Tuesday, January 29, 2013

144,00 JEWISH WITNESSES AND THE RAPTURED CHURCH IN HEAVEN (Post #11)


As stated in previous posts, the best understanding of the information presented in this blog post will best be understood in context of the flow of the previous posts in this series.  This post in particular is directly related to the previous post.

After the opening of the sixth seal, John is allowed to see some events that seem to occur before the opening of the seventh seal. 

First, he sees four angels at the four corners of the earth that seem to be in control of the four winds.  They are instructed not to cause any destruction on earth until the servants of God have been sealed with a mark (from the Greek) in their foreheads.   These servants are then identified as being composed of 144,000 Jews from the 12 tribes of Israel. 

We will find out later in Revelation 14 that this mark is the name of God.  Revelation 9 informs us (as implied by the wording in this chapter) that the seal provides protection for these witnesses during the time of their ministry. 

In the last post I concluded that there is a strong possibility that the earthquake resulting from the opening of the sixth seal is directly connected to the rapture.  The fact that God is sealing witnesses to His truth following the opening of that seal fits right in with the fact that God will not leave the world without a witness to His truth.  Though not mentioned yet in the narrative, I believe the two witnesses spoken of in chapter 11 will be witnessing during the first half of the tribulation period (but more on that later).  The events of the sixth seal judgment have evidently resulted in many Jews finally accepting the truth of scripture and turning to the Lord in faith.  It is also fitting that God’s primary witnesses during the tribulation period be Jewish, since the purpose of that time period is to produce a purified remnant of Jewish believers through whom God will fulfill His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.

The next things John sees is “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” standing before the throne and before the Lamb—the victorious risen Savior.  That is the very description used of the body of believers in chapter five.  It is so very clear to me that this is a picture of all those who have been raptured—a special mystery revealed by Paul.

1 Corinthians 15:51–52 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

This also fits perfectly with the words of Jesus recorded by John in his gospel.

John 14:1–3 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

When John was caught up to heaven in the fourth chapter, which many people interpret as meaning that the rapture happens at that point, Jesus is nowhere to be found and the 24 elders are assumed to represent that body of believers.  At this point in chapter seven, however, we see a great multitude of believers from every people group standing in the presence of Jesus before the throne of the Father—“that where I am, there ye may be also.”  It just makes so much sense to me.

The scene is one of worship and praise by all who are in heaven.  Notice that the scene includes the peoples of the nations, the angels, the elders and the four beasts.  If the 24 elders represented those raptured, why are they identified separately?

One of the elders actually tells John that these people had come out of great tribulation.  I have most often heard it taught that this represents those who have died during the tribulation, but it just doesn’t fit.  “The great tribulation” is a reference to the last 3.5 years of that seven-year period; we haven’t gotten to the midpoint yet.  I think people forget that Luke tells us that all believers will enter the kingdom of God through “much tribulation”—from the Greek:  affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble.

Acts 14:22 “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

I just realized that the Lord is declaring that there will be people from every nation in that body of believers.  I am reminded that no one will have a valid excuse for rejecting God before His judgment throne.  He has promised that those who respond to the revelation He has given and seek to know more will receive accordingly. 

Psalms 19:1–3 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”

Romans 1:19–20 “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse….”

Jeremiah 29:13 “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Titus 2:11 “For God’s grace, which brings deliverance, has appeared to all people.”

Revelation 21:6 “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”

Many like to limit the promises of God without consideration of the character of God.  Scripture is clear that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not….”

Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Scripture is clear that the revelation of God is evident in His creation to such an extent that it leaves man without excuse.  Scripture is clear that He is not willing that any should perish.  Scripture is everywhere clear that God is eager to respond to those who seek to know Him.

(to be continued…)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

THE OPENING OF THE SIXTH SEAL (Post #10)


As stated in previous posts, the best understanding of the information presented in this blog post will best be understood in context of the flow of the previous posts in this series.

We now come to the opening of the sixth seal.  The opening of this seal results in several specific events happening at a specific time in conjunction with one another.

John’s terminology does allow for making comparisons to something when he uses the term “as.” He is saying that this is what he sees—an actual earthquake, a changing of color of the sun and moon, an actual falling of the stars from heaven to earth (then he gives a word picture of what their falling looks like).  It’s a little harder to understand what he is saying regarding the heavens being rolled together; he is clearly trying to paint a word picture of what he is seeing in this instance.  Then, he goes right back to actual happenings—mountains and islands being moved out of position and men hiding in caves. 

These events appear to have worldwide impact.  The earthquake is so powerful that it causes the mountains and islands of the earth to change positions.  The 9.0 earthquake in Indonesia in December 2004 could be a foreshadowing of this event.  Following is an excerpt from Wikipedia regarding this quake:  “The magnitude of the earthquake was originally recorded as 9.0 on the Richter scale, but has been upgraded to between 9.1 and 9.3. At this magnitude, it is the second largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. This earthquake was also reported to be the longest duration of faulting ever observed, lasting between 500 and 600 seconds (8.3 to 10 minutes), and it was large enough that it caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as half an inch, or over a centimeter.  It also triggered earthquakes in other locations as far away as Alaska.”

Scientist Henry Morris provides some scientific insight in his book The Revelation Record:  “…the vast worldwide network of unstable earthquake belts around the world suddenly will begin to slip and fracture on a global basis and a gigantic earthquake will ensue.  This is evidently, and naturally, accompanied by tremendous volcanic eruptions, spewing vast quantities of dust and steam and gases into the upper atmosphere.  It is probably these that will cause the sun to be darkened and the moon to appear blood-red.”

John sees stars falling towards earth, but God probably supernaturally destroys them since His intent is not to destroy the earth.  This could be supported by the terminology in Isaiah talking about the host of heaven dissolving.

Isaiah 34:4 “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.”

The emphasis seems to be on instilling a godly fear into man.  God is trying to get his attention before it is too late to recognize who He is and turn to Him in faith and repentance.  This reasoning seems to be supported with a cross reference in Joel talking about this time.

Joel 2:30-32 “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”
  
Note that verse seventeen specifically states that men recognize that the “great day of His wrath is come.”  In context, the “His” is in reference is to the One on the throne and the Lamb.

Revelation 6:16–17 “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?”

I am convinced that it is these events that begin the “day of the Lord” as defined in Post 7 and provide the conditions through which the Antichrist can emerge as a world savior and cause the peoples of the world to eventually accept him as their god.  Remember—he will be able to cause “lying wonders.”

I have a book by David Lowe, Then His Voice Shook the Earth, in which he points out that there are three instances in scripture of resurrection to immortality, and each is accompanied by an earthquake—the resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28:2-7); the resurrection of the “many saints” that appeared after Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 27:51-53); and the resurrection of the Two Witnesses of Revelation (11:11-13).  

If it is true that resurrections to immortality and earthquakes are directly related, one can only imagine the magnitude of an earthquake connected to the rapture of the millions of saints when the dead in Christ rise first.  I think Mr. Lowe is on to something, and that the earthquake resulting from the opening of this seal is probably directly connected to the rapture.   As you will see, it seems to fit perfectly within the context of events presented in the next chapter.

(to be continued…)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

THE COMPARISON BETWEEN REVELATION 6 AND MATTHEW 24 CONTINUES (Post #9)


I hope you are reading these posts in the order posted, since that will provide the best understanding from a biblical foundation regarding the thoughts being shared.   It will also be helpful if you will read Matthew 24:1-10 to better be able to discern the validity of my comments in this post.  You will find that the information presented there seems to be directly related to the opening of the first five seals.  The signs that correlate to the first four seals are described in Matthew as “the beginning of sorrows,” a term that references the pains of childbirth; in other words, they will increase in frequency and intensity as the time for Jesus to return draws near.

When Jesus opens the second seal, John sees a rider emerge on a red horse carrying a sword.  Notice that, just as with the first rider, the power of this rider is given to him.  By whom?  The One who possesses the authority to open the seals—Jesus.  The purpose of the rider is to eliminate any kind of peace on earth and encourage people to kill one another. 

This rider falls right in line with the next “sign” that Jesus identified to His disciples as part of the birth pains that would precede “the end.”  He is referencing the end of the world as we now know it under the rule of Satan and the establishment of a true new world order when Jesus returns as King of kings. 

Matthew 24:3 “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

Matthew 24:6-7 “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom….”

I think a look at history proves that beginning in the twentieth century, war and rumors of war on a worldwide scale have increased dramatically both in number and intensity. 

At the opening of the third seal, there emerges a rider on a black horse carrying a pair of balances in his hand that are directly related to the world economy.  The picture painted is one of famine for many although there will still be those who will enjoy life with plenty and luxury.  Though there has always been a distinction in social levels among the peoples of the world, I think that the last decade in particular has shown a marked change in the world financial picture.  The economics of the nations of the world are interdependent on one another more than ever before, and the destruction of the middle class continues at an exponential rate. 

Again, this rider and the next directly connect to the final signs identified as birth pains by Jesus in Matthew.

Matthew 24:7-8 “… and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

The opening of the fourth seal presents a rider on a pale horse identified as “Death,” and he is followed by a rider named “Hell.”  Again they are “given” power to kill with sword, hunger, death and wild animals over 25% of those on planet earth.  It just occurred to me that this 25% is in reference to those that have rejected Jesus as Savior—“Death” takes the body and “Hell” takes the soul.  We know that when believers die they are absent from the body and present with the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:6–8 “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

At the opening of the fifth seal we see martyred souls under the altar asking God when He will avenge their deaths.  Again, this fits right in with the narrative from Matthew.

Matthew 24:9–10 “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.”

Though Jesus was talking to His Jewish disciples (and Matthew is writing to the Jews), He is also talking to those that formed the foundational pillars of the church.  Though there can be specific address to the Jewish people as a whole in the wording in Matthew, it also addresses the death of true Christian martyrs throughout history whatever their ethnicity. 

It is important to note that these martyrs are told to wait “a little season” until their number is complete.  I believe this references the death of the final Christian martyr of the church age.  The implication—It is then that God will exact His vengeance.

I would also like to remind you that the perspective of time in heaven is quite different from the perspective of time on earth.

Psalms 90:4 “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”


2 Peter 3:8 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord
as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

It is in light of that truth that I believe these seals are already open.  As to exactly when each of the first four seals were opened, I do not know.  The fifth seal is outside the scope of those described as birth pains, and I believe represents all the martyrs of the church age.

(to be continued…)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

JESUS BEGINS TO OPEN THE SCROLL (Post #8)


It is important that you read the previous post to be able to fully understand the comments in this post.  It will also be helpful if you will read Matthew 24:1-10 to better be able to discern the validity of my comments in this post.  You will find that the information presented there seems to be directly related to the opening of the first five seals.  The signs that correlate to the first four seals are described in Matthew as “the beginning of sorrows,” a term that references the pains of childbirth; in other words, they will increase in frequency and intensity as the time for Jesus to return draws near.

As Jesus begins to open the seals, He is preparing the way for the rule of the Antichrist during the seven years of tribulation identified in the previous post.  There are some people that think the rider on the white horse is Jesus—I don’t see how—He is the one opening the seals.  These riders and horses all seem to be related; they all depict judgment. 

When Jesus opens the first seal, a rider emerges on a white horse carrying a bow and wearing a crown that had been given to him.  His purpose is to go forth and conquer the world.  Note that he is carrying a bow; research indicates that this word references the arc or crescent shape of the weapon he carries.  The scientific names of some organisms were derived from the Greek root “toxon” because of their shape, e.g. toxoplasma.   The word is singular and would seem to indicate a bow with no reference to arrows; in other words, he will conquer without using physical force.

In Matthew 24 Jesus first warns His disciples that many will come claiming to be “Christ” and will deceive many.  It is posited by many that this rider represents the final antichrist that will emerge as the world dictator of the final days before Jesus returns as King.  That person will initially establish himself as a world leader who is able to broker a seven-year peace treaty with Israel. 

I think the rider on the white horse represents Satan going forth to exert his power and influence on the world through the being we call Antichrist.  He will first appear as a man of peace, an angel of light. 

2 Corinthians 11:14–15 “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

Satan doesn’t know the time of the Lord’s return any more than we do, and he has had to be ready with his man of sin in every generation since the resurrection.

Significant to note is that the crown represents authority, but it has been given to him—not earned.  Upon creation God gave man dominion over the earth. 

Genesis 1:26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

Man basically handed the control of this world over to Satan when he chose to sin by believing Satan rather than trusting God.  Satan has been busy ever since seeking control of men.

1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”

2 Corinthians 4:3–4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Paul makes it clear that Jesus called him to witness to the Gentiles to deliver them from the power of Satan unto God.  His call as stated in Acts 26:18 was to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

It has ever been Satan’s desire to attain the position of God…

Isaiah 14:12–14 “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

and he will attempt to establish his throne as God in the temple in Jerusalem during the tribulation.

2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

Satan will be greatly assisted in accomplishing his objective by producing “lying wonders,” apparent miracles that many will assume has to be from God.  They will be greatly deceived.

2 Thessalonians 2:8–10 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

(to be continued…)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

THE DAY OF THE LORD AND THE 70TH WEEK OF DANIEL (Post #7)


It will be helpful if you will read Daniel 9 in preparation for better understanding of my comments in this post. 

Chapter 6 begins with Jesus opening the sealed scroll.  The opening of each of the first four seals is followed with one of the four beasts telling John to “come and see” what happens on earth as a result of the opening of each seal.  I will say up front that my thoughts on this section have continued to evolve over the last several years.  I also want to clarify that I believe in the pretribulation rapture of the church; I’m just not sure I agree with many that the tribulation starts with the opening of the seals.   (Note:  I define the tribulation as the last seven years on earth before Jesus returns as King of kings to establish His kingdom.  It is also known as the 70th week of Daniel.)

Daniel 9:24–26 “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. 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.”

If you want more detailed information on this passage in Daniel, please go to my website at www.momsbiblejournal.com.  For the purposes of this post it is important to note that the 70 weeks are determined upon “thy people” and “thy holy city.”  This prophecy was given to Daniel, an Israelite who was taken captive to Babylon from Jerusalem.  Also important to note is that after 69 weeks Messiah was to be cut off—crucified—and the city of Jerusalem destroyed by the people of the coming prince (i.e., the Antichrist).  History proves that to be a reference to the Romans.

As the first four seals are opened, John sees horsemen being sent out to exact judgment upon the earth; therefore, many believe that this begins the tribulation, the 70th week of Daniel.   

It is important to be aware that there is also a day of God’s wrath, the day of the Lord, that is prophesied throughout scripture; it is a time in which God will exact vengeance against His enemies and all that is wicked in this world.  It is also important to recognize that God has exacted judgment against the nations of the world throughout history as recorded in scripture.  This “day of the Lord” judgment that I am referencing will happen in conjunction with the events of the tribulation period just before Jesus returns as King.

Isaiah 2:10–12 & 17 “Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low… And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.”

Isaiah 13:6&11 “Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty….And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”

Nahum 1:2 “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.”

Malachi 4:5–6 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD….”

Acts 2:19–20 “And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come….”

1 Thessalonians 5:1–3 “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 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.”

Most people lump together the tribulation period and the day of the Lord, but it is clear to me that they are directed toward different people groups with different purposes.  The tribulation is directed toward the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem as a refining fire to produce a purified remnant of believers that accept Jesus as the Messiah.  The day of the Lord is directed in wrath, vengeance and destruction against the wicked world and His enemies.  Though I believe these two periods of time occur basically in conjunction with one another; I do not believe that God’s wrath necessarily begins at the same time as the 70th week.

With this foundation in mind, we will begin in the next post to address the opening of the seven-sealed scroll.

(to be continued…)

Monday, January 14, 2013

SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE 70TH WEEK OF DANIEL – THE 7-YEAR TRIBULATION (Post #6)


We now come to chapter 4 of the Revelation.  I believe chapters four and five are setting the stage for events that are in the prophetic future (similar to chapter 12). 

The chapter begins with the words “after this.”  After what?  After receiving the letters to the seven churches.  John is then commanded to come up and see what is going to happen “hereafter.”  The voice giving the command is compared to a trumpet, and since Paul tells us in Thessalonians that we will be taken home to be with Jesus at the sound of the “trump of God…” 

1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

…many people assume that this means that John is a picture of the rapture of the church at this point.  I just don’t think that understanding is a good fit in the prophetic puzzle as you consider the context of the scripture surrounding it.  It makes more sense within the context to represent a change in perspective—from earthly to heavenly.

When John enters heaven, he sees God the Father on the throne.  Around the throne are 24 elders sitting on 24 “thronos” in the Greek defined as “a stately seat (“throne”)” that are wearing crowns of gold.  Because scripture says that we will rule with Christ and that we can earn crowns of reward, many assume that this has to picture the body of believers.  The Greek for “crowns” is the word “stephanos,” and is defined as “a chaplet (as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally).  Again, I think they are trying to force a puzzle piece to fit that doesn’t. 

I am reminded that both Moses and David were given blueprints as to the building of the tabernacle and temple respectively. 

1 Chronicles 28:11–13 “Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat, And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things: Also for the courses of the priests and the Levites, and for all the work of the service of the house of the LORD, and for all the vessels of service in the house of the LORD.”

1 Chronicles 24:1–4 “Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. But Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children: therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest’s office. And David distributed them, both Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, according to their offices in their service. And there were more chief men found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar; and thus were they divided. Among the sons of Eleazar there were sixteen chief men of the house of their fathers, and eight among the sons of Ithamar according to the house of their fathers.”
(16 + 8 = 24 ---- coincidence?  I think not.)

I am also reminded that Daniel records a vision of thrones of authority being positioned in judgment.

Daniel 7:9–10 “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. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.”

Earlier in Daniel we are told of judgment that is declared against Nebuchadnezzar by decree of the “watchers…the holy ones.”

Daniel 4:13–17 “I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”

It makes sense to me that just as with government on earth, there is a hierarchy among the angels in heaven.  Evidently, some have been chosen to serve as part of God’s heavenly supreme court.

In light of this scriptural foundation from the Old Testament, I would also like to point out some other facts.  Other beings identified by John at this time include “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” and four beasts that seem to mirror the cherubim described in Ezekiel 10.  As we continuing reading in chapter 5, we learn that there are so many angels around the throne that John can only describe it as “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.”  The picture is one of a multitude of the heavenly hosts.

Another important observation—Where is Jesus?  We are told in scripture that once He returned to heaven, He was seated at the right hand of the Father where He is ever interceding for us.

Romans 8:33–34 “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

Hebrews 1:1–3 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high….”

Hebrews 7:22&25 “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament….Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Hebrews 8:1 “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens….”

Another pertinent observation—The 24 elders are already in place when John arrives in heaven, and he is not one of them.

As chapter five opens, we see God the Father seated on His throne and holding a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.  Next John sees a strong angel calling out for He who is worthy to step forward and loose the seals.  Point is made that no one was immediately found in earth or heaven that qualified.  John begins to weep openly because he understood the consequences of that fact; he knew that the eternal future of believers and the fulfillment of God’s covenants with Abraham and David were in jeopardy.  One of the elders then speaks up and tells John not to weep because “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

When John looks up, he sees standing in the midst of the thrones and elders “a Lamb as it had been slain,” and is identified as possessing the seven Spirits of God.  This is obviously the risen Lord returning to heaven victorious over the grave and worthy to take the scroll and loose the seals.  John is allowed to witness the Lord’s glorious return to heaven as the risen Savior and King of kings before He takes His seat at the right hand of the Father to await the time designated to establish His earthly kingdom as determined before the foundation of the earth according to God’s plan.

I believe as we continue into the next few chapters, it will become clear that Jesus, the Son of Man, God in flesh, is reclaiming man’s authority over planet earth and that the scroll represents His right to do so.

Once Jesus takes the scroll, the inhabitants of heaven begin praising God.  The 24 elders sing a new song, the words of which are in dispute according to the translation you choose to accept.  I base all of my studies on the King James translation of the scripture; but when I look at the original Hebrew or Greek, I sometimes think that the translators could have chosen a better word considering the context.  Considering the scriptural foundation established previously and the most logical reading of the context, I believe the NIV (supported by several other translations) gives a better translation in this instance. 

Revelation 5:9–10 “And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

The expanded Greek translation of Kenneth Wuest, noted New Testament Greek scholar from Moody Bible Institute, also supported the NIV with the following translation:  “you are worthy…you redeemed to God through your blood [men] out of every tribe and language…and constituted them to our God…and they shall reign as kings on the earth.”

The chapter closes with all of the angels around the throne breaking out in praise and worship of the Lamb.  It seems clear to me that this is a collective group of angelic beings of all ranks; there seems to be no justification for adding humanity to the mix.  That will change in chapter 7.

(to be continued…)

Friday, January 11, 2013

THE LETTERS TO THE CHURCHES (Post #5)


You will need to read chapter 3 of Revelation to be able to discern whether my comments in this post are valid. 

The next letter is to the church at Sardis from the living God that empowers His messengers.  In this letter the Lord emphasizes the truth that works without faith are dead.  It is true that faith without works is dead; but it is also true that works are meaningless unless mixed with faith.  Works without faith may provide some personal satisfaction to our sense of self-pride, but they have no eternal benefit.  They may provide some temporary relief to others through the provision of physical needs, but they do nothing to provide for their spiritual needs or their eternal future if not done in conjunction with sharing the gospel and the love of Jesus.  In the end what others think about us is not what is important; it’s what God knows about us that impacts our eternity. 

We also learned that it is possible to find true believers in a dead church.  Again, this emphasizes that God is concerned about individuals.  A warning is given to this congregation composed primarily of unbelievers to repent and place their faith in the truth of scripture so that the Lord’s day of judgment will not catch them by surprise.  This reminds me of the words of Paul.

1 Thessalonians 5:2–4 “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 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. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.”

No one will be judged unworthy based on with whom they fellowship here on earth.  One is counted worthy who has not defiled his garments because he is washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.  Overcomers that have a true testimony of faith in spite of attending a dead church will walk with Jesus in white because they have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb.  Their names will be listed in the Book of Life, and Jesus will acknowledge them as His before the Father and His angels.

The letter to Philadelphia declares it to be a message from the Lord of all power and authority.  Jesus acknowledges this church to be weak in strength but declares that it is strong in faith.  It tells us that though believers may suffer trials and/or persecutions in this lifetime while many of Satan’s followers seem to prosper in the eyes of the world, the time will come that the Lord will place His children in a position of honor before them.  They will know that despite what they may have thought based upon circumstances while here on this earth, we are loved by our Father in heaven.  We also learn that those who have proven their faith will be kept from the time of adversity that God has appointed on His prophetic calendar to carry out His vengeance upon His enemies in the world—earth dwellers.  We pilgrims of the faith are just sojourners here; we are heaven dwellers.  This letter acknowledges that believers will suffer, but their patient endurance in the faith will be rewarded.

There are many false teachers today who teach that God wants everyone to be wealthy, healthy and strong.  Throughout scripture we learn that great men and women of faith often face great trials and suffering.  It is a very powerful witness to the lost world around us when our actions show tenacity of faith and exhibit peace of spirit due to the grace and faithfulness of Almighty God through the ministry of His Holy Spirit during such times.

The overcomer in this weak church is promised a position of strength for eternity and will be proudly identified as belonging to God when He marks us with His name, the name of the New Jerusalem and the new name of Jesus our King.

The last letter is addressed to the church at Laodicea from the one true God of Creation.  God pictures this church as making Him sick to His stomach.  It is primarily a warning against hypocrisy.  Many churches are churches in name only, but sadly the people think they are serving God.  This church is a very wealthy church materially speaking, but they are spiritual paupers.  I liken this church to the wealthy churches today that provide social functions for the community and humanitarian aid for those in need, but they are really serving self and not God in the process.  I am reminded of Jesus words as recorded by Matthew.

Matthew 7:21–23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

It would seem that those in this church see themselves as spiritually healthy.  The Lord reminds them that He rebukes and chastens those He loves.  If you are not feeling His rebuke and chastening in your life, it’s a danger sign.  It is a sad day when God is left standing and knocking at the door seeking fellowship with those in this church.  He wants to see them respond to Him with repentance and faith.  He wants them to see with spiritual eyes and hear with spiritual ears. 

It truly is amazing that most people seem to prefer investing time in their own works rather than investing time in fellowship with and worship of God and resting in the work of His Son.  Our works should be an outworking of our fellowship with and worship of the Lord.  It is through fellowship and worship that we are attuned to the leading of the Spirit to serve others according to God’s will and not our own.  That leading assures us God’s empowerment and provision through His Holy Spirit and will always glorify the Savior—not the servant.

Overcomers are promised the privilege of sharing the throne of Jesus as He rules for eternity over His creation.

(to be continued…)