Mon, Dec 31st - 2:37PM
My friends, let's rejoin Revelation in chapter 11:
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophesy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will(11:3-6).
Here we are introduced to two more personages. They are to preach for 1,260 days, 42 monthes, or 3.5 years. It would seem that this relates to either the first 3.5 years or the latter 3.5 years of the seven years of Daniel 9:27. From the facts that they have the power to bring plagues and kill people through divine protection implies that the time frame more than likely falls in the last 3.5 years when there is to be extreme persecution of God's people. Their actions fit that same time frame better since it is a time of tribulations.
What is their identity? Some commentators suggest that the two witnesses represent Israel and the church, or Israel and the Word of God, being the principal instruments of witness to the world. Arno Gaebelein feels that they are representative of witness in the great tribulation, "Perhaps the leaders would be two men, manifesting the spirits of Moses and Elihah, endowed with supernatural power, but a greater number of witnesses is unquestionably in view here." ???? Others are quite sure that they are Moses and Elijah, because of the similarity of judgment inflicted to the lost. Fire from heaven, water turned to blood, stoppage of rainfall, plagues. Cited as support for Elijah is Malachi 4:5, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:" This seems to be at least partially fulfilled by the coming of John the Baptist according to the discussion of Christ with His disciples:
"And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." (Matthew 17:10-13)
Evidence for both Moses and Elijah is also cited in that they both were in the transfiguration on the mount and are related to the second coming(Matthew 17:3). All evidence for proper identification is circumstantial. I would mention that Enoch never died, perhaps that man of God is one of these witnesses.
The grammatical use of the article with the expression "two witnesses" signifies that they are indeed, specific persons. Their actions are those of individual people, and not of groups of people. They both will die and then be resurrected, their bodies lay out in public view in Jerusalem's streets. These things make it difficult to maintain that they represent Israel, the church, or the Word of God. The fact that Enoch and Elijah did not die but were translated to heaven has been cited as a violation of Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed unto men once to die." But this argument is made moot by the fact that the entire living church membership at the moment of the rapture will go to heaven without dying. If Moses is included as one of the witnesses, will he actually die a second time? Could he die a second time and contradict scripture? I would only go so far as to say that undoubtedly these two witnesses will be prophets of God. God left their identities in obscurity, in obscurity they ought to remain until their time of appearing.
They shall have incredible amounts of power given to them by God. No one will be able to touch them until the required time period of witnessing has been accomplished, because Christ is in absolute control of everything. Their clothing choice symbolizes them as prophets of doom (Isaiah 37:1-2; Daniel 9:3). They are also described as olive trees and lampstands who are before God. This is similar to Zechariah 4 where a lampstand and two olive trees are talked about. There they represented Joshua the highpriest and Zerubbabel who were the leaders of Israel in that time. The Holy Spirit enabled them to bring light to their people and so will this be the case with these future witnesses. Their ministry arises from the Holy Spirit, not from their human abilities.
Verses 5 and 6 speak to us of the power that issues from their mouths. Their enemies will be consumed by fire proceeding from their mouths. This is a divine judgment from God upon those who would hurt them and also a means of protecting them until the appointed time of their deaths. Like Elijah, these two witnesses will be able to shut heaven so that no rain will fall for 3.5 years. What impact will that have upon global economies? Fresh water supplies? How will crops be grown? People are undoubtedly going to be rabid to kill these two persons, who wouldn't after a year, two years, of no rain anywhere? Kill then, perhaps it will rain again. People will not want to continually hear God's Word being spoken to them and so some will attempt to kill these two persons just to shut them up.
Well, let's stop right there for today, my friends. Next time we will discover some more things about these two witnesses. Until then, live peaceably with all men, if at all possible.
Mon, Dec 31st - 1:30PM
Here we are striving for the end of Daniel's visions. We pick up the vision in verse eight:
And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O Lord, what shall be the end of these things?(12:8).
This something that he could not understand. He was extremely puzzled and interested. He desired wisdom.
And he said, God thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end(12:9).
Daniel is denied an explanation of this vision. We ought not to think that God is going to always answer our questions.
Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand(12:10).
These three great principles of God prevail from Daniel's day right up to the last day of history:
1. "Many shall be purified" means all of those persons who have been born again in Christ. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy..."(Titus 3:5).
2. "None of the wicked shall understand" refers to all natural men. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned"(I Cor. 2:14).
3. "But the wise shall understand" refers to all who have turned to Christ for understanding and salvation. The Spirit of Truth guides us into all truth and He will show us things to come. Sounds like learning about prophecy, eh? That short semi-quote comes from John 16:13.
And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days(12:11).
The importance of this verse comes from the fact that Jesus Christ referred to it in Matthew 24:15, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (Whoso readeth, let him understand)." This signals that the Great Tribulation has already begun.
This time period represents the final 3.5 years of the Tribulation plus an additional 30 days beyond the point when Antichrist is cast into the lake of fire. I cannot explain why God will allow his statue/idol to remain standing for that time, He just will.
Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days(12:12).
What could possibly be the explanation of these additional days along with the blessing? Perhaps it is one of those sealed items, not to be totally understood until the Great Tribulation.
But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days(12:13).
What a glorious promise given to Daniel! A guarentee that he will stand before God in heaven, his lot already spoken as being "greatly beloved." Jesus Christ is coming, beloved, and we need to be ready for Him to return at any moment. Trim your wicks, my brightly lit oil lamps! Purchase enough oil to last until He comes!
That concludes our foray into Daniel in order to gain more insight into what we are reading in Revelation. Now we return to that book.
Sun, Dec 30th - 2:47PM
Today, my friends, we get into chapter 12 of Daniel. Here we can see the definition of what the Great Tribulation is, it is spelled out for us.
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of they people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book(12:1).
How can we possibly call this period the Great Tribulation? By the authority of scripture, for here we see that the time of trouble will like never before and like nothing ever after. If I can imagine it being worse than it is today, then I guess that today must not be the Great Tribulation Period. Jesus spoke using the same language as Daniel did here(see Matthew 24: 15-26).
"At that time" clearly identifies the time frame as the time of the end(Daniel 11:35, 40; 12:4). "Michael" identified here is an archangel (Jude 9), he is the protector of the Israelites, assigned to them by God. "The children of thy people" clearly refers to the nation Israel otherwise the language has no meaning whatsoever. The believing remnant of Israel will be preserved (see Matthew 24:22; Romans 11:26; Revelation 7:4). "And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel."
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt(12:2).
Are these the dead in Christ who are raptured out? Are they also all of the dead lost sinners who never accepted Christ? This verse is not specific as to which souls are gaining everlasting life. Are these then the Old Testament people who were the believing remnant of Jews? Are there believing Gentiles from the Old Testament included in this group also? Why aren't these necessarily the saints of the church? Scripture clearly states in I Thessalonians 4:16: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first." That seems very clear to me. No matter how one wishes to paint the picture, there will not be one generalized resurrection of souls at the time of the end.
When the church saints are raptured out of the world, the Old Testament saints will not yet be raised. Their time to enter into the kingdom is at the end of the Great Tribulation Period when Christ comes to establish His kingdom on the earth. "Some to shame and everlasting contempt" seemingly refers to the lost souls of the Old Testament who are going to be raised for the Great White Throne judgment at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ. This does not imply that Christ's reign will be interrupted, simply that this phase of the eternal kingdom of God will be at an end.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever(12:3).
Oh, I hope and pray that I am successful at that! I wish to shine that brightly! God's servants today shine brightly in these current dark days in our respective societies. In the coming darkness they will shine like beacons in the dead of night. That righteousness that I hope to turn people to is not of my own making. Oh no. It comes from Christ, the only righteousness that is acceptable to God. And that righteousness is only provided by faith.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased(12:4).
Why couldn't people two hundred years ago understand these passages of scripture? They weren't living in the time of the end. They were still too far away from the relevant time period. Is knowledge being increased mightily today? Yes, it is. Are lots of people running around helter skelter? Yes, they are. Can we understand all of this prophecy today? No, we can not for we still are not close enough to the time of the end. Thus, it is imperative that all of us keep our eyes upon one thing only: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ"(Titus 2:13).
My comment about people running helter skelter actually also pertains to how people desire to interpret scripture. They scatter themselves around in the bible trying to fit together a nice, comfortable interpretation that fits themselves. It can even change from year to year, church to church, as they change their personal thinking on matters.
Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river.
And one said to the man closthed linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?
And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished(12:5-7).
This passage clearly returns us to the vision seen at the beginning of chapter 10. The man in linen has already been identified as the postincarnate Christ. Two other persons join Him. Christ swears that it will be three and a half time periods. Applying this to Daniel's Seventy Weeks vision we can conclude that if we truly are dealing with his Seventieth Week then this speaks of the last half of that Week. Which means 3.5 years. "To scatter the power of the holy people" is a strange phrase, don't you think? This could mean nation Israel will be broken asunder, or, it could mean that the church will be persecuted so harshly that it will be unrecognizable as an institution. It will have been driven underground perhaps by the Antichrist. I Peter 2:9 mentions that we believers are "an holy nation." I am unsure either way.
Next time, beloved, we will continue with verse 8-13 and finish up in Daniel. We will then return to Revelation and pick up our study where we left off. Until then, may God's mercy, peace, and abundant grace be with each and everyone who reads these posts.
Sat, Dec 29th - 7:42PM
And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall proper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done(11:36).
There will be a political Antichrist, the one who is mentioned here, a Gentile raised out of the Roman Empire. There will also be a religious Antichrist who will pretend to be Christ and who will arise out of the land of Israel? Could this be true?
Antichrist is given many names in the bible. He is called "the bloody and deceitful man" in Psalm 5:6, "the wicked one" in Psalm 10:2-4, "the man of the earth" in Psalm 10:18, "the enemy" in Psalm 55:3, " the adversary" in Psalm 74:8-10, "the wilful king" in Daniel 11:36, "the idol shepherd" in Zechariah 11:16-17, "the man of sin" in II Thessalonians 2:3, "the son of perdition" in II Thessalonians 2:3, "the lawless one" in II Thessalonians 2:8, "the Antichrist" in I John 2:22, "the angel of the bottomless pit" in Revelation 9:11.
"The king shall do according to his will." This individual is self-willed. This is the total opposite of Jesus Christ(John 5:30). "He shall exalt himself." The little horn tries to be a big horn. Paul wrote of our Lord: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross"(Philippians 2:5-8). This is not what the Antichrist will be all about when he assumes control of our world.
"And magnify himself above every god." In II Thessalonians 2:4 Paul wrote of the Antichrist: "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." It will be in blasphemous rebellion against God which will mark this willful king. He will be the final symbol of humanism on this planet. He will be our old nature personified. The carnal, fleshy minds of men will naturally turn towards Antichrist. They will choose him to be their leader. Antichrist will even be successful and prosper for a time as God allows.
Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all(11:37).
It has been formerly assumed that this verse proves that Antichrist will have to be an Israelite. But this verse can equally refer to a Roman Catholic, Protestant, or Presbyterian. Wherever he does originate from he will not remember and honor the God of his fathers.
As mentioned earlier, I think that the political leader will arise out of the Roman Empire and most likely from out of the Greek area. The second beast that arises is a religious leader, he imitates Christ, and this man could very well be an Israelite.
"Nor the desire of women" would seemingly imply that this man will not have any natural affection towards women at all. The causative effect of this remains wide open to interpretation.
"Nor regard any god" means that he will oppose all religious worship that does not center upon himself. He will be a firm believer in the ecumenical movement for he will be the ecumenical movement. Self-adulation will be his ambition and any who refuse will be dealt with extremely harshly. Read Revelation 13:15-17 to see the end result of his ambition.
But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things(11:38).
This god of forces is none other than Satan. He holds the positions of strength amongst the nations, fortresses, castles, military bases, etc., etc.. It was Satan who offered to Christ the kingdoms of this world. During ancient times pagans worshipped gods who were not Satan in disguise but were demons in disguese. In this future time Satan will be worshipped in truth out in the open worldwide.
Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain(11:39).
This will be Satan's time and he will make the most of it. Antichrist will be the compliant tool to completely put into action Satan's will.
And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over(11:40).
It is the time of the end, not the end of time. It is what Daniel has had in thought all through this section, the last days of Israel. "The king of the south" obviously is from Egypt, but we are unable to identify who it might be. Egypt hasn't had a native ruler for quite some time. Perhaps a future ruler of Egypt will be charismatic enough to unite the entire African continent behind himself and then will come agaisnt the Antichrist.
"The king of the north" is the one who takes the place of the Seleucidae dynasty, and could very well be the one also mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39. This king of the north could be Russia. They will most likely lead a confederation of nation-states once again and advance upon the Antichrist. Antichrist will prevail against both of these kings.
He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon(11:41).
After defeating these two kings apparantly Antichrist will enter the Promised Land of Palestine but he will not be able to subdue those three groups of people, at least not initially. These are the Arabs of today in the Middle East.
He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps(11:42-43).
Egypt will be subdued after the king of the north. All of their wealth will be at the Antichrist's disposal. Africa will be under his control.
But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.
And he shall plant the tabernacle of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him(11:45).
The east implies the teeming masses living in the Orient. Between the seas refers to the Mediterranean and the Dead seas. "The glorious holy mountain" is none other than Jerusalem. Antichrist will set up his base of power in Jerusalem, however, he will be destroyed there rather than be victorious. Evil will have taken over, only the personal return of Christ the King to establish His kingdom will deliver anyone on this earth from it.
This finishes chapter 11. There are alot more scriptures that could be brought into this type of study but it would drag it out even longer than it will be. I am electing to shorten it in order to return to Revelation and our study there. Chapter twelve will continue the same vision which began back in chapter ten. Until next time, beloved, recall the words of Habakkuk: "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved"(2:1). Listen for God's answer to your prayers, and then you shall know your answer when you are reproved, chastened, corrected by God. He will set you straight as to what you ought to be praying for, my friends. Listen carefully. Be alert. And thank God always.
Fri, Dec 28th - 7:53PM
We continue our study in Daniel tonight, my friends.
But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even in his fortress.
And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.
And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.
For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches(11:10-13).
Continual warfare was happening between Egypt and Syria. During this entire period Israel seemed to repeatedly make the wrong choice and found itself being made captive by one or the other.
And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south; also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall(11:14).
Many in the nation of Israel were slain during this period of history, untold suffering was their lot in life.
So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.
But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed(11:15-16).
"The glorious land" represents Israel, the land that God had vouchsafed to Abraham, and to those who came after him. I am not going to bog our study down with all of the secular history, any who wish to doublecheck may do so by consulting either of the following references; Hastings' Bible encyclopedia, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Some 125 years of history is fulfilled here in these passages. Here in these last two verses is recorded the victory of Antiochus the Great over Egypt. It was a very decisive victory and Israel suffered immeasuredly after it.
He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him(11:17).
In 198-195 B.C. Antiochus the Great made a treaty with Egypt and gave his daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy Epiphanes in marriage.
After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.
Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle(11:18-20).
"He shall turn his face unto the isles" refrs to Greece and all of the Greek islands. This is an area where Antiochus the Great was beginning to operate at this time, against Lysimachus in the west. "A prince for his own behalf" refers us to another line, namely, Rome which was beginning to come to power further to the west and in time would move eastward. Rome was a tax levier. They ended up taxing Syria. The Romans were probably the best tax assessors and gatherers in the world until our modern era when the Americans seemingly perfected the system. Rome built her tremendous empire by taxing the people she was overpowering with her armies.
And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries(11:21).
Here we are introduced to Antiochus Epiphanes, who was the vile king in Syria. This is the "little horn" from back in chapter 8. The prophecy here fits the man like a glove. He is at the same time a type of the Antichrist, illustrative and figurative of the Man of Sin who is yet to come.
Antiochus Epiphanes came to power in 175 B.C. with program of peace. He was a deceiver and a flatterer. We must always be on our guard against such people. You can find them everywhere, even in church ministry. We do not need flatterers, we need honest, forthright men and women who will stand in the pupit, and in the classroom, and tell it like it is. Unfortunately, it seems that there are still too many flim-flam men in televangelism today.
And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.
And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoi, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time(11:22-24).
"The prince of the covenant" probably could be the high priest, Onias III, who was deposed and murdered at this time by Antiochus.
And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: or they shall forecast devices against him.
Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow; and many shall fall down slain.
And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.
Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land(11:25-28).
Here is described the war campaign of Antiochus and his subsequent victory over the king of Egypt which gained him much riches and prestige in the region. "They shall speak lies at one table" refers to the practise of that day of telling the other side what they wanted to hear and then do something else entirely. Private agendas held sway at conferences, just like they do in today's treaties and conferences.
At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.
For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant(11:29-30).
Antiochus made a second campaign against Egypt but was not victorious because of the navy of Rome, "the ships of Chittim." He broke his covenant with Israel, but notice that some of the Jews betrayed their own people, "have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant."
And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate(11:31).
Antiochus came against Jerusalem in 170 B.C. and slew over 100,000 Jews. He took away the daily sacrifice from the temple and offered the blood and broth of a pig upon the altar, and set up an image of Jupiter to be worshipped in the holy place of the temple of God. This is not the same abomination to make desolate as Jesus referred to when He was here on earth. Christ spoke of that which is still to come in our future. Antichrist will more than likely set up an image of himself in the temple for all to worship.
And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits(11:32).
As always, a remnant always exists who know God, remain faithful, and being strong in the Lord they do magnificent exploits. Here God raised up the family of the Maccabees. In 166 B.C. Mattathias the priest raised a revolt against Antiochus. Their family name means "the hammer." Although they are not mentioned in scripture it is apparant that they were God's people in this particular period of time.
And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
Now when they shall fall, they shall be hopen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries(11:33-34).
We are still dealing with the time period between the two Testaments in the bible. There were many who still served God as faithfully and courageously as had Gideon, David, or Elijah. The writings of Josephus shed light on this period.
And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed(11:35).
"The time of the end" leaps us forward in prophecy from Antiochus Epiphanes to the Antichrist. We now move from ancient history into that which is yet in the future. In Daniel's time all of this prophecy was future, today we can see that much of it has already happened in the past.
THE MAN OF SIN
At this point in Daniel history ends and prophecy begins once more. The text that we will begin to study next time passes from a vile person to a vicious character. We will in effect be passing over a bridge of unmeasured time. Until then, beloved, recall the words of Haggai: "For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts(Haggai 2:6-7)." The Messiah is returning, and He is coming as Judge of all creation. His shekinah glory shall fill our senses to overflowing. We need to get our noses off of the windshield of the present and take a look around at what is rapidly coming. Praise the Lord! Even so, come now Lord!
Thu, Dec 27th - 9:47PM
My friends, I apologise if this study in Daniel is being given in larger blocks than was done in Revelation, but I wish to get us back to that segment of our study as quickly as possible. As many of you may suspect, I am leaving out some other pertinent scriptures to end time prophecy, but I shall bring them into our study in time. If I am going too quickly for some of you, please message me and I will send you more details of what you need to continue following this train of thought. But let's continue reading in Daniel:
Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days(10:14).
Here we are given a key to open a door to understand the remainder of the book of Daniel. Here are three features which characterize this last vision.
1. The vision concerns "thy people." I believe we can categorically identify this as having Israel as its subject. To try and interpret this in any other way requires semantics and syntax to become meaningless.
2. It will be accomplished "in the latter days." This places the final fulfillment in the period of the Seventiety Week, which is the time of the Great Tribulation Period.
3. "Yet the vision is for many days." This points out that a long period of time is involved; not only in fulfillment but also before the vision will be fulfilled.
We now come to the two parts of the vision: the historically fulfilled part and the prophecy as yet unfulfilled.
And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.
And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength(10:15-16).
This angel touches Daniel and Daniel tells him how he feels. He tells of how this vision is just draining him of all energy and his sorrows over his people are pummeling him.
For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.
Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me(10:17-18).
People today relate how they have had experiences with angels, but they never seem to be reacting like Daniel does. Have they really had an experience with an angel from God? Daniel tells us how he feels upon experiencing this encounter with the angels. He felt like he couldn't talk, he couldn't move, he couldn't breathe. That sounds to me like a traumatic event, something that severely impacts a person.
And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.
Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come(10:19-20).
Another satanic angel representing Greece would be coming to fight once this holy angel was done instructing Daniel and left for Persia. The spiritual war had not stopped, it had not reached intermission, no time outs had been called by the spiritual referees. It is ongoing.
But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince(10:21).
Now I want to point out that in verse 19 we see that angels can minister to us and give us strength even when we feel like we cannot go on. This angel spoke and it was sufficient to strengthen Daniel. In verse 21 we see that Michael was the other angel who was helping this particular angel in holding against these other satanic angels with whom they were battling. The other noteworthy thing here is that what Daniel is going to be shown is recorded or registered in scripture. He is hearing nothing that contradicts the Word of God. The Word of God is the only weapon given to us to use effectively in our daily spiritual warfare. It is called the sword of the Spirit, and many of us do not even know how to swing our swords!
Chapter 11 is a continuation of what was going on in the previous chapter. This too, is a chapter that Satan did not want Daniel, or us today, to receive and so he sought to hinder the angel. The two nations that were important to the Jewish nation were Greece and Persia.
This chapter bridges prophetically part of the intertestimental period, that time between Old Testament and New Testament. It has been said that this was a period of silence from heaven. Probably true, yet it was not a quiet period for Israel. They suffered at the hands of both Syria and Egypt. These two nations warred against each other and Palestine got caught in the middle of their conflict. It was at this time that Antiochus Epiphanes came to power. He was of the Seulicids, and will be identified later in this chapter. He has been called the Nero of Jewish history. He is also called the Great Profaner.
As in the previous chapter, we will see that part of the prophecy given has already been historically fulfilled but that there is still part that remains to be fulfilled in the future. This prophecy tends to be complicated and goes deeper than most people like to. However, we will delve down into it as deeply as we can and I hope that you will come away thrilled by this section of the Word of God.
Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him(11:1).
As can be seen immediately, this scripture bridges a gap from Media-Persia over to Greece, from Asia to Europe. There is a transition of world power from one continent to another, from the East to the West. This was very important to the people of Daniel since they were caught in the jaws of this vise. It was a period of great suffering for his people.
This is still the angel who was speaking to Daniel at the end of chapter 10. This was the time when Daniel was thrown into the lion's den by Darius. According to Daniel 6:16 Darius believed that Daniel's God would save him. This angel is confirming that he gave Darius strength to believe. This angel also comforted and assisted Daniel as Daniel stated in 6:22.
And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia(11:2).
From here through verse 34 is a clear-cut statement of prophecy which has been literally fulfilled. Liberal critics refuse to believe that this was written prior to it actually happening. They wish to believe that it had to be written after the fact. I think that the label "liberal" is inaccurate, these people seem to be some of the most narrow-minded folk around. They tend to disbelieve in any miraculous thing ever happening and so they do not believe that prophecy can be real. They are prejudiced, biased, and narrow-minded. Miracles happen all around us each day on this planet. Just go and speak with hospital workers, nurses, doctors, etc..
The angel knew that Daniel would not live to see any of this come to pass, it was being given to those who were to live in the future. It was given to comfort and encourage those children of God who would live through these described difficult times. It also testifies of the fact that God knows the end from the very beginning.
Daniel learned that there would be four kings of Persia to follow Cyrus. Possibly they were Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, Darius Hystaspis, and Xerxes who invaded Greece in 480 B.C. Xerxes was defeated and never again did Media-Persia rise to world dominance. Ahasuerus of the book of Esther may very well be this Xerxes since the former was said to be very rich, as the prophecy here stated he would be.
And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will(11:3).
This corresponds to Alexander the Great who came to power in 335B.C. in Greece and he put down Persia thus assuming would dominion.
And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven: and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those(11:4).
Alexander was a world ruler and one of the greatest military strategists ever. He died in 323 B.C. just twelve years after assuming power. His children did not inherit his vast kingdom. Four of his generals divided up the empire into four geographical areas, each to be ruled by a general. Cassander took Macedonia; Lysimachus took Asia Minor; Seleucus Nicator took Syria and the remainder of the Middle East; and Ptolemy took Egypt. They all warred amongst themselves and eventually fell to the Romans.
And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion(11:5).
Directions in scripture generally are reckoned from Palestine as the center of the world. South of Israel would make this king from Egypt. The king would then be one of the Ptolemies.
And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times(11:6).
The king from the north refers to the line of the Seleucids. This verse brings us up to around 250B.C. Historians have recorded some of the machinations that went on in the courts of that day, which fulfill this prophecy quite well. To form an alliance between these two warring families, Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt gave his daughter Berenice in marriage to Antiochus Theos of Syria. Antiochus was already married to Laodice, whom he divorced. After two years Ptolemy died; so Antiochus Theos put away Berenice with her son and took back his first wife, Laodice. She, in turn, poisoned Antiochus Theos and ordered the death of Berenice and her son. Then she put her own son, Seleucus Callinicus, on the throne. How Macchiavelliand!
But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail(11:7).
This was Ptolemy Euergetes, brother of Berenice, who came with an army and captured Syria, and he seized the fort which was the port of Antioch in that day.
And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north.
So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land(11:8-9).
It is recorded that Euergetes took four thousand talents of gold, forty thousand talents of silver, and twenty-five hundred idols as booty back with him to Egypt. Prophecy literally fulfilled?
I will stop there for now. Until next time, believe the Word of God, live the Word of God each day. Pray for understanding of the Word of God.
Wed, Dec 26th - 8:02PM
Beloved, tonight we enter into a very eerie section. It could be called weird or strange. We get a glimpse into the unseen world in these last three chapters of Daniel. We also get information that fills in details of the preceding visions. We have already seen evidence of the double reference, which refers to predictions that have a near and local fulfillment and also have a distant fulfillment. The fulfillment of the immediate future gives us keys for the far future fulfillment.
This excursion into the spiritual realm also introduces believers to the orders of angels; both good and bad angels, fallen and unfallen. We shall see something about the kingdom of Satan, which is all about us today. Obviously angels exercise free will since some of them by their own will followed Satan rather than believe God. Some of these belong to the order of demons to which frequent mention is made in the gospels. The angels are in different orders, ranks, positions and have various powers and abilities. Colossians 1:16 tells us that everything was made by God. Every government, every authority was created by Him. This verse creates some lines of separation in His very Creation. There is that which is in heaven, and that which is in earth. There is that which is visible, and there is that which is invisible. All were made by God, for God. The more that we come to know, the more that we come to know how little we do know.
We are told that principalities and dominions were created by God. Perhaps this is where Michael and Gabriel fit in as archangels? Placed in positions of greater responsibility and authority than the other angels, asked to perform special tasks for God. We know from other scripture that there are cherubim and seraphim, two types of angels. Notice in this scripture what is said: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places"(Ephesians 6:12). You see, each day we are not in combat against people, we are fighting against spiritual powers that live in the spiritual realm, invisible to our naked eye. Satan has principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, all who are arrayed against us. There are demons who seek to possess people directly. There are demons who influence people's desires and fetishes in the world of business. There are demons who are in charge of religion. Satan is in the business of religion and he is doing marvelously well today. Anything that redirects our focus away from serving Christ is okay with Satan, any thing. Just as Satan's demons are organized, so too, God's angels are organized. They are engaged in ceaseless warfare to capture the souls of men and it all takes place out of our line of vision.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persian a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled(10:1-3).
This vision happened in 534 B.C., which was about four years after the vision of the Seventy Weeks. Daniel was elderly, probably retired from any public office.
The form of revelation seems to have changed somewhat for he calls it "a thing." He says that it was true, but that it was not to happen for a long time yet or in the distant future. He also knows what this "thing" means, understanding has been given to him from God.
The cause of his mourning is not given directly to us here, but we can easily speculate on this cause. In the first year of Cyrus' reign he had decreed that Israel was to be permitted to return to her land (see Ezra 1:1-4). Two whole years had since passed and only a few people had returned under Zerubbabel. This was before the return of Ezra and Nehemiah. Obviously it brought much grief to Daniel to see that his people did not want to return to their homeland. So Daniel fasted for three weeks, and did not even bath himself during that time. He prayed continuously the entire time.
And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel(10:4).
Finally, Daniel gives us the exact location and date when he received his vision and the revelation. He was by the river Hiddekel, which is the Tigris River. The date was the twenty-fourth day of Nisan, or April 24th to us.
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:
His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude(10:5-6).
It would seem that Daniel saw the transfiguration of Christ long before either Moses or Elijah saw it. He is being spiritually encouraged. No longer is he seeing images, or beasts, or weeks. He sees a certain man. Many commentators refuse to identify this "certain man" specifically, they will only say that he is a heavenly visitor. That is really being brave, don't you think? They sure cannot be told that they are wrong! But it is a position that does not remain consistent with the passage.
Jesus Christ gave many parables, and some of them concerned the activity of "a certain man." That person was either God the Father or God the Son. In the verses before us here this "certain man" is described further by how He looks and by how He is dressed. How similar is this passage to Revelation 1:12-16? Remember how John described that scene? Daniel was being given a glimpse of the Incarnate Christ once He ascended into heaven. Both Moses and Elijah were present with the disciples at Christ's transfiguration but Daniel was not. I would say that he was not there because he had already seen it here.
And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men tha were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength(10:7-8).
Angels were not the agent used to deliver this vision to Daniel. His companions fled in fear, seeking to hide. Only Daniel saw this vision. In John 16:14 Jesus said, "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." Again in Acts 9:7-8, "And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus." The Holy Spirit identifies Christ to men.
Alone with God. Abraham left Ur and was alone with God. Moses went to the backside of the desert of Midian, and at the burning bush was alone with God. Elijah was hiding under a tree, and was alone with God. Jeremiah walked a lonely path, but it was with God. John the Baptist was out in the desert alone, but God was with him. Paul had two years of solitary confinement in the desert, but God trained him. The apostle John was exiled on the isle of Patmos, but God was with him.
Today it always seems to be a matter of having to get together for prayer meetings or some other great gathering. But my friends, have you ever tried being alone, with God? God will meet you there, in that lonely place, just as he has all through history with the saints of God. Why do you think that He said to go into your closet and pray? Because it is dark in there? Because you just might find some article of clothing that you have lost? No! He wants us to get in there, get alone with Him, and find Him! Something is lost, beloved, and it is our path to the Living God. Our daily conversation with Him is lost in this hectic world that Satan is speeding up all around us. Go, find a lonely place where you can talk with God, one on one.
In stark contrast, the ungodly and the unbeliever are gregarious. They want, and need to go to the nightclubs. They run around in packs, and like to have people around them all of the time. They do not like being alone, can't stand being alone or being surrounded by quiet. Jacob tried to avoid being alone, but God pushed him into a corner and one night wrestled with him and finally crippled him just so that He could get to him. Are you going to force God to take such actions just to get your attention? I sincerely hope not, my friends.
Notice that upon seeing this vision Daniel didn't jump up and down or do any cartwheels. He couldn't move, he was paralyzed. No muscle strength left in him. The pure holiness being presented before him made him realize how unworthy he was to even be there.
Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.
And behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling(10:9-11).
Now this being that touches Daniel is not Christ. Christ spoke and Daniel passed out. Since Gabriel had come and spoken to Daniel before, perhaps that is who is touching him awake here. In verse 11 we see Daniel has moved from being horizontal on the ground, to kneeling on all fours, to standing upright. Daniel's reputation in heaven is reiterated; "greatly beloved."
Then said he to me, Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia(10:12-13).
Here we see how effective prayer works. We must be fervent, we must be persistent if we expect God to hear our words. Sometimes we must fast while we are praying otherwise God will not hear our request. But notice in verse 13 what is shown to us. A veil is lifted briefly, and it reveals to us a heavenly warfare going on. There is a great deal more in this universe than meets the eye. It is currently beyond the scrutiny of scientists, and may forever be beyond their scrutiny.
In the unseen world around us there is a conflict ongoing, between good and evil, light and darkness, God and Satan. Supernatural forces are in conflict daily. Daniel's prayer was heard in heaven and this angel was sent but he was delayed because his way was blocked; Satan's forces were in his way. This puts Paul's declaration to the Ephesians in a different light, "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against..." This tells us that perhaps our prayers have been heard by God but the answer being delivered by an angel has been held up due to Satan's demons being in the way. Actually, prayer is fighting a spiritual battle always. Paul made it apparant that it was so in Romans 15:30. The Greek word used for "strive together" in that verse is sunagonizom, from which we get our English word agonize. We are to agonize in prayer; if not, then I would suggest that we are not praying properly. Prayers are not to be flowery, not to be vain repetitions, not to be high and lofty. They bring us down into the trenches, down into places where it is dirty and messy. Places where tears may be shed, walls may be broken down to let light in. We are in the midst of a spiritual war, and I fear that way too many in our churches don't believe that we are.
Apparantly this angel sent to minister to Daniel was outranked by the satanic angel who was the prince of the kingdom of Persian and he needed the archangel Michael to come and help open the way for him. Why would Satan not want Daniel to receive knowledge? Gee, maybe because for starters Daniel was greatly beloved of God? Daniel was to be given information about this spiritual warfare going on all around him and his people. Satan does not want anyone down here becoming informed about him and his demons. He wants us to remain "intellectually" ignorant. He is exuberant over us being so "enlightened" that we think it ridiculous that anyone might believe in angels and the Devil. Obviously there was some sort of major conflict ongoing in Persia since kings were mentioned along with princes. Satanic and heavenly forces were facing off against each other there. Church prayer meetings are dead today because too few people realize that a spriritual battle is takeing place. Paul speaks to this again in II Corinthians 10:3-5, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
My friends, the Christian life is a bigger adventure, and undertaking, than any of us ever dreamed it to be. We need to recognize how desparately we need the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and how much we need the presence of Christ.
I will stop there for tonight, beloved. Much food for thought. Much to ponder and digest. Many personal questions that need answering. Is this true? Must I change how I pray? What I pray? How frequently I pray? Must I view how people are treating me (even my loving spouse) in light of this concept of spiritual warfare being waged against me because I have declared my love for Christ? These are all deeply personal questions that must be addressed if we are to move forward as Christians and enable God to help us.
Next time we shall continue with verses 14-21 of this chapter of Daniel and look at three features which characterize this closing vision. Until then, be strong in Christ, be watchful spiritually, be prepared for the fiery darts of Satan to come your way once you declare yourself to be in this battle. Satan is playing for keeps, are you?
Tue, Dec 25th - 7:57PM
Tonight, my friends, we finish up with chapter 7 of Daniel and skip over to chapter 9. Chapter 8 deals with fulfilled prophecy and as such is not of relevance to our ongoing study in Revelation.
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time(7:25).
This little horn is most certainly a blasphemer. This verse relates us to revelation 13:5-6. One of the basic characteristics of Antichrist is that he is against God and against Christ. That is the basic meaning of his name; another meaning is to imitate Christ. Which is more than likely why there are two beasts in Revelation 13.
We also can clearly see that saints are going to be persecuted to the fullest extent of the term. It does not matter if you believe we are raptured out as the church before this point in time is reached or whether you believe that the rapture happens at the end of the tribulation period. Saints in Christ will be persecuted during this time by the Antichrist.
He will attempt to change customs and laws. And once more we are given the time frame of his reign; "until a time and times and the dividing of time." This can translate into the 3.5 years that is found in other scriptures. Reference scriptures for this are found in Rev. 11:2-3, 12:6, 13:5.
But the judgement shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end(7:26).
This should remind us of the scene in heaven that we saw in Revelation 4 and 5 where thrones are shone to us. Antichrist's dominion must be ended and he himself judged. The beginning of this verse tells us that the judgment shall not be changed or altered. This begins the end of the times of the Gentiles.
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him(7:27).
Here we find a reference to the eternal kingdom which first appears in the millennium, and then opens up into eternity. Those who claim that the thousand years can not possibly be part of the eternal kingdom are misunderstanding the nature of the millennium. It is a time when Christ is ruling absolutely from here on earth, His kingdom has been established and will not be destroyed anymore. This Millennium was thought by the early church fathers to be the future fulfillment of the promised "rest", the hallowed seventh day; a restoration to Abraham of the promised inheritance in which kingdom the Lord declared that "Many coming from the east and from the west should sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob..."
Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart(7:28).
Daniel did not run around telling all of his friends about these visions. He says that he kept his mouth shut, he minded his tongue. They were disturbing to him, and he knew that they would be disturbing to everyone else. This prophecy changed him, altered his thinking. It was brand new and it was very strange indeed.
When we study prophecy today we too ought to come away disturbed, troubled, and changed. It should transform us on the inside, in our hearts. Our lives ought to visibly change forevermore.
CHAPTER NINE: PROPHECY OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS
In addition to this being one of the greatest chapters of prophecy it is also one of the greatest on prayer. The first 21 verses give us his prayer and the last 6 verses give us the very important prophecy of the Seventy Weeks which alot of people interpret in various manners.
I will only outline briefly Daniel's prayer here for we are after a different beast today. Here are six power points that come out of studying this prayer:
(1) Purposeful Planning
(2) Painful Performance
(3) Perfect Plainness
(4) Powerful Petition
(5) Personal and Private
(6) Plenary Penetration(full)
Prayer for Daniel was an exercise of his soul in spiritual trial, it was a tiring workout. It required effort, endurance, and suffering. How are you and I doing in comparison? Enough said, right?
Please read the first 21 verses to get an overview of where Daniel was at mentally when he arrived at the end of his prayers in verse 21:
Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation(9:21).
Gabriel was the angel sent by God, appeared to Daniel in form like a man. Less startling that way, don't you think? The time was the evening sacrifice at Jerusalem, which would be about three in the afternoon. Gabriel delivered the prophecy to Daniel by commandment of God:
And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved; therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision(9:22-23).
After Daniel had been continuously praying God gave the command to Gabriel to go and give understanding to beloved Daniel. Prayer answered by God. Isaiah 65:24 says, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." We must pray fervently, beloved! Just as Daniel was beloved of God in heaven, so we too, are beloved of Him for we are in Christ Jesus according to Ephesians 1:6.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy(9:24).
Please notice that as we go through this, and following verses, that we are not thinking in terms of literal weeks. The historical references that are made clearly indicate that we are dealing with prophetical periods of time, or that these are representative of much larger periods of time. The Hebrew word for "seven" is shabua, meaning a "unit of measure." It could mean the same thing as our word "dozen" today does. Namely, unless we know the label put with it, we are not certain what we are dealing with. So here, it appears that we are dealing with seventy sevens. Daniel had been reading Jeremiah's account that the captivity would last seventy years. This was penalty for violating seventy sabbatic years. That would then be seventy sevens, a total of 490 years. In those 490 years, Israel had violated exactly seventy sabbatic years; so they would go into captivity for seventy years(II Chronicles 36:21).
Obviously Daniel was puzzled as to how the end of the seventy years of captivity would fit into the long period of Gentile world dominion which was shown to him in chapters 7 and 8. He obviously was thinking that at the end of the captivity his people would be returned to the land, the Messiah would come, and the kingdom which had been promised to David would be established forever more.
These seventy weeks answer two questions. Israel's kingdom will not come immediately. The seventy sevens must run their course. We know now that these seventy sevens fit into the Times of the Gentiles and run simultaneously with them. We are told that these weeks are already determined by God, both time frames for Israel and for the Gentiles end simultaneously with the coming of Christ the second time.
We learn here that the Seventy Weeks concern the people of Daniel, or Israel, and they concern Jerusalem, the "holy city." Six things are to be accomplished in these Seventy Weeks:
1. "To finish the transgression." This refers to Israel's sins. The cross provided redemption for the sin of the nation, but not all accepted it when offered.
2. "To make an end of sins." The national sins of Israel will come to an end at the second coming of Christ. They are just like the rest of us, lost sinners coming short of the glory of God.
3. "To make reconciliation for iniquity." During this period, God has given a redemption through the death and resurrection of Christ. This is for Jew and Gentile alike.
4. "And to bring in everlasting righteousness." This refers to the return of Christ at the end of the Seventy Sevens(490 years) to usher in His kingdom.
5. "To seal up the vision and prophecy." This means that all will be fulfilled, which will validate this prophecy as well as all other prophecies in scripture.
6. "To anoint the most Holy." Refers to the anointment of the holy of holies in the millennial temple about which Ezekiel wrote in 41-46.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate(9:25-27).
Obviously the most important question becomes, "What is the starting point for this period of 490 years?" Since this period is projected into the Times of the Gentiles, it has to fit into history and originate from some date connected with the those self same times. Many suggestions have been made over the centuries. Perhaps the best comes from Nehemiah 2:1-8, the decree of Artaxerxes, in the month Nisan 445 B. C. This meets the requirement of verse 25 of the going forth of the commandment to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.
The first seven weeks of 49 years bring us to 397 B.C. and to Malachi and the end of the Old Testament. These were "troublous times" as witnessed by both Nehemiah and Malachi.
Sixty-two weeks, or 434 years, bring us to the Messiah bringing Himself into Jerusalem on a donkey. After the 69 weeks, or 483 years, there is a time break given. Between the 69th and the 70th week two events of importance are to take place:
1. Messiah will be cut off. This is His crucifixion.
2. Destruction of Jerusalem. This took place in A.D. 70 when Titus the Roman leveled the city. The final "week", a period of 7 years, is projected into the future and does not follow the other 69 chronologically. This time gap has to be the age of grace that we currently are living in. It was unknown to the prophets(Ephesians 3:1-12; I Peter 1:10-12). The Seventieth Week is eschatological, or prophetical, and it is the final period of time in history and is yet unfulfilled.
"The prince" is not Christ for it is not capitolized as when referring to Him. Therefore, it means he is first of all a Roman; he is the "little horn" of Daniel 7; he is "the beast" of Revelation 13. He is to make a future covenant with Israel allowing them to worship in their restored temple. Eventually he will force them to accept him as their Messiah when he breaks the covenant after 3.5 years(mid-week). Beloved, we live in the 69th week of the age of grace and the 70th week is looming on our horizon somewhere.
Let's stop there tonight. We will dive into chapter 10 next time, beloved. I hope that all of you enjoyed a blessed Christmas Day and that you remembered to praise Him for all that He has done for you so far, and praised Him for all that He intends to do in each of your lives in the days remaining to each of you. What a glorious and exhilerating time to live in, my friends! Peace be with you all this night!
Mon, Dec 24th - 4:41PM
We continue studying Daniel 7:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him(7:13).
Jesus as much as referred to this passage when He was put on oath at His trial before the Sanhedrin(Mark14:61-62). What we have here is a very clear-cut statement that the Lord Jesus is that "stone cut out without hands" which hits the image---He will establish His kingdom here upon earth. Psalm 2:7,8 lay some of the foundational work for His kingdom to come. In Acts 13:33-35 Paul repeats that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. Christ is going to come and take over the kingdom. How will He do it? "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel"(Psalm 2:9). When He comes again to this earth, the Millennium will not be here waiting for Him. He will put out all rebellion, and those who are obedient will enter into the kingdom.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed(7:14).
This paves the way for the coming of Christ and the smashing of the image by the "stone cut out without hands" found in Revelation 19:11-16. Some will say that "an everlasting dominion" indicates that there will be no one thousand year reign on earth, that that is purely symbolic in nature. Not so, I say. The millennium is mentioned specifically as being here on earth, Christ rules absolutely here with a short interlude of rebellion at the end of it. Satan is loosed from his bondage and leads the remaining rebellious people against God. With the defeat of Satan and his followers the kingdom passes on into eternal future.
Revelation 20:6 speaks directly of this period of time here on earth and makes it rather plain that the millennium is but one phase of the everlasting kingdom. Once Christ takes authority totally into His hands He never relinquishes it ever again. Micah 4:2 also gives us indication of this same scenario, of a millennial kingdom ruling from Jerusalem.
I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth(7:15-17).
I wonder why Daniel was troubled? I mean, so what if this was somewhat nightmarish? You and I both know that we would have woken up in a cold sweat if we were to have dreams of this sort today. These four beasts are not only kingdoms but kings, as we are told here in these verses. The two-winged lion represented Babylon led by Nebuchadnezzar. Alexander the Great of the Graeco-Macedonian empire represented by the leopard. And as I have already stated, the other two empires represented by the remaining two beasts.
But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom of ever, even for ever and ever(7:18).
Notice that "saints" are mentioned here? Five times in this particular chapter saints are mentioned. Immediately one school of prophetic interpretation assumes these are NT saints. Some even think narrower thoughts than this; they believe that their denomination are the only saints being mentioned here. Beloved, God has a pretty large family spread all over this planet. There were OT saints, the nation Israel were called saints; all being a different company, or fold, from today's church of saints. God saved people before Pentecost, and He is going to go on saving people after the day of Rapture. God has always been in the business of saving people and He is not failing at it.
The Greek word for "saints" is hagios, and it happens two hundred times in the NT. Ninety-two times hagios is translated "holy" in combination with "spirit," for the Holy Spirit. It is also used to speak of believers in the church who are called "saints" or "holy ones." In the NT , "saints" are the sinners who have been declared righteous because of their faith in Christ(see Romans 1:7). Hagios is likewise used for OT believers(see Matthew 27:52-53) and for tribulation saints (see Rev. 13:7). In this book, therefore, "the saints" refer to people of Israel---not all of the nation, but to the remnant of true believers only.
Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows(7:19-20).
All speaks of power and fierceness. Ferocity. Rome was not loved by her captive nations, Hannibal vowed vengeance against her cruel power and lived to actually do it although eventually he was subdued by Rome. Rome, through Pontius Pilate, asked cynically, "What is truth?" And then crucified Jesus.
That the horns come out of the head signifies a further development in the empire of Rome afterwards. Leadership and authority become diluted, spread out over several nations. Note that these ten horns do not grow out of a dead beast, it is still alive. At the time of the end, three of these "kings" will fall before "the little horn" who is dominant in personality, ability, propaganda, and public appeal. We tend to link this person with Antichrist, the Man of Sin who is mentioned in II Thessalonians 2:3-4, and the first beast of Revelation 13:3-6.
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them(7:21).
One day in our future Rome will once again become a worldwide power under the Man of Sin. This verse parallels Revelation 13:7 "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." Some of us may very well become martyrs if we are alive during this future time, so prepare yourselves spiritually!
The Romans were warlike people and most of the European nations since that time have been also. G. K. Chesterton said, "One of the paradoxes of this age is that it is the age of pacificism, but not the age of peace." Go figure. We live in an "enlightened" age people, we are getting better each and every day! Come on, we are basically good deep down inside! Right? Right? Sure. The Bible says, "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape"(I Thessalonians 5:3). Man is a warlike creature.
What is the picture in Europe today? They are amassing themselves economically to compete with the Americans globally. They desire to be number one once more, to regain past glory for themselves. Less than a decade after WW II there was ample evidence that the people there were looking for a strong leader like Hitler or Napolean, who could restore order and bring grandeur and glory and prosperity back to their nations. Less than ten years after all of that destruction and holocaust. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen made this statement: "The Antichrist will come disguised as the great humanitarian. He will talk peace, prosperity, and plenty, not as a means to lead us towards God but as ends in and of themselves. He will explain guilt away psychologically and make men shrink in shame if their fellowmen say they are not broadminded and liberal. He will spread the lie that men will never be better until they make society better." Sound like some people we hear today?
The European Union does not mean that we have reached the end, only that we are getting closer.
Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom(7:22).
This is Christ, He is the only One Who is going to make people better. The saints here are not of the church age since we are in the Old Testament. These are people like the prophets, Noah, Lot, Jacob, and the like.
Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall arise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings(7:23-24).
Here we are finally given direct explanation what the horns represent. Ten kings. Another king will rise up after them and subdue three of them. The eleventh king is the "little horn." He will hit the world stage once he subdues three other world leaders. I am quite sure it will be on CNN and Headline News 24/7. This will be his platform from which to wrest control of the entire world from the nations. His rulership will begin with prosperity for all but end in bloodshed and destruction.
I will stop here, my friends. Have a wonderful Christmas Eve! I can still hear the angelic voices. Until then, stand firm in your faith, be watchful, do not fall asleep spiritually.
Sun, Dec 23rd - 10:23PM
Upon pondering the necessity of bringing prophecy from the book of Daniel into our study of Revelation I have decided to try and lay out the basic train of thought in the passages that pertain to our study. Bear with me, please.
Before we start on this endeavor, let me say that one quarter of the books of the Bible are of a prophetic nature. Eschatological is the term used to describe them, simply being that they are of a prophetic nature. Fully one fifth of scripture was predictive at the time of its writing; a large segment of that has since been fulfilled. So we divide prophecy into fulfilled and unfulfilled prophecy. There is a great deal of fulfilled prophecy in the book of Daniel.
The main subjects of prophecy are Jesus Christ, Israel, the Gentile nations, evil, Satan, the Man of Sin, the Great Tribulation Period, and how this age will end. The church is also a subject of prophecy; but it is never directly mentioned in the Old Testament. There is also the matter of the kingdom, the Millenium, and eternity future. So you can see that there is a broad area of interest to all of us in learning about prophecy.
Perhaps the key verse to the book of Daniel is 2:44: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." Shall we begin?
We begin in chapter 7, it is here that Daniel is first given visions of four beasts. He has visions three more times concerning these beasts; each at a different period of time as we are told in each of the passages.
In chapter 2 Daniel interpreted a dream for Nebuchadnezzar and the metals pictured in that vision's statue correspond to these four beasts.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters(7:1).
The time of the vision is pinpointed historically for us as being in the first year of Belshazzar; toward the end of the time that the "head of gold", or Babylon, was ruling in the world. We can see that Daniel had more than a single vision due to the plural tense of the word.
Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea(7:2).
The sea here refers to the Gentile nations, as we can see in Matthew 13:47, Rev. 13:1, Isaiah 57:20. Normally the wind only blows from one direction at a time, but here we see almost a tornadic violence happening. Four nations are being talked about with the beasts, and the last one would seem to be in a state where several ideologies strive to capture the thinking of the masses of all nations. Many feel that we live during the days of the fourth beast of Daniel.
Humanism today is glorifying mankind everywhere we look. They glorify public officials, stage and screen actors, and atheletes. These are the people who are in control of mass media today. They have made the theater respectable, whereas it was what corrupted the morals of Greece and it is in the process of corrupting our morals today. I think back to when I was a teenager; movie ratings then versus what they are now. It is a joke, and I am not laughing in the least. Our children are slowly but steadily being corrupted by movies and television programs that include mature adult content more and more. We all hear young people talk about their "freedom" but they all have to wear the same pants or shirts or other clothing items as are found across the entire country. They really are enslaved and do not realize it. Fashions enslave people. Music enslaves people. Movies and video games enslave people. They all redirect our attention away from God, which is exactly what Satan wishes us to do.
And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and man's heart was given to it(7:3-4).
Later in this chapter we will be informed that these four beasts are four kings in fact. This lion was quite unusual in that it had eagle's wings. Babylon was able to move its armies quickly to defeat its foes and has been said to be represented by this lion. If we read all of Daniel before reaching this point in the book we would know that Nebuchadnezzar was turned into a beast for a time and then restored to human form and this passage is said to speak to that in the phrase "the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up...and made stand upon the feet as a man." In speaking that a man's heart was given to this lion is implied some sort of conversion experience. This king built the great Hanging Gardens, interior baths, a great library, a three hundred foot high wall around the city, and a postal system. This kingdom is represented by the head of gold on the statue in chapter 2. Gold represents the outward glory of this civilization, the lion depicts the cruel nature of the brutal paganism of the culture within it.
And behold, another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh(7:5).
This bear represents the next kingdom to succeed the Babylonians, the Media-Persian. This corresponds to the silver arms of the statue of chapter 2. The Medes conquered Babylon and then the Persians followed by conquering Egypt and the rest of the known world which had been ruled by Babylon. The three ribs are the three kingdoms that made up this empire: Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt.
The army of the Media-Persians is said to have moved like a lumbering bear-they even took their families along with them.
After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it(7:6).
This beast historically represents the Greek-Macedonian empire of Alexander the Great. The wings suggest the armies had speed of movement and deployment against their foes. This beast also had four heads which depicted what happened to Alexander's empire at the time of his death while still in his early thirties. Following his early death four of his generals divided the empire since none of them could control the whole. The regions that each took control over were: Macedonia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt. It was during this period of history that Palestine endured the greatest suffering at the hands of Egypt and Syria. It fell during the intertestament period, between the Old and New Testaments.
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedinly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beast that were before it; and it had ten horns(7:7).
This is a nondescript beast with ten horns and it represents, historically, the Roman Empire just as does the iron legs of the statue in chapter 2. We will see this explained later on in scripture. This beast is of more importance to us today for we are still living in the time of this beast. Yes, it is true. We still live during the times of the Roman Empire. Now apparantly this beast came during a different vision than the others. Perhaps simply during the same night but separately from the others. This beast has great strength and incites dread and terror. It does not resemble any kingdom before it. Rome incorporated iron into much of its weaponry and so was readily identified by that fact. For a millenium Rome ruled this world outright. They gave the world then what the U.N. is attempting to do now. Now we must remember that the Roman Empire never was conquered, it simply fell apart; it lives on in many nations of Europe, in those that border the Mediterrainean and in North Africa.
This unusual beast had ten horns which correspond to the feet of the statue with ten toes back in chapter 2. Emphasis here is not upon the origin of this empire, but upon the end time-the period of the ten horns.
This vision of the fourth beast is important to us since it is yet unfulfilled. Which brings us finally to why we are considering this prophecy in conjunction with Revelation prophecy. The visions of the first three beasts have all been fulfilled historically, meaning literal fulfillment of prophecy. There remains for the future the time of the "horns." The fourth kingdom of Rome has already appeared (the legs of iron) and though it has fallen apart we are now still under its influence as we are the feet of iron mixed with clay. It will come back together in ten kingdoms in the future.
I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things(7:8).
Please note that these ten horns do not represent a fifth kingdom: they are part of its head. In the statue of chapter 2 the feet are of iron(Rome) but they also include the weakness(clay). We can see that weakness in many of our governments around the world today. Indecisiveness, complacency, immorality, all characterize democracies today.
God's ideal government is not a democracy, my friends, it is a dictatorship with Christ the dictator! When He returns to rule this earth He is not going to ask permission to do anything. He will make His choices and this earth will run accordingly. Why should we be busy conforming ourselves to His image? So that we will not be uncomfortable under His Millenium rule. That is the cold, practical aspect of our obedience, beloved.
Now, Rome fell apart because of internal corruption and drunkenness. Sound familiar? In America we say that drugs are illegal and yet alcohol is legal? Who are we kidding? Alcohol is a drug and ought to be illegal along with all of the others. Getting back on topic we note that the relationship of Rome to the immigrating nations was that Rome's daughters intermarried with the ruling families of those nations; the Roman kingdom continued on in a new form. Charlemagne, German Emperor Otho II, and the Russain Grand Prince Vladimir all were descended from Roman families.
"Another little horn" becomes the key to this entire situation. He uproots three of these horns and establishes himself over them all. Who these ten kingdoms are is unknown but they will come from the original Roman Empire. The eyes signify human intelligence and knowledge. The mouth speaking great things denotes blasphemy of his words.
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire(7:9).
This takes us back to Revelation 4 & 5. The same scene being described slightly differently. "Wheels as burning fire" comes from Ezekiel 1:13-21 and speaks of God's power, energy, and relentless pursuit of perfection and purity of mankind.
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands minstered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened(7:10).
This not the Great White Throne judgment but rather it is the setting for the judgment of the Great Tribulation and the return of Christ to rule over His millennial kingdom here on earth(Revelation 5:11-14).
I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame(7:11).
While God is in heaven directing historical events during the tribulation period, the "little horn" is down here on earth blaspheming and boasting which we will see more of when we get to Revelation chapter 13. The little horn's kingdom is short and doomed, appearing shortly before Christ returns to judge living nations and individuals.
As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time(7:12).
It would seem that although each of the three previous empires have passed, their ideology/philosophy have lived on. Our own world is still influenced by Greek philosophy, Persian culture, Median laws.
I think that I will stop here for tonight, beloved. We have covered alot of material and need to break for rest. Next time we shall see the defintions of the four beasts as given to Daniel. Until then, glory in celebrating the birth date of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Pay homage to our King. Thank Him for giving us His perfect Word!
Sat, Dec 22nd - 9:48PM
Beloved, in speaking about the mystery of God one needs to review what the meaning of "mystery" is. A "mystery" in scripture is a previously hidden truth now divinely revealed to us; but in which a supernatural element still remains.
With that being said, let's list the many mysteries that are found in the bible:
(1) Mystery of the Kingdom of heaven(Matthew 13:3-50)
(2) Mystery of Israel's blindness during this present age(Romans 11:25).
(3) Mystery of the translation of living saints at the end of this age(I Cor. 15:51,52; I Thess. 4:14-17).
(4) Mystery of the church as composed of Jew and Gentile(Eph. 3:1-11; 6:19; Romans 16:25; Colossians 4:3).
(5) Mystery of the church as the bride of Christ(Eph. 5:28-32).
(6) Mystery of the inliving of Christ(Gal. 2:20; Colossians 1:26-27).
(7) Mystery of Christ as the incarnate fullness of the Godhead(Col. 2:29; I Cor. 2:7).
(8) Mystery of the process by which godliness is restored to man(I Timothy 3:16).
(9) Mystery of iniquity(II Thess. 2:7; Matt. 13:33).
(10) Mystery of the seven stars(Rev. 1:20).
(11) Mystery of Babylon(Rev. 17:5,7).
Of course, the ultimate mystery of God is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Now that that is out of the way, let's delve back into Revelation chapter 10:
And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter(10:8-10).
John hears another voice from heaven which evidently is the same voice that he heard in 4:1. John is commanded to go and take the book from this mighty angel. This is the third time that we are reminded that this mighty angel stands upon the sea and the earth. Sea is mentioned before earth which is opposite of the normal order of these two in this book. Whatever that significance, John is giving us a symbol of complete authority over the entire earth. Note that John is no longer up in heaven as he must take the little book from the angel who obviously is on earth. The apostle has become a part of this great drama which is unfolding before us. He is commanded to do a very strange thing, but one that has a very typical meaning. He must eat the little book which becomes bittersweet. Eating the little book refers us to the receiving of God's Word with faith. We recall from in Jeremiah: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts"(15:16). Ezekiel did the same thing: "Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness"(3:1-3). This roll in Ezekiel is not a bread roll but the scroll of that day. In Psalm 119:103 we see: "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth."
The part of God's Word eaten by John must have been judgment. It is sweet to know what God is going to do, but when you find out that judgment is coming, it is quite bitter. We can say that the book of Revelation is sweet to taste but then once we understand the kinds of judgment that are coming soon to the Christ-rejecting world, we cannot rejoice in that. It becomes bitter in our stomachs.
There can be another very real application of this. Many people begin studying prophecy with much enthusiasm, then when they find that it is applicable to their life and makes demands upon them personally, they quickly lose all interest. It has become "bitter." There is perhaps nothing in God's Word that ministers more to a holy life than thoughtful study of prophecy. To be a student of prophecy and still live a dirty life will only lead to abnormality. Hearing about so much abnormality in interpretation of prophecy is that the Word of God is not having its way in the hearts and lives of the people who study it. People are interested in prophecy but not in living pure, and holy lives before Christ. More people are interested in Antichrist than in Christ I fear.
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings(10:11).
If the little book is indeed a symbol of the Word of God, then here in these verses it is being delivered to mankind. In this last verse John is commanded to go and speak these things to many more individuals once more. People needed to learn of what was coming in the future back in John's day in order that they might make an informed choice concerning Christ. It has not changed in our day. John was saddened by the fact that he must go and prophesy against many before Christ his Lord returned again. It ought to sadden us as well, my friends.
THE TWO WITNESSES AND THE SEVENTH TRUMPET
We have come to chapter eleven where we will see that through the first fourteen verses we are still in this interlude between the sixth and the seventh trumpets. We will learn that 42 months remain of the Times of the Gentiles and that two Witnesses will preach during the entire time. We are also brought back to Old Testament ground. The temple, the dealing with time periods, and the distinction that will be made between Jew and Gentiles all indicate the shift back to this time.
As has been the case so far, we continue to take a literal reading of these verses whenever possible.
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months(11:1-2).
We are dealing with the period of time that Christ spoke of in Luke 21:24, "...and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Today we see Jerusalem still being trodden down by the Gentiles, it is not totally under Jewish rule.
When we see the beginning of measurements, it indicates that God is beginning to deal with the nation Israel (see Jer. 31:38-39; Zech. 2). In Psalm 2:9 we can see that a rod is used for chastisement and judgment: "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." The rod is also a picture for us of comfort from Psalm 23:4. We have both judgment and solace in this chapter.
A number of questions can be asked concerning this symbolic picture. In Zechariah 2 a man is seen measuring Jerusalem. In Ezekiel 40 the Temple of the future kingdom is carefully measured with a reed. Again in Revelation 21 the new Jerusalem is measured. The act of measuring seems to indicate that the area belongs to God in some special way, it becomes His property.
Notice that the measuring is limited to the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. This picture places us back in the Old Testament for the church today has no temple building as such. Rather, we are a temple of the Holy Spirit; that is, saints are the temple where the Holy Spirit lives(Ephesians 2:21-22).
Apparantly the Temple is that which will be physically in existence during the tribualtion. The Jews will reconstruct the Temple in order for their worship and the renewal of sacrifices at the altars. This is indicated by the fact that we are going to be told later on that the world ruler will desecrate it and make it his home. John was to measure the worshippers also, which indicates that God is judging our worship and our character. The fact that everything outside of the temple proper is excluded from measurement seems to indicate that the cross of Christ is still outside of the temple and is available to mankind all during this intense period of time. His cross is pictured in the brazen altar and since it was outside of the temple proper it could be concluded that His gospel message of redemption through His shed blood is not removed from the world yet.
The 42 months that this is given over to the Gentiles is quite familiar with the 3.5 year period or half of the seven year period predicted by Daniel (Daniel 9:27). This exact same time frame is repeated in Rev. 13:5. In Rev. 12:14 we see it spoken of in a more abstract way, "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent."
Commentators have differed as to whether the 42 months are the first half or the second half of the seven years. On the basis of direct evidence it is not possible to be dogmatic. If we take the position that Revelation is primarily concerned with the last half of Daniel's seventieth week, we then gain weight to the conclusion that this is the last 42 months of the Tribulation Period. If there is some confusion over following this position I will come back to it again later on and attempt to spread it out as plainly as I can.
Well, let's stop there for now. Any of you just joining in this study might want to take the time and go to my posted messages that cover the Tabernacle and how it relates to our Christian lives today. It will give you more background information and help with understanding. I may begin a different blog that deals with the prophecies of Daniel this weekend, depending upon available time. Keep me in prayer!
Until next time, remember that the King is coming, His face I now can see. The King is coming, and thank God He is coming for me! Sorry, but I did watch some Gaither Vocal Band shows today and the lyrics have stuck in my mind. Mercy, grace, and peace be with you all as we head into this Christmas weekend!
P.S. If you are following along with this study and do not want to go into Daniel at this time, please skip ahead to December 31st where you can pick up the study on Revelation.
Fri, Dec 21st - 2:31PM
THE MIGHTY ANGEL WITH THE LITTLE BOOK
This chapter is a breather between the sixth and the seventh trumpets. It does not advance the narrative but it does provide other facts to help us with the prophetic scene. Between the sixth and seventh seals two groups of people were redeemed and sealed; here we are introduced to three personalities.
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thuders uttered their voices.
And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not(10:1-4).
A personage is introduced to us in verse one. He is described as "another mighty angel." The Greek word allon ordinarily means "another of the same kind," so this tells us that this angel is like the others before him in nature. Not like those that were bound in the Euphrates, but rather those from earlier in Revelation, the ones sounding the trumpets, etc., etc.. It would seem that this angel is not the sixth angel mentioned in 9:13, nor the one which sounds the seventh trumpet in 11:15. Since no clear identification is made within the verse we are left with trying to determine the character of this angel by what follows within this passage.
Some very fine commentators of God's Word take the position that this personage is none other than Christ Himself. Verse one terminology would seemingly support their position as we see "clothed in cloud" and "rainbow" and "face as it were the sun" and of course, "feet as pillars of fire." At face value, only considering this verse against what we know about God, it is easy to conclude this.
There is, however, ample evidence to show that this angel is only another mighty angel. Christ does not appear in Revelation as an angel. Yes, back in the Old Testament Christ frequently appeared as the Angel of Jehovah, the first instance of this being in Genesis 16:7-10, where the Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar. He also appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18, Abraham addressing Him as "My Lord" and bowing down before Him. He always appeared as the Preincarnate Christ and we can decide when that is by checking carefully what the Angel of the Lord said to the person concerning where they stood. If the angel said to take off your sandals because you stand upon holy ground, they were in the presence of God. If the angel told the person to not bow down to him then it was just an angel. Once Christ came and clothed Himself in our flesh, died and rose again, He had a glorified body and claimed His position of power and authority at the righthand of God the Father. He no longer shows Himself as an Angel of the Lord, but as the Lamb of God.
This mighty angel is "clothed with a cloud." The clouds of glory are associated with Christ in His second coming, but this angel is described here as being clothed in cloud. In addition, this is not the second coming of Christ; this is an angel making an announcement that Christ is coming soon. Did not angels announce His first coming? They will announce His second coming also.
"And the rainbow was upon his head." This is a reminder of God's covenant with mankind. He will not send a flood to destroy man again. God keeps His word. We also see a description of his face. Just because this is the signature of the glorified Christ(Rev. 1:16) it does not follow that this angel must therefore be the Son of God. Moses' face shone after he had been in the presence of God(Exodus 34:29). Did not the clothing of the angels at the resurrection of Christ also shine radiantly(Luke 24:4)? His feet are like pillars of fire, his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the earth. A very dramatic picture of authority and power demonstrated over the entire earth. There is no clear evidence that this angel's function or his person is more than that of a created angel to whom has been entrusted great power and authority.
Now we come in verse two to a little book that some try to explain as being the same as the seven-sealed book from earlier. Dr. J. Vernon McGee felt that they were one and the same. That God gave the sealed book to Christ, who after opening up the seals then gives it to this mighty angel, who then gives it to John. He felt that this book was in essence the title deed to all of the earth and its inhabitants. I cannot agree with Dr. McGee on this point. For one thing, different Greek words are used for the sealed book and for this little book. Biblion is used for the seven-sealed book/scroll and biblaridion is used for this little book, which is a diminutive form of the former word. This indicates a difference in size and would so imply that they are two totally different books. I also wonder why Christ would give up something that only He could open and look upon(5:3). It would be inconsistent with scripture in general.
What are the contents of this little book? Nowhere in Revelation is this revealed, but they seem to at least represent in this vision the written authority given to the angel to fulfill his mission. As John gazes upon this vision the angel cries with an extremely loud voice and there is an answer that comes from thunder. That this is the very voice of Jehovah can be shown by rechecking Psalm 29:3 and Job 37:5. In fact, in Psalm 29 "the voice of the Lord" occurs seven times.
As always, we need to study these things carefully to find out what they mean instead of trying to fit them into some system of prophecy. We shouldn't be like some lady who goes to the shoe store, and when asked what size shoe she wears, she replies, "I can get a size four on, but really five is my size, but since size six feels so good on my feet, I always buy a six!" That might be funny for sure, but we ought not to attempt the same practise with prophecy in the Bible. Let John mean what he is saying here through the Holy Spirit's guidance. These seven thunders are the voice of God, confirming what this angel has just said.
Were these thunderings unintelligible? It would seem not, since John was getting ready to write down what had been said. John had been previously instructed to write down what he heard and saw but at this point God prohibits John from relating to anyone else what he had just heard. It is a mystery to this very day what he had heard. He never told anyone, he was true to God right up to his death. This also reminds us that even though God is revealing future history for us He reserves some secrets to Himself. Revelation does not reveal all truth to us as some people try to claim that it does. Our minds are not like God's mind and we must never forget that fact either.
A final note, it is quite revealing that John never falls upon his face in the presence of this mighty angel. He did fall down back in the opening chapter of Revelation but does not do so here which says that he knew that this was just an angel.
And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
And swate by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets(10:5-7).
Another indication that this angel is not Christ is the fact that he swears by God, takes an oath by the eternal Creator. This angel is swearing by another, not by himself as God did according to Hebrews 6:13, "For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself."
In verse seven we see reference to the seventh trumpet call. We also see at the end of verse six a phrase that tells us that no more delay in time should occur. Here chronos would appear to mean that time has run out, that there will be no further delay. The end is now at hand. Even in eternity there will be a time relationship in that one event will follow another.
There is a mystery concerning the nation Israel, judgment, suffering, injustice, the silence of God, and the coming kingdom. Why did God permit evil, and why has He tolerated it for so long? All of these are part of the mystery of God. Men may give out their answers to all of the above questions but God has not given out His answer as of yet. Some things have been sealed against us and we must wait until we enter into His presence to be given the answers. I can confidently say this: although I do not personally know the answer to your particular problem today, I do know the One who does. I suggest that you put your hand into the hand of Christ and allow Him to lead you on your way.
Let's stop there for today, beloved. There is much to the mystery of God and I hope to finish speaking on that topic next time. Until then, mercy, grace and peace be with you all.
Thu, Dec 20th - 12:19PM
Beloved, we will begin today with verse 15:
And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
This expression "an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year" designates not the duration of this activity but tells us the fact that this judgment has been predestinated and begins exactly at the hour that God has appointed. Again, we see evidence that God is in control of everything. At the sounding of this sixth trumpet these four unleashed angels will slaughter one third of the people remaining upon the earth. What are talking about in terms of today's world population? Probably in the realm of a billion people who will die. Earlier in the fourth seal, one quarter of the population was killed. These two judgments account for roughly half of the world's population alone. Not since the time of Noah has such catastrophic loss of life happened. Is it any wonder at all that Jesus said in Matthew 24:22, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved...?"
And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt(9:16-19).
How do those four angels slay one third of the people? With an army of two hundred million horsemen, that's how. We can think that this is an innumerable army since "ten thousand times ten thousand," often is used in such manner. Some might say that due to its immense size we cannot think that it is a literal army being spoken of here. Perhaps. We should, however, consider where the four angels had been bound. The Euphates River long has been thought of as the meeting place of East and West. If we glance to the East what do we find? We find India, China, and Japan. The combination of these three nations could easily place an army of such proportions on the map today. Up until this point in our history we have not had a true "World War" but that is what is going to happen during the Tribulation Period. Will these horsemen be merely human beings? Probably, but nothing is stated to prevent the liklihood of them being demon possessed individuals. That is speculation on my part, and I state it as such.
Whether the army is thought of to be the literal number mentioned or not, it is quite clear that this is a massive force militarily. John gives us a graphic description of the horses and their riders. Some interpret the description as John's understanding of a scene in which modern warfare is underway. The description of the horses's heads are also comparable to modern mechanical warfare. In verse 19 we see that they have power in their mouths and in their tails. We can only speculate on this if we think in terms of symbols. Is John describing nuclear missiles? Are these actually tanks? I do not know for sure, but I still prefer to stand on a literal reading of these verses. We know that we are being given an awesome picture of an almost invincible army destroying all in its path. The animals mentioned are all representative of deadly warfare. We have already seen these animals used as comparisons when used in earlier descriptions.
I think that we need to restrain ourselves from coloring this vision with our current day military components in various nations around the world. Notice that the colors are as striking as the horsemen are unnatural. "Fire" is bright red; "jacinth" is a dull, dark blue; "brimtone" is light yellow. The horse is the animal of war(Job 39:19-25). Since the abyss is open, it would be strange if no demons enter earth through its opening. This book is only impossible to believe if the one who is reading it refuses to simply believe what is read. Hellish forces will be at work during this entire period of time, demonic activitiy will be escalating the entire time, Satan will be loose doing what he will.
These are plagues that have been described in these verses. We must not forget that point for it continues the woes of the earth that were begun earlier. We have fire, smoke, and brimstone. Sodom and Gomorrah experienced the same judgment and for the same vices that we see all around the globe today. In America alone we see that homosexuality is an aceepted life-style, just as it was back in Sodom and Gomorrah's day. God put them out of business back then, and He will do so in the future. God will not allow mankind to go into eternity an unnatural creature.
And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they whould not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts(9:20-21).
"Sorceries" is the Greek word pharmakeion, from which we get our English word pharmacy. What do we get from our pharmacy? Why, drugs of course! Drug usage during this time will be rampant, out of control. Why are drugs used? As a form of escape from problems, stress, abuse. People will turn more and more to drug use to cope with what is happening all around them, and to them. Rather than face these problems and deal with the real issue at hand, people will refuse to cope and repent. Stimulants, hallucinagenics, painkillers, anything and everything conceivable will be used. Today people use drugs to heighten their sexual experiences, to make them more intense. Imagine what will be happening in the future. I am not going to comment overly much here on the state of our society, merely point you to stop and consider all that is being pushed upon all of us as being "normal" or "acceptable."
The most incredible thing in all of this is that the hearts of the people are hardened and they refuse to repent of their ways! After experiencing all of these plagues people still deny Christ. Unimaginable! II Thessalonians 2:11-12 speaks of this very thing. The moment that we reject the gospel and shut our heart to God, we are wide open for the big lie when it comes along. Someone has said that those who stand for nothing will fall for anything. What do you stand for? Is it working for you?
Beloved, next time I will begin looking into chapter 10. Until then, be sure of what you stand for. Have conviction in what you stand for. Be zealous in telling others of your conviction in what you stand for. Be ready, dear ones. The time continues to draw ever nearer, the time when judgment begins on this present world system.
Wed, Dec 19th - 1:31PM
The Locusts Described
And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon(9:7-11).
Locusts that are like horses? This not a farfetched idea, since the name of the locust in German is Heupferd, hay-horse; in Italian it is cavaletta, or little horse. So you see, this picture is quite within human reason. But they are not ordinary locusts, they are named as such because of their function as a judgment and plague from God. They may be larger than ordinary locusts but need not be. Their heads have some sort of protuberances that resemble crowns of gold. Notice it does not say that they wore actual crowns of gold! The same is said of their faces. As the faces of men. Insects in our world have all sorts of mimicking included within their coloration and body parts so why not with these critters? Ordinarily crowns of gold equate to victory, but here they are simply decoration or a headdress. Their hair is as the hair of women. Again, we are seeing similes and comparisons being made. Teeth as the teeth of lions. We ought to note that we are not told what these locusts eat, other than not vegetation. I think that we are being given a depiction of the incredibly fearful character of these creatures that come flying from out of the smoke billowing from out of the opening to the abyss. Perhaps we are being given an unmasking of the true nature of Satan and evil?
Verse 9 describes them as being armored like with iron. This tells us that they are quite immune to destruction by man. Their wings give off a peculiar sound, just as do the ordinary ones in our world today. Locusts today sound like falling rain as the entire swarm moves along. These peculiar locusts that we see will sound like horse pulled chariots running into battle. To me that implies that the sound will be immensely louder than what we hear with ordinary locusts. Perhaps it will be deafening to the ear? Some people attempt to interpret these verses into meaning airplanes and missiles. Nuclear warfare. I think it much more consistent to take the literal interpretation and stand on firm ground. Are demons possessing these insects? Again, we are not expressly told that this is the case and so we can only speculate.
Particular attention is paid to their tails. It would appear that they will have tails like scorpion's tails. That tells me that they will have a stinger similar to a scorpion's but not exactly the same. Men are going to be stung multiple times by these creatures over the course of five months. I picture men having their bodies covered by stingmarks, each throbbing with pain and torment. How wicked could this be? Imagine seeing these things flying and jumping about, looking for people to sting repeatedly. Gooseflesh goes up my back just thinking about it.
In verse eleven we become certain that these are not ordinary locusts for they have a king over them, the angel of the abyss. Who is this angel? At this point we reach a crossroads of sorts. Is the angel of the abyss Satan, who opened up the abyss? Or is this angel one of the fallen angels who operate under Satan? The Hebrew name "Abaddon" means "destruction/ruin;" and the Greek name "Apollyon" means "destroyer." Based upon position within this and previous passages, it could be argued that Satan couldn't be this angel since he opened the abyss and the implication here is that the locusts have a king ruling over them who logically would be among them. Of course, one can also easily argue that it could be Satan since he does cause destruction and ruin of lives. No clear meaning is given to us beyond what is expressed in these verses.
One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates(9:12-14).
At the end of the five months of locust stings we see that another woe swiftly comes from heaven. The word woe refers in scripture to some sort of calamity, usually a judgment from God. The tribulation period unmasks human wickedness and also demonstrates the true nature of Satan. In today's world, where Satan is restrained by the Holy Spirit's presence, it is very easy to forget that a great conflict is raging between the forces of God and the forces of Satan which is referred to in Ephesians 6:12. During this part of the tribulation period the full character of Satan will be visible to all. No longer will he disguise himself in light. Will people come under demonic possession and affliction? Perhaps they will since the abyss is now open. It is crucial for us to be sure of our deliverance from the power of Satan, that deliverance coming from salvation in Christ and the delivering power of God Almighty.
When the sixth angel blew his trumpet, a command issues from the gold altar. This altar is just like what was in the Tabernacle in the desert. It signified prayer(see Rev. 8:3). The command is to loose the four angels that are bound, the voice is that of Christ. Evidently these four angels are fallen, evil angels who followed Satan. They are bound, or chained, in the Euphates River. These four were bound separately from all of the others for some reason. The magnitude of their crimes against God? Or did God simply bind them here for this specific point in time?
Why are they bound at this geographical location? This area's significance in scripture is quite evident. Here is where the Garden of Eden is, here is where the sin of man began, here is where the first murder happened, here is where the first war happened, here is where the Flood began, here is where the Tower of Babel was built. Now, here is where the final tidalwave of sin is unleashed. Obviously these cannot be the same four angels mentioned in chapter 7 who are still holding the four winds of the earth until the 144,000 of Israel are sealed. Jude 6 speaks of the wicked angels being bound. Thus, we can conclude that He is going to use these wicked angels in His plan. We always need to remember that Christ is in absolute control of everything, even the activities of wicked angels. All is used to create good in our lives.
Let's stop right here for today, beloved. Next time we will see what the purpose of these four angels is. Until then, remain true to the new covenant that Christ gave to each of us. May His mercy, grace, and peace be with each of you this day.
Tue, Dec 18th - 1:25PM
THE FIFTH TRUMPET SOUNDS
And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit(9:2).
This bottomless pit is pictured as a great cistern that has a narrow opening and a long throat that leads down into the center of the earth. The smoke is going to spew out of this opening and obliterate the sun from shining. Whereas verse one records the giving of the key, verse two records the use of the key. Perhaps it will be like an actual eruption, visible and audible from near and far. People will stop in the middle of whatever they might be attempting to do at this moment in time and turn to look at what is happening next. We are given a picture of pollution, the corruption of the air that we breathe. It also speaks of the impending spiritual corruption that is to follow. It represents this judgment as one of demonic and satanic oppression unleashed. There are not many chains holding back demonic activity at this point.
And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them(9:3-6).
John uses symbolic language here which describes creatures so frightening that this apparantly is the only way he could speak of them. These are locusts, but they are a very unusual type. These are not natural, or common, locusts for these reasons:
(1) they eat no vegetation at all.
(2) these insects have a king.
(3) Exodus 10:14 says that those locusts of that plague are not like these.
(4) these resemble literal animals.
The locusts come out of the smoke that issues from the opening to the bottomless pit/abyss. We are not explicitly told how these locusts strike men with this torment, it might be like a scorpion, or it might not. We have to wait to later passages to get more information about this aspect of these locusts. We can know that this is a plague of locusts, and the duration of five months is very similar to the duration of the natural hordes of locusts in the Middle East.
Some people try to say that Christ is the "star" that fell to earth and had the key to open the abyss. It does not consistently line up with all of the scriptures though. Much better, Satan is the star and he is given the authority to open up the abyss where his demons reside. Perhaps this is also where all dead persons end up, we can't be absolutely sure of that premise. Satan chooses to loose these locust-like beasts and God commands them. Remember, Christ is always in control of events. God obviously commands them in verse 4, for why would Satan limit their boundaries? Any saints, or servants of God, will not be attacked; this judgment is only for those people who have rejected God and His Son.
These locusts are not representative of heretics, or Goths, or Mohammedans, or the priestly orders, or the Jesuits, or Protestants, or Saracens, or Turks, but they most certainly are inhabitants of the abyss. So, Satan releases the locusts, God commands them, and unrepentant sinners are the targets of this judgment.
In the Old Testament locusts were a greatly feared thing since they could strip the landscape of every green leaf and sprout, leaving nothing for food. God has in the past used locusts as a divine judgment upon a wicked world. Moses called for the locust plague in Exodus 10:12-20 and Joel 1:4-7 reports a similar plague of locusts. The locusts here in chapter 9 have the ability to sting like scorpions, inflicting pain and torment. Sometimes natural scorpions cause death in those whom they sting. Not the case here with these locusts. They cannot kill anyone, only inflict torment which will make men stung sorely wish that they could die and so end their torment and pain from these stings. But they cannot die. Death is not an option during this judgment, my friends. God will not allow any of these rejectors of Him a loophole for escape. They must endure five long months of agonizing torment. A God of love? It is no laughing matter to reject Christ Jesus; it is not a simple thing to ignore Jehovah. Out of all of the important things of this world I say that the most important thing is your decison concerning Jesus Christ. What do you do as soon as you wake up each morning? Yeah, that's what I am talking about. I am as guilty as the next person in not consistently beginning my days with Christ, in prayer. It is important beyond any measure.
The five months are a literal period of time. They are not five months of years which add up to 150 years and wait, oh, yes, they apply to this point in our past history. No. Anyone can then put their own personal, private, interpretation on it. Likewise, we cannot take the view that the word "kill" means the security of the church is to be tested. Literal death is meant here, since in verse 6 men seek to die and cannot do so. We can't say the killing of men should be refering to their death as a political body in verse 5 and their desiring to die in verse 6 is meaning something totally different. That is not being consistent.
Perhaps demons possess these locusts, it is not recorded one way or the other here. We can't know such things with these passages. In Daniel 9 the prophecy is obviously prophetic years and not literal, for it says as much. Here we are not so instructed to read any such meaning into it. If the days were not shortened then no one would survive...I think that there might be some consistency right there!
I will stop here, beloved. Next time I will speak of the appearance of these locusts. It is frightful! Until then, give God all of the praise, honor and glory that He so richly deserves!
Mon, Dec 17th - 11:06PM
Tonight we pick up our study with the fourth trumpet sounding:
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!(8:112-13)
Here we see one more part of the creation being impacted; a part which we depend upon. The first three judgements had to do with land, sea, and fresh water. This judgment relates to the heavens above us. As John is seeing it unfold before him, he sees a third of the sun, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars darkened. The symbolic interpretation of verse 12 would regard this as presaging a disruption of human government and society covering one third of the earth. Again, a literal reading of this verse is much more consistent with what has already happened.
This is not an event where a third of the sun is dark while the remainder is not for we see at the end of verse 12 that one third of the entire day will be dark. Will this be similar to an eclipse, or will it be more like the day of Christ's crucifixion? Night will be the same way, one third of the night will have absolutely no stars or moon shining in the sky, which would be sensible since if the sun experiences darkness so too will the moon which reflects the sun's light back to us on earth. The more shocking fact will be not being able to see any stars for a portion of the night even though it will be clear skies.
We are being given facts here, the laws of nature are going to be radically changed by these disturbances. Dependable assumptions will no longer be dependable. Man's faith in the natural order will be rocked to its foundations. Back in Genesis God created the greater and lesser lights for a reason, and in Matthew 24:29 Jesus Christ said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."
Now we are told by an angel that there are three more trumpets to sound judgments upon our earth, and we could reasonably assume that the first four judgments were to prepare the way for the remaining three. All of the remaining inhabitants of earth are being warned of what is to come. These judgments confirm the predictions of Christ and the Old Testament prophets of the coming time of tribulation that is far worse than anything that mankind has ever witnessed in history.
As I have noted earlier, the first four trumpets dealt with different parts of our natural world which we pretty much take for granted. We do not pay much attention to them on a daily basis, especially if we live in a metropolitan center. All of these various parts of nature are blessings given to us by God, and now He systematically begins taking them away.
The heavens typically represent God's power, sovereignty, and wisdom. In Psalm 19 it is declared, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge." These aspects of nature which are essential to human life and our existence is referred to by Paul in Romans 1:20 as manifesting God in His eternal power. The prophet Jeremiah spoke of the sun and moon as tokens of God's faithfulness to His promise to the nation of Israel and as symbols of their coninuance as long as the earth endures(Jeremiah 31:35-36). Though it is very difficult in this day of grace to imagine such catestrophic judgments, the Word of God is quite plain, and people are called to turn to God's grace before it is too late.
The fifth and sixth trumpets.
In chapter nine of Revelation it could be said that we come to a section of scripture that is weird and wild; it boggles our mind as we read through this chapter. Here we could easily give in to temptation and start chasing all sorts of interpretations of what is said. Instead, let's try and keep our feet on the path so that we can make some sense of all of the verses. If you are a child of God and believe that the rapture of the saints in the church happens long before all of this, then what have you to be fearful of? On the other hand, if you are a child of God and believe that the rapture does not happen until after all of this, then what do you have to be fearful of? You are God's own child, He will keep you throughout all of it and bring you home to heaven at the appointed time. If Christ was faithful even unto death on the cross, should we be any less faithful to Him? No, we should be obedient and faithful even if it means we become martyrs. The time could very well be on our horizon, beloved, when this becomes living fact.
Now these woes mark the deepest darkness and the most painful intensity of the Great Tribulation Period. Most people place this period of time with the last three and one-half years of the Seventieth Week of Daniel. No blacker days will ever happen in human history.
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit(9:1).
John sees this star fall to earth. Previously in connection with the sixth seal and the fourth trumpet we saw unusual distrubances in the starry skies over earth. In chapter 6, the stars fall even as a fig tree drops her immature figs, and heaven itself departs as a scroll. In chapter 8, a great star falls and poisons the fresh waters. All of these probably are material stars or asteroids or comets, and are physical judgments upon the earth.
This star mentioned in this chapter, however, seems to be quite different in nature. It seems to refer to a person rather than a literal star or meteor. The word fall is in the perfect tense which signifies completed action. The person referred to as the star is given the key of the bottomless pit, or the abyss. No explanation is given within the passage concerning the identity of this person, but this could very well be the aftermath of what is spoken of in Revelation 12:7-9, where the devil is cast out of heaven to the earth. The pronoun "him" is used to indicate a male personnage. So we are given a clue as to how to interpret the picture before us. Whoever this "him" is, he has the key to unlock the abyss.
If this is Satan, then God terminates his ability to accuse the saints in heaven as he has been doing throughout this age and ages past. Here the star is seen as falling from outer space, into the atmosphere, and then to the earth. No record is given here of the fall itself. We must find that elsewhere in scripture. In speaking of a key, we need to remember that this represents authority and power. This was not something that he takes but rather it is given to him by God for a time. You see, God is the one in control.
If we believe that this star is, in fact, Satan then we need to find some supporting evidence in scripture. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!"(Isa. 14:12) In Lukes Gospel we can read: "And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lighning fall from heaven"(Luke 10:18).
That would look like a falling star, you see. Paul writes: "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light"(II Corinthians 11:14). These verses give us evidence that Satan probably is the one pictured here. John himself will later on in Revelation state that Satan was put out of heaven.
The bottomless pit comes from the word in Greek, abyssos, which literally means abyss. Whether or not the abyss and hades are synonymous terms is up for debate, but the abyss and hell are not the same. Before this point Christ held the key to the abyss(Rev. 1:18). Peter tells us that the demons are imprisoned there (II Peter 2:4). In Luke 8:30-31 we read: "And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he wuld not command them to go out into the deep(abyss)."
We have to assume that the abyss is a very literal place. We cannot entertain the thought that heaven and hell are mythological and that heaven is a beautiful island somewhere, hanging out in space, for that is not the teaching within God's Word. God's Word teaches that heaven is as literal a place as where you live today and that hell is equally as real as the place where you now live.
Authority is given to Satan then, and he has a freedom that he never had before. That ought to send shivers up our spines, as bad as things can be in our present world it will be incredibly worse at this point in history.
Let's stop there for today, my friends. Next time we will find out what Satan will do with this new authority given to him. Until then, do not think that you can be an island unto yourself, isolated from everyone else. Christ never meant for you to go it alone as a saint, He desires you to gather together and encourage one another. Be accountable to one another, to be watchful and aware of traps and snares that litter our paths each and every day. We need people who are willing to be watchmen, up on the ramparts of our families and of our church congregations. Up there on the lookout for our common enemy who is prowling about as a ravening lion, searching for those whom he can devour. Are you being a watchman? Are you awake and searching the horizon for Satan, alerting your brothers and sisters in Christ whenever you detect moments of temptation entering into the gathering of saints? Are you being your brother's keeper? I really hope so. We all need to constantly work on that one. We all need some Mizpah in our lives, just like Jacob and Laban.
Sun, Dec 16th - 5:28PM
A professional Christian counselor once shared this defintion of forgiveness: "Forgiveness is one person's willingness to bear the consequences of another person's sin."
Verbs, said Mr. Gundlach (my junior highschool English teacher), are action words. The verb in that sentence is "bear." To bear is to carry a burden, in this instance for someone else. The physical picture is that of one person carrying a load for someone else.
There are all sorts of circumstances in which we bear someone else's burden. Sometimes we do it purely for love--at least, I assume theere are still books to carry and pretty girls to carry them for. Sometimes out of a brotherly love known as team spirit--we cover for one of our teammates, bearing his or her workload for a while. Some times we do it out of a sense of obligation, grumbling all the way. Sometimes it may even be compelled. The greatest joy lies, no doubt, in doing it for love.
We may do it for love, but it also has a purpose. Sometimes it's just to show that love (carrying the books), but occasionally it's because of injury. If the one you love has been injured, even ordinary burdens can become too much to bear. If she's on crutches, he's carrying the skis.
God did that for us at Calvary's Cross. Just when we were so wounded that we could not bear the burden of our sins, He came. He took that burden from us, and bore it for us. In this we have forgiveness, for God bore the burden we could not. He is willing to bear the consequences of my sin--all the way to the Cross.
He asks us in Communion to remember this sacrifice, this bearing of our burdens. May I ask you to remember not only the sacrifice but the way in which it was made? Jesus did not forgive us in word only, saying "I forgive you--but you still have to pay what you owe." No, He did not forgive grudgingly, but joyfully. He did so in true love.
Think, then, how often our forgiveness falls short. How often we forgive in word only, saying (with an exasperated sigh), "I forgive you--but if it ever happens again, you can bet I won't forget this." How often we forgive only under the compulsion of circumstance, doing it grudgingly. Consider our Lord's example on the Cross, and ask yourself, "Do I forgive like He did?"
Jesus Christ is our supreme example. He forgave us at the greatest cost any human could pay--His very life. He did so willingly and completely. As you remember today that sacrifice, examine yourself and see: Do I "go and do likewise?"
Fri, Dec 14th - 1:30PM
Beloved, we have come to the first trumpet:
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up(8:7).
Here we see a direct judgment from God upon the earth. We are looking at literal hail and fire mingled with blood falling from heaven. Imagine what the earth's landscape will look like after this judgment is finished. No green grass anywhere, one out of every three trees will be ashes. A tremendous impact will be felt by people everywhere on earth. People will be dazed, confused, scared. We must stay away from the tendency to read this as meaning only some sort of divine chastening; this is literal any way you wish to read it. I wonder what the sound of this hail will be like as it falls through the skies above. What will the impacts sound and feel like as the hail strikes the earth?
Plant life was the first to be created and it is to be the first to begin to be destroyed in the end of days. The obvious parallel that leaps to mind is found in the tenth plague in Exodus 9:18-26. Since the account there was literal hail and fire, we ought to believe that the Revelation account is literally hail and fire also. One problem that seems to remain is the meaning of the term "blood." We can turn once more to the plagues of Egypt for some help. According to Exodus 9:19, 25 the hail destroyed plant life and also men and beasts resulting in bloodshed; perhaps the event in Revelation is similar and has mingled this blood with the hail and fire. This is guesswork and not doctrine. One thing that is not guesswork is whether we ought to waste our time trying to determine what one third of the world is going to get torched at this time. Scripture does not indicate a literal chunk of land is to be burnt up, just that one third of all trees will be destroyed and all of the green grass. We cannot point and say that Europe is going to be torched and no one else, for example.
As in the case of the seals, the first four trumpets seem to form a unit in contrast to the last three trumpets. The plagues brought on by each of the first four trumpets affect only natural objects: earth, trees, grass, sea, rivers, lights of heaven: whereas the last three directly affect men. Important? I leave that up to you, the reader.
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed(8:8-9).
The sea which covers the majority of the earth is the next target of a plague. Looking back to Genesis 1:9-10 we see that separation of land and sea happened on the same day that plant life appeared. Coincidence for the last days? Perhaps. Please notice that John did not say that a burning mountain was cast into the sea, he said "as it were". John used great distinction in his language in order to picture this for us. Many people desire to try and figure out exactly what this object really will be. This leads to chasing the proverbial bunny rabbit down several holes and eventually becoming so lost as to never find one's way back to reality. I believe that we can safely stay with a literal reading since earlier we read that during the sexth seal that stars fall from heaven. It could be that instead of the mountain representing a government that it is actually going to be a very large object falling from the heavens above us. Again there seems to be a parallel to the plagues of Egypt. Just like the River Nile and all other bodies of water in Egypt were turned to blood when Aaron stretched his rod out over the waters of Egypt, so this object has an apparantly similar effect on our oceans. Is this blood effect simply a chemical reaction in the salt water, or is it the result of one third of all sea life dieing? Does it really matter? A third of all ships will be destroyed, one third of all sea life will be destroyed. In this case, it is very logical to think that this devastation will happen in the immediate area of the impact of this object striking the ocean. Again, there is no point in trying to determine where this object will strike, only that it will and it will impact life across the entire planet. If I am not here because I have already been raptured to heaven, then I have nothing to fear on that account. If I am still living here because the rapture has yet to happen, then I still have nothing to worry about since God is with me until the end and if I happen to die I know that I go to be with Christ. As I see it, I simply have nothing to fear if I abide in Christ for where there is love there can be no fear. That is one reason why I John 4 is so vitally important to believers today, it gives each of us blessed assurance to live out our lives daily without fear. What this passage ought to do to me is get me motivated to get the Gospel out to as many people as possible. This is why I am devoting my time and energy to this blog. Redeem the time, redeem as many souls as is possible before my life is over. A final thought before we move on: the unmistakeable impression of these judgments is that God is dealing in righteous wrath with the wicked world. We cannot prevent these judgments from happening, they cannot be deflected. They will happen.
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter(8:10-11).
Today we always read, or hear, about more pollution happening to the water, soil, and air. Here we see fresh water becoming polluted, bitter to the taste. Think about that: one third of all fresh water will be undrinkable. People are going to die of thirst. Now, some people have tried to symbolically explain this "star." Some claimed that it was Chernobyl with its nuclear disaster. The only reasonable symbolism is that the star represents Satan and the waters represent the peoples of the earth. The literal reading is more reasonable since an object from space falling into our atmosphere will burn like a lamp from the heat created from the friction of the air. A reference to wormwood seems to draw a parallel with the experience of the children of Israel at the waters of Marah in Exodus 15:23-25. There the tree cast into the bitter waters made them sweet and here the wormwood cast into the sweet waters makes them bitter. Also, we have the contrast between Christ on the cross atoning for sin and making that which is bitter sweet and Christ coming in judgment which turns the vain hopes and ambitions of men into bitterness and despair. I suppose we could say that the branch that Moses cast into the water speaks of the cross of Christ.
"Wormwood" is a name used in the Old Testament to represent these things: (1) idolatry of Israel[Deuteronomy 29:18]; (2) calamity and sorrow[Jeremiah 9:15; 23:15; Lamentations 3:15, 19]; (3) false judgment[Amos 5:7]. This star is literal and contains poison of some kind which will contaminate fresh water supplies, even the aquifers and water table. It's name suggests then, that this is a judgment upon mankind for idolatry and injustice. Calamity and sorrow are the natural consequences of this judgement.
Let's rest here and catch our breath. Next time we will hear the fourth trumpet sound and see what is released as a judgment upon this planet. Until then, remain strong in your faith. Remain true to the Word of God. Do not doubt the teaching of our Saviour to love one another and our enemies. Pray for those who use us wickedly to be drawn to Christ and to be saved. Remember, they do not know what they truly are doing. We struggle against spiritual powers, not against those around us each day. Love the person, hate the sinful actions.
Thu, Dec 13th - 2:55PM
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neithr shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes(7:15-17).
With these verses we can know for sure that in addition to heaven being a place of rest from earthly work heaven is also a place of ministry. Some have claimed that the wording indicates that this must take place on earth during the millennial kingdom. "Serve him day and night in his temple" does not indicate our normal concept of what a day is, but rather indicates the continual service since they will no longer need sleep nor sustenance as we understand it. They are serving within the temple of God, a direct reference to the immediate presence of the Lord. They shall be honored by the fact that He who sits on the throne will dwell(tabernacle) among them; they will experience intimate fellowship with God Almighty.
Verse 16 shows us that they will be delivered from all of the terrible afflictions of life during the Great Tribulation such as hunger, thirst, burning heat of the sun, pestilence, famine. They may have forgone food in order to not submit to the worship of the beast. Instead of the persecution that they had suffered while living on earth , verse 17 pictures the Lamb of God as feeding them and leading them beside still waters, the fountains of living water. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes", indicates they will have the tender comfort and care of the Saviour, and the tears that once were theirs shall be gone. Some try to convince us that this is proof that we will be crying in heaven over grief of lost loved ones and our wasted lives. This passage simply speaks of their tribulations being over, their tears and grief are of the past. Saints in glory will be occupied with the beauty and wonder of heaven and the worship of the Lamb of God. In the glory of heaven whatever burdens and cares that may have been laid on the saints in their earthly life, there will be sorrow, no tears, and no death.
Now the closeness of the 144,000 from the first half of this chapter with the multitude of martyred Gentiles implies a casual relationship between these two groups of people. The sealed witnesses are preserved in safety during the Tribulation in order to preach the Gospel to the world; the Gentile martyrs are the "fruit" of that witnessing effort. All of this is in keeping with the general purpose of God in relation to the Jewish nation. He originally set them apart from the world so that they could be a testimony of His power, wisdom, and glory.
This brings me to a final point. My friends, Jesus Christ has other sheep. He told His disciples, and it was hard for them to understand: "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold"...(John 10:16). The Mormons interpreted this to mean them, but I really think that He was referring to saints who would not be a part of "the church" since it would be raptured out before they came to accept Christ. I believe that "fold" refers to these saints who die during the Great Tribulation Period and are out side of the church "fold." Again, I do not claim this to be doctrine. But it does make scriptural sense.
CHAPTER 8 OPENING THE SEVENTH SEAL
Alright, we have reached the seventh seal of the book in the hands of the Lamb of God. The Lion of Judah is about to break this last seal and introduce us to the next phase of judgment on the earth. We had a break from judgment in the last chapter but now we resume the unfolding events of the day of the Lord. The pattern now established continues, there will be a series of sevens and after the first six of each series we are given understanding of each series. This pattern indicates that all are interrelated, tied together, and follow one upon the next.
As we come to this section of scripture, let us remember that a symbol is a symbol of a fact. We are going to notice a strange and strong similarity between the plagues of Egypt in Mose's day and the trumpet judgments. If the plagues of Moses were literal, then the plagues that are coming in the Great Tribulation Period are going to be literal. The reality of what is going to happen is beyond our comprehension as expressed in words, God uses pictures to symbolize what will happen instead. Scripture will reveal the explanation of the symbols used here and we do not need to rely upon our imaginations. We need to remember that Christ is now in His new role as Judge.
Maybe some of you don't like the fact that the gentle Jesus is going to judge the earth and all on it. We have already spoken about the wrath of the Lamb and how terrifying it will be to those on earth. I suggest that you become acquainted with Jesus Christ. He died for you, He loves you, and He desires to save you, but if you will not have Him with all of your heart and soul and mind, there is waiting ahead of you a horrifying judgment. I wish that I could scare everyone into believing, but people are too sophisticated and intelligent for that to happen in this day and age. We all think that we know so much, when in reality all that it proves is that we know so little.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour(8:1).
With the opening of this seal the narrative is resumed from the end of chapter 6. After all of the sound heard by John in the previous chapter we now find in contrast a complete silence in heaven. Not a sound could be heard for almost a half an hour! This is a solemn scene after all of the praise and worship we experienced in the last chapter. How important is the opening of this last seal? Silence in all of heaven. We await what will follow at such silences. As God gave Pharaoh a chance to change his heart during Moses time, so too, God will be giving men an opportunity to repent but they will harden their hearts during this pause in judgment just as did Pharaoh. God is reluctant to judge for He is slow to anger. Judgment is His strange work. Isaish wrote: "For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act."(Isaiah 28:21)
What is strange about God? That He judges, that He is a God of love, judging His creatures. "For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God..."(Ezekiel 18:32). This silence marks the transition from grace to judgment. God is waiting. Oh, by the way, He is waiting for you today if you have not come to Him. You can come to Him, for He is a gracious Saviour.
Anyone who has lived through a close encounter with a tornado knows that just before the storm strikes that there is a cessation of all wind for a very brief time. It is a very real signal to reach safety NOW, that the fury of the storm is near. This is what we are seeing here in chapter 8, a total calm before the fury of the judgment howls down upon mankind.
And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightenings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound(8:2-6).
Instead of interpreting these seven beings as something other than angels, we ought to take the literal meaning and understand them to be seven of God's holy angels. I do not believe that these seven angels are the same ones from earlier passages. I think that they are different ones and above all should not be confused with the seven spirits of God from back in Revelation 5:6. Importance is imparted to these angels as they stand before God's throne. If we stop and think back, we would remember what Gabriel said to Zacharias, "...I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God..."(Luke 1:19). And so we see these angels also standing in the presence of God.
"Seven trumpets" have special meaning for Israel. Here is where Old Testament knowledge is important. In the Book of Numbers, Moses was given instructions by God for the makin of two silver trumpets. Two was the number of witnesses. The Lord has said on several occasions that in the mouth of two witnesses a matter would be established. These two trumpets were used on the wilderness(desert) march in two ways. They were used for the calling together of the the assembly, and they were used to start the whole group moving forward on the march. Description of the trumpets is found in Numbers 10:2.
When Israel enered the land, the trumpets were used for two other purposes: "And if you go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then you shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and you shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies. Also i the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, you shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God"(Numbers 10:9-10).
A single trumpet was blown to assemble the princes: "And if they blow but one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee"(Numbers 10:4). This single trumpet blow seemingly corresponds to the last trump which Paul mentions in I Corinthians 15. As it called out a certain group from Israel, so too, the final trumpet will call out a certain group from the world at large. Unfortunately, there are those who assume that the last trump of I Corinthians 15 is the seventh trumpet of this chapter. There is no similarity between the two instances beyond the fact of a trumpet sounding.
The tribes were divided into four groups of three tribes each. Four plus three equals seven. Seven blowings of the trumpets moved Israel out while they marched through the desert wilderness. When the first trumpet sounded the ark moved out with the Kohathites carrying it. Then the tribe of Judah moved out with the two other tribes under the banner of Judah, and so on until all tribes were marching orderly out of their camp.
The seven trumpets here in Revelation seemingly have the effect of moving Israel into the Promised Land once more. This will then fulfill prophecy, not what is happening since 1948. As the trumpets of Israel were used at the battle of Jericho, so the walls of this world's opposition to God will crack, crumble, and fall during the Tribulation. When Christ comes He will put down the last shreds of rebellion against Himself and establish His kingdom here on earth.
In verse three some people try to say that person is actually Christ. It cannot be He for He is now Judge and no longer Intercessor. Literally we are seeing another angel. If we remember how the Tabernacle was arranged, we can see the mirror image here in heaven. A golden altar set before God's throne was pictured back in the Tabernacle's Holy of Holies with the golden altar set before the mercy seat. The argument is made that in the Old Testament there are instances of our seeing the Preincarnate Christ as an Angel of the Lord and so this too is another such instance. No. After His resurrection He claimed a glorified body, not an angelic one. As He is, so too shall we be one day.
Christ has moved from being before the golden altar to sitting upon the throne. The altar is the place where prayer is offered. Christ is no longer offering up prayers for His own, He is now sitting in Judgment upon the throne. Incense speaks of the value of Christ's name and work in prayer. "If you ask in My name" is His instruction to us all. Many today are falling into the habit of ending their prayers simply, "Amen." If you are making a prayer in Jesus' name then it would seem that you ought to end it in that fashion, doesn't it? Yes, God knows what is in my heart and in my thoughts. Yes, He already knows what I will be praying about. Why should I speak it anyway? Because He asks us to. He wants us to get into the habit of asking Him for what we need. To get into the habit of thanking Him for everything. It's for our benefit, not for His. So here prayers are being offered up as fragrant incense, a sweet smelling perfume to God. It would seem that the prayers of those saints offered up under the fifth seal are now being answered.
The gold censor of verse 5 seems to correspond to the one used to offer incense in the Tabernacle. It too was made of gold(Exodus 37:25-28; Hebrews 9:4), and it was used to take fire off the altar to be carried into the Holy of Holies where the incense was added. Here in this chapter the angel takes the censer filled with fire and casts it into the earth. Obviously the censer is used as a symbol of judgment upon the earth, perhaps in response to the prayers of those saints from under God's altar?
The prayers of the saints are being answered at this point in the passage. Prayers have gone up before God's throne, and now the judgment is being hurled down upon the condemned earth. "Thunders" shows the approach of the coming storm of God's judgment, just as thunder alerts us today of approaching storms. "Voices" reveals that this is the intelligent direction of God and not mindless workings of natural forces. God is in charge. "Lightnings" follow the alarms of thunder and follows the natural order. Often we hear thunder long before we can actually see flashes of lightning. The "earthquake" is the earth's response to the extreme pressure being place upon it during this judgmental period.
As we reach verse 6 we have another moment of solemnity. It says that the seven angels prepared themselves to sound the trumpets. A pause is being indicated to us. The half hour of silence is over. The prayers of the saints have been heard. The order is issued to prepare to blow. Divine judgment is about to explode from heaven. I point out to you that this will not introduce symbols or secrets. The plagues about to be introduced are literal plagues. The method used today by many people evaporates the meaning of scripture by calling it symbolic AND is just as bad as denying the inspiration of the Word of God. In other words, they say that God doesn't mean what He says but that He means something else entirely. Well, what does He mean then? Their answer is then going to be, "We can't possibly know." Poof! The inspired Word of God becomes nullified, of no use to any of us.
We will stop here for today, and begin next time with the first trumpet. Until then, beloved, may you grow in grace, and conform yourself to Christ by the renewing of your mind through the Word of God.
Wed, Dec 12th - 2:00PM
Today, beloved, let's turn to the next few verses and learn who this redeemed multitude is:
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb(7:9-10).
Once more John is relating what he saw and what he heard in heaven. John saw a great multitude of people, numberless throngs of individuals. I take the Word literally here when it says that "no man" could number this gathering of people. The composition of this gathering is from every nation, every race, every tribe on the earth; all Gentiles or non-Jewish. You see, the Gospel message will be preached to everyone. Our missionary programs do a wonderful job today, but they do not measure up to what those 144,000 sealed witnesses are going to accomplish in the future. All of their energy will be directed towards only one objective: Preaching the Word of God to everyone, giving out the Gospel of Christ.
This great gathering of people stands before God's throne in heaven. The Lamb of God is there too. All of these people are dressed in white robes which signifies the righteousness of Jesus Christ in which they are clothed. We cannot stand before God in our own righteousness because ours is as filthy rags, and God requires purity and holiness. "Palms in their hands" is literally in the Greek "palm trees." They are the sign of victory in Christ. Is this multitude going to be a part of the great triumphal entry that is yet to occur when Christ returns to the earth? I believe so. If you remember, Jesus entered Jerusalem with palm fronds being waved and cast at His feet as He rode in upon a donkey. How ironic that that crowd turned so quickly against Him. Here we see that in the future there will be a genuine procession through the streets.
It is quite possible that most, if not all, of this company were martyred during the Tribulation Period but they proved faithful until the very end. Didn't Jesus say in the Olivet Discourse, "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved"(Matthew 24:13)? My friends, I urge all of you to remain faithful and endure right to the end of your lives. We are in a race, beloved. Run it so that you will get the reward at the finishline.
Once more we also see that everyone present asserts that salvation is by none other than God and the Lamb.
And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen(7:11-12).
Now we must not forget that this is all a continuation of that opening scene with the throne and the elders and the four beasts. More and more scenery has been getting added to that until now we have a numberless throng all around the throne of God. Imagine the sound when this entire multitude falls down to worship God. Clothing rustling in such immense numbers will be astounding, to say the least. We have the church here, we have the Old Testament saints, we have the Tribulation saints here, and the angels, all worshipping Christ. I would say that according to the way the verse is constructed that only the angels give the seven-fold praise to God: "Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might." All of the saints attribute salvation to God but the angels do not join in since it is not an option given to them. Now in scripture one of the elders wants to bring John up to date on what is taking place:
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb(7:13-14).
It could be any one of the 24 elders who speaks these words to John. This sets the elders apart from the great multitude of martyrs of whom he is speaking, does it not? This reinforces our thought that the elders represent the church saints. Stop and think about it, wouldn't John have recognized some in the multitude if those people were part of the church? But he didn't know anyone in that crowd. So this also gives us more evidence that saints alive today will not be going through the Great Tribulation. It becomes plain to see if we move through these verses slowly enough to observe the order of things being given to us.
In moving back to the phrase, "These are they which came out of great tribulation," we can note that in the Greek it would literally read: "These are those who came out of the tribulation, the great one." This then, refers back to what Christ spoke of in Matthew 24:21.
The common tendency to ignore the definite terminology of the prophecies in this book is highlighted in the interpretation which would make this throng of people refer to all of the elect of all ages and the great tribulation as "the whole sum of the trials of all of the saints of God, viewed by the Elder as now being complete." We should not read into a passage something that is foreign to its express statement. The group described in this passage therefore is a particular group coming from a particular time. Period. Attempts to shift this scene to another place or time fails because this passage is a continuation of prior chapters.
The specific teaching in this passage is that many Gentiles will be saved during the great tribulation. The concept sometimes put forth that the rapture cannot happen until all the world has heard the Gospel is a faulty concept. The requirement that all the world hear the Gospel is not associated with the rapture but to the second coming of Christ to set up His kingdom. Although we, the church, ought to press forward with all zealousness in presenting the Gospel to every single individual that we can, it is not necessary for the rapture to wait until this goal is reached. During the great tribulation the Gospel will go out to all remaining alive upon this planet.
What is the Gospel, you ask? "How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." God does not ask you to do something; it is God telling you that He has already done something for you. You do not give God something; God gives something to you. A gift. Eternal life in Christ Jesus. How do I get this gift? By faith. It is the only way we can ever receive any gift. In Epesians 1:7 Paul wrote: "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." The riches of His grace! God will never exhaust His supply of grace. No sinner is so evil that he/she cannot be redeemed by God's grace.
The question has been raised by some concerning the time pictured here. One interpretation is that this chapter is a preview of the beginning of the millenium. In this assumption John is considered to be carried beyond the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom and is timewise already in the millenial kingdom. Some consider this chapter a foreview of the millenial earth rather than a picture of heaven, with the above passage teaching that in the millennium both Jews and Gentiles will be blessed. It is difficult to hold this point of view since the only throne and temple introduced up to this point are those in heaven, as seen in chapters 4 and 5.
Another interpretation understands this passage to teach that those here described are martyrs who have sealed their testimony with their own blood. Perhaps the majority of saints in the tribulation will die as martyrs. Many most likely will be killed by earthquakes, war, pestilence, and famine. Others will be the object of special persecution by the world ruler. Perhaps they will be hounded to death much as the Jews were during World War II. Because they refuse to worship the beast, they will be under a death sentence(Revelation 13:15).
And so we are brought back around to this being a scene which is identical to the picture shown in chapters 5 and 6. In verse 14 we are given the significant detail that these martyrs have washed their robes white in the blood of Christ. Obviously, this is speaking of spiritual purity. The only way that sins can be washed away is through the precious blood of Christ and because of His death and resurrection. Scripture speaks often of blood as the symbol of life, as in Leviticus 17:14; "The life of all flesh is the blood thereof." The spiritual significance of shed blood is prominent in both the Old and the New Testaments. According to Hebrews 9:22, "without shedding of blood is no remission." According to Acts 20:28, the church has been purchased by the blood of Christ. In Romans 3:25 Christ is declared to be the propitiation for our sins through "faith in his blood." In Romans 5:9 we are "justified by his blood," and therefore "shall be saved from the wrath through him." Ephesians 1:7 states that "we have redemption through his blood." According to Colossians 1:20, Christ has "made peace through the blood of his cross." Apostle Peter adds in I Peter 1:18-19, "You were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
The emphasis in scripture on the shed blood of sacrifice whether in the Law of Moses or the sacrifice of Christ points us to the necessity of His substitutionary death for the believer's redemption. Big words in there, right? The Tabernacle required an animal without blemish or spot to be brought to the altar of brass just inside of the tent. The sinner placed it upon the altar, placed his hand upon its head, and cut its throat with a knife. The priests captured the spilled blood, took the carcase and the blood into the the Holy Place where one of them would apply the blood to the gold altar as a covering of that man's sins. The priest substituted himself and took the sinner's place within the Tabernacle. This is why Christ had to take our place, both as the one making sacrifice and as the one who was the sacrifice. His blood was without sin, it could be offered up once and only once for the sins of all creation. A study of the Tabernacle will show this much more clearly than we have space here.
Though our modern world is offended by a substitute as a sacrifice and especially by the reference to sacrificial blood, from God's point of view there is no safety except for those under the blood. God promised Israel in Exodus 12:13, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." So, although not suited to the sophistication of 21st century senses, the blood of Christ is exceedingly precious in the sight of the Lord and is the only cleansing agent for sin. The blood of the Lamb is our assurance of cleansing and forgiveness for our sins.
I realize that I included some soapbox preaching of salvation today but it is necessary from time to time. It is difficult to study God's Word and not reach a point where salvation becomes prominent. Next we will study the final two verses of this chapter and then move on into chapter 8 where the seventh seal is broken. Until then, remember your first love, remember how it felt when you first were reborn in Christ Jesus. Regain the lost fervency, the zeal that you had for reading and studying His Word. Regain the zeal for reaching out to those all around you in this lost, sinful, world. God's peace and grace be with you all.
Tue, Dec 11th - 1:11PM
Beloved, let's delve into the following verses:
Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Rueben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand(7:5-8).
I do not see how anyone can spiritualize this and try to possess it for themselves or to some denomination/group other than the children of Israel. This matter is so important to God that He takes the time to give us the names of the tribes and the number to be sealed from each one. Some things to note here: Judah is mentioned first even though Rueben was the eldest. Rueben lost his birthright due to his gross immorality and so he shows up as second in the list. This also causes us to ask: When a Christian sins, does he/she lose their salvation? No, but they will lose rewards that were to be theirs. Rueben lost his seat of honor but did not lose everything. Dan and Ephraim are also omitted completely from this list. Both tribes were guilty of leading the nation Israel into idolatry so perhaps that explains the omission.
Looking at Judges 18:30 we can see that Dan was the first tribe that fell into idolatry. Later on they became the center of calf worship(I Kings 12:28-30) where Jeroboam made Israel to sin. That Dan is given top priority in the Millenium(Ezekiel 48) reveals that the grace of God can reach down and meet the needs of any sinner. The tribe of Dan makes it to the Millenium but they are not sealed for the purpose of witnessing to the entire earth during the Great Tribulation.
Ephraim also was guilty of idolatry. In Hosea 4:17 we can read, "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." This refers to the entire northern kingdom of Israel but we need to remember that this tribe was the leader there. This tribe also lead in the division of the kingdom (I Kings 11:26). So Joseph takes the place of Dan and Levi takes the place of Ephraim. Levi, a priestly tribe, are going to be included in the witnesses for Christ during this period. God never said in the Bible that He was going to permanently give up nation Israel. In Hosea 11:8 He said, "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?..." They will lose out as witnesses but will make it to New Jerusalem.
Revelation is like a great train station or an airport where trains and planes come in from everywhere: all the major themes of prophecy come to rest in this final book. And so, we should fully expect to find Israel being spoken of in the book of Revelation. Israel is Israel, if God wished to call Israel the church, I think that He would have just said "church" because He was able to say "church" when the time came.
Though Israelites today do not normaly know what tribe they belong to, in God's mind there is no doubt. The prevalent idea that the church is the true Israel today is not sustained by explicit references in the scriptures, and the word Israel is never used of Gentiles. This remnant of Israel should not be misconstrued as meaning today's church. This passage helps refute the idea that the tribes of Israel were lost and are perpetuated in the English-spaeaking people of the world. God does not ever lose anything. James opens his epistle mentioning the twelve tribes that are scattered abroad. Not lost, just scattered.
Questions arise about whether or not only 12,000 members of each tribe will be ultimately saved. Indication is given in scripture that these are the ones sealed for witnessing but that others also will accept Christ and be saved.
Next time we will study verses 9-14 and see that a multitude of Gentiles will be redeemed. Also, we will be told the identity of those who are clothed in the white robes. Until then, study His written Word. Pray unceasingly to our Lord and Saviour. Love the brethren. Give thanks daily to God for all that He has done in your life today.
Mon, Dec 10th - 2:01PM
We resume our study of verses 14-17 today, my friends. In trying to combine "the wrath" with "the Lamb" is kind of like mixing fire with water. But all of the fury of the wrath of the Lord was revealed in the Lamb. Jesus made a scourge of small cords and He drove the moneychangers out of the Temple. Was He being meek and gentle then? He was not. He also cursed the fig tree, rejected Jerusalem, and spoke against Chorazin and Bethsaida. Christ demonstrated His complete control over the elements of nature and He will do so again in the future. God has declared war against all sin. The day is coming when the wrath of the Lamb will be revealed to all. If you are thinking that God is gentle, that He is my friend, He won't punish me, then you had better think again. Open the bible and read Psalm 2:10-12 and be wise in turn.
Now, the elements of divine judgment pictured in these verses are common in the prophecies pertaining to the end of the age. Christ Himself predicted earthquakes(Matthew 24:7). Both earthquakes and the sun becoming black are implied in Joel 2. The heavens leaving as a scroll are mentioned in Isaiah 34:4 and Isaiah 13:6-13. These are natural events that will grip the attention of who are alive on earth at that time.
In trying to describe the period of judgment as a day of wrath, reference is strained if we try to squeeze it all into a twenty-four hour day but rather we ought to be thinking to a period of time perhaps somewhat longer. How long, we do not know for sure. This day of wrath in one sense is the entire tribulation period when God is dealing with sin directly. Of course, this day of wrath is in contrast to the day of grace. Though God in every age deals with believrs and saves them by grace, the present age is supremely designed to show grace not only as the way of salvation but as the way of life. Did you get that? Today grace ought to be the way of our lives. Though there may be some forms of immediate retribution, for the most part God is not settling accountants now for the sins being committed. Neither the righteous nor the wicked are judged and awarded their just desserts in a final sense today. Today's day of grace will be followed by the day of wrath.
The judgments handed down against the wicked on earth are in contrast to the promise of escape from the judgment for believers(John 3:18, 36). The book of Revelation discredits those who maintain that God is so loving and kind that He will never judge people who have not received His Son. What of His mercy? Our modern, enlightened, minds are reluctant to accept the tact that God will judge the wicked, the Bible clearly teaches that He will. Whether of not you believe that God intends to sentence the wicked to eternal torment you cannot believe that He will not judge everyone.
Chapter six closes with a pointed question: "Who shall be able to stand?" The obvious answer: Only those who avail themselves of the grace of God, even though they suffer a painful martyr's death in this future horrific period. This question is forcing the reader to consider once more the eternal question of "What have you done with Jesus Christ, My only begotten Son?" Have you accepted or rejected Him? Freely choose, but choose wisely. Lay claim to the grace of God now, do not procrastinate and think that you will have time before you actually die.
Chapter 7 God seals a remnant of Israel and saves a redeemed group of Gentiles.
This chapter does not advance the chronological narrative but instead directs our attention to two major groups of saints in the tribulation. The early part of the chapter will introduce the 144,000 representatives of the godly remnant of Israel here on earth. Later on we will see a description of a great multitude of martyred dead in heaven.
As I earlier have mentioned, people will be saved after the rapture of the church saints. The presence of saved people in the world after the rapture puzzles some because according to II Thessalonians 2:7 the one who now restrains sin, often identified as the Holy Spirit, is pictured as being removed from the world. How then, can people be saved if the Holy Spirit is removed from the world in the same sense in which He came on the day of Pentecost? People were saved before the day of Pentecost and it should be clear from other scriptures that the Holy Spirit is always omnipresent for He is God. God will continue to minister in a similar way to that which existed before Pentecost. Sin will no longer be restrained by God once the church is raptured, that is what we gain from II Thessalonians 2:7. Throughout the Old Testament, Christ was present in the world. He ministered as the Angel of Jehovah. At the proper time Christ was born in the flesh in Bethlehem and ministered as God's unique revelation of Himself to mankind. Then He ascended to heaven, yet at the same time He told His disciples, "Lo, I am with you always"(Matthew 28:20). His special earthly ministry was completed but He was still continuing to work in the world in His omnipresence as God. Do you follow me?
In the same way the Holy Spirit is present in the world now just as Christ was resident in the world between His birth and ascension. When this present age ends and the Holy Spirit is caught up with the church, the situation then returns to that which was true before the day of Pentecost. There is good reason to believe that the Holy Spirit will lead people to Christ during the Great Tribulation for during times of great persecution is when we see the greatest numbers of people accepting Christ. Why would this time of greatest persecution be any different? The answer is that it will not be any different.
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree(7:1).
"After this" connects us from the tremendous judgment of the previous chapter to what is now going to happen. The four horsemen gave us an over-all picture of the Great Tribulation Period and now we are going to be given details. This first verse gives us a picture of God withholding judgment, nothing is to happen unless God commands it to be so. As in Noah's time when God held back the water judgment until the ark was completed, so too in this future time, God will hold back His Holy judgments to allow a remnant to repent and accept Christ.
And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud vouce to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads(7:2-3).
This is a fifth angel in this passage, perhaps of a higher "rank" than the previous four because he gives them orders. As we can see in Daniel and in Ephesians there are levels of both good and bad angels. God has commanded that no hurt be done until His servants be sealed in their foreheads. Judgment is imminent and God desires to set apart and protect His servants.
What exactly is this mark that will be in their foreheads? I can only make suggestions at this time. We are not told what the mark actually is, nor what it might look like. We do know for certain that there are those who will not be able to buy or sell anything unless they have the mark of the beast. So, obviously this mark of God's is in direct contrast to the mark of the Beast. That could indicate that these marks are going to be spiritual in nature. If we remember Matthew 7:20 ..."by their fruits ye shall know them" then perhaps the dividing line will be how people are living daily at that time. The wicked are going to able to do whatever they wish to without retribution. Where is the church? Not here on earth, but up in heaven. This interlude between the sixth seal and the seventh seal is to give opportunity to seal and protect the members of these two groups of people.
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel(7:4).
There are many precedents in the bible for such a protection of God's own people. Before the Flood, God separated Noah and his family from the rest of humanity. When God destroyed Jericho, He protected Rahab and her household. In similar fashion God will separate and protect 144,000 Israelites from the coming judgments upon the earth. God specifies how many and from which tribes will be "saved." One thing that we can know is that this group of 144,000 does not refer to the church nor to any denomination today. These are to be Israelites, not Gentiles. This is a relatively small number of people since there are well over 14 million Jews living in the world today. We cannot claim that this number is symbolic in nature. It is plainly spelled out here and in following verses exactly what this number is.
These are the ones who are going to witness of Christ in the Great Tribulation Period. In Matthew 24:14 Jesus said, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Some say that the gospel of the kingdom is a different gospel. It is not. God has never had but one way to save sinners, and that is through the death of Christ. If we were to ask Abel when he brought that little lamb to God, "Abel, do you think that little lamb will save you?" he would have said, "No, this little lamb represents the One who God told my mother was coming from a woman to be the Saviour of the world. This lamb only typifies Him." John the Baptist spoke of this in preparing the way of the Lord. So, these people will preach the gospel, but they will have something additional to say that we have no right in saying today. They will say, "And then shall the end come." Christ will not tary at that point in time.
I think that we ought to stop right here for today. Remember to read God's Word daily, study it, ponder it, and memorize as much of it as possible. Hide it in your heart so that you will not sin against God. Amen.
Sat, Dec 8th - 12:50PM
Today we will begin by looking at the fifth seal:
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?(6:9-10).
This altar that we see here is in heaven and evidently is where Christ offered His shed blood for the sins of the entire world. I put to you that it was His literal blood. Nothing figurative or symbolic about it. My proof is supplied in Hebrews 9:23-24: "It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us."
A case can be made for these souls under the altar being the Old Testament "saints." In Luke 11:50-51 Christ said: "That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation."
Quite possibly included with these are all those who will be martyred in the Great Tribulation once they repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. All of these souls are resting on solid Old Testament ground as they plead for justice on the basis of God's holy law.
Other supportive scriptures are found in Exodus 29:12 and Leviticus 4:7 where it tells us that the blood of the sacrifices of the Tabernacle/Temple were poured out under the altar.
On the other hand, the fact that these martyred dead in heaven are introduced to us at this particular point immediately after the fourth seal seems to imply that these martyrs have come from the Tribulation scene down on earth. If the church has already been snatched out of the world, the dead in Christ have been raised from the dead before the time pictured here, and those being pictured cannot include the church saints.
The fact that those souls under the altar ask God for judgment upon those that dwell upon the earth makes it apparant that their persecutors are still alive. Their cry for justice echoes that of the Pslamist's call to God. God answers their cry by replying that other events still must take place. They must wait upon God and His plan for all of us.
And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled(6:11).
This verse makes it plain that in the future time of tribulation it will be most difficult to declare one's faith in Christ and remain alive. We will see evidence of this thought later on in chapter's seven and thirteen.
The white robes represent righteousness as we discovered earlier. This raises a question that gets hotly debated between denominations and others: What kind of body will saints have in heaven before their own bodies are raised from the dead? Those pictured here who are under the altar are the souls of martyrs. It is clear that that they will not receive resurrection bodies until revelation 20:4. So, do they get temporary bodies, or are they simply spiritual beings awaiting the resurrection?
In verse eleven we are given some information to help with this question. The martyrs pictured here are given robes to wear. That implies that they have bodies of some sort. What are the robes composed of, now that is another question that we cannot find an answer for. Obviously their bodies are not anything that we now have, nor is it the resurrection body of flesh and bones of which Christ spoke after His own resurrection. It must therefore be some sort of temporary body while they are in heaven at this point. We must not stray far from a literal reading of the verse otherwise we will get hopelessly lost.
We also need to realize that there are two classes of martyrs being mentioned in this chapter. There are those who are already martyred and those yet to be slain. All that we know for certain is that God said that the souls under His altar must wait a "little season" until their blood will be justified. We cannot determine if they were slain during the first three and a half years of the Tribulation or during the last three and a half years.
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind(6:12-13).
This is the beginning of the last half of the Great Tribulation Period. God's day of wrath is unfolding before us. This period of time opens and closes with these upheavals in the natural world: compare Joel 2:30-31 with Acts 2:20; and then compare Joel 3:9-17 with Isaiah 13:9-13, 34:1-4, and Matthew 24:29.
The fact that we are experiencing an increase in earthquakes today is not fulfillment of this verse at all. This verse speaks of a great earthquake, singular tense. We have simply been given glimpses of what will be coming in the future, just magnify it many fold. We must remember that we are reading these verses to mean literally what they are saying, there is not outlandish symbolism to be invoked here to help explain these things. The sun will be blackened, the moon will be the color of blood. The stars of heaven will fall from the nighttime sky. The way figs fall from the tree is how the stars will fall from the sky. We are not given that picture as a symbol of any thing, it is given to help us understand what we will be seeing in reality. If we choose to follow a path of interpretation that desires to see symbolic terms in these prophecies then we cannot establish any sort of truth since each individual can see a different symbolic interpretation and we wind up with private interpretation of which we are told to avoid.
And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?(6:14-17).
There are a number of reasons for taking this passage in its literal meaning. This is not the final breakup of the world as later described in Revelation, but it does seem to indicate that beginning with the sixth seal God is directly intervening into human affairs. The judgments of the four horsemen and the martyrdom of saints has originated from human decisions and the evil heart of mankind. This judgment, however, begins in God as a divine punishment inflicted upon a blasphemous world.
In Nahum 1:5 we see a similar thing to what is shown to us in verse 14. We must remember that sin not only affects us, it affects all of creation. God passes judgment upon everything prior to creating a new earth, a new heaven. In view with that, it should not be surprising that God will physically create upheaval on the earth and in the heavens above us. Catastrophic events are going to force the powerful and mighty men of this world to try and call the rocks and mountains to fall over them. They are going to desire to be covered up and hidden from view. Why? Because they will not want the Lamb to see them. They will fear His wrath. They will understand that judgment is finally come upon them, and they know that they fall far, far short of God's glory.
This "wrath of the Lamb" is none other than the Day of the Lord, spoken of all through the Old Testament by His prophets. As is so true of today, at this time men will still refuse to fall upon the mercy and grace of Almighty God and instead will continue to try and hide themselves from Him. Suicide is not an escape from judgment from God. Nor is death an escape of any sort.
Divine judgment will not be a respecter of any person. Rich, poor, influential, slaves, homeless, owners of mansions, none will be treated differently as they all will be condemned by their failure to accept Jesus Christ.
We have paradoxes galore in the bible, I am certain that you have found some while reading it. A paradox is a proposition which is contrary to received opinion; in other words, it seems to be contradictory. Closer examination usually shows us that there is no contradicition at all. For example, the farther an object moves away from you the larger it gets. What??? It is not true, but it is true. As a balloon floats up and away from you in the sky it gets smaller to the naked eye, but the balloon is physically expanding all the time as the atmosphere gets less dense as altitude gets greater and greater. Another paradox is that water always flows downhill, right? Out in Sequoia National Park tons of water flow up each and every day. Those giant redwood trees and sequoias draw tons of water up out of the soil and lift it up to their leaves. So you see, paradoxes exist all around us, we simply overlook them. My last example of a paradox is that the closer you get to our sun the hotter it will get. But, if you go and climb to the top of Mauna Kea on the Hawaiian Islands, there is snow up on the top of that mountain even though you are closer to the sun. A paradox.
Here in this passage we have "the wrath of the Lamb." This is a paradox. A lamb is a familiar figure of Christ. The lamb is a picture of gentleness and meekness. Yet what happens when Christ becomes angry? From the days of Abel to those of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ is depicted as a lamb. The apostle John calls Him "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." In other words, God did not choose the lamb because it possessed characteristics of Christ, neither did He choose it for the sacrificial aspect. God created such an animal to represent Christ. No lamb was created and Christ was already the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.
Yes, Jesus has the qualities of a lamb. He was meek and He was gentle, harmless and humble. But what about the wrath? Wrath seems to be strange and foreign even to the person of God. God loves the good, He hates the evil. He is not vindictive like you and I can be. He is righteous, holy, and He hates that which is contrary to Himself.
I will stop here for now and pick up where we have left off next time. Until then, praise your God each and every day. Thank Him for all that He has given to you and for the blessings that He gives to you each day.
Fri, Dec 7th - 3:40PM
My friends, we have come to the third seal.
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black hors; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine(6:5-6).
John is still seeing and hearing these things in his vision. Here in these two verses we see the aftermath of war. If we relate Jeremiah 4:28 and Malachi 3:14 to these verses we can see that black indicates mourning, and it also speaks of famine. In Lamentations 4:8-9 we read: "Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick. They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field."
Always after widespread war there is a shortage of foodstuffs. The black horse in this sense represents the worldwide famine that is to encompass the earth. A denarius was a day's wage(see Matthew 20:2) and therefore a man will be unable to feed his family during this time period. This coin will only buy enough wheat for one meal each day, and it will only buy enough barley for three meals each day. Oh, and that is for one person, not an entire family. People are going to die horribly from hunger, beloved. It will not be very pretty in those days.
The oil and the wine are luxury items that are enjoyed by the rich. Oil would correspond to our present day toiletries, the beauty aids and the body conditioners that all of the "beautiful people" must have to keep looking young. The wine corresponds to the liquor that will be in abundance. There will not be enough food, but there will be enough barley to create liquor! Mark my words, people will be drinking themselves senseless and will be starving to death.
Today we continue to hear politicians speak about solving the poverty problem. I have heard this nonsense ever since the middle 1960's. The Golden Society. I am truly sorry to have to say that our government is wasting money trying to solve poverty through legislation and money. This has been the approach for over forty years and it has not yet been successful. It only creates more bureaucracy and steals our tax dollars. Poverty will only be solved through the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Way back in 1798, Reverend Thomas Malthus said that "the power of population is infinitely greater than the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man." His prediction carried little weight in his day, but it is gaining more and more weight as time passes. In 1959 the United Nations' 77 nation Food and Agriculture Organization met in Rome to talk about "the fight against hunger and malnutrition." At this meeting Toynbee declared: "Sooner or later food production will reach its limit. And then, if population is still increasing, famine will do the execution that was done in the past by famine, pestilence and war combined." There are perhaps as many as 750 million people getting hungrier in nations within the old Communist sphere. Famine is looming on our horizon.
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth(6:7-8).
With this seal a dramatic picture of God's divine judgment upon our world is unfolded. One quarter of our population will perish at this time. Medicine will not meet the immense need of people at this time. Hospitals will be overwhelmed. "Death was his name." Death is no more personalized here than is war, although the rider is given the name of death. God wants us to understand the magnitude of what will happen to our world at this time in history. One out of every four people that you see today will be dead. Physical death involves more than just cessation of activity. Our spirits are part of us also.
A literal translation of Romans 5:14 reads thus: "And nevertheless death became king from Adam down to Moses, even over them who did not sin after the fashion of Adam's sin who is the type of Him who was to come."
The word for hades is sometimes unfortunately translated as hell as in Luke 16:23 where, speaking of the rich man and Lazarus, we read: And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom." Hell is an unfortunate term to use here; it is this same word hades, and, actually, it does not refer to hell at all. It speaks of physical death, either where the spirit goes or of the grave where the body is placed. In other words, while death takes the body, hades is the place where the spirit of a lost man goes. Paul personifies death and sin for emphasis in Romans 5:14. Sin and death entered the world at the same time. The wages of sin is death.
Death evidently has an all-inclusive, three-fold meaning that we do not ordinarily attach to it. We think of death as only referring to the body. (1) This is physical death, and it refers only to the body. It comes to us because of Adam's sin. (2) Then there is what is known as spiritual death, which is separation from, and rebellion against, God. We inherit a dead nature from Adam; that is, we have no capacity for God and no desire for Him at all. (3) Finally, there is eternal death, which is eternal separation from God. Unless a man is redeemed, this inevitably follows. This is the second death that we will come across later in chapter 20, verse 14.
In Genesis 2:17 Adam is declared to be spiritually dead since he physically lived for more than nine hundred years after that. Death must be laid at Adam's feet as his total responsibility. God did not create man to die. It was a penalty imposed by Adam's sin in not heeding God's command. Adam's sin is our sin, his death is our death. Now, however, Christ is the head of a new creation, and this new creation has life only in Christ. He alone can give life. He is totally responsible for the life and eternal bliss of those who are His saints.
During the Great Tribulation death will ride unrestrained. In Matthew 24:22 Jesus said: "And except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." Those souls that turn to Christ during the Tribulation are why those days shall be shortened.
At the Great White Throne judgment, death will be finally destroyed, as we shall see in Revelation 20:14. The sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts will be allowed to decimate the population of the earth. This is a reflection of what is said in Ezekiel 14:21. The pale horse represents plague and pestilence that will ravage the earth. The possibility of germ warfare escaping out of control is another alternative. In Matthew 24:5-8 Jesus gave this same pattern: "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many[the white horse]. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars[red horse]: see that ye be not troubled: for all these must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines[black horse], and pestilences[pale horse], and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."
All four riders of these horses are tied together by the giving of power to them to accomplish all of these things. All are scourges, members of the same class of things. This passage represents the single greatest destruction of human life ever recorded in history. It will be mindboggling, just as it is to us today. If our population today is 6 billion, then we will see at least 1.5 billion people die. This ought to make it clear that the divine judgments to come are nothing trivial, but are to be a period without precedent in character and extent. If the revelation of the final stage of Israel's predicted program is considered future, as recorded in Daniel 9:27, the last seven weeks or the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy will immediately precede the second coming of Christ. According to Daniel 9:27 it is divided into two halves: the first three and one-half years are a period in which Israel is seemingly protected under a covenant/treaty with the Gentile world leader/ruler, the prince mentioned in Daniel 9:26. By contrast, however, Daniel indicates that the last three and one-half years cover an entirely different situation, one in which there is unprecedented trouble. Israel becomes the object of persecution instead of being protected from her enemies.
Daniel speaks of this period again when he predicts in 12:1: "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." Jeremiah refers to the same event in Jeremiah 30"7 when he declares, "Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it." Joel 2:1-3 also bears witness of the awful character of this future time of tribulation. Matthew 24:21-22 is where Christ exhorted those living in Israel and Palestine to flee to the mountains to escape their persecutors.
Some people feel that the Great Tribulation does not begin until chapter 11 but faced with this evidence it is difficult to hold to that position. Of course, the historical school of interpreting scripture try to convince us that all of these prophecies have already happened in past history. It does not remain consistent with all of the scriptures however, and so I do not feel comfortable holding their position as being correct. Placed against this backdrop, the optimist who believes the world is becoming increasingly better looks like a fool. For those who hold that man is basically good, well, I do not know how that position can be maintained when faced with all that is going on in our world today. The darkness of the evil that men can devise in their hearts, where no man may look and see, is ever growing greater, day by day.
Let's stop right there for today, beloved. Next time we shall look at the next two or three seals and their effects upon our earth. Until then, as found in Romans 12:1, I urge all of you, beloved, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Thu, Dec 6th - 2:14PM
Today we begin studying chapter six of Revelation and we need to note a few things as we do. We need to note that this section of scripture follows a chronological order and is quite logical in its process. Seven seals lead to seven trumpets which lead to seven startling persons which lead to seven bowls of wrath which lead to the judgment of Babylon and ends the Great Tribulation Period. All indications are that these proceed in a logical order and that none of them occur simultaneously with others either prior to, or following after. Trumpets are not blowing at the same time that bowls of wrath are being emptied out or while the first six seals are being opened.
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer(6:1-2).
Because we are not given any clear meaning of who the rider of this horse is in this passage we have many opinions. One is that the rider is none other than Christ Himself. This tends to be characteristic of the historical school of interpreting scripture. This position is really hard to defend since it requires one to believe that first Christ breaks open the seal, then He jumps up on the white horse with a bow and rides forth. They also quote Psalm 45 and Revelation 19 as supporting evidence for this position. Another position is that the rider is none other than "the prince that shall come" of Daniel 9:26, who is to head up the one world government and ultimately become the world ruler. Others believe that this and the other riders are just personifications, not individuals, and this first rider personifies government or rule in the last days by the Gentiles.
In Revelation 19 Christ is shown riding on a white horse leading the armies of heaven to earth. But that is not the picture we are given here in chapter six. A far more probable position is that this rider at least is meant to conquer and rule as a victor since the Greek word used for his crown is stephanos, and not the word used for a sovereign's crown. From this we can also believe that this correlates to Daniel 9:26 and think that the Anitchrist is the rider. We know already that Satan and his angels can appear to us as angels of light, thus fooling us into thinking that we see one of God's angels. That is why we walk by faith and not by sight. So we can pretty safely assume that Antichrist will not appear as a villain at first, he will come as a saviour of the world, offering peace and unity by his own name. Today we are moving in the direction of a world dictator. All the nations of the world are disturbed, lawlessness abounds, governments are unable to control their citizens as they should. All is preparing the way for one who will provide us with "solutions." Money will not buy any of us peace and untiy. Just look at how much we have spent on foreign aid hoping to bring some peace to other countries. It has not worked. Antichrist will offer peace and prosperity to the world and it will heave a great sigh of relief in response. The Great Tribulation comes in like a lamb and it goes out like a lion. Remeber that, beloved.
And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword(6:3-4).
The rider of this second horse could be symbolic of the Antichrist's associate, the false prophet. Here we also see more support for thinking that the first rider is not Christ since when He brings peace it is a lasting peace whereas this peace is broken by the rider of the red horse. Are not the current crop of American presidential hopefuls promising peace? Are not plans afoot to bring peace to the Middle East? All wasted efforts, all running counter to what mankind's historical record indicate. After the World Wars it was said that "our boys will never again go across the ocean to fight." A falsehood. We are no closer to peace today than we have ever been. Our efforts all fail. What do we read today? Prepare for World War III! Some even say that it has already started, we simply haven't noticed! Antichrist is a counterfeit, a phony. His peace fails when this red horse and its rider go forth. Going back to the position that the rider on this red horse is the false prophet it is difficult to hold this for it does not properly account for the third and fourth riders.
We might think that the time of the first seal to be one of peace, with the time of this second seal to be one of military warfare. The constant tension between nations, and races, and religious groups paired with the ambitions of individual men will have their explosive climax in this period of time before Christ actually returns. Apparantly there are to be a series of wars/conflicts with the greatest one to occur at the time of Christ's Second Coming.
Before we get into the Great Tribulation here are some factors that increase the intensity and the sheer ferocity of the time period:
1. The Holy Spirit will no longer restrain evil on earth. He won't leave the world, He has been here all along. Once He takes the church out of this world He will no longer keep evil at bay.
2. The true church, as light and salt, will be gone from the world. Granted, we do not have great influence in this world, but we do have some influence and we are gone there will be no influence left.
3. The Devil knows that he has but a short, limited time. He is going to make the most of his opportunity. God is going to give Satan his time to wreak havoc.
4. Evil men will be free to carry out their wicked plans and strategies. Antichrist will be able to take over the entire world for a brief time.
5. There will be direct judgment from God. In verse 17 we see it stated plainly, "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
A final word on the weakness of the historical theory of interpreting scripture. The position is taken that all of this is history and can be fitted nicely into our history. What is quite interesting is that further on in Revelation they usually begin assuming that from this "point" on it is future events taking place. Why? Because they no longer can fit them into history. There are some fifty or more different systems of interpretation, all cannot be correct. At least 49 of them are wrong, and more than likely the other one is too. For example, when you reach the scripture that says that Satan was put into the bottomless pit we would have to believe that that has already happened. Well, if that's true, then how do you explain the satanic activity taking place around the world? How do you explain why Christ would tell us that Satan is like a lion, prowling about, seeking who he can devour? If he is already in the pit he can't do any of this stuff. These people try to say that Satan is chained, yes, BUT, he has a long chain and so he can reach out of the pit. Really? So then he is not really in the pit as scripture says? I think not. Or perhaps they say that the mortal wound mentioned was done to the Pope away back in the middle ages when the Pope was temporarily removed from power, only to reachieve it later. Is there some confusion over what "mortal" means? If the doctor comes and tells me that my wife has suffered a mortal injury, I am not thinking that it is temporary. She is going to die. A mortality rate is a death rate, not a life rate! Thus you can see that a historical interpretaion of scripture, especially here in Revelation, is faulty. It simply does not work.
I will stop here for today, my friends. Next time we shall continue on in chapter six with the next riders of horses. Until then, love the brethren, be ready in season, out of season, to give people the reason that you have hope and faith.
Tue, Dec 4th - 3:52PM
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
Beloved, today let's take a brief break from studying Revelation and spend a few moments considering the ramifications of the greatest commandment that was given to us by Christ.
Then one of them, who was a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets(Matthew 22:35-40).
This was the last question put to Jesus by His enemies, the religious rulers. After He answered this question they never came to Him again with another question. This is not the first time He made this declaration about loving the Lord. Another lawyer had come to Him testing Him concerning the greatest commandment. Christ gave that particular lawyer the parable of the good Samaritan:
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tested him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he, answering, said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.
And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live(Luke 10:25-28).
So our Lord, during His entire ministry, had set before them the fact that this was the greatest commandment. There are two facts that we need to be aware of in the answer that Christ gave here. The first is that He did not go to the Ten Commandments to get the greatest commandment. He went to a passage in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 that states this great doctrinal principal:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Why didn't Jesus go to where the ten commandments were listed? Instead He went to the book of Deuteronomy and lifted out a commandment that is not even connected to the others. Come to think of it, if we check, Christ quoted from this book more than any other. He quoted from it twice in the three answers He gave to Satan during His temptation as we can read in Matthew 4:1-11. Satan hates this particular book since it got quoted back to him.
Our Lord spoke not just one, but two, great commandments. If we remember, in I John our relationships today are shown to be like a triangle. God is at the top, you are on one side, and on the other side is your neighbor. It is a love relationship with God and with God's children who are round about you on every side. Deuteronomy is not a repetition of Exodus or Leviticus. In both of those books the law is being emphasized. But in Deuteronomy the emphasis is upon love. It took this long before God told anyone that He loved them. He had demonstrated His love, but He had not come out and stated it. But in Deuteronomy 4:37 we find this:
And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt.
That is a glorious, wonderful truth. After forty years of wandering around the desert there must have been many who questioned whether or not God really loved them. In the seventh chapter of Deuteronomy we find another statement of love:
The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye wre the fewest of all people. But because the Lord loved you...(v. 7,8).
May I say that God's love for us is something that we take for granted today, but it is still a glorious truth. This truth spoken here resonates with John 3:16 in the New Testament.
There is something else here that we need to notice. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ(John 1:17). Christ came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it. This is a fact beyond any debate for He made it very, very clear in Matthew 5:17, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." How did He accomplish this? He kept all of the Commandments. He kept the Lsw, and up to today He is the only person who has ever lived who actually has kept all of the Commandments. Only of Christ has God been able to say, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"(Matthew 3:17). He hasn't said that about me, and He hasn't said that about you. In His death He kept the ordinances and the testimonies and the sacrifices. In all of its minutest details, our Lord kept the Law, even as we are incapable of doing.
Now the great principle of law is love. We tend to forget that concept today. Old Testament God is harsh, cold, even severe. He is not. He is the God of love, and always has been. He does not change His character. The Law was not given to hurt mankind. It was given for health and welfare of mankind.
Know, therefore, that the Lord thy God, he is God, that the faithful God, who keepeth covenant and mercy with them who love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.
God does all of that because of love. Paul mentions this principle again in Galatians:
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself(5:14).
Some of you might be thinking, "How is love new in the Gospels if it is merely being repeated from so long ago? Follow this very carefully: first of all, the love of God has been translated into history by the Incarnation---the birth, the death and the resurrection of Christ---so that Paul could write in Romans 5:8,
But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
That is how God reveals His love today, and there is a great differnce. It is one thing to express love by bringing people out of bondage in Egypt, and it's another to die for all of mankind. It is one thing to come down to the top of Mt Sinai and give commandments; it is quite another to come down and take upon Himself human flesh in order to suffer with us, to bleed and die. That is love, my friends!
So today salvation is a love story. No cold blooded business transaction took place, Jesus shed His blood, cash on the barrelhead. Salvation is a love affair, beloved. In I John 4:19 the apostle John says, "We love him, because he first loved us." John leaves us with no doubt what he means:
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins(I John 4:10).
The cross on Calvary is where God manifested His love for all of us. We ought to love God simply because of what He did for us when we were still unlovable by our own standards, and by His. In the Old Testament love for God is expressed only in obedience. After Jesus Christ love for God becomes fully laid out:
A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another...(John 13:34, 35)
As I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
God does not save you today by your keeping any of His commandments, and the reason is He now has a much higher standard than the Ten Commandments, and He never saves anyone based on what that person does. You are saved when you believe that God has done something, that He has paid the wages of sin. Once God saves you then He says, "Now I want to sit down and have a talk with you about what you are to do with the rest of your life."
If we turn to I Corinthians, we find another fine statement on love:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love...I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers--that is, the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose; and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have faith so that I can more mountains, but have not love I am nothing(13:1, 2).
This is "agape" love from the Greek. This is the best defintion of what unconditional love really is. Do you wish to know whether or not you are showing love, then read verses 4, 5, and 8. Are these easily seen in your daily living? Faith looks to the past, hope looks to the future, but love is for the present and it is for all eternity.
So why all this talk about love when we were studying Revelation? Because heaven is being pictured in Revelation and in heaven love is what is happening. Today's churches may have the best doctrine but they are mostly lacking something else: "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." So love one another as Christ so loved each of us. Remember, He called you to salvation, you did not do it on your own.
That is all for this message, my friends. I pray that you study I John 4 and ponder long and hard the ramifications of the words that you find there. If we cannot love each other, then we are not Christ's followers. He will spew us out of His mouth, claiming that He never knew us. We will be denied entrance to the Marriage Feast of His Bride, the church. We will be like the virgins who did not obtain enough oil to keep their lamps lit. Instead, let all of us be wise, seeking out His will in our lives. Let love flow abundantly and so we will be known for saints of Christ.
Mon, Dec 3rd - 3:59PM
What a Spirit-filled day today is! Fifty mile per hour wind gusts here in Virginia, USA! Today we search out the next few verses of chapter five in Revelation. I have one or two more thoughts on verse five before we move along. It is declared that He "hath prevailed" which in Greek is enikesen, meaning "to conquer." His victory is such that He has the right to take the book and to open it and loose the seven seals. Scripture seems to imply that there could be some distinguishment between being able to open the book and being able to break the seals of it. Christ has complete authority in respect to the contents of the seven-sealed book.
And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne(5:6-7).
John has fixed his attention upon one portrayed here as a Lamb standing in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts/living creatures. The Lamb is described as having been slain and possesses all of these horns and eyes. These two verses along with the previous verse contrast the Lion with the Lamb. As lion Christ is sovereign; as lion He is Judge. The lamb refers to His first coming, for it speaks of His meekness. As lamb He is Saviour, as lamb He is judged. The lamb speaks also of the grace of God. Christ is only referred to as the Lion just once, in verse five of this chapter. Many more times He is referred to as the Lamb.
The horns seemingly speak of the authority of a king(refer to Daniel 7:24). The seven eyes are rather easy to understand since we are directly told that they are the seven Spirits of God that are sent out into all of the earth(refer to Zechariah 3:9, 4:10). Some wish to believe that these are angels, but it is much more consistent with other scripture to link this to the Holy Spirit(John 16:7).
The Lamb is represented as being sovereign, omnipotent in power, and worthy as the Redeemer who died. Also consistent with earlier chapters of Revelation is the picture that Christ is still in the midst of the saints, whether it is here on earth or up in heaven. Verse seven shows us that Christ's authority is affirmed by the fact that He takes the book out of the right hand of God the Father who sits upon the throne. In receiving the book it is made evident that all judgment and power over the entire earth are committed to Christ the Son of God. As we saw previously, Daniel 7:13-14 is a passage that parallels this.
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by they blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on earth(5:8-10).
At this point Christ is no longer the intercessor of the church, for the church is with Him in heaven. He is now beginning to act as Judge. Verse eight registers a completed action in the first phrase "he had taken the book." This is the actual point in time when Christ Jesus takes over control of the creation.
By the worship and prostration of the living creatures and the elders it should be clear to us that the Lamb is not just a prophet or an exalted angel but is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ in all the majesty of deity, even though He is shown here in His sacrificial role as the Lamb who died on the cross at Calvary.
The twenty-four elders act as priests, even as Christ's church is a priesthood of believers. The "vials full of odours" identified as the prayers of the saints, are of gold. If we remember, in the Tabernacle there was incense to be burned upon the altar always. Here in heaven the importance of our prayers down here on earth is reinforced. Later in this book testimony is given to the continued witness on earth of those who trust in Christ during the time of the Great Tribulation. The symbolism of bowls of incense representing our prayers is reflected in Psalm 141:2 where David cried to God, "let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice."
Then a new song is sung, one in which Christ is declared to be worthy due to His work of redemption through His spilled blood, and also through His transformation of men into kings and priests. Notice the "they" in verse nine. This tells us that not only the church of saints in heaven sing this new song, but the angelic hosts must also join in. Think of it. People who have never before been able to carry a tune will be singing gloriously in heaven, praising God. If you are tone deaf today then a day is coming my friend, a day when you will be carrying a tune as well as anyone else ever has.
Now all of this begs an obvious question. What was the old song if the new song is one of redemption? Well, it must be the song of creation. In the Book of Job we are told that the sons of God sang, "when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy"(Job 38:7). They were singing because God was the Creator; they didn't really know anything about the love of God back then. Now we can sing about our Saviour who loves us and who gave Himself for us. He is worthy of praise and that is our worship.
I have mentioned before that some people feel that the elders are actually angels and not saints. Here in verses 9-10 we receive additional light being cast upon their identity. If the text here is correct, the 24 elders in their new song declare that God has redeemed them by His blood out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation and has made them kings and priests. If the elders are actually redeemed by the blood of Christ, it is then clear that they could not be angels but must be redeemed men. In some denominational churches they are removing all references to His blood, but up in heaven they are putting it back into the hymnals. Go figure that!
The peculiar purpose of God for His church is intimated in verse 10 in that the elders are declared to be kings and priests who shall reign on earth. The peculiar privileges of the church are indicated. We are to be a priesthood rather than having a priesthood, and are to be a royal family rather than just being ruled by a king. We will not be so much subjects of the kingdom as we will be reigning with Christ on earth. The phrase "on the earth" is significant as it refers to the earthly millennial reign of Christ in which the saints will participate. In this glorious scene which is to follow the dark hour of the Tribulation, the church will share the glory of Christ as joint heirs with Christ.
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing(5:11-12).
John introduces the exaltation of the Lamb in verse 11 with the repeated words "And I beheld, and I heard." Fourty-four times in this book John declares that he saw something and twenty-seven times he declares that he heard something. Heaven is not a boring place, beloved! Things are a happening there. Sights to see and sounds to hear.
We see that there is a great number of angels gathered all around the throne of God. All present are participating in a great symphony of vocal praise to God. My friends, if today you are one of those who do not raise a joyful noise unto the Lord during worship services what are you going to do when you are in heaven? I say, start getting used to singing here on earth for you will be spending eternity singing in heaven!
At any rate, all of this praise and worship is merely prelude to the mighty scenes yet to unfold in the coming chapters.
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
and the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever(5:13-14).
As if the incredible throng singing up in heaven wasn't enough, now every creature on earth, under the earth, and in the oceans adds its praise. The beasts pronounce their Amen and the elders fall down and offer their worship as well as a fitting climax to this chapter's scene. In chapter six we will switch locations from heaven back down to earth. These coming scenes of earth are dark, forboding ones compared to the uplifting scenes we just finished with, here in heaven.
Here on earth, the Christian will be engulfed by temptation, persecution, and trials. He can take comfort and courage from the fact that Christ also suffered and was tempted and tried, and that He prevailed and overcame. Those who follow in His steps while in the world may endure many troubles, but they are assured that they will share with the Lord His glory and His grace throughout all of eternity. Hallelujah!
The same Lord and Redeemer who is the object of adoration and worship by the saints is also the righteous Judge of the wicked earth and the One by whose authority the terrible events of the Tribulation unfold. How important is the decision that faces every human soul today? Today is the day of your redemption, today grace flows abundantly. Those who hear today and respond to the divine invitation have the promise of blessings throughout eternity and deliverance from the time of judgment which will assuredly fall upon all who neglect to accept God's gift of redemption in their day of opportunity.
Far too many saints feel that heaven is an unreal place. We tend to become too preoccupied with the things of this present world, which can be seen and touched and tasted. Too frequently goals in life have very little to do with heaven's values. "Where your treasure is, there is your heart also." We have been given a glimpse of the glory that awaits us in heaven through the eyes and ears of John the Apostle. As far as the heavens are above the earth, so far the glory of heaven exceeds what the natural eye can see in this world around us. Get excited, for we are glory bound! Amen! The true occupation of the child of God ought to be one of praise and worship of the God of glory while awaiting the fulfillment of His prophetic Word.
Next time we will begin chapter six where we will see the opening of the seven sealed book. You can see an orderly process in the Book of Revelation, can't you? We need to follow Peter's rule for prophecy: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation"(II Peter 1:20). We cannot interpret any prophecy by itself, and it cannot come from any one individual. Each prophecy must be looked at as a part of a whole and it must fit in with the other prophecies. We cannot forget that John gave us an orderly division of this book. First he wrote of the things that he had seen, then he wrote about the things that are, and finally he wrote about the things which will be after these things. So chapters 4-5 began to show us some of the things which will be after the church age ends here on earth. Chapter 6 will shift us back to earth to witness the effects of the seven seals being broken and all that transpires after that. It is a chilling picture that should motivate all of us to witness more boldly in the days to come. Until then, I pray for all those who have recently lost loved ones. I pray that Christ comes into your hearts and brings you peace. May He bring courage and strength to get you through your times of heartache and sorrow. Turn to Him and ask Him to satisfy your need for comfort and release from the pain of loss. He will hear your supplications and He will answer the call for help. Doubt not, nor turn away from your God in anger. He promises to turn all bad things into good for those whom He loves. Trust Him to do what is right and good for your life. Be faithful through the storms. Prevail and overcome. He shall reward you in due time.
Sun, Dec 2nd - 1:44PM
Good afternoon friends! First of all, I would ask all of you who read this posting to please take the time to offer up prayers for Mitch and Betty Ratliff. Their son lost his beloved wife recently and suddenly. Pray for the Lord to sustain them and strengthen them during this time of loss.
Chapter five of Revelation continues this scene of the church in heaven with Christ. I think it is appropriate for all of us to get acquainted with the place where we will one day be going to live. If you are going to a foreign land for a vacation don't you study up on the location? Sure you do. So, if you are going to heaven, you will want to know something about where you are going, and this chapter sure will help you out.
Chapter five is set in heaven, preparing to lead up to the events of the Great Tribulation on earth. The throne of God was the centerpiece of chapter four. The Lion and the Lamb, both of whom represent Christ, are the center of this next chapter. He is in full charge of all the events which follow in this book so let's not lose sight of Him, shall we?
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals(5:1).
Notice that this chapter opens up with and, a connective word, a little conjunction, which indicates to us that something went before. This is a string that ties us back to chapter four. There could almost be no chapter division at all since this is all the same subject matter. "I saw" identifies John as an eyewitness to these things. All of his senses were involved in this revelation being given to him, I think that we ought to keep that in our minds as well as we read these passages today.
God the Father holds in His hand a scroll which is rolled up tightly and sealed closed with seven seals. Interestingly, the Roman law required that a will be sealed seven times. While that is interesting, we all know that the number seven means completeness. What is on this scroll is completed, no additional entries to be made. Some consider this scroll to be "the book of the new covenant," or "the book of the judgment," or "the revelation of God's purpose and counsel concerning the world." Whatever its actual title, this scroll in reality is God's property deed to this entire earth. In Daniel we read:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed(7:13-14).
We will see that what is being handed over to Him is the title deed to our world. He created it, He redeemed it, and it belongs to Him and to no other.
In the book of Zechariah we read: "Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll. And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof is ten cubits. Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it"(5:1-3).
I offer that this flying roll is the same thing as the scroll here in Revelation. Some think that the Ten Commandments are on this roll and that the world is to be judged by those commandments. It sounds good, but I am not sure that that is correct. Many suggestions have been made to identify this roll, but this is one place whre we cannot become dogmatic.
Perhaps this book represents God's new covenant wtih Israel. God talks about this covenant a great deal. In Jeremiah we read, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah...I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people"(31:31,33). Paul writes in Romans, "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins"(11:26-27).
In Hebrews we find these words: "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them"(10:16). This is a quote of what Jeremiah wrote. In Hebrews it continues: "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now whre remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin"(10:17-18).
The old covenant God had made with Israel depended upon man. The Ten Commandments said, "Don't, don't, don't." It depended upon the flesh, and as a result, it failed miserably. The failure was not because anything was wrong with the commandments or with the Law that came from God. The problem existed with us. The problem in the Garden of Eden came from the same thing. The fruit on the tree of life was good, it was the pair on the ground that was rotten. This New Covenant depends upon the power of the throne of Almighty God; it depends upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?(5:2).
The question is being asked again as to who has the authority and the proper title deed. Do you think that the conservatives can open it? Or perhaps the liberals? Maybe the members of Greenpeace can open this book? I sincerely hope none of you reading this blog thinks that man can solve mankind's problems. The Word of God makes it quite clear that man cannot sove his own problems, if anything, man will make them worse.
A "strong angel" means a powerful angel, one who is probably in a position of authority over other angels in heaven. He has a loud voice that more than likely can be heard over long distances. He is proclaiming, he is asking of everyone and everything, who is able to open it?
And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon(5:3).
No one of Adam's lineage has the right to open the book and to take charge of this earth. Adam had dominion over the earth once, he lost dominion through sin. Moses was the lawgiver, but he was also a lowbreaker. David and his line failed. No, none of Adam's line qualifies. Satan is working at it, but he cannot do it either for he sinned also. The question is: Who is going to be able to open the book?
And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon(5:4).
John is greatly disturbed by this quandary set before his eyes in heaven. He wept, and he wept much. He was a man who desired to look into the things that even angels cannot look into. Is the earth doomed to continue in sin and sorrow? Is there no future for any of us? Read what Paul wrote: "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of our body"(Romans 8:23). And again in Romans 8:22; "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."
Evolution is possibly the most pessimistic belief system that any of us can ever buy into. No wonder it has aided so many suicides among so-called intelligent people. What hope can we possibly have in the future if it took billions of years just to get to where we are today? Look around you. People breaking and entering a professional athelete's home in Florida and then shooting the man after discovering that he was still home. He died in the hospital. Or the professional football player caught doing dog fights. Or the people who take in foster children merely for the money and proceed to abuse the foster children even more than their biological parents did. Or those who hunt down and murder others whose religious beliefs are different from theirs. Are we basically "good?" I think not. No wonder John wept, he knew what his brothers and sisters were capable of doing to each other.
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof(5:5).
Praise the Lord! One person in the entire universe was found to be worthy to open that book! Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Now, obviously any one of the 24 elders could have answered this question put forth by that strong angel. They all had spiritual illumination. The Lord Jesus Christ is the One who has the right and title to this entire planet that we live on. He not only redeemed you and me, He redeemed the entire earth.
"The Lion of the tribe of Juda" identifies Him, of course, with the tribe of Judah. When old Jacob was dying, he called his twelve sons to his bedside, and this is the prophecy he gave concerning Judah: "Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be"(Genesis 49:9-10). He is also "the Root of David." In II Samuel 7 God says: "I am going to bring One in your line who shall rule, not only over these people, but over the whole earth." Christ fulfilled these prophecies, or is going to fulfill them in the near future.
I will stop here for now, beloved. Next time we shall see the Lamb of God and the Holy Spirit together in heaven. Until then, remember that one person can make a difference in this world, especially if that one person allows God to work through them. Praise, honor, and glory to God on highest.
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