray now for those who face this time of tribulation – that they will see and understand their great need for Jesus and turn to Him, even at the expense of their own lives. Amen.

 

 

And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!” Revelation 8:13

 

The fourth trumpet has sounded and the fifth is yet to sound. Before it does, there is a brief time between the two when there is “an angel flying through the midst of heaven.” Some manuscripts say “eagle” instead of “angel” and this is carried on in many modern versions of the Bible. The difference may be found in the same being. In other words, we’ve already seen an angelic being with the face of an eagle in Revelation 4:7. Although we can’t know for sure, it could be an angel, or messenger, which looks like an eagle. No matter which is correct, the eagle coming between the trumpet judgments calls out words of doom in a loud voice – “Woe, woe, woe!”

 

The repetition of a word in the Bible is meant to call stress to that word, such as when we put an exclamation point at the end of a sentence or word. Only a very few times in the Bible is a word repeated three times. When these occur, they are not just stressing a point, but they are stressing it to the highest degree.

 

The other instances of a triple repetition are in Isaiah 6:3, Jeremiah 7:4, Jeremiah 22:29, Ezekiel 21:27, and Revelation 4:8. The angel today is telling the world that what has happened so far with the first four trumpet judgments will be nothing compared to what is coming in the next three. The world is headed for immense trouble from these three trumpets and it will only continue to get worse because another series of judgments will follow the trumpets. The trumpet blasts to come will be directed at “the inhabitants of the earth.” The previous ones have been directed at the earth and the heavenly bodies in general, but what is coming will be targeted and decisive in nature.

 

O Lord, when Isaiah looked up and saw you in the temple, he cried out Holy, Holy, Holy, but today the world simply shrugs a shoulder and turns its back on You. How can we be held guiltless when we reject our Creator? Surly You are righteous in bringing judgment upon the world. Give us hearts now to understand our state and repent and turn to You. Amen.

 

 

Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. Revelation 9:1

 

Here we are already starting chapter 9 of Revelation. What a great adventure it’s been so far to see how things will unfold in the days ahead. Today the fifth angel sounds his trumpet. When he does John sees “a star fallen from heaven to the earth.” Almost no one takes this to be a literal star, but rather the star is symbolic of something else – either Satan, or another demon, or possibly the angel named in verse 11 which is still ahead. If so, then this angel is Abaddon – which means “destruction.”

 

There is good evidence to take this star figuratively rather than literally. Such figurative language is used in both testaments, like as in Isaiah 14:12 –

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!”

 

Another reason to believe this is Satan, a demon, or Abaddon is that the star is “fallen.” This indicates that it is not an angel who held its position in heaven, but like Adam, fell in a spiritual sense. Another such interpretation can be found in Jude -6

 

“And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day…”

 

This angel “was given the key to the bottomless pit.” In other words, it doesn’t have access under its own authority to enter this pit, but only at the direction of the Creator.

 

Again, a similar situation of the Lord having authority even over fallen angels can be found in Job 1 where He directs Satan’s movements. This pit is alluded to throughout the Bible, such as in Psalm 55:23,

 

“But You, O God, shall bring them down to the pit of destruction…”

This place of destruction is where sinners and fallen angels go to be held in custody until the final judgment. However, because God controls all things, it can be opened at His direction. Such is the case in today’s verse.

 

Lord, we can tell from verses such as today’s that there is a great unseen world around us. Thank You for giving us insights into this. By seeing that You control even this unseen world, we need not fear these things, but we can know for certain that You are in complete control of them. I thank You for these insights and marvel at Your greatness! Amen.

 

 

And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Revelation 9:2

 

Today’s verse is reminiscent of Genesis 19:27, 28 –

 

“And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.”

 

The judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah resulted in its complete destruction. This was so apparent that it could be seen far off by Abraham the next day. This was God’s judgment, but it involved physical elements in the process – brimstone and fire reigning down.

 

In theses verses from Revelation, there is certainly a spiritual application as noted in the sounding of a heavenly trumpet by an angel, a spiritual being falling from heaven, and then the opening the bottomless pit. However, the smoke rising from the furnace is real, not spiritual. It causes the sun and the air to be darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Therefore, it is likely that these physical events are the result of other physical elements of destruction which are being directed by spiritual forces. In other words, the smoke from the furnace could be the result of armed conflict.

 

During the first Gulf War, these verses perfectly resembled what occurred when Saddam Hussein set fire to the oil fields of Kuwait. His actions, although physical in nature and caused by humans, were certainly directed by evil spiritual forces. It could be that in the future there will be a similar occurrence when armed conflict causes massive and widespread burning which brings about a darkening of the sun and the air. The world hasn’t learned from the previous trumpets and is only getting more aggressive and warlike. Destruction and conflict are the choice modes of problem resolution by fallen man.

 

Heavenly Father, You would have Your creatures love You and each other, but instead, we revile Your glorious name and we resolve our conflicts with anger, war, and destruction. We, as believers in Jesus Christ, look forward to the Day when He returns and these things will no longer occur. We look forward to the Day when righteousness reigns in the earth. Amen.

 

 

Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. Revelation 9:3

 

The plague of locusts is a common theme in the Bible. The 8th plague on Egypt involved locusts and the book of Joel deals with differing locust plagues in detail –

 

What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten;
What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten;
And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten. Joel 1:4

 

The description of these locusts is given until verses 7-10 and when those verses arrive, it will become clear that these aren’t real locusts, but symbolic of something else. John gave the best possible description he could based on the times he lived in and from the view of the world as he saw it, but not until modern times could we clearly identify what these locusts are.

 

Even until recently, they have been symbolically termed demons or other spiritual beings because they simply aren’t real locusts. The locusts however come “out of the smoke” meaning the great furnace of the pit from verses 2 & 3.

 

In today’s verse we also see that they are “given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.” Scorpions are small and can go anywhere because of their size. They are found on every continent but Antarctica. They can go places other things can’t go and they have the ability to hurt those that they attack. They are also hardy and have an exoskeleton which protects their insides. These attributes describe what we will see in the verses ahead. The locusts John saw are surely something we are already aware of in the modern world.

 

How interesting it is to see what You have placed in Your word, O Lord, and it is a challenge to our minds to try to understand what is being shown us and how it points to future events. Help us to look at these difficult verses clearly and use reason as we consider them. Amen.

 

 

They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Revelation 9:4

 

Locusts are consumers of vegetation. However, these locusts aren’t. They are directed to not “harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree.” This is contradictory to the very nature of locusts and therefore it is absolutely certain that the term “locusts” is allegorical for something else.

 

They are directed specifically toward “those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. This refers back to the sealing of the 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. Therefore, the chosen people of Israel are protected from any harm they can inflict. We’ll see how this can easily be done when we evaluate what these locusts actually are in the coming verses.

 

Probably, because they are Jewish believers in Christ, these “locusts” are kept from coming against all of Israel – believer or unbeliever – because they are intermingled and living together in the land. If this is correct, in this time of trial, grace can be found on those who don’t yet believe because they are protected along with those who do. This is a similar concept to 1 Corinthians 7:14 where children with one believing parent and one unbelieving parent are sanctified by the believing parent.

 

In the end, the nation of Israel as a whole will call on Jesus as Lord and it is when they do that He will return. Until then, they will go through many trials and troubles as their hard hearts fail to see what is so obvious and clear – that Jesus Christ is their Lord, King, Savior, and Messiah. Remember to pray for the nation of Israel often. They are surrounded by wicked neighbors and things will only get much worse before they get better when Jesus returns to set up His glorious kingdom in their midst.

 

Heavenly Father, thank You for how You have faithfully kept every promise to Your people Israel and how You, even now, look over them and protect them from the world of wickedness which surrounds them and wants their destruction. In the end, we have no need to fear. You have promised to keep and protect them and Your word is true. Amen.

 

 

And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. Revelation 9:5

 

These locusts that came out of the smoke of the abyss were given power like scorpions and were commanded to not harm the grass or any green thing. They are only given permission to harm the people who don’t have the seal of God on their forehead. This is similar to the account in Ezekiel chapter 9 where judgment came on the Israelites for rejecting God and turning after idolatry.

 

In that passage, those without the seal of God are killed. However, these unbelievers are only tormented for five months, but not killed. There is a mixture of grace and punishment mixed up in this. The mercy is that their lives are spared, but the punishment is that they have to endure the torment as if being struck by a scorpion when it strikes a man. In other words, there is great affliction, pain, and suffering involved in a scorpion strike and these people will endure through that. Lamentations 4:9 tells us that sometimes death is preferable to life in such dire situations –

 

Those slain by the sword are better off
Than those who die of hunger;
For these pine away,
Stricken for lack of the fruits of the field.

 

In the end, such trials and troubles are brought upon ourselves and we can’t point our finger at God and blame Him when He has revealed Himself to us in the Person of Jesus as testified through His word. Even more so, we have to accept the fact that the world has been told, in advance, of what is coming and how to avoid it. Surely God is just.

 

Lord, our eyes look to You for all good things and all the blessings of life. But when we receive them, we accept them as the work of our own hands, forgetting that they came from You. Eventually, we push You out of our lives completely and reap the harvest of such unrighteousness. Surely You are justified when You judge us in our faithlessness. Amen.

 

 

In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. Revelation 9:6

 

The dreadful situation that the people targeted by the locusts find themselves in is so tragic that the idea is repeated – “men will seek death and will not find it” and “they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.” This is a poetic tool called “parallelism” and is found throughout the Bible. A thought is stated and then it is restated in a similar manner. This is done to emphasize what is being said and to draw the listener’s attention to the situation. It can be found in positive thoughts and in negative thoughts. Here is a positive one from the Psalms –

 

You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways. Psalm 139:2, 3

 

In the Gulf War, the Iraqi soldiers who had been captured from the front lines made statements similar to what we read in today’s verse. They had been under precision guided attacks by the American forces and sat in their tanks waiting and wondering when their time was up. They had prayed for death and it didn’t come. The agony of the uncertain state they were in was so horrifying that all they wanted was for it to be over – they desired death, but it fled from them.

 

This is the same sentiment that will come again during this time of targeted attacks by the locusts of Revelation and the parallels are striking. One thing the people won’t do, just as they didn’t do in Iraq, was to commit suicide. The force and desire to live is strongest at one’s own hand, but the desire to die is stronger when another may take it. It is a terrible state to be in.

 

How horrifying it will surely be for those who are participants in this coming battle. The sadness of contemplating the state of the human mind at such a time is hard for us to grasp, but such is the nature of judgment upon sin. Lord, help us to get the message out and to bring people to Christ before this terrifying time comes. Amen.

 

 

The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. Revelation 9:7

 

In verses 7-10 we’re going see John’s description of the locusts from the abyss. As said in the evaluation of previous verses, there are both spiritual and physical sides to what is being seen here. The description of these locusts is John’s best attempt at describing something he’d never seen or even imagined. And remember, he was looking into the far future, to a time when Israel would again be established in her land and when the nations would come against her. The time is now and today is the day. What John was seeing then is a common sight of modern man.

 

The locusts shape is “like horses prepared for battle.” When prepared in this way, horses are in formation. These locusts are also in a recognizable formation and hold their ranks.

 

“On their heads were crowns of something like gold.” These are the windscreens of a modern jet fighter. Jet fighters have a microns-thick layer of gold plating to reflect the IR signature of the pilot and cockpit components. When the sun shines on them from the right direction, they reflect this gold very clearly.

 

“Their faces were like the faces of men” is the exact description one would make when seeing a pilot inside of the cockpit. John is seeing close up and far distant views of these jets as we’ll see in the next few verses – as if he is watching a movie.

 

In the previous verses it said “they were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” This is the exact capability of modern fighters – targeted warfare with precision-guided munitions. And interestingly enough, verses 5 & 6 which we just got through exactly describe the conditions of the first Gulf War – the time of the battle, the conditions in the battle, and the description of the people’s attitude when attacked. Could the Gulf War have been a preview of a much worse battle to come? It is not unprecedented and the parallels to these verses are amazing.

 

Lord God, it is especially interesting to live in this day and time when the events of Revelation are becoming much more understandable. We know that because Israel is back in her land that the Day is drawing near for these events to occur and then for the return of Jesus Christ. May that day be soon! Amen.

 

 

They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. Revelation 9:8

 

Imagine the last time you were at an air show and the stunt plane flew in all kinds of crazy ways and directions as the smoke-making device pumped away. What did it look like to you? Or when you watched an old time WWII movie as the hundreds of bombers flew to their targets, what did the skies look like as the contrails followed behind the planes?

 

In both instances, what you saw was something like the long hair of a woman following the planes. At least, if you were John on the island of Patmos 2000 years ago, this is how you would describe the scene. In a battle of fighter jets flying to and fro, he would have seen locusts that “had hair like woman’s hair.” And then after viewing the scene from a distance, he is brought close again to what he was just seeing from afar… a fighter jet flies by him! On the fighter are the traditional painted teeth of war pilots of battles past and battles yet to come. Some are painted like tigers or sharks and yes, some have teeth “like lion’s teeth.”

 

The lion is an animal which John was familiar with and this is what he would describe as the battle of the future rages around him in a prophetic vision. When one stands back and reads these verses properly, they are certainly not describing something spiritual, but rather something real. Real battles like this are coming to the land of Israel and its surrounding areas and what is being described is something John is being given a glimpse at. Great wars are on the horizon and will affect the people and the nation of Israel and the nations which come against her.

 

John must have been dumbfounded and amazed at the sight he was beholding!

 

Certainly Lord You are in control of the future. If You can reveal such startling detail to a man who lived eons ago on a small deserted island, then You have all things in Your mighty grasp. Why should I fear when You know the end from the beginning. I look to You and feel the comfort of knowing all things are under Your control! Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. Revelation 9:9

 

John is attempting to describe the “locusts” he sees in his vision. So far he has seen…

 

They can be commanded.

They can target their enemies without hitting objects around them.

They are not given the authority to kill them, but only to torment them.

Their torment is painful and so horrifying that those targeted will seek death and not find it.

They are like “horses prepared for battle.”

They have “crowns of something like gold.”

They have the faces of men.

The have hair like women’s hair.

They have teeth like lion’s teeth.

 

So far, we have seen described in detail modern jet fighters and their ability to attack specific targets, destroying infrastructure while protecting human life.

 

This is exactly what occurred during the Gulf War and other recent wars and the descriptions are exactly as you would expect from a man 2000 years ago. Today John continues –

 

They have “breastplates like breastplates of iron.”

 

John, not knowing metallurgy, describes a modern fighter as best as he could. “The sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running to battle.”

 

Go to any horse race or movie like Ben Hur and listen closely to the sound as the horses come by the camera. What you will hear is just what a modern jet fighter sounds like. The roar of the jet planes is certainly what John is attempting to describe with the closest analogy he could find – many horses running together. John’s vision is the terrifying and tremendous vision of a modern war waged with fighter jets which are specifically targeting infrastructure to weaken an enemy without killing people. The air force is using extreme restraint in their attacks. This is something one would expect from a nation not intent on destroy its enemies but only crippling their ability to retaliate.

 

It is amazing to stand back and look at the description John has given and see that he actually saw the engagement of a modern battle with fully equipped jet fighters. Lord, I know that You are beyond time and therefore can reveal the future. I know that You are in complete control and I trust in You to care for me as well. Amen.

 

 

They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. Revelation 9:10

 

We’ve been looking at the locusts which have been given to harm “those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” The general idea that has been given is that these are modern jet fighters and that they are using targeted attacks against an enemy foe. These fighters have been sent out, not to kill the enemy, but to cripple them without taking life. This would be done with precision guided munitions that are used by an air force which has great restraint in warfare. Based on past history, this brings the number of modern countries down to just a few.

 

If this period in history is coming soon, then it would mean America, Israel, or the EU. There really are no other countries in recent memory that have been so restrained in war and even the EU hasn’t really proven itself in this way other than in advisory or support roles. Whether these prophecies are soon to pass or in the distant future, this will be the general idea though. This will be a nation or group of nations who is restrained in their assault with highly lethal weapons.

 

The locusts have “tails like scorpions.” The sting of the scorpion is right at the end of the tail and it is sharp and extremely painful. Likewise, a jet fighter will have its weapons under the wings, or under the main body, not at the head. When shooting a missile, John would have seen it flying out from the body rather than the front of the aircraft and he would probably have the idea of a scorpion in his mind.

 

This air war, just like the Gulf War air campaign, will last five months. After this time, the campaign will end and the world will move into another trumpet judgment. All of this could be avoided, but the human race has other intentions than to willfully submit to the sovereign authority of God. And so the troubles will only increase.

 

Well Lord, we can only look at the pages of Revelation and say that we have been warned. Terrible times are ahead for the people of the world. But You are in complete control and have all things worked out in a way which will bring You great glory and which will show that You are just when You judge. Truly O God, how great Thou art! Amen.

 

 

And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. Revelation 9:11

 

Today’s verse confirms that these aren’t real locusts and that they are merely symbolic of something else – they have a king over them. This is in contrast to Proverbs 30:27 which says –

 

“The locusts have no king,

Yet they all advance in ranks.”

 

This king is called “the angel of the bottomless pit.” It can’t be certain whether this is an angelic being or a human being. The term “angel” can refer to either and so this could be a person who has human authority represented by something going on behind the scenes in the spiritual realm.

Whoever this being is, in Hebrew he is called Abaddon which means “destruction.” The Greek term used is “Apollyon” which means “destroyer.”

 

This king is the one directing the locusts and has shown restraint in the attack of his enemies by destroying their infrastructure without killing the people.

 

Again, as said before, this is a common trait among the forces of the western world today. While other armies wage war without any regard for who is killed, the battles and wars waged by western armies in the recent past have showed immense restraint in their conduct. Only after the opposing forces have been “softened up” and allowed a chance to surrender first do they then come at them with fully unleashed power and with the intent of subduing their foes. This appears to be the pattern of this future army of “locusts.”

 

 

Lord, even the angel of the bottomless pit is at Your direction, and You have sovereign authority over what he does and how he conducts his warfare. Whoever this being is, we know that he will only wage war according to the plan You have set down. How comforting it is to know that all things are under the control of Your sovereign hand. Amen.

 

 

One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things. Revelation 9:12

 

After the trial of the first woe, there is more to come. Three woes were anticipated, meaning there are two left. The next one will come in conjunction with the sixth trumpet and the third will come with the seventh trumpet. But the seventh trumpet will also bring in the seven “bowl” or “vial” judgments. Things are going through a progression and they are only going to get worse, not better.

 

Surely the people of the earth will be thinking that each trial will be the end of sorrows and that an era of peace will be ushered in – by the actions of man and the anti-Christ. However, such is not the case. The world has said to God, “We can do it without you.” And God will allow them to try. But man isn’t inherently good.

 

The Bible teaches that we are fallen and that we are corrupt by nature. Because this is so, we can only botch things up and make things worse. The good we do, such as inventing things, writing poetry, and petting puppies on the head is inevitably short-lived and overshadowed by the bad we do.

 

Without the light of Christ in the human soul, there is only darkness and a desire to shun God for self and for selfishness. Let us remember this and lean wholly on our Creator and God and not on our own understanding. The Lord will be with those who call on Him and He will never forsake them.

 

Heavenly Father, thank You for the forgiveness of sins which comes through the shed blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus! I know that I don’t deserve the favor You have lavished upon me, but because of Your great love and mercy for the work of Your hands, You have looked upon me and been gracious to me. I will ever sing the praises of Your name. Amen.

 

 

Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,… Revelation 9:13

 

John has just beheld the sounding of the fifth trumpet and the subsequent first woe which came about. The swarm of locusts and the destruction they brought must have been amazing for him to behold. But now his attention is redirected to the heavenly throne room again as the sixth trumpet sounds. When it did, a voice is heard “from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God…” This takes us back to verses 8:3-6 which began the trumpet judgments –

 

“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”

 

The voice then which is coming from the altar has been analyzed differently by different scholars over the years. Some believe it is the voice of God directing the events. Some believe it is the angel who had the censer, and some believe it is the voice of the martyrs calling out.

 

Because we can’t be certain, there isn’t any point in arguing the issue. Rather, we should look to the coming events and know that whoever is crying out for them to occur, they are happening because God’s judgment is due on the world which has martyred His saints and rejected Him.

 

O Lord God, You have opened our eyes to future events while keeping some things hidden so that we can speculate on what they mean. No matter what our personal opinion about the hidden things, those things which have been revealed belong to us as a heritage and a means of understanding what is to come. Thank You for these insights. Amen.

 

 

…saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” Revelation 9:14

 

The angels that are “bound at the great river Euphrates” are most likely fallen angels, or demonic spirits.  Since the earliest times, this area has been in a state of war – physically and spiritually –against the forces of goodness.

 

 

The boundaries began at the time of Cain when he dwelt “in the land east of Eden.” The two highlighted cites of the Bible are Jerusalem – the city of peace and the place where God dwells, and Babylon – the city of confusion and where wickedness dwells. In Genesis 14, the four kings of the area around the Euphrates come against five kings dwelling in the land of Canaan.

 

Later in the Bible, the king of Assyria is called the rod of God’s anger and is used as God’s judgment against the northern tribes of Israel, carrying them away captive in 722 B.C. And after that, the king of Babylon is used as God’s judgment against the southern land of Judah, carrying them away in 586 B.C. In Jeremiah, Babylon is called “the hammer of all the earth.” Jeremiah, writing in Habakkuk asks the question –

 

Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,
And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours
A person more righteous than he? Habakkuk 1:13

 

God has used the unrighteous to bring about His purposes against His people and to bring about His plans in a way which demonstrates His sovereignty over all creation. Nothing happens apart from the sovereign decisions of God – including the great battle to come in the judgment of the sixth trumpet.

 

We will read all about it in the next few verses. As you read your Bible, look to the geography of the lands and see how God is using real locations to make spiritual applications. By understanding these things, your knowledge of world events will certainly be increased.

 

O God, Your word is beyond compare and every time I look into it, I am more amazed at the complexity and beauty of how it is arranged. Every time I think I have my finger on all it contains, I find myself realizing that it is far deeper and more glorious than I had previously imagined. Time and again, I realize what a treasure Your word is. Amen.

 

 

So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Revelation 9:15

 

These are the “the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”  Their mission is to kill a “third of mankind.” It isn’t certain whether this is one third of all the people alive on the earth at the time, or one third of those who are caught up in the ensuing battle. Either way, the number of dead will be immense. In Ecclesiastes 3:1, we read these words –

 

 “To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven.”

 

And in Acts 1:7 when asked about the coming kingdom, Jesus told His disciples –

 

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”

 

God has everything under His control and this includes the destruction of the great battles which lay ahead. These four angels have “been prepared for the hour and day and month and year.” There is a logical progression to all things and God knew before He created what that progression would be. All things are according to His purposes and we are merely participants in His great unfolding plan for the ages. We need not get concerned about the things which are ahead because God is completely in control of them.

 

And for those who have called on Him, His promises hold fast. No matter what – through life or through death – nothing can remove us from His powerful grasp. So if the events of Revelation seem terrifying, just trust that God already knows His good plans and purposes for you.

 

Heavenly Father, when I see that You already know the future, it gives me great comfort. Even if things are troublesome in my own life, I know that these things will never spin out of Your control and I know that all of my trials are being worked out for my good and Your glory. Because of this, I can shout “Hallelujah!” Amen.

 

 

Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. Revelation 9:16

 

This is an amazing prophecy for John to have seen. The “four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates” and “who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.” When they are released, they direct the movements of an army of two hundred million soldiers.

 

In Greek, the term two myriads of myriads is used. A myriad is the highest number used at the time and was a force of 10,000 soldiers. By multiplying as John stated, we come to the figure of 200,000,000. John then confirms what he heard spoken, “I heard the number of them.” He states it this way to leave no doubt about what he had heard because it was seemingly incredible.

 

At the time this was written, it is doubtful that there were that many people on earth and therefore the number is either merely symbolic of something – which is most unlikely because he adamantly confirms the number, or the prophecy is in the far future, at a time when an army of this size could be brought together. And today it is not just possible, it could occur in a short amount of time by nations uniting against a common foe.

 

What John saw and heard is both realistic and yet future. But when it occurs, it will be because the world is being directed into a whirlpool of destruction because of its failure to acknowledge God and simply call on Him for direction.

 

O Lord God – Creator of heaven and earth – You have given us every opportunity to simply bow the knee and call out to You in faith. You sent Jesus to show us the true avenue to peace, and yet we have continuously rejected Your gracious offer. And because of this, we have faced and will continue to face many trials. Righteous are You when You judge, O God. Amen.

 

 

And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. Revelation 9:17

 

Along with the 200,000,000 soldiers who will participate in the coming battle, there will be “horses” meaning a cavalry. John takes time to describe these horses and his description is exactly what you would expect from a person who saw these events 2000 years ago. Having never seen a modern mechanized cavalry force, John would use terminology that he was familiar with. And yet, what he saw and the way he describes it, is exactly as we would expect for a modern force of tanks.

 

“Those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow.” John has described the very colors of the flags of the attacking army or armies. The USA for example uses a red, white, and blue standard. The army which is coming will be very close; the white is instead yellow. So this will be a coalition of three individual colors or a single force which uses all three colors.

 

“The heads of the horses were like the heads of lions.” John is describing the ferocity of the head of a tank, which roars as it lets go of its ammunition. And of course, John nails the description with the final words of this verse…

 

“and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone.”

 

This is exactly what proceeds from the fierce and angry mouths of modern mechanized armament. John is seeing a massive battle which is yet future and he is describing it in terms which even a person would describe it today if they had never seen a tank. Good job John!

 

You have given us a sure insight into the future and have thus proved that these events are, in fact, ahead of us and not fulfilled at some point in the past. The book of Revelation is describing what is coming, not that which has already been fulfilled.

 

How wonderful to know that the book of Revelation proclaims future events and which confirms that You, O God, have not rejected Your people Israel. We can tell from verses such as today’s that this great book of prophecy details future events and not those which have already been fulfilled. Thank You for the confirmation O Lord! Amen.

 

 

By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. Revelation 9:18

 

A couple of verses ago, we noted this – “It isn’t certain whether this is one third of all the people alive on the earth at the time, or one third of those who are caught up in the ensuing battle. Either way, the number of dead will be immense.” There is a third possibility to this number as well. Because the events of Revelation are focused on Israel and the troubles which come against her, the number killed in this battle could be the number of people in Israel who are destroyed by an army which comes against her.

 

The battle is certainly future and it will be an amazingly harsh one. The plagues of fire and smoke and brimstone are, as described yesterday, the ravages of a land battle which uses heavy artillery and mechanized equipment. If this massive army is coming against Israel, which does seem likely, then despite its overwhelming size and massive capabilities, it will be repulsed.

 

God has promised, despite Israel’s disobedience, to always protect her and keep her from complete annihilation. It is to Israel that Jesus will return and so this promise stands firm –

 

“You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes.” … “And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord” Ezekiel 38:16 & 22, 23

 

Lord, we know that perilous times are ahead and that Israel will not be excluded from them. But we also know that You are in complete control of all things and that You will protect them for Your holy name’s sake. Thank You for Your faithfulness even when we aren’t faithful. What a great and awesome God You are! Amen.

 

 

For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm. Revelation 9:19

 

These “horses” in the great cavalry John is describing have “their power in their mouth.” As we’ve already seen, the description John has given is undoubtedly the description of modern weaponry, such as tanks. For eons, these things (and the “locusts previously mentioned) had been allegorized because the descriptions were so strange and didn’t really resemble anything man had ever seen. Unfortunately, such allegorical references are still used by many scholars despite the clarity of description John gave, even though we can surely identify them as planes and tanks.

 

The tanks John saw also have power “in their tails.” The secondary weapon systems on tanks are their machine guns, normally at the back of them. John continues to describe the tails which bring harm – “for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.”

 

When a man comes out of the tank to work the machine gun, this is just how John would describe the scene. He would hear the rattling of the machine gun and describe it as best as he could. To him is would sound “like serpents.” And watching a large machine gun, like a 50 caliber, would easily be described as doing “harm” when it fired off its lethal rounds.

 

The vision only becomes clear in modern times and it points to the fact that Revelation was and is a book of prophecy about a future battle, not something which occurred in his lifetime. Those who want to claim that the church replaced Israel will argue that all of the events of Revelation are past, but this is simply a bad analysis of the timeline, the purpose of the book, and of the meaning of such symbolism which is given.

 

We are living in exciting times and the events of Revelation are coming nearer by the moment. Maybe they will even occur in our lifetime.

 

Thank You Lord for giving John the visions which we have recorded as the book of Revelation! Because we have an understanding of what he saw, we can look with confidence concerning the events of the book, knowing that You are in complete control of the future and have a plan laid out for the people of God. Our confidence and hope is in You! Amen.

 

 

But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. Revelation 9:20

 

Judgment has been brought about in the fifth and sixth trumpets, which are the first and second woes. In these battles which comprise the aerial assault and then a ground invasion, a third of the people were killed and yet there has been no change in heart…no repentance and turning to God.

 

Instead, those “who were not killed by these plagues” have continued in the worship of things made by their hands. Anything that we can form is formed out of something that God has made and is therefore not God. The bizarre thought process of worshipping an idol of this sort, along with the irony involved, is laid out very clearly in Isaiah 44:6-20. Take time to read that passage today, but here is a portion of it –

 

 “He burns half of it in the fire; With this half he eats meat; He roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.”  And the rest of it he makes into a god, His carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, Prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

 

In the list provided in today’s verse are a host of materials used in idolatry – gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood. But the list is started with the thought that they are really worshipping demons. Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 10:20. Demonic activity is behind all idolatry. Any attention of worship to a physical, tangible, created substance is error.

 

We are only to look to God, the Maker of all things, not to the things He has made. The Bible says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” It reveals Jesus to us and Jesus reveals the Father. Why should we look anywhere else for our heart’s desire when He is the Source of all things?

 

Lord God, how far we have fallen! We direct our eyes away from You and instead lavish our attention and devotion on mere things? Forgive our wicked hearts and let us always remember that You are the Creator and that all things have come from You. May we never set up an idol in our home or in our heart, but instead may we worship You alone. Amen.

 

 

And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. Revelation 9:21

 

This is the last verse of chapter 9 and here we have the continuation of the thought of the previous verse which said the people “did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.” In addition to these abominable practices, the people have not repented of “their murders.”

 

Murder is the willful and intentional killing of another human being. Man is created in God’s image and to kill another human is therefore an attack against God’s image bearer. The Bible only gives one penalty for murder – the ending of the life of the murderer. When a society fails to execute this capital crime, it is actually a secondary attack against God. And this is what we see in the liberalizing of our judicial systems around the world. Murder is given light sentences in court and this only leads to more murder.

 

The people have also not repented of “their sorceries.” Sorcery includes the magic arts of the occult and entering into this realm is not only tolerated, it has become fashion because of the heavy influence of sorcery in the movie industry. Sorcery surely includes the use of drugs though. The word translated as “sorcery” is pharmakeion. As you can see, it is a root of the word “pharmacy.” The use of drugs has been and is closely linked with the practice of sorcery.

 

The people also are bent on continuing “their sexual immorality.” Homosexuality, bestiality, fornication, pornography… the list goes on. Sexual relations outside of the bonds of marriage (between a man and a woman) are considered repulsive and unacceptable by God. Those who practice such things must repent or face the consequences.

 

And finally “their thefts” are mentioned. Thieving is repugnant because it is taking what doesn’t belong to someone without care or concern for the work and time of the one being stolen from. The other sins will often take up a great deal of time and expense of the offender, who is only bent on more sin, so the easiest route to feed their debauchery is to steal from others. For these acts, continued judgment and woe is coming on the world.

 

Lord Jesus, when I read the list of things that offend You and which bring about Your wrath, I know that I have participated in these things as well during my life. And yet You had mercy upon me. I can only pray that You will call the hearts of the unrepentant back to You, just as You have done to me. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Amen.

 

 

I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. Revelation 10:1

 

With this verse, we start Chapter 10 of Revelation. John’s vision at this point seems to be from an earthly view as he sees “another mighty angel coming down from heaven.” The previous verses have been centered on battles occurring on earth and now this angel is coming to that realm.

 

He is “clothed with a cloud” indicating the glory which surrounds Him. He also has a rainbow on His head. This is a symbol of God’s faithfulness to the promises He makes, just as was the case with the rainbow given as a sign to all humanity after the Flood of Noah. His face is “like the sun.” This depiction indicates the radiance of the light of life being in Him and shining from Him. And finally, His feet are like pillars of fire. Fire symbolizes purity and judgment.

 

There is great dispute among scholars who this angel is, Christ or another heavenly being. It could really go either way depending on which of the coming verses one focuses on, but none of them negate it being the Lord. However, several of the verses clearly point to deity; it is certainly one of the many ways Christ reveals Himself to us in the book of Revelation. The Greek word allos is used for “another” and indicates “another of the same kind.” In other words, another description of the Lord – this book is the revealing or unveiling of Jesus and it is He who is being depicted.

 

Today’s verse begins an interlude between the 6th and 7th trumpets, just as there was one between the 6th and 7th seals. This interlude will last for quite a while and the final trumpet isn’t blown until Revelation 11:15. The majestic description of this portion of the heavenly vision is given to prepare us for the verses ahead – all of which are amazing and glorious.

 

How beautiful it is to read the various descriptions given to us which show us the glory and beauty of the heavenly realm. Above all is the majesty and splendor of Jesus, our Lord. Thank You, O God, for the wonderful insights into these things. We look to You and your glory with amazement and hope! Amen.

 

 

He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land,… Revelation 10:2

 

This is the mighty Angel from verse 1 who came down from heaven clothed with a cloud with a rainbow on his head, with his face like the sun, and having feet like pillars of fire. We now see that he has “a little book open in his hand.” This is probably some type of unsealed scroll and is not the same scroll as was brought to our attention back in chapter 5. A different word is used for the scroll in this verse, biblaridion. Its significance will be seen in the verses ahead.

 

This mighty Angel “set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land.” Two important concepts are derived from this. The first is that the message in His hand is a message which pertains to the entire world – indicated by the sea and the land. The second is that this Angel is claiming authority over both the sea and the land. In a display of complete control over a vanquished nation, rulers of the past would go to the shore of the land and place their feet in this manner. It was a symbol that they held control over the entire realm. All trade – whether by land or by sea, all industry – coming from the land or the sea, all the resources – as acquired from the land or the sea… all of it was under the authority of that ruler.

 

In this verse, the Angel is claiming complete authority over the earth because He descended from heaven to earth. The title deed to the earth which was opened in chapter 5 is claimed by the great Hero of today’s verse. The amazing thing about our God is that He is sovereign over the world and yet He allows us to disobey Him and ignore Him at will. Most sovereign rulers would simply snuff out those who rebel without giving them a chance, but God provides ample opportunity to the people of the world to repent.

 

However, there is an end to disobedience and when the cup of His indignation is full, it is poured out in judgment. We as His creatures cannot be disobedient forever.

 

How marvelous it is to see the splendid descriptions in Revelation, to think about the power and majesty displayed there, and then to know that You have been patient – ever so patient with the sons of men. Instead of immediate destruction, we receive mercy and blessing even when we fight against You. Thank You for Your longsuffering and kindness. Amen.

 

 

…and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Revelation 10:3

 

The “mighty angel” whose feet are on the sea and the land now cries “with a loud voice, as when a lion roars.” The lion is the king of his realm and the fiercest animal of his domain. When he roars, it is a sound of terror to those who hear it. The symbolism is one of ferocity and a source of great fear for the people of the world.

 

Back in Revelation 5:5, we saw Jesus depicted as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. This is another indication that the Angel being referred to is Him. The rainbow on His head signifies God’s covenant keeping promises, His face like the sun is showing that in Him is light and life, His feet like pillars of fire show His holiness, justice, and judgment, and His standing on the sea and the land signifies His rule over the entire domain of earth. These, and other details we have yet to see show us that this is a symbolic representation of the power, glory, and authority of Jesus.

 

When He cries out, “seven thunders uttered their voices.” As we will find out, what is said isn’t revealed, but it is surely a call for judgment upon the earth. In Job 37, we read this parallel –

 

“He sends it forth under the whole heaven, His lightning to the ends of the earth. After it a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, And He does not restrain them when His voice is heard. God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend.”

 

The voice of God is majestic and marvelous and with His utterances, great things occur. Such is the case with the coming resounding thunders.

 

Lord, I know that we as humans have two choices, to hear Your tender call as the Shepherd of Your saved sheep, or to hear Your terrifying voice as the great Judge of lost humanity. I thank You for having called me out of darkness into Your light and I pray for those I love who have not yet responded to this call. May You work upon their hearts and bring them to You. Amen.

 

 

Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” Revelation 10:4

 

In Psalm 29:3-9, the voice of the Lord is mentioned seven times:

1) over the waters,

2) is powerful,

3) is full of majesty,

4) breaks the cedars,

5) divides the flames of fire,

6) shakes the wilderness,

7) makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare.

 

The seven thunders today roar and they are in an understandable voice because John was about to write what he heard. This Angel then is certainly the Lord as the previous symbolism has already shown, because it is the “voice of the Lord.” that utters them.

 

What is revealed is something that will happen during the tribulation period, but suddenly John hears another voice from heaven saying “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” Because this voice comes from heaven and directs the Angel, some scholars have decided that the Angel can’t be Jesus. But we have already seen on several occasions that Jesus fulfills sequential roles of the heavenly court – such as in Revelation 4 and 5 where Jesus is sitting on the throne and then hands the scroll to the Lamb who is Jesus. In other words, we are seeing the “unveiling” or “revealing” of Jesus. Just because we see sequential things occur from different places and there is interaction between individuals who are present, doesn’t negate that they are all Jesus.

 

Concerning the sealing up of the seven thunders, there is an interesting parallel which comes from Daniel 12 –

 

“‘Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?’ And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.’”

 

The book of Revelation is the “time of the end” and it is revealing the things Daniel wasn’t given. However, even in Revelation, there are things which are sealed. God has chosen to reveal His Son in the way which He has chosen and we are not privy to all of the information concerning the coming time of tribulation. His plan will come to pass as He directs and in order for that to happen, the seven thunders must remain hidden.

 

It is exciting to see the events of the future unfolding before our very eyes, and yet we have things that are hidden from us as well. Because of this, we have an even deeper interest in such things, stretching our minds to see that which is beyond our eyes. How wise You are in how You have presented the future to us! Thank You, O God, for these insights. Amen.

 

 

The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven… Revelation 10:5

 

Today’s verse, combined with the one tomorrow, is another reason why scholars have denied that this Angel is Jesus. As we will see, the raising of the hand is accompanied by swearing by “Him who lives forever and ever.” If this Angel is swearing by “Him who lives for ever and ever” the thought is that it can’t be Jesus because Jesus is God and it is He who lives for ever and ever. This logic is incorrect.

 

Deuteronomy 32:40, Jeremiah 22:5, Daniel 12:7, and elsewhere contain such vows made by the Lord when speaking of Himself. For the Angel to raise His hand to heaven and make such a statement in no way negates His deity.

 

The only thing that can be inferred from today’s verse is that an oath is going to be made and it is being made by One who has authority over the sea and the land. Here is how the Lord presents His vow in Deuteronomy 32 –

 

For I raise My hand to heaven,
And say, “As I live forever,
If I whet My glittering sword,
And My hand takes hold on judgment,
I will render vengeance to My enemies,
And repay those who hate Me.”

 

When God swears by Himself, in either testament, it is making a proclamation that what is said will absolutely and assuredly come to pass. We have every confidence that what God speaks is absolute truth and that the Bible is God’s word.

 

I know, O God, that You can do all things and that You have all authority and all power. I also know that Your word is truth and that what You proclaim will surely come to pass. Thank You for having given us such confidence. By resting in Your truth, we can live at peace in this world full of trouble and trial. Amen.

 

 

…and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer… Revelation 10:6

 

The mighty Angel described in verses 1 and 2, after raising His hand toward heaven, now swears “by Him who lives forever and ever.” This is a binding oath and reflects the very nature of God, who is everlasting. As the Creator, he existed before the creation and He will endure for all time, throughout eternal ages. The term “forever and ever” is applied to the Lord dozens of times in the Bible and several times in the book of Revelation. Back in Revelation 5:14, it said this “Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”

 

As we noted yesterday, several other times in the Bible, the Lord swears by Himself. At these times, because there is no higher authority, the vow is eternal in nature and cannot be changed. Today the vow is “that there should be delay no longer.” What is coming will come and it will come speedily.

 

Another clue that this Angel is Jesus is that the vow isn’t only “by Him who lives forever and ever,” but He is also the one “who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it.” This mighty Angel, while proclaiming this, has one foot on the sea, one foot on the land, and His hand upraised to the heavens. In other words, He is signifying authority over these three things that He has created.

 

There is now only a short time left for repentance and turning to righteousness. When the coming judgments arrive, the time will be too late. But each human already faces such a deadline. In reality, we don’t know the moment of our death. It could be today in an accident or by the stopping of our heart. We could be killed by an intruder or choke on our dinner. We simply don’t know the time of our end and therefore we must be ready at every moment for the Lord to come for us. Let us be found ready.

 

 

The mighty Angel of these verses swears that there will be delay no longer and the time is set. But Lord, we have a date to meet You that was set before the creation of the world. In Your wisdom, You created us and have allowed us to decide which path to follow. May we make right decisions that are pleasing to You and that will lead others to You as well.  Amen.

 

 

…but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. Revelation 10:7

 

 “But” in this verse indicates a contrast from what has been said – “that there should be delay no longer.” In other words, the seventh angel will sound and judgment on the world will come in a terrible and frightening way. So the question is, and which is highly debated, does the seventh trumpet sound and then continue to sound during the seven bowl judgments to come, or is it a blast and then judgment. However this is interpreted, and this will be analyzed as we continue, “when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished.”

 

A mystery in the New Testament is something that was previously unknown and which is now revealed. There are several mysteries spoken of by Jesus and the apostles. The Old Testament saints saw, for example, a time when there would be great tribulation on earth and they also saw a time when there would be a reign of righteousness on earth. When these, and many other things were declared to them, they wrote them down in the pages of the Old Testament, but they didn’t understand how these things tied together with the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Peter describes this process in his first epistle –

 

“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,  searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.”

 

O God! How wondrous it is to think that we, as New Testament saints, can look into things that the prophets of old and even the angels have longed to see and understand! May we handle this information carefully and with great care, knowing that we are the recipients of what others actually suffered for, particularly our Lord and Savior Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, “Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.” Revelation 10:8

 

In his vision, John is certainly on the earth because we read that the voice from heaven speaks again to him and says, “Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.” John has migrated back and forth in his vision between heaven and earth and at it requires care to see when the change from place to place occurs. Just because the voice comes from heaven and directs John to take the scroll from the hand of the Angel doesn’t mean the Angel isn’t Jesus.

 

In the gospel accounts, the voice of God speaks to the people when Jesus is present, such as in Matthew 17 at the Mount of Transfiguration –

“While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’”

 

In today’s verse, the command to John comes and it is very similar to one given to Ezekiel many hundreds of years before John’s time –

 

“Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.” Ezekiel 2:9, 10.

 

What John will be asked to do with the little book is similar to what Ezekiel was asked to do with the scroll. We will see this in the verses ahead and find out what they symbolize. God’s great plan includes the use of His people for specific tasks. Just as God used Ezekiel and John, so He can use you too.

 

When He stirs up your spirit to act, be ready to do so that He may be glorified through you. It must be a delight to His heart for Him to see His creatures willfully following His call and directives.

 

Use me according to Your great plan, O Lord. I know that You will never give me a task which is beyond my ability because You created me and know my capabilities. Help me to know them as well and to use my time and talents in the way which will bring you the most glory. You are surely worthy of all I can do, so use me, O Lord. Amen.

 

 

So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.” And he said to me, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.” Revelation 10:9

 

Let’s go back to Ezekiel chapters 2 and 3 to see the Old Testament parallel to today’s verse –

 

“Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe. Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.” Ezekiel 2:9-3:3

 

As you can see, the parallel passage says that on the scroll are lamentations and woe and this would be the same with the book given to John.

There is a two-fold occurrence when one is given the word of God. The first part is that it is sweet. We put it in our mouths and cherish it because God’s word is life and sweetness. The psalmist said that God’s word is “sweeter than honey to my mouth.” When we know God’s word we aren’t to just read it and stop there, but we are to meditate on it and then turn around and share it with others.

 

When we meditate on it, we compare ourselves to it and find that God is infinitely greater than we are and we can never compare to what His word proclaims – absolute holiness and complete purity. Because of this, it makes our stomach bitter, knowing our fallen state. And even more – when we share it with others, knowing that we are sharing God’s truth, we can expect those who hear it to shun us and revile us.

 

Most people want nothing to do with holiness and purity and will accuse those who proclaim the word of being “holier than thou.” And when we proclaim God’s judgment for rejecting His word, the accusations and hatred only grow more intense. The world is at war with God and His word and this brings about bitterness and strife. But let us never compromise God’s word for the sake of tolerance or non-confrontation. We are in a spiritual war and all wars contain bitterness, lamentation, and woe.

 

Lord – fill me with Your word. Surely it is sweeter than honey to my mouth. And never let me forget or diminish the lessons it teaches me, even though they are hard to stomach and cause me bitterness of soul. And also Lord, give me the desire, stamina, and fortitude to stand fast on Your word and to proclaim it to the people of the world. Amen.

 

 

Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. Revelation 10:10

 

It turned out just as the angel said it would – John “took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it.” When he did, “it was as sweet as honey” in his mouth. Jesus really is coming back and the Bible is a book of hope, wonderment, and joy at the thought of His return and what He will do for the people of the world. The messianic age will be marvelous to behold. And after that time, we have all of eternity to look forward to as well.

 

There will be no more pain or suffering. All things will be made new and we will walk in the light of the Lord. These things really will come to pass and reading about them is “as sweet as honey” to our souls. However, something else happened to John after eating the book. It made his stomach bitter.

 

When we know something bad is coming in our lives, our stomachs churn and we have all kinds of physical problems that are associated with that. The bitterness we feel inside can only be resolved by passing through those times of trial and getting to the other side. And this is the case with John and it should be the case for each of us as we continue reading on in Revelation.

 

The world really will come to a time of decision, rejection of God, judgment, and destruction. How can the love of God be complete in our hearts when we know that each person who dies apart from Christ will be eternally separated from God and sent to a place of eternal torment? This should be the bitterest thought of all for each of us. But one thing we can’t do in the process is to waffle on our convictions.

 

Like Ezekiel of the past, we need to stand firm and proclaim God’s word in its entirety –

 

“But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted. Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.”

 

It is true Lord, the thought of your coming judgment is a difficult concept to stomach, especially when I look at Your mercy in the cross of Jesus. But it is this very cross which demands Your justice on all who reject the offer – the immense offer – of grace and peace that was given there. Truly You are just when You judge, O God. Amen.

 

 

And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” Revelation 10:11

 

John has taken the book and eaten it and it was sweet to his taste but it became bitter in his stomach. Now he is told, “You must prophecy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”

 

The word for “about” is the Greek word epi. This word is in the dative case and therefore can be translated in a number of ways – against, over, for, upon, as, about, etc. Therefore, the translator’s preference, along with his knowledge of the context of the verse as well as the overall meaning of the passage, is highly important. The prophesying that John is to do is not literally in person, but is most probably speaking about the rest of the warnings and judgments which lay ahead in Revelation. What he will receive and pen for the world to see then is what brings bitterness.

 

The reason this is likely is what he has eaten immediately became bitter. Therefore, the word “against” is the most probable translation for this verse. You must prophesy again against many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” This then is parallel to what Ezekiel was told in his vision and prophecy. Ezekiel 3:11 records,

 

“And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear, or whether they refuse.”

 

Ezekiel was prophesying against the rebellious house of Israel and John is called to prophecy a warning against the rebellious people of the world. The rebellious house of Israel didn’t listen, was judged, and was destroyed. And in like manner, the rebellious people of the world have been given their warning, they won’t listen, they will be judged, and they will also be destroyed. That which has been will be again. That which has been done will be done again. And, there is truly nothing new under the sun.

 

Lord, it seems like we can’t learn from the past and are thus destined to make the same mistakes again in the future. How sad it is that the people of the world can’t simply bow their knee and acknowledge You and Your great workings in human history. But such isn’t the case and so You are justified when You judge. Open eyes and hearts now, O Lord.  Amen.

 

 

Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. Revelation 11:1

 

There are several interludes which occur between chapters 10 and 14 and one of them begins with this verse, which is also the start of chapter 11. As Revelation is 22 chapters long, we are approaching the half way point of the book.

 

John is “given a reed like a measuring rod.” The measuring of something in the Bible is normally used to indicate either destruction of something, preservation of something, or a mixture of both. In the time of King David, in 2 Samuel 8, we read this –

 

“After this it came to pass that David attacked the Philistines and subdued them. And David took Metheg Ammah from the hand of the Philistines. Then he defeated Moab. Forcing them down to the ground, he measured them off with a line. With two lines he measured off those to be put to death, and with one full line those to be kept alive. So the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought tribute.”

 

In Ezekiel 40, there is a passage very similar to today’s verse where a future temple would be measured as well.

 

“’And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see.’ Now there was a wall all around the outside of the temple. In the man’s hand was a measuring rod six cubits long, each being a cubit and a handbreadth; and he measured the width of the wall structure, one rod; and the height, one rod.’”

 

One difference between Ezekiel and Revelation is that the man with Ezekiel did the measuring, but this one asks John to do it.

 

One thing which is certain is that the temple John is asked to measure is not the temple which was destroyed in AD70. It is a temple which is yet future to our time. And guess what! The implements for this temple are made and on display in Jerusalem. The cornerstone of it has been anointed and is safe in Jerusalem too. The time for God’s plan to be completed is coming and we are participants and spectators in the great unfolding drama of His plan!

 

Lord, looking at the world today and knowing the Israel has been returned to her land and that the temple of the future is being prepared for construction is simply amazing. How great it is to know that You are in complete control of all things and Your promises are coming to fulfillment just has they are recorded! Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. Revelation 11:2

 

As incredible and impossible as it seems in today’s world, there really will be another temple in Jerusalem and it will be built directly where the first and second temples stood – on the Temple Mount. There is no need to argue this, God has already determined it will come to pass and He has prepared the people of Israel for this coming day. He has readied their hearts and they have readied the implements.

 

This temple will stand, most probably, on a large empty spot directly in the middle of the mount. On the north end stands the Dome of the Rock, which is adorned with a gold dome. On the south end is the Al Aqsa Mosque.

 

These are obviously defiled areas which belong to the “gentiles” or the nations. The measuring of this future temple leaves out the court where these two defiled edifices stand, thus indicating that they are excluded from future blessing and will be removed at some point in the future.

 

These same gentiles who have a foothold on the Temple Mount will also “tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.” The term “underfoot” signifies that their very presence is a defiling act. They are unclean and what they tread on is defiled by them. The time period of 42 months corresponds with Daniel 9:27 which says this –

 

“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

 

A covenant of peace with the antichrist is coming and it will be for a period of “one week” or 7 years. However, this covenant will be broken in the middle of the week, which is 3 ½ years or 42 months. Understanding and properly interpreting Daniel 9:24-27 is the key to understanding what is coming and when – and it all pertains to the Jewish people and to the city of Jerusalem.

 

O Lord, it is so exciting to see that we may be very, very close to the time which was prophesied so long ago in the book of Revelation and even back to the time of the Old Testament prophets. As the world turns away from You, they are also aligning against Your people Israel whom You have returned to their land. Great is Your faithfulness to Your unfaithful people. Amen.

 

 

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” Revelation 11:3

 

Today’s verse gives another clear reason that the Angel that has been speaking to John is Jesus. He says “I will give power to my two witnesses.” It is the Lord who provides such power to the sons of man, not a created being; the Angel is Jesus. He directs His prophets and the words of their mouth. And these two witnesses will do so for 1260 days.

 

This is a period of 42 months or 3 ½ years. A biblical year is always based on a 360-day pattern. When you do calculations on Bible dating, or when you look at websites that attempt to do so, using anything other than a 360-day year will result in error. Remember this as you do your studies.

 

This 3 ½ year period is not unique in the Bible. Elijah also withheld the rains from Israel for this amount of time. It is also generally believed, though hard to pinpoint due to a lack of dating in the New Testament, that Jesus’ ministry was about 3 ½ years long as well – but we cannot be certain of this.

 

As we noted yesterday, this 3 ½ year period was prophesied by Daniel and it is pointing to a future date, not something that has already been fulfilled. The key to understanding the times we live in is to understand Israel’s role in prophetic events. And Israel has been planted again in her land, never to be uprooted as the Lord has promised.

 

The two witnesses are “clothed in sackcloth.” The word is a transliteration from the Hebrew word sak and wearing it is a sign of mourning and woe. Wearing such garments is to show great distress, humility before God, and even as a petition that what is deserved is destruction, but there is a hope for mercy. In the case of these two, they are in sackcloth on behalf of the people they are speaking to. Demonstrating that great woe is coming and that the people should take heed and join them in their humble petitioning of God for mercy. In the verses ahead, we will look at who these two people are.

 

Heavenly Father, the fact that a definite time is set for these two witnesses to prophecy tells us that there is first a plan, secondly an end to the period of grace, and third that the time is fixed and will not be changed. What You have ordained will come to pass and all we can do is be in prayer that eyes will be opened and hearts will be responsive – to Your glory, O God. Amen.

 

 

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. Revelation 11:4

 

The question everyone seems to want to know is “Who are these two witnesses.” The answer must be found in the Bible if it is to be found at all. Some have suggested one is Moses. This is not correct. Moses’ death is recorded in the Bible and the book of Hebrews says we get one chance at life and then judgment. But as we will see in the coming verses, these witnesses will die – one is not Moses. Some have suggested one of them is John the Baptist. Again, this is incorrect. These are alluded to in the Old Testament book of Zechariah as already serving the Lord –

 

 “Then I answered and said to him, ‘What are these two olive trees—at the right of the lampstand and at its left?” And I further answered and said to him, “What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?’  Then he answered me and said, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ And I said, ‘No, my lord.’ So he said, ‘These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.’”

 

The two witnesses predate John the Baptist and John also was beheaded. He doesn’t fit the biblical requirement. One is not John the Baptist. So they are two people who haven’t died and who serve the Lord, even in the Old Testament. This leaves only two possibilities – Enoch, the seventh man from Adam who is recorded in Genesis 5. Hebrews and Jude explain that Enoch was a prophet and he was taken directly to heaven. The other is Elijah who was taken directly to heaven as recorded in 2 Kings 2.

 

An argument against this, which is invalid when thought through, is that it can’t be Enoch because Enoch wasn’t a Hebrew. So what? The Bible never says they are both Hebrews. And also, they are witnessing to both Jew and gentile during the tribulation period and so this only makes more sense. And finally, the answer is resolved when looking at Daniel 12:5, 6 –

 

 “Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?

 

In this passage, the Lord is above the waters and there is one man on one side of the river and one on the other. The designation “Hebrew” comes from the ancestor of Abraham, Eber; his name means “cross over.” Enoch is a gentile who lived on the other side of the Euphrates before Abram “crossed over.” Elijah is a Hebrew who was a part of those who “crossed over.”

 

The Bible seems to explain who these two men probably are and what role they play – in both Testaments of the Bible. And the Bible provides the exact symbolism to determine who they are. Therefore, the most likely and biblically adherent answer is that they are the prophets of old – Enoch and Elijah.

 

Both never died and have been faithfully serving the Lord for thousands of years now. There is no reason to think that they wouldn’t serve Him in this especially personal way during the coming tribulation period.

 

When evaluating difficult passages, it is often necessary to search the entire Bible to resolve the difficulties. We cannot run with biblical analysis without doing diligent research, and although passages like today are not related directly to salvation, they are a part of the whole counsel of God and so they need to be treated as such.

 

Lord, open our hearts to a desire to know Your word completely – in both Testaments. Surely it is filled with treasure beyond our understanding and the more we look into it, the more You will reward us in grasping it. May You alone be glorified through our studies and then teaching others of the wonders of Your Word! Amen.

 

 

And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. Revelation 11:5

 

The Lord’s two witnesses testify to the people of the world for 1260 days. As they do, the world will hate their testimony, but they won’t be able to do much about it. There will be those who come against them, but their words of retaliation will be futile. The big question which arises from today’s verse is, “Will it be real fire which proceeds from the mouths of these two?”

 

The prophet Elijah did call down fire from heaven on companies of soldiers who came against him, so one could think this might also be some kind of heavenly gift. However, what is far more likely is that those coming to “harm them” are people with their own false testimony, and also naysayers who say that God isn’t judging the world at all. They will come against these two in order to trap them in their own words, but Jesus has already given a promise to those who speak on His behalf in times such as this –

 

“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

 

Because this is the case, the “fire” of the Holy Spirit’s utterances are far more likely than real flames. The question is, can such an example be found elsewhere in the Bible? If so, then this is the more probable analysis.

 

The answer is “Yes.” We read the words in chapter 5 of Jeremiah –

 

“They have lied about the Lord, And said, ‘It is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, Nor shall we see sword or famine. And the prophets become wind, For the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them.’  Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: ‘Because you speak this word, Behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, And this people wood, And it shall devour them.’”

 

The words of the Lord are a consuming fire, particularly when they proclaim judgment.

 

Lord, just as Your words are a consuming fire when disregarded, they are also a fire in the hearts of those who love You. Let us never quench the fire which burns inside of us by withholding Your truth from others. Instead, give us the desire and ability to boldly proclaim Your truth to the people of the world. Amen.

 

 

These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. Revelation 11:6

 

The closing verses of the Old Testament say this, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”  This is a strong indication that Elijah is certainly one of the witnesses. And as discussed earlier, Enoch is the most likely and biblically reasonable second witness.

 

The two of them, probably Enoch and Elijah, will have tremendous power. Elijah previously had the ability to shut up the rains as is recorded in 1 Kings 17 – “And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.’” This period of no rains lasted for 3 ½ years. This is the same period of time that these two witnesses will prophecy in the future.

 

In addition to this power, the witnesses will have the powers which Moses was given during the exodus, such as turning the waters to blood. The term “and to strike the earth with all plagues” is pretty encompassing! They will have the Lord’s power over the elements in a way previously unseen on the planet and it will be for “as often as they desire.”

 

It is good not to get too dogmatic on who these two are, but there is nothing wrong with reasonably searching Scripture to make a sound determination. In the end though, regardless of their names, they are servants of the Lord and are fulfilling His great plans, leaving no doubt that they speak on His behalf.

 

Lord, what’s more amazing than the fact that these people are coming is the fact that their witness will be disregard despite all of the evidence to the contrary. But because of this, how much more just is Your judgment when it comes. Until that day, help us to continue to share the beautiful message of the gospel to others. Amen.

 

 

When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. Revelation 11:7

 

The two witnesses, regardless of who they are (we have identified them probably as Enoch and Elijah, but this isn’t certain) will finish their prophesying after three and one half years and they will be killed by “the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit.” This is not likely to be the angel with the key to the bottomless pit in verse 1 of chapter 9, but rather he is probably the leader of the forces which are let loose from there, represented by locusts. He is quite possibly the antichrist who was spoken of by Daniel and also Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10.

 

The term for “beast” here is not the same term that is used for the four living creatures around the throne. But because some translations use the term “beast” for both it is good to clarify this. The term used here means a wild animal. It is probably analogous to the term used for a beast in Daniel chapter 7, but there is also a difference. The beast there is speaking of an empire, but this one in Revelation seems to be speaking of an individual. However, this isn’t 100% certain either. This very well may be an empire too.

 

The leader of an empire is normally associated with the entire empire. When one speaks of the Germans of World War II, they will often speak of Hitler as representing the whole. Again, Stalin is used as an example of the entire communist system of his time. There is no reason to think this isn’t the case here as well and time will resolve these hard to identify terms, peoples, and empires. Until then, we can only look and know that God is in control and that after these things occur, we will see His omniscience in the situation – knowing that He foresaw exactly what would happen.

 

Death isn’t the end of the story for these two witnesses, so don’t fret as we close our analysis of today’s verse. Jesus has complete and final control over all who are His. Hallelujah – we are secure in Him.

 

Lord, by seeing the faithfulness of these two witnesses, it gives us courage as well to speak out for Your glory and Your great name. Give us that strength as we face the wickedness of such ideology as that which comes against Your gospel and attempts to deny the very rights which we have as humans to speak about You and Your hand in our lives. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Back in verse 2 of this chapter we read this, “But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.” The city of Jerusalem is so defiled that it is spiritually called “Sodom and Egypt.” The curse is two-fold.

 

First, the gentile people living in the city are defiled and have rejected the Lord and are following apostate religion and abominable practices, but more importantly, this has been allowed by the Jewish nation which was brought back by God from dispersion around the world and given control of both the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. Unfortunately though, instead of understanding God’s hand in this, they have rejected this notion and have made a pact to allow the city to be divided in an attempt buy peace, which will never come in this manner.

 

Just as Jerusalem is labeled as Sodom here, so it was in the time of Isaiah as well – “Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah…” Sodom is emblematic of perverse sin which is an abomination in the sight of God. “Egypt” is emblematic of bondage, hardship, and oppressive rule. These names for Jerusalem are given, but they could have been avoided – simply by heeding the call of the two witnesses. But by rejecting their words, the same thing will come upon them as came upon both Sodom and Egypt – great punishment and judgment.

 

What a sad commentary for the place “where also our Lord was crucified.” In an attempt to show that they have overcome the testimony of these two witnesses, and as a sign of contempt for them, the dead bodies are left open and exposed in the streets of the city. In a sense, these two are following their Lord in the public shame He endured. But this isn’t the end of their story. Stay tuned!

 

O Lord, even in the face of the mighty miracles performed through these two witnesses, the people have rejected their testimony, and thus Your testimony. However, we are not unlike them. We have Your complete revelation in the pages of the Bible and yet most people reject it as well. Open hearts and minds to Your truth, O God. Amen.

 

 

Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. Revelation 11:9

 

The two witnesses who have prophesied against the people of the world, and particularly those in and around Jerusalem have been killed by the beast who came out of the bottomless pit. These two olive trees, these two lampstands who have stood before God now lie dead and exposed before the world. And certainly the world will gloat in its supposed victory over them. They will not even allow their bodies to be buried.

 

In the Middle East, as elsewhere in hot sunny climates, it’s important to bury bodies quickly due to the effects of decay. This comes about quickly and the people will want to watch it happen – rejoicing in their perceived triumph over God – because these two had proclaimed they were speaking on His behalf. Some commentaries use today’s verse as a text for the advent of television because there will be “those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations” who will see them lying in the streets. This is isn’t unreasonable and is more than probable. In fact, everything these two witnesses have been doing for three and one half years will probably be video taped by people.

 

With the advent of cell phones and the internet, they may even become a curiosity to check in on. Maybe there will be the “Two Witnesses Webcam.” However, this verse doesn’t prove TV; it only suggests its possibility. Anyone who has been to Jerusalem can testify that there are people from all over the world there – pilgrims of all types.

 

So this terminology could simply mean that people out of those groups, who happen to be in town at the time, will witness their dead bodies in the streets. But in modern times, as already stated, it would be hard to imagine people not publishing photos and videos of them all over the world. We live in an exciting time where mass-media can relate the truth of God’s message in an instant to the four corners of the earth.

 

Yes Lord! We live in exciting times and it is wonderful to think of the blessings of this age that people of times past didn’t have. But at the same time, with blessings come trials. Our lives are hurried and our days are overloaded. Help us to focus on what is most important – our relationship with You. Let us not be distracted from that! Amen.

 

 

And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 11:10

 

In John 16:20, Jesus says this to his disciples – “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.” The world rejoices when it seems that God’s plans are thwarted or defeated. It has always been this way and it will continue on into the Tribulation period. But what the world doesn’t stop and think through is that if God is God, then He is above His creation and therefore He knows what will occur – from beginning to end.

 

Whatever seems to be a defeat is a part of His plan and occurred because He determined it to be that way. This isn’t some type of way to trick people. Instead it is His way of proving His sovereignty over what happens. And so, when the two witnesses are killed and left exposed in the streets, the earth will rejoice.

 

This will happen in the same perverse manner that the Palestinians rejoiced openly on 911. They went into the streets and held big parties, gave gifts of food to each other, and shoot their weapons in the air in jubilation at the destruction of America’s symbols of wealth and power. Imagine how much more partying will go on when these two prophets are killed.

 

There will be dancing and shouting and jubilation because they proclaimed judgment and condemnation on the world’s wickedness and the people were unable to do anything about it. But now, it will seem as if the path to their plans for domination will come to pass. They will believe that they’ve thrown off the yoke of God and have complete control over their future – small ideas from small minds. In the end, they will see the error of their ways, but it will only be as they face their final destruction.

 

Such is the nature of judgment on folly and sin. And all because of the rejection of the greatest offer of love and peace ever bestowed upon mankind – the gift of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Heavenly Father, it truly is heartbreaking to stand back and see people rejoice over deeds of evil and wickedness. There is a sense that there is no control at all left in the world. However, we know there is and we know that it is found in You. Help us to change hearts and minds now before judgment falls and it is too late for these wayward souls. Amen.

 

 

Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Revelation 11:11

 

The world saw the witness, prophecy, and miraculous signs, wonders, and plagues of the two witnesses and they disregarded them, fought against them, and eventually killed them. After this, they shamelessly let them lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days. The bodies will certainly be in a state of decay and, knowing the way things are handled even in the world today, they will also probably abuse the dead bodies as well. However, the shameless conduct of these people, along with their gloating, parties, and celebrations, will be short-lived. The “breath of life from God” will enter them and they will stand up on their two feet.

 

The term “breath” and “spirit” are used synonymously in the Bible. This breath is the same breath mentioned at the creation of man in Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” These two are not only given the reanimation of their bodies though, the “breath of life from God” includes the fact that they are born of the Spirit.

 

Their resurrection then is an eternal one. They have triumphed over death because Jesus went before them and has granted them the same eternal life that He has. This is an implicit indication then that the rapture has already occurred. These two witnesses, Enoch and Elijah, were taken to serve the Lord in Old Testament times and returned to earth to witness. The fact that they died and then have been resurrected to eternal life means the rapture has either already taken place or will take place at this time.

 

Paul explains in 1 Thessalonians 4 that “the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” If these two are granted the resurrection, then they are either participating in what has already been bestowed upon other believers or being raptured at the same time as them.

 

The first option is most likely because otherwise all believers would know when the rapture was going to occur. Therefore, the rapture most likely happened before the tribulation started.

 

Thank You Lord for the great hope we have in us – the promise of eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus! Why should we fear when we know that You have already triumphed over death for us. We need never fear; our hope is secure in You! Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. Revelation 11:12

 

Back in Revelation 4 we read this,

 

“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.’”

 

This was a picture of the rapture of the church. From chapters 1-3 the church was addressed, but after 4:1 – all the way up to chapter 19, the church is never mentioned again. The world, however, was deceived into believing that no such thing as the rapture occurred. Paul explained in 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12 that this deception would happen. The people of the world will be blinded to the truth of what occurred and they will simply believe some crazy story instead.

 

But when these two witnesses are brought back to life, there will be no doubt about what they have seen. In the same call as the church received – “Come up here” – they will be gathered to the Lord. And it will be in a similar fashion to the rapture as well because Paul explains that the church will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord also. Interestingly, these two, who are the two lampstands and the two olive trees who stand before God (verse 4), are more than probably the two men who stood with the disciples in Acts chapter 1 –

 

“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’”

 

In what is an amazing scene, the two men, Enoch and Elijah, who were taken directly to heaven to serve the Lord for the past thousands of years were there with Him in the Old Testament, there with Him at His ascension, and testify to Him at the end of the present age. They will be taken up in a cloud just as their Lord was and they will return with Him when He returns at the end of the tribulation period.

 

Imagine the stories these two men have in their service to the Lord!

 

Lord, the way you have tied things together in Scripture is simply astonishing. The small clues you have placed throughout the pages of Your word lead to immensely interesting patterns and parallels. They also testify to Your faithfulness to Your people. When the world is judged, Your people have nothing to fear. Hallelujah! Thank You, O Lord. Amen.

 

 

In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. Revelation 11:13

 

At the time of the two witnesses’ resurrection, there will be a “great earthquake.” This isn’t an understatement by John. A tenth of Jerusalem will be destroyed in the process and seven thousand will die. Earthquakes are not unknown to the area and several are reported in the Old Testament. Some of them were great enough to serve as markers of time, such as the one recorded in Zechariah which occurred during the reign of King Uzziah –

 

Then you shall flee through My mountain valley,
For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal.
Yes, you shall flee
As you fled from the earthquake
In the days of Uzziah king of Judah.

 

At the time of the earthquake in Revelation 11, and in the midst of the destruction and death, there will be great fear, but also a change in some hearts towards God. They will give Him the glory He is due. This will not be the case with everyone though because more judgments and rebellion are coming, but some in Jerusalem will realize God’s hand in what occurred and their need for repentance and turning to Him. If God can’t wake us up by his word, His prophets, and His general revelation, then He can, at times, wake us up by His judgments. Let them come.

 

Yes Lord, we in the world find every reason to ignore you and Your obvious call to us through the written testimony in Your word and also in our hearts. Therefore, judgment is often the only remedy. Because this is so, and because it will bring You glory, let Your judgment come – that You may receive what we have otherwise failed to give. Amen.

 

 

The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Revelation 11:14

 

Two of the woes are now complete, but there is one more to come. The world hasn’t woken up from the spiritual darkness they are in and they will have to endure a great deal more judgment before the tribulation period is over. When it says the “third woe is coming quickly” it doesn’t mean “immediately.” In fact, it will be quite a while before we get to it. In the meantime, there will be more interludes to analyze. If one looks over commentaries of the past, they will see an amazing diversity of opinion about the meaning of the events which are given in Revelation.

 

Depending on one’s view of Scripture and the role of the church in history, some have seen all of these events directed at the Jewish nation at AD70. Others see these events and their resulting judgment directed at the Roman Catholic Church and other figures in history as history unfolds. However, as has been seen as we’ve moved through the book, these events are future, not fulfilled in the past or progressively unfolding in history. Israel of the future is the key to understanding coming prophecy and to insert the church into these verses is a category mistake of the largest kind.

 

Why would someone make the call that the church has replaced Israel and that Israel has no future role in God’s unveiling plan? Well, there are several reasons, some reasonable, and some not. Mostly though, God had not only “blinded” the Jewish nation as Paul stated in Romans 11:25, but included in that blindness is a sort of blindness on the part of the church as well. For 2000 years the church didn’t understand God’s future role for them. If they did, then there would have been no time of dispersion!

 

When we look at what God has done in history, we should all be amazed at the greatness and perfection of His unfolding plan!

 

Great are your mysteries O God – in your creation and in your ways. Thank You for allowing us to peer into your word and discover the riches of Your unfolding plan and to know that it does include the faithful keeping of Your covenant with Israel. May Your name ever be praised! Amen.

 

 

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” Revelation 11:15

 

This seventh trumpet is the last trumpet to be sounded in the sequence of judgments. When it is sounded, the heavenly chorus breaks into joyous noise! Their cry resounds – “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” What might seem confusing is that this cry is made before the third woe. In other words, there is still rebellion, judgment, and destruction coming.

 

However, this is an anticipatory trumpet and it includes the seven bowl judgments; it encompasses what is yet ahead. And remember what just occurred, the resurrection of the two witnesses was viewed by the world. There can be no doubt about God’s promises or about the truth of His word at this point and so the proclamation is made.

 

 

The seventh trumpet here is not the “last trumpet” Paul refers to when speaking about the rapture. That trumpet was a trumpet of the church age and was one of salvation. This trumpet is during the Tribulation period and is one of more trials, but despite the coming trials, the victory is assured and the kingdoms of the world have been handed over to the authority of “our Lord and of His Christ.”

 

The term “forever and ever” is from the Greek phrase “to the ages of the ages.” It is a term which reflects eternity itself and is something that has no end. The authority of Christ over the earth is complete, absolute, and eternal. Isaiah predicted this time 700 years before the coming Christ –

 

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

 

Victory belongs to our Lord. His kingdom will reign on earth forever and ever. But how wonderful it is to know that, even now, we can participate in that glorious kingdom! Oh God, You have offered peace and reconciliation to the children of men through the shed blood of Jesus. Thank You O God for the victory of our Lord and His cross! Amen.

 

 

And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,… Revelation 11:16

 

The twenty-four elders who were seen in Revelation 4 and 5 are seen again in Revelation 11. As before, they “fell on their faces and worshiped God.” Before we analyze what they do after falling down (coming up in the next verses), let’s remind ourselves of what they did before –

 

Rev 4:11 – “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

Rev 5:9, 10 – “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”

 

As we noted, the first time they fell before the Lord in praise they did so based on God’s creative power – “For You created all things and by your will they exist and were created.” The next time, they did so based on Jesus’ act of redemption – “For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood.”

 

Pay attention to the terminology of such phases and you will see the plan of God unfolding before your very eyes! What do you think will be the reason these twenty-four elders fall down before God in the coming verses? Stay tuned and we will look at them together.

 

What a wonderful and beautifully unfolding plan You have laid out in the pages of Your word! Thank You for opening up these passages for us and showing us the great heavenly scenes which even the angels participate in! How blessed we are when we simply open Your word and look at its structure and beauty! Thank You, O Lord, Amen.

 

 

…saying: “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned. Revelation 11:17

 

Yesterday’s verse noted that the two previous times the 24 elders fell prostrate before the Lord and the heavenly voices resounded, it was because of God’s acts of Creation and then Redemption. Today we note that God is highlighted as the Eternal One, “the One who is and who was and who is to come.” He is the Creator, which means He necessarily is before His creation; His presence is above and yet in His creation, directing it; and He ever shall be.

 

Just as we move into the future, live in the present, and look back on the past, we also anticipate God’s revelation, live moment by moment in His revelation, and continuously look back and learn from the things He has revealed. This is noted by the heavenly chorus and then they acknowledge to God that “You have taken Your great power and reigned.” Therefore, the logical sequence of this heavenly scene goes from Creation, to Redemption, and then to the Authority to Rule. In Matthew 4, we read this account between the devil and Jesus,

 

“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’”

 

Jesus didn’t question the devil’s authority over the world. That dominion was lost at the fall of man, but Jesus regained the authority in His work on the cross. Now that authority is being exercised as the final judgments on the earth are being readied in anticipation of His millennial reign.

 

Today’s verse calls Him, the “Lord God Almighty.” This is translated from the Greek word pantokrator and it is equivalent to the Lord of the hosts or Jehovah Sabaoth of the Old Testament. Jesus is the omnipotent Creator, Redeemer, and Ruler. He is sovereign over His creation and has now taken His great power and begun to reign. His purposes for man are being realized within His creation – the very creation He participated in when He walked among us.

 

Glorious and Almighty God! The story which You have planned and participated in is beyond our comprehension. You came and united to Your creation in the Person of Jesus Christ. You walked among us and shared in our humanity. How can we not give You all the praise and honor and glory You are due! Great are Your works among the children of men! Amen.

 

 

The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth. Revelation 11:18

 

The anger of the nations is spoken of in the 2nd Psalm. Peter quotes this psalm in Acts 4 indicating that Jesus and His work are the fulfillment of what David prophesied. However, the cross and the resurrection aren’t something that were fought against at only one point in history. Instead, the nations have continued to rage against the work of Christ since that time and it will come to its final state during the tribulation period.

 

As the world rejects what Jesus has done, God’s wrath is being stored up and will be poured out in great judgments. After this period of tribulation there will come a 1000-year reign of Christ on earth. At both ends of this reign there will be resurrections. Those prophets and saints who have gone before the time of the cross, and those who died during the tribulation period will be a part of the first resurrection. This will include those who fear the Lord’s name, small and great. In other words, God looks for faith in His unfaithful creatures, so just a little bit will do.

 

Each will receive their rest and reward based on the faith they exercised in their walk of life. And in contrast to the saved, there will be judgment and destruction for “those who destroy the earth.”

 

This probably isn’t just speaking of the physical earth, but all the people of the earth as well. At times in the Bible, the term “the earth” is used in this way, speaking of the earth’s inhabitants. Those who destroy the lives and souls of people are striking out at God’s image bearers and their judgment will be harsh.

 

Jesus tells us of this in Matthew 18:6 – “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

 

Holy, just, true, and righteous are Your judgments, O God. You have given us every chance and opportunity to repent and turn to You. And You haven’t made it hard. Instead, all You ask is that we live by faith, even faith as small as a mustard seed. Help us to think rightly and to use our time wisely that we may be saved from the Day which is surely coming. Amen.

 

 

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. Revelation 11:19

 

According to the previous verses, Christ has taken His power and is reigning, the nations were angry and His wrath has come, and the time of judgment is at hand. After the heavenly chorus utters this great doxology, John says that “the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.”

 

This is not the ark which was in the temple in Jerusalem. The ark in Jerusalem only pictured the true Ark, which is Jesus Himself. The ark was made of acacia wood, an incorruptible wood, representing Jesus’ incorruptible life. It was overlaid with pure gold, representing His purity and holiness. It was carried on two poles, representing His kingship – a palanquin was used to carry Israel’s kings. On top of the ark was the mercy seat which is the place of propitiation and the New Testament says that Jesus is our Mercy Seat; our Propitiation. On the mercy seat were two cherubim, one at each end. These picture the two angels who were seen at each end of the spot where Jesus body was laid –

 

“And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:12).

 

Inside the ark were the tablets of the covenant, the Ten Commandments, which represent the law which Jesus embodies and which He fulfilled on our behalf. Every detail of the ark pictured and prefigured the true Ark, who is Jesus. And now the Ark is seen in His temple. The reason why He is seen in this manner now is based on the doxology of the previous verses. Because Jesus embodies the law and because the world has rejected His gracious offer of peace with God through His fulfillment of it, He is now seen as the Judge of that law – the standard by which all people will be judged and the standard by which all people will be condemned. But in His revelation as the Ark is the fact that He is the Mercy Seat also.

 

For any who are willing to call on Him, mercy will still be granted, but as we will see in the coming chapters, there will be a cost for acknowledging Christ as Lord during this time.

 

When Jesus the Ark is revealed, “there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.” These are symbolic of the coming judgment and the destruction which will result from it.

 

What an awesome and majestic spectacle to behold – Christ, the Ark of the Covenant in His holy temple! O God, You have revealed to us the glory of Your Son and the magnificent work that He has accomplished for Adam’s fallen seed. How great, yes – how truly great You are. Thank You, O God, for the perfect and glorious Gift who is Jesus our Lord! Amen.

 

 

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.  Revelation 12:1

 

Our study now takes us to a new interlude with beautiful symbolism of the workings of God through human history. During this display there will be seven distinct characters and four different conflicts presented for our contemplation.

 

Today, we first see “a great sign in heaven.” In Genesis 1:14, it says the heavenly lights were given “for signs and for seasons.” This is a clue that even the heavens declare the unfolding plan of God. The very order of the constellations carries His message and displays His wisdom. In Daniel 4:3, it is proclaimed, “How great are His signs!”

 

God has woven into the creation His workings in a way which reveals the message of redemption found in Jesus. Another type of signs we are given come from His word. They are symbolic messages which convey truths concerning reality. These are known as apocalyptic symbols.

 

Today we see one of them – “a woman clothed with the sun.” To be “clothed” with something is to have that characteristic as one’s very nature. In the 104th Psalm, it says this, “O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment…”

 

This woman then bears the radiance of the sun. In Malachi 4:2, the coming Messiah is called “the Sun of righteousness.” The next description is that the woman has “the moon under her feet.” The moon is the lesser light which rules the night in Genesis 1:16. It is also the sign of coming judgment when it is eclipsed.

 

During this time, it turns a blood red color – a sign used several times in the Bible in this way (Joel 2:31, Acts 2:20, and Revelation 6:12). The moon is full during the nighttime and night is the time Jesus said holds the power of darkness (Luke 22:53). And finally, the woman has “on her head a garland of twelve stars.” The stars are explained in Genesis when Joseph (whose life is used in the Bible as a picture of Christ) had a dream. They represent the twelve tribes of Israel.

 

Having looked at some of the biblical parallels to the symbolism used, we can now evaluate who this woman represents. Three main figures have been proposed by past scholars – Mary, the mother of Jesus; the church; or the Jewish nation.

 

Taking every thing in biblical context it is certainly not Mary. She was the human mother of Jesus, and only that. The corresponding symbolism negates it being her. The woman is also not the church. As we will see in the coming verses, the woman will bring forth a Son, who is Jesus. The church did not bring forth Jesus. Only a bias against the Jewish people could come to this faulty conclusion.

 

The only biblically acceptable answer, based on the principle of having Scripture interpret Scripture, is that the woman is the Jewish nation who ushered in the Messiah. This will become more evident in the coming passages.

 

Jesus was of the tribe of Judah from the nation of Israel. He is the glory of Israel shining forth and clothing the nation with His splendor. He is the One adorned by the 12 tribes of Israel. He is the One who stands over the night in both rule and judgment. He was born a Jew, He lived a Jew, He died a Jew, He was resurrected a Jew, and He will return to His people Israel and rule among them from Jerusalem.

 

The woman is Israel, God’s beloved nation.

 

Lord, even though Israel rejected You, You have not rejected them. Though they were cast among the nations, You have re-gathered them to their land for Your sovereign purposes. Though they have been faithless, even as each of us has been faithless, You remain faithful. Your are the God who keeps covenant promises for Your name’s sake. Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. Revelation 12:2

 

We rightly noted yesterday this woman is Israel, not the church. It is from a mother that a child is born. In other words, it is Israel who brought forth the Child who is the Redeemer and Lord. The church came from His work at the cross. This goes all the way back to Genesis 3:15 which is known as the Protoevangelium, or the “first Gospel.”

 

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”

 

The seed of the woman would be the one to destroy the devil’s work. In the physical sense, this was Mary in whose womb Christ was conceived, but Mary was of the seed of Israel and the line of David. It is this group of people who are symbolically represented by the woman. “She cried out in labor and in pain to give birth” is a reference to Isaiah 26:17 which is speaking of Israel

 

As a woman with child
Is in pain and cries out in her pangs,
When she draws near the time of her delivery,
So have we been in Your sight, O Lord

 

Heavenly Father, since the world began You have spoken through Your holy prophets concerning the coming of the Messiah. And You have brought Him forth through Your beloved people Israel. And now all nations share in the rich heritage of the birth of Your Son – fully God and fully man. Born of the Father and born of the woman! Amen.

 

 

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. Revelation 12:3

 

John’s attention is now directed to “another wonder in heaven.” As he looks at the unfolding drama before him, he must find what he is seeing hard to grasp. When he looks, he sees “a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.”

 

This is similar to a vision Daniel saw many hundreds of years earlier – “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” Daniel 7:7

 

The dragon is Satan as will be explained later. His authority is revealed in an earthly power which has the seven heads and ten horns. As we progress through Revelation, we will see another figure which is similar as well in verse 13:1. However, we will also see that these are being seen at different times. Therefore, the symbolism is that this is how the devil reveals himself, not just once, but at several different times in history.

 

The red color is reflective of war, blood, and death. Jesus called the devil “a murderer from the beginning…” and He certainly meant that right from the time of the creation of man, the devil set out to kill and destroy. In the Garden of Eden, he tempted man and caused death to enter the world when man believed his lies. He continues to deceive and kill both individuals and nations.

 

The heads picture leadership, the horns symbolize power, and the crowns indicate authority to rule. The picture given here is a corporate body that has been established on earth and which has the intent of thwarting God’s purposes for the redemption of man. This redemption was promised all the way back in Genesis 3:15 and reflects the anticipated Messiah who would come.

 

All of the devil’s efforts are to undermine His coming and His rule.

 

Oh God, no matter what the devil tries and no matter how fierce are his minions who work his evil, we know that You are infinitely greater and that Your plans and purposes for the restoration of all good will never be thwarted. Your book is written and the prophecies are given. We can watch them unfold with great surety that all will come about as stated! Amen.

 

 

His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. Revelation 12:4

 

The dragon has positioned itself in anticipation of the birth of the Child. This scene therefore is a look back into the past and the coming of Christ. As previously noted, the woman therefore must be Israel, not the church. Christ wasn’t born from the Church, the Church came from Christ.

 

The dragon, who is the devil or Satan, “drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.” Many scholars take this to mean that 1/3 of the angels of creation followed the devil and lost their heavenly position because of this, thus becoming demons. Another view is linked to Daniel 8:10 – “And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.”

 

This is speaking of an earthly ruler who corrupted the leaders of Israel. They were of the chosen line and yet they rejected their positions of authority and thus their right to shine “like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). This view isn’t as appealing to many because it is less extravagant than thinking about angels and heavenly battles, but it is the more probable explanation of today’s verse simply because it allows Scripture to interpret Scripture.

 

Often that which is more dramatic sells the most tickets at the box office, but it isn’t always based on sound principles. The dragon is at war with the coming Christ who was prophesied all the way back in Genesis 3:15. The most effective way of winning in this battle is to subvert the very people and chosen line whom the Christ was to come through.

 

It is no secret that this is Israel and so the devil sought out the leaders (kings, priests, and judges) to cause them to stray from the ordinances of God. And he was successful. He “threw them to the earth” and caused them to lose their hope of eternal glory. By accomplishing this, he was in a favorable position to stand before the woman and devour her Child as soon as He was born.

 

But the devil isn’t God and God’s plans cannot be thwarted! Jesus rules because He prevailed!

 

Lord, the plan You have laid out in the Bible is glorious and it is one that spans the ages – from Adam all the way to the end You are in complete control. Despite our weaknesses and failings, You have accomplished wondrous deeds by bringing many of Your wayward children home by the work of this precious Child who came and dwelt among us! Amen.

 

 

She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Revelation 12:5

 

The vision John sees is coming to a glorious moment now. This woman “being with child” who “cried out in labor and in pain to give birth” does bear the Child. This Child is set to “rule all nations with a rod of iron.”

 

Some commentators claim that this is the Church and not Jesus because “her Child was caught up to God and to His throne.” The idea is that the Church, not Jesus, will be raptured in the twinkling of an eye. Another support for this is that in Revelation 2:27, Jesus grants authority to those who overcome (meaning those who make up the Church) will rule [the nations] with a rod of iron.

 

However, this authority is granted by the overall ruler of the nations who is defined in Psalm 2:7-9 – the coming Messiah. Additionally, the Greek of this verse which is translated “a male Child” actually says “a son, male.” This repetition clearly identifies this One as an individual, not a corporate body. It is referring to Jesus and His right to rule.

 

Jesus, after His work on earth, was caught up to God at the ascension which is recorded in Acts 1. It is a description like that of the rapture of the church in that “He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” just as the church will be gathered in the clouds. This verse then demonstrates that the church age is a distinct dispensation and that Christ will return again to rule during the millennium.

 

In other words, God is not through with the Jewish people and there is still a plan for them in the future. This future begins with the tribulation period of Revelation and continues through the millennial reign. In order to dismiss this, the analysis of the remaining chapters of Revelation will only become more and more convoluted as scholars must “symbolize” passages which would otherwise be taken literally.

 

Yes, God has a plan for the Jewish people and it is to them that Jesus will return as He spoke with His own mouth – “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39

 

Lord, it is evident that even when we are faithless, You remain faithful. When we turn our backs on You, You still abundantly forgive when we repent and call on Jesus as Lord. Thank You for this, and thank You for being faithful to the people of Israel despite their disobedience. Great and splendid is Your working in and for the people of Your world! Amen.

 

 

The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. Revelation 12:6

 

This heavenly scene that John is witnessing has gone from Israel pictured by the woman, to the Child who is Jesus, to the dragon who is the devil. It now refocuses on the woman and at a time far distant from the time of the birth of the Lord – to the second half of the Tribulation period.

 

Why would this scene jump over a 2000 year period like this? The reason is because Israel had long rejected their Messiah and thus they were under punishment as both testaments prophesied they would be. However, they have been returned to their homeland in anticipation of the spiritual banner being returned to them at the rapture of the church.

 

At this time, many prophecies will begin to come to fulfillment. At the half-way point of the tribulation, which is 42 months or 1260 days, the covenant which was made with Israel by the anti-Christ three and one half years earlier will be broken.

 

These day and month timeframes are certainly to be taken literally and there are several reasons for this.

 

The first is that the 490-year period of Daniel 9:24-27 has been fulfilled literally and to exact and verifiable dates. Of this 490-year period, 483 years have come to completion. This leaves a 7-year period remaining, which was promised to Israel by God and is therefore exact.

 

A second reason to take this timeframe literally is because it is repeated several times in Revelation. Because of this, it is a strong indication that they are not merely symbolic of an unknown timeframe. Israel, the woman, will be facing destruction at this mid-point of the tribulation, but God has prepared a place “where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.”

 

There is no need to worry about the nutty ravings of people like the president of Iran who says they will wipe Israel from the map. This will never happen. God will keep and protect His people in anticipation of the return of Jesus to dwell and rule among them.

 

The heavenly scene we are witnessing, O God, is one of marvelous wonder. We can look at it and discern that You are in complete control of the ages. This beautiful play spans the ages and yet is portrayed in a single occurrence, indicating that You see all of time at once and have complete control over it! How absolutely magnificent You are! Amen.

 

 

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, Revelation 12:7

 

Michael, which means “who is like God,” is the Archangel, or chief of the angels. He is mentioned four times in the Bible. He is first mentioned in Daniel 10:21 where it is said to Daniel that he is “your prince.” This is a little vague, but it will be explained more fully in Daniel 12:1. In that verse, Michael is called “the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people.”

 

This verse tells us that Michael is specifically the protector of the people of Israel. The next time he is mentioned is in the 65th book of the Bible, Jude. It is there that his designation as the Archangel is made. At the same time it is said that Michael and the devil disputed over the body of Moses. The reason for this isn’t given, but it’s possible that by identifying where the body of Moses is buried it could have led to idolatry which would lead Israel astray. In order to protect his people from this Michael may have entered into the dispute. This is all speculation though.

 

Today’s verse is the last time Michael is specifically mentioned. We see that a heavenly battle is taking place. The structure of the Greek indicates that Michael and his angels are the attacking force and they are coming against the dragon, identified as the devil.

 

The devil, along with his force of fallen angels, is in a spiritual battle against the forces of good. This battle is spoken of in Ephesians 6. In that chapter, Paul explains that “… we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

 

There really are spiritual battles being waged and they have occurred since the beginning, even in Chapter 3 of Genesis. They will continue until the 20th chapter of Revelation.

 

Lord, help us to properly balance our spiritual lives, understanding that there is a devil and that we are in a battle against him and his forces, but at the same time we already have the victory in Christ. Help us to not have unbalanced priorities by focusing too much on a battle with a defeated devil. In Christ, the victory is assured! Amen.

 

 

…but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. Revelation 12:8

 

Too often in our society, and going back for eons as well, men have credited the devil with far more power than he actually possesses. It is true that he has great power and it is surely magnified when combined with those who rebelled with him. But the fact of the matter is that despite his capabilities, it is far less than that of the heavenly host.

 

Today’s verse shows that the devil and his angels could not prevail over the good angels and they lost the heavenly realm that they had access to. In an unfortunate turn of events for the world though, this means that their dominion is now where man treads upon the earth.

 

And yes, it is true that the devil causes havoc here. But the devil is finite and God is infinite. Therefore, whatever power the devil has is infinitely less than God’s. Because of the work of Jesus Christ, we have access to the very throne of God. And through acceptance of His work, we become sons of God through adoption and we have the strength of the Almighty to protect us. When things are tough, let us remember this –

 

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

 

There is a throne where God rules and He graciously allows us to enter His presence through our Mediator, Jesus. When the devil is about and causing us grief, we need to remember this and use this heavenly gift to seek out comfort from our loving and all-powerful Creator.

 

What great love You have poured out on us, O God! You sent Jesus to lead us back to You and to give us power over the devil. When we are afflicted, you offer comfort. When we are tried, you lead us to the still waters. When we are overwhelmed, you offer us a seat at Your table. Thank You, Lord. Please help us to remember this heavenly access when it is needed. Amen.

 

 

So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:9

 

In our analysis of verse four, it was determined that the “third of the stars of heaven” which were cast down to earth were actually the human rulers of Israel. This decision was based on comparable language having been used in the book of Daniel. Today’s verse seems to confirm that.

 

Those “stars of heaven” have already been cast to earth, but only now, along with the devil, are the fallen angels cast out with him. As you can see, there are two realms of warfare – the first is on the earth and the second is in heaven. Both are ultimately brought about by the work of the devil though.

 

He corrupted man in the Garden of Eden and man fell. This fall has brought about every wicked thing that has ever occurred. In similar fashion, the devil has also caused angels to fall along with him. It is the pride of his beauty and the lust of holding the power of the universe which brought all of this about. Instead of looking to his Creator, he has looked to replace Him.

 

In the end though, it will only bring about his final and eternal destruction in the Lake of Fire. Until that day, he will continue to deceive the whole world and bring about more chaos and death. Satan means “accuser” and the meaning of the devil is “deceiver.” As you can see, he works according to his names and titles in an effective way.

 

This verse is a good one to remember because by it many things are revealed from the rest of the Bible. It lets us know that the dragon is the serpent, the devil, and Satan. In other words, all of these individual words found elsewhere in the Bible are tied into this one wicked and destructive being.

 

It is he who even tempted the Lord at the beginning of his ministry, but he failed there. It is he who again tempted the Lord when Peter spoke and indicated that he wouldn’t let Jesus fulfill His ministry by dying. The devil tried and failed in each instance and the Lamb of God prevailed over his work.

 

Great is the Lord God Almighty and wondrous are His deeds. The Lamb has prevailed over the work of the devil and so all who call on Him are freed from the penalty of sin and rebellion which has endured through the ages. Thank You Lord for coming and releasing us from this infinite debt! Great and glorious is the Lamb of God! Amen.

 

 

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Revelation 12:10

 

As we will see in tomorrow’s verse, this portion of the heavenly scene occurs after the cross of Jesus. We have seen God’s chosen line of Israel leading up to the birth of the Child. After this, He was taken up to heaven. The next verse says that the woman (meaning Israel) fled into the wilderness, to a place prepared by God, and that they would be kept safely there for 1260 days.

 

During or after this time, there was war in heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels. This account then is running sequentially and is leading us through the ages in this great heavenly scene, but it is completely skipping over the Church Age. In other words, Israel is the focus of the events.

 

The dispensation of the church age is not the focus of what is occurring. During this time of tribulation, Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven and at that time, the great heavenly proclamation is made – “No salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come.” And the reason is because – “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”

 

Since the beginning, Satan has determined to bring accusation and destruction to humanity. He did it in the Garden of Eden. He did it during Job’s time – attempting to malign and destroy that godly man. He did it during the time of King David (see 1 Chronicles 21:1). He did it after the exiles of the Babylonian captivity when he stood accusing Joshua the High Priest in Zechariah 3:1. And, he stood to oppose Jesus during His time of fasting in the wilderness.

 

Satan has been active throughout the ages and he continues to accuse the church, even to this day – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.

 

The devil has been active, but the book is written and the writings are sealed. His time is limited and he will be cast down. Great is the Lord who defeats the devil!

 

Heavenly Father, please give us strength to resist the devil and be with us, O God, in our times of weakness and temptation. We know the victory is won, but in our flesh we are still weak and at risk of falling. Help us to never do that which would bring dishonor to You and Your glorious name. Amen.

 

 

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 12:11

 

This is referring to those in the previous verse whom the devil had “accused them before our God day and night.” These fallible Christians were unworthy in and of themselves to attain eternal life or the blessings of God.

 

No one deserves these things because they have inherited Adam’s sin and then heaped up their own sins in life. This is evident because the devil stands accusing us before God. There would be no accusation if there were no actual guilt, but with this guilt the prosecution steps forward; fingers pointed at us.

 

However, God has allowed our sin to be transferred to a qualified substitute – Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. When we call out to Him in faith, we are saved “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of [our] testimony.” The word of our testimony is the simple proclamation asked of every believer, “Yes, Jesus is Lord.”

 

When we confess Jesus as Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, Paul writes in Romans that we are saved. Why does Paul tie belief in the resurrection with Jesus being Lord? Only a dummy would call on a dead lord because a dead lord is no lord.

 

Jesus prevailed over death because He never sinned, thus proving He didn’t inherit Adam’s sin and Adam’s guilt, nor did He sin on His own accord. The Bible says “the wages of sin is death.” Because Jesus didn’t sin, He was resurrected to eternal life, having paid our sin debt by His blood.

 

Peter describes the absolutely incomprehensible value of the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ – “…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18, 19

 

Glorious and Almighty God! You have done for us what we could never have done for ourselves. You have redeemed us from the wages of sin by paying them through the life and vicarious death of Your own Son. All hail the glorious and splendid works that You have accomplished for us. All hail the Lamb – our Lord and Savior, Jesus! Amen.

 

 

Monday, 28 May 2012

 

Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. Revelation 12:12

 

Two things are happening in this one verse. The first is that there is occasion for great rejoicing in the heavens and for those who dwell, or tabernacle, in them.

 

The term “to tabernacle” goes back to the Feast of Tabernacles as is laid out in Leviticus 23. It looked forward to the time where God would dwell with man. This was a feast of great rejoicing in Israel and now it is beginning to see its final fulfillment in heaven. Those who are in heaven are dwelling there free from the accusations of the devil because he has been cast out of the heavens.

 

Jesus, being fully God and able to see the future, saw this moment during His earthly ministry and proclaimed it in Luke 10:18. Now it is being realized in the stream of time. But there is a second half to the verse and it is one of woe to all the inhabitants of the earth and the sea.

 

The devil knows the Bible and the prophecies it contains. The world has come to the halfway point of the tribulation period and the remaining time is known directly from the Bible – there are three and one half years left for him to work his iniquity. He will do this through the antichrist and the false prophet and he will do it with “great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

 

Once the wheels are placed in motion, nothing can stop them because the book is sealed. In the hands of believers is God’s eternal and unchanging word – the Holy Bible. It is a roadmap to the events to come and it is completely reliable in all it contains and proclaims. The world will face many great calamities in the next three and one half years and, as Isaiah proclaimed so long ago, man will become “more rare than fine gold.”

 

Few will survive the calamitous events of the last half of the tribulation.

 

Surely there is a time for rejoicing and a time for mourning. Lord, in my life is the surety of eternal salvation because of the work of Jesus Christ. But in the lives of many whom I love there isn’t that assurance. Please hear my prayers for those who have not yet called on Jesus. I pray that they will know You before their time of judgment comes. Amen.

 

 

Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. Revelation 12:13

 

The dragon, which has been identified as the devil (Satan) lost his place in heaven due to the great battle fought by Michael and the good angels. Because of this, he was cast to the earth. As we saw yesterday, this means “woe” for the people of the earth because the devil now knows that his time is very short. And so he will bring about as much havoc and destruction as possible before he is bound in chains.

 

When he is cast to the earth, the first thing he does is to come against and persecute “the woman who gave birth to the male Child.” As noted, this is Israel, not the church. Once again, as has been their lot many times through the ages, the people of Israel will come under great attack and suffering.

 

This terrible time was prophesied by Jeremiah and will be a time like no other in their history –

 

“Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.”

 

This “time of Jacob’s trouble” will be an immense test for Israel, but Jeremiah, speaking the word of the Lord, assures us that “he shall be saved out of it.” No matter how tough the times are, God has and always will preserve a remnant of His elect people Israel. This is because He is the great covenant-keeping Creator.

 

How absolutely precious it is to know that You are ever faithful to Your people, O God. When You speak, it is in absolute truth. And when You raise Your hand in a vow, nothing in all of creation can nullify Your word. Thank You for Your steadfast faithfulness to the people of Your flock. Amen.

 

 

But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. Revelation 12:14

 

This verse very closely matches verse 6 – “Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” What this means is that verses 7 through 13 were a parenthesis and now the outlying information is being returned to.

 

The woman is Israel as has been noted several times. The “two wings of a great eagle” is a concept from the Old Testament. Again, this is a hint that these verses concerning the tribulation period are actually covering a portion of the dispensation which came before the church age. In other words, Israel is being granted its last 7 years which were promised to Daniel in order to come to the point where they acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah.

 

In Exodus 19:4, we read these words as spoken by the Lord – “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.” The “eagle” terminology is also used when speaking of the Lord’s care and provision of His people in both Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 40. The symbolism is that of a powerful bird which will protect its young and is able to carry them above any troubles so that they are safely out of danger. The flight of the Israelites to the place of safety in “the wilderness” will be without harm, just as it was for them when they were brought out of Egypt.

 

When the people arrive at the location the Lord has chosen for them, He will nourish them for three and one half years. This may be a supernatural care for the people as it was during the wilderness wanderings, or it may be that there will be people who tend to them by shipping in food, water, and whatever else is needed. Either way, God is already aware of what will occur and has ensured it will come to pass by placing it in His word. All of this will be in a place where the devil cannot harm them.

 

Lord, for thousands of years Your care has been upon Your people. You safely led them to the land of Canaan, tended to them in Egypt, brought them again to Canaan and gave it to them. And despite rebelling against you and their two exiles, You cared for them in exile and returned them both times to the land You promised on oath to them. Great is Your faithfulness to Your people! Amen.

 

 

So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. Revelation 12:15

 

In Isaiah 59, which is speaking of the Redeemer of Zion and most likely the very events of which are spoken about in today’s verse, we read this –

 

“So shall they fear The name of the Lord from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19

 

The symbolism in today’s verse then is most likely the same all of the symbolism in this interlude, symbolic in nature. The devil will cause a group of people to chase “after the woman” like a flood. This will be an attempt to destroy the remaining Jewish people of the land. But the Lord will be their protector and defender as we will see in tomorrow’s verse.

 

There are other possible interpretations to this verse such as a literal flood of water or the river symbolizing a flood of lies in the religions of the world which are working against God. The first option is unlikely because God is in overall control of nature. Even though the devil is allowed to cause natural disaster elsewhere in the Bible, it makes no sense that he would be allowed to work in this way directly against the very purposes that God is intending. The second option is also unlikely because of the parallels elsewhere in the Bible which match both the flood of enemies and the judgment from God coming in tomorrow’s verse.

 

Lord, the devil thinks he can win against You by destroying the Jewish people and thus showing that You are unable to keep Your everlasting covenant with them. But he is mistaken and so are all the nations who rage against them. You are in complete control of all things, including the preservation of Israel And hallelujah for that! Amen.

 

 

But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Revelation 12:16

 

Yesterday’s verse determined that the “flood” which comes from the dragon is probably an army which is bent on the destruction of God’s people Israel. They are fleeing to the wilderness to a place prepared for them and where they will be taken care of for three and one half years.

 

This “flood,” being an attacking army, is obviously superior in strength to those fleeing, but “the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood.” What exactly occurs here can’t be known for sure, but when it happens, those fleeing will know that they were saved by God’s divine hand.

 

The earth may be representative of a protecting army, friendly to the plight of the Jews or it could be an appropriately timed earthquake which occurs at the spot where the attackers are in pursuit. Another possibility is that something like what occurred during the wilderness wanderings of Israel will happen again. During a rebellion against Moses, the main rebel and his household found out the seriousness of coming against God and His purposes –

 

“Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, ‘Lest the earth swallow us up also!’” (Numbers 16:31-34)

 

Whatever happens, in the end it is God who is behind the deliverance of this group of fleeing Israelites. He has spoken now so that when these astonishing events occur, it will be plain, clear, and obvious that it was He all along who knew what would transpire. He is in complete control of what is coming.

 

Lord, throughout the history of the world Your works have been evident. Creation testifies to You, but so does the miraculous – those things which transcend creation and which are meant to demonstrate that You are sovereign over all things. When we see Your work in and around us, help us to acknowledge Your loving hand in it. Great and awesome are You, O God. Amen.

 

 

And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 12:17

 

Yesterday’s verse noted that “the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.” Again, as has happened throughout history, the devil has attempted to destroy the Jewish people and thus negate the promises of God, but also again the devil has been defeated in his attempts.

 

Because of his defeat in what he had attempted and knowing that it would do no good to further attack her (Israel who has fled into the wilderness), the dragon “went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

 

The offspring of the woman are different than the woman. If the woman has been identified as Israel, then the offspring is anyone who has trusted in Jesus; becoming a son through faith. As noted in chapter 7, there were 144,000 Jews who were sealed for the purpose of carrying on the message of Christ.

 

In addition to them came the two witnesses of chapter 11. The message they have proclaimed has gone out to the post-rapture world and a great multitude has believed. They have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and will not bend the knee to the global system which has been developed.

 

In the chapters ahead, we will see the penalty for rejecting this global system. It is this penalty which is the war the dragon will wage during the tribulation period. The commandments of God are centered on faith in Jesus. It is this faith which cannot be tolerated by the world of wickedness which seeks to rule apart from God. This was the case before the Flood of Noah and it has been repeated throughout the ages. But for those who hold fast to their faith, there will be great rewards.

 

In the chapters ahead, we will continue to see God’s plan unfold.

 

Lord God, You have called us to faith and promised us rewards for that faith. In this world it can mean trials, troubles, and difficulties, but it is worth it! The promise of life to come far outweighs the short-term gains of this temporary walk. Help us to keep our priorities straight and to focus on You every moment we walk upon Your world. Amen.

 

 

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Revelation 13:1

 

John’s attention is now directed to “a beast rising up out of the sea.” This is a continuation of the interlude between the sixth and the last trumpet judgments. The “sea” is representative of the peoples of the world. We see this same symbolism back in Daniel 7 – “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.”

 

In Daniel’s vision, he saw “beasts” which represented the major world empires from his time through to the end of the age. Each of these empires is noted because it specifically affected the nation of Israel. Other empires have come and gone, but they didn’t have any relevant affect on Israel and therefore aren’t noted.

 

The final empire of Daniel’s vision is identified as the Roman Empire – an early fulfillment is the destruction of Israel in AD70, but this beast will be revived in the end times to become the dominant power in the world. This is actually coming to fulfillment in our life as the EU has risen and is going through its process of solidification. The turmoil in Greece, Spain, and other EU countries are molding it to become the revived empire which existed so long ago and which will usher in the anti-Christ as is noted in Daniel 9:27.

 

The world is lining up for this final conflict, noted by prophets and holy men so long ago. The beast in today’s verse has similarities to the one in Revelation 12 – having 7 heads and ten horns. However, the crowns are not on the heads but on its horns. And on the heads is a “blasphemous name.”

 

Blasphemy is something which occurs against God and so whatever this name is, which John hasn’t disclosed, it is something which indicates that they are supposedly the spiritual banner of the earth; replacing God. This beast will be located in Rome where the Vatican now stands. This political/religious system will be centered on this area (as will be clearly noted in verses to come.)

 

Lord, after the rapture, it’s evident that the world will be lined up exactly as Your word says and it will be in a way which is opposed to You and Your gospel message and yet it will be what the world thinks is correct. Such is the way of false religion, hiding the truth behind subtle falsities. Help us to get the word out now about this coming apostasy. Amen.

 

 

Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. Revelation 13:2

 

If you go to Daniel 7 and look at the great beasts which are mentioned there, the beast in this vision from John resembles all of them in one way or another.

 

In Daniel 7, the first was a lion with eagle’s wings which represented Babylon. The second was a bear which represented the Medo-Persian Empire. Following this was a leopard representing the Greek Empire under Alexander. Finally, there came a fourth terrifying beast which represented the Roman Empire.

 

The likelihood then is that this future beast will be a conglomeration of all of these previous empires – a world power which will unite into one terrible whole, centered in Rome. The result of this and their actions may be spoken of in the book of Amos –

 

“So I will be to them like a lion; Like a leopard by the road I will lurk; I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, And there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them.”

 

This will be a time of war against the disobedient in Israel. When this period is over the Lord will have purged them of their wicked ways and will have refined them in the fire of the tribulation. Only after this time of great turmoil and anguish will the Lord return and bring peace to the earth.

 

This beast then is not an individual, but it will certainly be led by an individual – the anti-Christ. He will be filled with all of the power of Satan and he will unleash immense destruction upon the world. His seat of power will be one of terror and brutality.

 

Lord God, when we as humans don’t bend our knee to You, the only other place for us to turn is to wickedness and destruction. Help us to continually keep our eyes, our hearts, and our thoughts on You. Help us to bring others to a saving knowledge of You and Your great deeds. There is a day coming when this won’t be possible, so stir our hearts now. Amen.

 

 

And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. Revelation 13:3

 

The general thought concerning today’s verse is that this “head” is speaking of an actual leader of the beast rather than a leading body. In other words, it is believed that this is a type of “false resurrection” of an individual who is mortally hurt.

 

This is possible, but seems less likely than the other possibility – the seemingly mortal wound (in a figurative sense) to one of the leading bodies. To give an example, the EU today is going through great financial troubles. If one of its “heads” meaning a nation within the EU were to receive a mortal wound – a financial disaster so bad that it would seem impossible to overcome – and yet were to be “healed” to a financially secure position, the world would marvel at the ability of the beast to cure its wound and would follow it in its financial dealings.

 

The same logic could be used militarily. If a nation within a corporate body of nations was facing complete defeat and yet overcame the defeat, the world would marvel at what occurred and follow after the beast. This second type of calamity – of certain defeat being turned into victory during conflict – is the most likely scenario because of what is said in the verses ahead.

 

A person receiving a life-threatening (and even mortal) wound to the head which is miraculously healed may be sensational and exciting, but it certainly wouldn’t cause the world to follow after him. Modern medicine is to the point where this type of thing is common and although people are always impressed with a person’s ability to overcome such a trial, no one follows after such an occurrence as if they were indestructible.

 

A great modern day equivalent is US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. She certainly fits the description, but other than being proud of her stamina, no one has hailed her as a great and powerful warrior worthy of following. Therefore, the reasonable analysis of this verse is not speaking of an individual, but a corporate body that overcomes certain defeat to become a force to be reckoned with militarily.

 

It’s great to look into Your word, O Lord, and see the various possibilities of meaning. We can’t be certain until something has happened that it is what You were speaking of, but when it does occur, we are left with no doubt. Thank You for allowing us to analyze these things this way in order to find the true meaning and then wait on its fulfillment! Amen.

 

 

So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” Revelation 13:4

 

At times in the Old Testament, the question is raised, “Who is like the LORD?” One such example is found in Exodus 15:11 – ““Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?”

 

There is but one God. We don’t need the Bible to be able to figure that out. But the Bible reveals this one God to us. He is the Creator of all things. The earth is like an insignificant grain of dust in the vastness of the cosmos and yet it is more of creation than any other being has ever created – because a created being can’t create anything.

 

Despite this, the people of the world will see the beast’s power and decide that it is worth worshipping. When they do this, they are actually worshipping the devil who gave the beast its power in the first place. This is the nature of all false religions, and all religions but the truth of Christianity are false. They are either directly or indirectly Satan worship because anything which doesn’t worship God as He has revealed Himself is wrongly directed worship.

 

Remembering this is most important because John, in his first epistle, gives the main reason that Jesus came. Every other reason mentioned in Scripture for Jesus’ coming is tied up in this final concept – “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

 

This is obviously not a popular concept with people who don’t align themselves with the Christian message, but either it is true or it is not true. If it isn’t, then Jesus’ ministry was a waste of time and He died for no reason at all. But the truth of John’s statement assures us that the whole world is under the sway of the devil and it is Jesus alone who can change that.

Calling on Jesus is the most important choice anyone can ever make.

 

Lord, when looking at the verse today, we wonder how anyone could be so hugely stupid as to worship the beast and the devil. But when we realize that this is the default position of all people, it no longer seems so silly. Instead, it shows us the enormity of what Jesus has done and the great work He accomplished for us. Thank You, O God, for Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. Revelation 13:6

 

The anti-Christ will openly defy the true Living God though his blasphemies. First, he will “blasphemy against God.” This is a railing against the God who is revealed in nature as Paul proclaims in Romans 1. His attacks will defame the character of the Creator – His grace, mercy, truth, love, righteousness, holiness, and justice. He will proclaim that which is contrary to these infinite and unchanging standards.

 

Only the God revealed in the Bible can truly be God because only He can atone for sins as was accomplished through Jesus Christ. Any other “god” will compromise at least one of these unchanging attributes, thus proving he is no God at all. Only the Creator, through Jesus, is both the Just and the Justifier of the people of the world.

 

The anti-Christ will also “blaspheme His name.” This is a direct attack against the very nature of who God is because God’s name is a self-revelation of His eternal and unchanging character. When God spoke to Moses, “I AM who I AM” He was stating that He is – without change of any kind; He is the self-existent, timeless, perfect God from who creation finds its source and its continuation because the created order came from nothing by His spoken word.

 

The anti-Christ will also blaspheme “His tabernacle.” This is a specific and direct reference to the Person of Jesus Christ. The word “tabernacle” means the place where God dwells. In John 1:14, we read this, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” In this verse, a literal translation of “dwelt” would be “tabernacled.”

 

God’s true tabernacle is the Person of Jesus. Jesus is the One who reveals the unseen Father to us and He is the One through whom we receive the Holy Spirit. Therefore, to blasphemy God’s tabernacle is to defame the Person and the work of Jesus Christ – speaking against His atonement, His all-sufficiency, and that He is the only way to be restored to God – His exclusivity. Instead, the anti-Christ will proclaim falsities about these things in order to establish his own supposed avenue to heaven.

 

Finally, the anti-Christ will blaspheme “those who dwell in heaven.” This is the entire heavenly host – from the highest archangel to the last saint taken to glory. All who are in heaven stand sinless before God because of the work of Jesus Christ – either directly, such as the angels who were created by Him and who never sinned, or the humans redeemed by His atoning sacrifice, having their sins washed by His precious blood.

 

The anti-Christ will make claims that what occurred in these people wasn’t of any value and that Christians aren’t the people of God. His claims will be very similar to those of cults, false religions, and even liberal “Christians” of today. Anyone who denies the fundamental tenets of the faith and the work of Jesus Christ in its fullness is already of the spirit of the anti-Christ as stated by John in His first epistle (1 John 2:18).

 

This person in Revelation will be the ultimate example of such a person, having been filled by the power of Satan. His blasphemies will be great.

 

Heavenly Father, it is beyond comprehension how merciful and patient You are. You allow us to strive against You, speak against You, and bring great blasphemies against You, and yet You don’t destroy us but are patient as You wait for us to turn and call out to You. Thank You for Your mercy on those of us who have acted this way in the past but now see the error of our ways. Amen.

 

 

It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. Revelation 13:7

 

In the last three and one half years of the tribulation period, the anti-Christ will be “granted” the ability “to make war with the saints and to over come them.” The anti-Christ then has no true power or authority of his own. He is working on behalf of Satan and even Satan is bound to what the Lord will allow – something we learn from the first chapter of the book of Job.

 

What John is saying here hearkens back to Daniel chapter 7. In verse 21 of Daniel 7 it says “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them,…” These saints are people who had not accepted Jesus Christ prior to the rapture, but came to an understanding about the truth of His message during the tribulation period.

 

The anti-Christ is going to make war against them and they will be martyred by the millions. We know this from Revelation 7:9, 10 – “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

 

As you can see, just because the anti-Christ has been granted authority to make war against these people and to “overcome them” it doesn’t mean he has any true authority over them. Rather, Jesus holds their eternal destiny in His powerful grasp. Death for them is only temporary. As we will see, at the end of the tribulation, they will be raised to eternal life.

 

However, the second half of today’s verse says that the anti-Christ will be given authority “over every tribe, tongue, and nation.” The whole world will be under his authority and those who don’t accept Jesus Christ will pay for it with eternal consequences. There is a difference – some will die and receive eternal rewards while others will die and receive eternal condemnation. Jesus is the key to both – either accepting Him or rejecting Him is the most important decision anyone can ever make.

 

Lord, the blessing of dying peacefully in this life is of no value at all when compared to the eternal blessing of being saved by the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Help us to get our priorities right and give us the courage and strength to use this life for Your glory, even if it means death for Your name’s sake. Amen.

 

 

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8

 

There’s an important lesson to remember in today’s verse – “Not every “every” in the Bible means every, and not all ‘all’s’ in the Bible mean all.” In other words it is important to take seemingly absolute claims in context. A good example is Matthew 2:3 –

 

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

 

Obviously, from the context of this verse, it is speaking of the general leadership of Jerusalem. At the time of the announcement of Jesus’ birth, probably very few in Jerusalem had heard a thing.

 

Today’s verse, in context, is that “all who dwell on the earth” is that the vast majority will worship the great beast – not every person. How can we know this? Because the previous verse says that “it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” There can’t be a war with the saints unless there are saints to make war with.

 

These saints will be a part of this battle, even until the return of Christ at the end of the Tribulation. For those who are not saints – “whose names have not been written in the Book of Life” there will be a casting away of the truth of the Creator to follow the beast headed by the anti-Christ.

 

Because the power of the anti-Christ comes from the devil, these people will actually be worshipping and giving allegiance to Satan. This is the state of the world even today though – all false religion is of the devil. The tribulation period will merely magnify this rebelling against “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

 

The amazing truth of this verse, and one which must be carefully contemplated, is that even before the world was created, God knew that His Son would have to go to the cross and die to pay our sin debt. Because this is so, the willful rejection of Him can only lead to one thing – eternal separation from God and being cast into the Lake of Fire.

 

God has shown us what is right and how to obtain eternal life. We reject this at our own destruction.

 

O God, today’s verse is simply beyond our ability to fully comprehend. Before You created a single thing, You knew what would have to happen – that Your own Son would need to die for the sins of the people not yet created. And yet You gave us life anyway. I cannot comprehend the love You have for your wayward children. All hail the name of Jesus! Amen.

 

 

If anyone has an ear, let him hear. Revelation 13:9

 

In Deuteronomy 4:9, 10, we read these words –

 

Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’”

 

In those verses is the admonition that the people are told to “let them hear My words…” The Lord is speaking to His people and asking them to listen and apply the words to their lives. And then Jesus finally came – 1500 years later and walked among the people of Israel.

 

Eight times the gospels record Jesus’ words, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” These eight times are in Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 13:43, Mark 4:9, 4:23, 7:17, Luke 8:8, & 14:35. In Revelation, this phrase is also repeated eight times – 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22, and 13:9.

 

Today’s verse then is the last time this phrase is mentioned in the Bible. It is a final note of warning to the people of the world and it will call for a true and steadfast heart to be willing to heed the words from the mouth of the Creator.

 

Tomorrow we will look at that verse and what God is instructing the people who live in this terrible time of tribulation. By far the best option is to get right with Jesus now and avoid the trials, the woes, and the tests to come. Bow the knee to Jesus, call on Him now, and be ready for the rapture. Maybe it’s coming soon to a miraculous event near you!

 

Heavenly Father, since the earliest days of man on earth, You have given Your word and asked us to hear it and apply it to our lives. O, but we are so determined to do it our own way. Certainly, You give us such instruction so that we may live and enjoy life, but we continuously reject it for temporary pleasure. Help us to get it right; help us to follow Your word of life. Amen.

 

 

He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. Revelation 13:10

 

Prior to the Babylonian captivity, the people of Jeremiah were told that they were destined for trouble because of their unfaithfulness. After asking Jeremiah where they should go, his answer to them was abrupt, concise, and lacked hope –

 

“And it shall be, if they say to you,

‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them,

‘Thus says the Lord:

“Such as are for death, to death;

And such as are for the sword, to the sword;

And such as are for the famine, to the famine;

And such asare for the captivity, to the captivity.”’

 

In opposition to this, today’s verse is a verse of hope. The saints of the tribulation period will fall by the sword and be martyred in an amazingly vast number – all because they refuse to bow the knee to the anti-Christ. But in a word of comfort to these people who surely ask, “What will be the end of this?”

 

Jesus tells those with an ear to hear –

 

“He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity;

he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword.”

 

The very forces that come against these martyrs will face the same punishment that they meted out. There is a difference though. Those who hold fast to Jesus will be granted eternal life and the wrongs done to them will be made right. However, for those who follow the anti-Christ, there will only be eternal damnation.

 

Because this is certain, John says, “Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. The “here” is emphatic, meaning that this is the promise which should help them to endure the trials and death they will face. “Here – rest in this brave soul; your reward is coming.”

 

One of the stupidest bumper stickers seen on the roads of America is the one that says, “Who would Jesus bomb?” It is a polemic against the use of force, as if Jesus would never consider such a thing. But they don’t know what it coming. In Revelation 19, Jesus will return and will destroy these people with the sword of His mouth.

 

Whether millions or billions, the number is irrelevant– when He returns, He will wage the greatest war of history and it will be over simply by speaking the word. Truly “here” is the patience and faith of the saints.

 

Lord, even now in this time of peace and abundance, my life often seems difficult and filled with trials. I sometimes take my eyes off the fact that You have already written Your word and that it therefore will come to pass exactly as promised. Help me to remember this as I face my daily troubles. Give me that peace which passes all understanding. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. Revelation 13:11

 

John’s attention is now directed to “another beast coming up out of the earth.” This beast is known as the “false prophet.” Unlike the first beast which came out of the sea, meaning the great sea of nations, this beast is coming up out of the earth.

 

It is possible that this is speaking of the Land of Israel in general or the Jewish people. The first beast will be a group of gentile nations led by the anti-Christ and this beast may be a Jewish entity. In the Old Testament, there are several words translated as “the earth.” The most prominent word eretz can and often does mean specifically the Land of Israel. The same is true with this word in the Greek which is ge.

 

It could be that John is building upon this concept and it seems likely because the first beast is specifically coming out of the “sea” and this one is coming out of the “earth.” There must be a definite reason for this and the distinction between the gentile nations and the Jewish people is logical.

 

This beast “had two horns like a lamb.” Because there are two horns, and horns in this case signify power, the appearance of the power possessed by this beast will be tame and docile – like a lamb. However, its words won’t match its appearance as it will speak “like a dragon.” It will give the impression that its actions are caring, loving, and with completely good intent, but as it directs its actions verbally, its true source of power will be revealed – it is speaking on behalf of the devil.

 

A good way to visualize this is to simply look at the politicians in one’s own city, state, or nation. Far too often people are duped by those who appear to have other’s best intent in mind, but in the end they only find wickedness in their elected official. The people of the earth will see one thing but will come to find another in this Satan-filled beast.

 

Lord, how easily we look to our elected officials as if they have all the answers and as if they are the epitome of moral rectitude, but then find that they are filled with deceit, moral perversion, and greed. Give us discerning eyes to know the truth of our leaders and to reject those who would bring discredit to Your great glory. Amen.

 

 

And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. Revelation 13:12

 

This second beast, the false prophet, has the same authority as the first beast. This means that he is filled by Satan just as the first beast is. The anti-Christ and the false prophet both obtain their authority and power from the devil.

 

He exercises this authority of the first beast “in his presence.” This means that what he does is with the expressed approval of the first beast. The false prophet will deal with mostly with religious matters while the anti-Christ will deal with the political/military matters.

 

The false prophet will cause “the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast.” If in fact the earth is signifying the Jewish people in Israel as opposed to the “sea” which signifies the gentile nations, then this religious leader will lead astray the Jews who reject the message of the 144,000 and the 2 witnesses (that which testifies to the truth of Jesus).

 

He will have them thoroughly convinced that the beast “whose deadly wound was healed” is worthy of following and giving their allegiance to. Regardless of whether this is a Jewish person or not, he will have the ability to mislead the masses concerning the workings of the anti-Christ and will have them following him.

 

As unlikely as it seems to us who look forward to these things and understand them from a Jesus-centered worldview, the people of the world won’t look at the events around them in this manner. Instead, they will simply think that what they are doing and the one they are following is their great deliverer.

 

This has been the case time and again in history as leaders arise to deceive those who follow them, but when the tribulation comes, it will be on a global scale.

 

Lord God, it is so sad to read through the pages of the Bible and see the history of man continuously repeating itself. We fall away from the truth, are judged in order to correct us and then for a short time return to You. But time and again, we stray right back to our ways of error. Give us wise and discerning hearts to follow You obediently. Amen.

 

 

He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. Revelation 13:13

 

This is still speaking about the second beast who has appeared – known later as the False Prophet. What we are seeing here is something that goes all the way back to Elijah in the book of 1 Kings. At that time, Elijah called for a great contest between the God of Israel and the false god of Baal. The god of Baal couldn’t do anything because it was no god at all, but Elijah stepped forward and with a quiet prayer came the heavenly response –

 

“Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”

 

The False Prophet will likewise perform a sign by making fire come down from heaven. The word “sign” is the Greek “semeia” which is the same word often used to describe Jesus’ miracles. However, we read in 2 Thessalonians 2 that what the False Prophet does here is a false sign –

 

“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

 

The people will see his false workings and believe him. Whatever this sign is, it will be discernable as a false sign, but like crop circles and global warming – both of which have abundant evidence for being false – people would rather believe the lie than accept the truth. A

ll true miracles have the overarching purpose of bringing glory to God. Any supposed miraculous event which doesn’t do this is not a true miracle. The False Prophet’s signs will only lead people away from God, not glorify him. Failure is found in his signs and failure is found in those who follow him because of his failed signs.

 

Unfortunately, this religious leader will sway people from every corner of the religious spectrum and will be heralded as a great man of God. The root of the problem – people have failed to check things out for themselves in the word which God has provided… the Holy Bible.

 

Heavenly Father, if we would simply devote our time to reading and knowing Your word, we would save ourselves so many pains and woes. But alas, it is far easier to watch TV or go out jogging than to sit and read the beautiful words of life. And because of this, we believe many lies rather than the one truth. Turn our hearts to Your word, O God. Amen.

 

 

And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. Revelation 13:14

 

Revelation 13 in particular has been the source of an immense number of interpretations. And today’s verse, along with the coming few, are as debated as they come.

 

To be dogmatic about an interpretation is not a smart policy because they are future and therefore any interpretation is speculative. We can be certain that the false prophet will be a deceiver and the signs he is granted to will do come from the power of Satan.

 

This false prophet, after deceiving the people of the earth, will tell those he has deceived to make an image. What is the image and what is its purpose? There are numerous ways to translate this. The image will be “to” the beast, “of” the beast, “for” the beast, “in honor of” the beast, etc. Even the word “image” is given a more specific translation at times, such as “statue.” As you can see, what the translators already believe is how they will make their translation.

 

This analysis will use “of” the beast because it seems to fit best with what is coming and also it fits the modern world context. The false prophet has seen the beast have one of its heads receive a mortal wound only to recover. If you remember, it was determined that this was probably a nation within an alliance which will receive a severe military wound – so severe in fact that it seemed that nation was dead, but it came back to life.

 

Because this happened, the false prophet will see the wisdom in following this pattern and develop an “image” of this beast. If that beast could survive as it did, then it is obviously a pattern worth emulating. This then will be a worldwide system based on this pattern – a system which will be able to control not just a coalition of countries, but the entire world.

 

Lord God, no matter what the analysis of these verses is now, when these things come to pass, they will fulfill Your prophecy perfectly. Only after these things occur will it be seen clearly. Until then, help us to be alert and on guard against the wiles of the devil. Give us wisdom in determining Your will for our lives. Thank You for hearing our prayer. Amen.

 

 

He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. Revelation 13:15

 

The False Prophet here “was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast.” As this commentary has argued, the image of the beast may be a worldwide alliance based upon an existing pattern of nations.

 

As an example, we currently see the EU. If one of the nations of the EU were to have a seemingly mortal wound (economically or militarily) and the nation were to revive, it would be an indication that this type of unity (represented by the beast here in Revelation) would be worth emulating as it has an underlying strength to heals its own problems.

 

The False Prophet then may develop an “image” or model patterned after this type of arrangement which would be worldwide in scope. The word “breath” can also mean “spirit” or “life.” Each of these translations is possible and the final decision is left to the individual translator. In other words, the context allows all options.

 

To give “life” to this image then isn’t to breathe the breath of life into it as God did to Adam and the animals. Instead, it would mean to animate it in the same way the beast upon which it was patterned is animated; to make it a fully functioning organization.

 

This probably isn’t some type of living creature as so many have speculated, but an organization which can “speak” – issue edicts and proclamations just like any governmental organization. It would also be able to “cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” – enforce its edicts and proclamations with the power it has solidified.

 

What is happening in the world is that a military/religious state is to be constructed which will only tolerate absolute obedience. It will be something like Nazi Germany on steroids and it will be terrifying for those who won’t bow the knee to their evil ways.

 

Lord, time and again we have seen nations demand absolute obedience from those who are under their scope of authority. This is because we reject You and try to do things our own way. Help us to remember that You alone are worthy of our worship and if we reject this, we bring great calamity on ourselves. Amen.

 

 

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,… Revelation 13:16

 

There is coming a system of identification of all the people of the world – a way to determine who belongs to the beast and who doesn’t. By stating different categories in polar opposites the verse leaves no exception for any class – “small and great,” “rich and poor,” “free and slave.” Everyone is included in this identification process. But the giant question is, “How will the mark be applied?”

 

The Greek word charagma is used which seems to indicate an obvious mark which is visible. However, there may be more to it than this. The King James Version translates the word “on” as “in.” This could therefore be some type of tagging device such as a v-chip under the skin. Other translations actually state it will be a brand, an inscription, etc. But as a more likely possibility directly from Scripture, and one which matches in a numerical way as well, we read this in Exodus 13 –

 

“And it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord’s. … It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.” Exodus 13:11, 12 & 16

 

If you notice, both Exodus 13:16 and Revelation 13:16 use the same terminology – the sign is on the hand and on the forehead. This type of numerical grouping occurs elsewhere in the Bible and demonstrates a divine unity even in the selection of chapter/verse numbering of biblical passages.

 

The “mark” therefore may not be a visible mark at all. The sealing of the 144,000 from chapter 7 of Revelation is to be on the “foreheads” of the chosen of Israel and yet this isn’t thought to be a visible mark; this sealing may be the same. Likewise, Paul says in Ephesians 1:13, 14 that when a person believes in Jesus, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit. This is, likewise an invisible sealing based on an outward profession of faith.

 

It is no jump in conclusion about this being such an invisible mark on believers as well because the Bible has other such parallels. In Ezekiel 9, a “mark” is placed on the forehead of the faithful before the unfaithful were executed. Here is the account – “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

 

This mark in Ezekiel certainly wasn’t visible as can be determined by the context of the passage. But surprisingly, the “mark” in Ezekiel is the word “tav.” “Tav” is the 22nd letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet and originally was formed in the shape of a cross. The passage is saying, as is revealed at other times in the Old Testament, that the cross is the saving mark of the faithful – looking forward to the work of Jesus Christ.

 

Because of these patterns and analogies, the “mark of the beast” is probably an acknowledgment of allegiance. The right hand is used for making vows and oaths throughout the Bible and throughout history. The forehead (the spot where one’s brains are) is where the mental assertion for our actions is made. This mark then is a vow of allegiance which comes about by the mental assertion that the beast is due worship – something only the Creator is due and it therefore indicates a rejection of God and an allegiance with the devil.

 

This mark very well may be backed up by identification – be it a tattoo, v-chip, retinal scan, finger print scan, or whatever. But taking the Bible as a whole, it points to the fact that it is the allegiance to the beast which is the true identifying mark.

 

Lord, only You are due my obedience, worship, and praise and nothing else in all creation is worthy of this. I am willing to demonstrate this fact with my own life. Give me the courage to stand and proclaim You no matter what test or trial I face and let me be strong and resolute in my proclamation and allegiance to You. Amen.

 

 

…so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. Revelation 13:17

 

Regardless of whether the mark of the beast is visible or tangible or not it will represent an allegiance to beast. It will be based on a vow of allegiance and a mental assertion that this is the only right way. Because this beast is filled with the power of Satan and because it will perform false signs, vowing allegiance to it is the same as making a vow to Satan.

 

As the world already falls under the devil’s sway, this vow merely solidifies what is already true – that those who make this vow have no part in the promises of God; they can never be saved. This will become evident in the chapters ahead.

 

If such a vow of allegiance is refused, the person who refuses it won’t be able to buy or sell anything. In essence, it will lead to their death from starvation or at a minimum their turning to a network of crime simply to feed oneself. Those who refuse the mark are destined for terrible times, but if they hold fast to the end by refusing to show allegiance to the beast, then they can be saved.

 

It is important to note that this type of system has never been fulfilled in past history and therefore it can only mean that these verses are speaking of the future. Only a view of Scripture that says that there is still a plan and purpose for Israel after the rapture of the church makes any sense.

 

In order to deny this, verses must be “spiritualized” to such an extent that their meaning and context actually mean nothing at all. But when looked at through the lens of God’s promises to the people of Israel from the Old Testament as coming to fulfillment at a future date, the entire scenario not only retains sense, but the Bible comes into clarity of focus. God has not rejected His people Israel, but before Jesus returns to them, many difficult times and many hard choices will have to be made.

 

Heavenly Father, if I’m hungry today, all I need to do is go to my kitchen and put something together for lunch. Or I can go to the grocery store or a restaurant and enjoy something yummy. I can’t imagine a time when the mere choice of eating means that I would lose my right to be Your child. Such a choice is too terrifying to imagine. Thank You that I have been saved now and won’t have to face such a decision. Amen.

 

 

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. Revelation 13:18

 

This may be the most studied, debated, misused, and twisted verse in the entire Bible. People who don’t even believe in the truth of the Bible seem to find themselves drawn in by this particular verse. From the earliest days after John received Revelation, people have tried to fit someone they don’t like into the number of this man.

 

In order to find fulfillment of the verse at the time of John, people have attempted to align the number with the emperor Nero. In order to do this, one must spell his name wrong and convert his name to Hebrew (which makes no sense as the New Testament is written in Greek). Or as an option, they will use the number 616, not 666. In order to substantiate this as valid they use an ancient Greek manuscript which was discovered in modern times which has the number 616 instead of 666 – 1 ancient manuscript out of almost 6000 which exist has this number. In other words, Nero wasn’t the anti-Christ and only a foolish attempt at biblical interpretation could come to this conclusion.

 

In addition, attempts have been made to match this number with many other world leaders for the past 2000 years. But this approach is actually pointless for Christians, because Paul explains in 2 Thessalonians 2 that this man won’t be revealed until the Day of the Lord. This period will only begin after the rapture of the church –

 

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4

 

A few things we can know from this verse – 1) The wise will be able to understand who this person is when he is finally revealed. 2) The number requires a sort of calculation which can be understood from a biblical perspective. 3) It is the number of a man.

 

Until this person is revealed during the tribulation period, we can only make guesses as to who this person is. Should we be wrong, as so many have been throughout the ages, we only bring discredit upon ourselves and we give those who look for reasons to dismiss the Bible abundant reason to mock Christianity. The best approach concerning the number is to not spend an inordinate amount of time on it, but rather direct our attention to the greatness of Jesus, the true Christ.

 

Lord Jesus, Your word asks us to fix our thoughts and eyes on You. Help us to remember this and to not get sidetracked by hype and sensation – especially over things that are hidden until the time they are to be revealed. You alone are worthy of our devotion and praise, so help us to remember this as we live our lives. Amen.

 

 

Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. Revelation 14:1

 

Before returning to the bowl judgments which follow the trumpet judgments, there is one more chapter of the interlude which began in chapter 12.

 

To start chapter 14, John’s eyes are directed to a Lamb standing on Mount Zion. This is Jesus, the Lamb of God, and Mount Zion is the spot from which David reigned. Jesus, the Son of David, stands as the leader of His people. During the tribulation period, His chosen followers – 144,000 of them – stand with Him. These are those sealed and numbered from the 12 tribes of Israel back in chapter 7.

 

These men have “His Father’s name written on their foreheads.” They were selected by the Father to serve Jesus and carry the His message to the tribulation world. This victorious picture is given at the same time that the anti-Christ and false prophet are working on their agenda, marking the people of the world with the number of the beast.

 

The sides are being divided up. Those who accept the number of the beast and bow allegiance to him will be eternally condemned, but those who follow the Lamb and listen to the message of the 144,000 telling of the work of Jesus will be raised to eternal life. The contrasts couldn’t be clearer and the consequences of the choice will be fixed.

 

Now, during the church age, we have the choice of following Christ or rejecting Him and either way life goes on pretty much the same, with the exception of localized persecution. But in the tribulation period, the choices will result in clear distinctions between the faithful and the faithless.

 

Great and mighty is the Lord God! How wonderful to know that despite the wickedness in the world today, the battle is already won. Jesus has prevailed and will return again to rule from Jerusalem. And He will rule among the redeemed of His people Israel – leading the nations and proclaiming the glory of the Father! Hallelujah and amen.

 

 

And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. Revelation 14:2

 

In Revelation 1:15, we read this – “His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters…” John’s ears hear the voice “from heaven” as he stands on the earth and listens. The voice which blares out of heaven is “like the voice of many waters.”

 

“Many waters” is John’s only way of describing the thundering resonance of the Lord’s awesome and glorious voice. At the same time, he “heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.” The description of the harps shows them to be the same type of harps as those used by the 24 elders in Revelation 5:8.

 

Accompanying this heavenly orchestra are the voices of the redeemed of the Lamb as we will see in the verses ahead. The 66th Psalm shows us the intent of music when used in worship. Let’s take a moment and read four verses of this song of praise –

 

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!

Sing out the honor of His name;

Make His praise glorious.

Say to God, “How awesome are Your works!

Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.

All the earth shall worship You

And sing praises to You;

They shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah

 

Yes! Let us sing praises to our God and King. With every bit of our fiber, let us remember to praise and exalt Him for what He has done. Praise the Lord for His mighty deeds among the children of men and Hallelujah to the Lamb who has redeemed us to God! Amen.

 

 

They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. Revelation 14:3

 

The 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth “sang as it were a new song.” Singing a new song is a theme which goes back to the Old Testament and is found in no less than five psalms. One example is in Psalm 96 –

 

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all people.

 

Although today’s verse contains a “new song” it is only so because of the progressive working of God in human history. In other words, the overall message of such a song will be the same – proclaiming the greatness and the glory of God in His unfolding plan of redemption.

 

A “new song” for the Old Testament saints will be different than a “new song” for the New Testament saints. The salvation is ultimately of the same source – the Person and work of Jesus Christ. But how that salvation is brought about in the individual has differences.

 

Old Testament saints, prior to the Law of Moses looked forward to it in their own unique way. Those who lived during the Law of Moses looked forward to it in a different way. Each “dispensation” has the same Savior, but with a clearer picture of His work. In the end though, each relies on grace through faith in Him for their redemption.

 

The song recorded in this verse is a song which is known to only the 144,000 – not the living creatures, not the elders, and not anyone else. Over the ages, people have tried to identify who the 144,000 are. Cults such as the Jehovah’s witnesses claim it springs from specially sealed members within its organization. Many older, mainstream denominations claim it is symbolic of the redeemed of all the ages and thus excludes Israelis of a future tribulation period. All such analyses are wrong.

 

Chapter 7 clearly identifies these as Jews, not cult members of aberrant denominations or sects, and they are also not a “symbolic” counting of the redeemed of the ages. The same scholars who argue this view also argue that the 24 elders are representative of the redeemed of the ages. This attempts to “have one’s cake and eat it too.

 

The 24 elders cannot know the song, thus they are not of the same group. The new song reflects the entire process of the redemption of these numbered and sealed Jews of the future. The reason “that no one could learn that song” is because this specific redemption has only happened to them.

 

Only a person who was on the Titanic and was saved from that drowning can “sing the song of the Titanic.” Only a person who was on the Lusitania and was saved from that accident can “sing the song of the Lusitania.” The salvation was the same, from drowning, but the actual experience in time and history is unique to each situation. This is the same for these 144,000.

No one else can sing their song because it is a unique event which God has designed for them alone.

 

Heavenly Father, it is important for us to realize that we are all saved in the same way, but not in the same context. We can’t insert our salvation experience into another person’s life and so we cannot make unfounded assumptions about their walk with You either. Help us to focus on the fact that they are redeemed, not so much in the manner in which it occurred. Amen.

 

 

These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. Revelation 14:4

 

This verse is speaking of the 144,000 who were “redeemed from the earth.” The description of them begins with the note that they “are the ones who were not defiled with women.” Many scholars state that this is a “spiritual” defilement and that it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have never been married. For a comparison, we can turn to Hebrews 13:4 for reference – “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”