Revelation 1-11 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight REV01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet, soaring through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Let's have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you for Your word and thank you, Lord, that we have been able to, over the course of time, been able to browse all 66 books to get a working knowledge of the grand themes of this book, these books, all 66, but Your book, Your revelation, the Bible.
Lord, I pray that as we go through this last book, that it would bring what the author promised it would bring, what You promised it would bring, and that is joy to our lives. In Jesus' name, amen. OK, here we go. Buckle your seat belt. We're going to move kind of fast.
Somebody once said that we should all be concerned about the future, because we're going to have to spend the rest of our lives there. And yet, I love what Abraham Lincoln said. He said, the great thing about the future is it only comes one day at a time. So we do, in this book, look to the future. It is daunting to read when we discover what the Bible predicts the future will be like.
But we are living one day at a time as we march forward to the grand event of all events, the return of Jesus Christ to take control of this crazy planet that he created and that we ruined. You are looking at the book of Revelation. It is not an allegory. It is not a fantasy. It is not poetry. It is not legendary prose. It is predictive prophecy. And as you know, I take the Bible literally, though I certainly give margin for literature that is figurative in nature but points to a reality, like the Book of Revelation does.
The book of Revelation gives more details about the end of days, the last days of human history, and on into the eternal state than any other book in the Bible. A lot of books are prophetic and feed into the Book of Revelation, like Daniel and others-- Matthew 24, the words of Jesus in the Olivet discourse. But the Book of Revelation really unpacks and reveals in detail the great tribulation period, the coming of the man of sin-- that's what Paul called the Antichrist. John called him the Antichrist.
The final conflict in the Middle East, the return of Jesus Christ, the millennial kingdom, the eternal state-- all of that is worked out in this last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. It is predictive prophecy. Sad to say, many people have been afraid of the Book of Revelation. Just reading through it, it's like, this is weird. This is scary. You know, stars falling from Heaven, burning up the Earth, and this many people dying. It can be freaky.
I knew people in the world, before I was saved, that used to do LSD and read the Book of Revelation. Not a good thing to do. First of all, it's just not a good thing to take LSD in general. And then to read Revelation on top of that, it's not a good way to interpret the Book of Revelation, and it could make for some very interesting and damaging results. But people are afraid, many times, because they don't get it. They don't understand it.
Now, my contention is the Book of Revelation is something you can understand, hence the book You Can Understand the Book of Revelation. And it's something God wants you to understand, because the name itself is the revelation, right? God is wanting to show you something. He's wanting to reveal something to. So it's not meant to be cryptic nor hidden. It is meant to be revealed.
But people have been afraid of it. In fact, they call it-- they call prophecy, in general-- a distraction. You shouldn't really dwell on future prophecy. It is a distraction. Well, if that is the case, God has certainly put a lot of distractions in the Bible, because 1/4 of the word of God is predictive prophecy. That's 25% is prophetic.
But people have been afraid of it. Martin Luther didn't like this book. At one point, he didn't think it was to be held as scripture. He divided all of scripture up into two categories, what he called heterolegomena and antilegomena-- that is approved authentic books and then disputed texts. Antilegomena-- disputed texts, disputed books. And he had seven books in that category, and one of them was the Book of Revelation. He didn't like it.
John Calvin didn't particularly like it. He wrote a commentary on all of the New Testament books except one. Guess which one. Book of Revelation. Now, if you don't read it literally and if you are an amillennialist-- I think I'll describe more of that next week when we're dealing with the millennial kingdom in chapter 20-- then you're probably inclined toward that way of thinking, to sort of dismiss it.
It's not for today. It's all allegorical. It's not really meant to be taken in any literal fashion at all. It doesn't mean what it says it means. It means something else. I always answer that by saying, pray tell, then tell me what it does mean. And I don't get a good answer when people say it's all allegory. They can't definitively tell me what it actually means.
But I don't think we should be afraid of it, obviously, hence the book You Can Understand the Book of Revelation, and the fact that we have taught through the Book of Revelation on several occasions. Something else-- in Calvin's day and Luther's day, the events that are written in this Book of Revelation and the scale to which they will occur in the future seemed hardly possible to ever be fulfilled. Today, we read the Book of Revelation, it seems highly probable. I mean, you read this going, I could see this happening, and I could see it actually happening in short order.
So it begins, in verse 1, the revelation of Jesus Christ. The word revelation is apokalypsus. We get the term apocalypse from it. Now, when a person thinks of an apocalypse, they think of a catastrophe. They think of total destruction. That's the dictionary meaning of the word apocalypse. If you look it up in an American or English dictionary, it's the total destruction of everything-- apocalypse.
That is not the meaning of the original Greek word apocalypse, apokalypsus. It is a word used 18 times in the New Testament, and it means to disclose or to reveal-- to disclose or to reveal. And what does it reveal? It is the revelation of Jesus Christ.
So it's like in verse 1, the author saying, ladies and gentlemen, Jesus Christ. Right up front, right off the bat, the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants things which must shortly take place. And he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John.
It's interesting that Martin Luther said, one of the reasons I dislike the Book of Revelation is that it does not recognize nor describe Jesus Christ. I find that an alarming statement from the lips of Martin Luther. It does not recognize Jesus Christ? Martin, man, you are so right on when it came to the reformation. You are so off base when it comes to the revelation. It's all about Jesus Christ.
Chapter 2 and 3, Jesus is seen as the master, the Lord, presiding over his church. Chapter 4 and 5, he's the glorified lamb of God in the courts of Heaven being worshipped by the throngs in Heaven. Chapter 6 through 19, he is the judge meting out God's wrath upon the Earth. Chapter 19, he is the returning Lord of Lord and King of Kings. Chapter 20, he is the bridegroom ruling over the newly revised millennial creation for 1,000 years with his bride. Chapter 21 and 22, he is the illumination of the new Jerusalem and the new Heaven and the new Earth.
He's all over the book. He is all throughout it. He is highly exalted. In fact, a vision of him occurs in the first chapter. We'll get to that. But a couple of more preliminary words in verse 1. And I know, we want to cover this through. We're going to cover half the book, God willing. If not, we always have next week.
But notice what it says. The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God-- that is God the Father-- gave to him, gave to Jesus, to show his servants. God gave it to Jesus. Jesus gave it to John. And he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John. But notice in verse 1, it says things which must shortly take place. To me, that's a key phrase, shortly, because you're reading that going, shortly? That was written 2,000 years ago. Shortly? Could you define shortly, John or Jesus, or God, since it came from you? Shortly?
The word here is important. It's the word in Greek, two words, [SPEAKING GREEK]. is the Greek word from which we get the word tachometer. And you know a tachometer is an instrument that measures the velocity. And the idea is that once the events begin to take place, they will take place rapidly, shortly. Once the events take place written about, it's not going to be a long time. It might take a long time to get up to that, but once they start ticking off, there's going to be a velocity to it.
That's what I think Jesus meant when he said, unless those days were shortened, there would be no flesh saved, but for the elect's sake, those days will be shortened, speaking of the days of the tribulation period. So, verse 2, "who bore witness to the word of God--" that is John-- "and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, through all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is near."
John wrote this on the rocky island of Patmos. It's about 25 miles out in the sea off the coast of modern-day Turkey, ancient Asia Minor. It was a penal colony at the time. It's a small, very barren island, only six miles wide by about 10 miles long. But notice verse 3, the promise. It's the only book that has this promise in it. "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things that are written in it."
The word blessed could be translated "oh, the joys" or "oh, how happy" are those who read this book. Now, if you're familiar with the Book of Revelation, that might strike you as an odd promise. Because you read the Book of Revelation, get into chapter six, and people are dying and plant life is getting destroyed and the seas are getting polluted. And it seems pretty catastrophic and pretty disastrous and pretty grim. Where's the joy in that?
Keep reading. Keep reading all the way to the end. That's where the joy kicks in. Because it eventuates in the return of Jesus ruling and reigning, judging Satan, putting him away, the millennial kingdom, the eternal state, new Heaven and a new Earth. It gets better if you keep on going. So the book has a promise-- a promise of joy. And I think you will rob yourself of a lot of joy if you neglect this book.
Also, I'm going to take you to the very end of the book. In chapter 22, it is repeated in verse 6. "Then he said to me, these words are faithful and true, and the Lord God of the holy prophet sent his angel to show his servants the things which must--" here it is again-- "shortly take place. Behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed--" or the one who is full of joy. "Blessed, oh how happy is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Billy Graham was once asked by a group of senators, said, Billy, are you are you an optimist or are you a pessimist? He goes, I'm an optimist. And they said, why is that? He goes, because I've read the last page of the book. And we win. The devil is bound for 1,000 years. Satan is eventually destroyed. We rule and reign with Him forever. Because of that, I'm an optimist. So it's promised great joy.
Lewis Talbot, I couldn't resist reading this to you, said, "The devil has turned thousands of people away from this portion of God's word. He does not want anyone to read a book that tells of his being cast out of Heaven, nor is he anxious for us to read of the ultimate triumph of his number one enemy, Jesus Christ. The more you study the Book of Revelation, the more you understand why Satan fights so hard to keep God's people away from it."
So it is a book of prophecy that predicts the ultimate and total rule and reign of Christ over his creation, the total demise of Satan after his incarceration and judgment. But it is a special kind of prophecy. It's not like 0.1, the rapture of the church, and then a little theology to follow, 0.2, the tribulation period. It is written very differently. Notice what it says in verse 1.
You say, Skip, you've got to get out of verse 1. It says, "and he sent and--" what's the next word? Signified. That's an important word. It means to tell or to reveal by signs. So it is written in a sign language, a language of signs, the language of idioms.
And here's why I believe-- when people say, why is the language of revelation this apocalyptic book? You know, instead of just telling us what's going to happen, there's beasts and there's lamp stands and there's a sword going out of the mouth of Jesus. Why such picturesque language? Why such symbolism?
A couple of reasons. Reason number one, symbolism withstands time and culture. When something is written like this, cultural, linguistic barriers that change every couple of years-- the human language is fluid. It changes all the time. When you write about it in signs, it transcends cultural differences and time barriers.
Number two, when you write something with these kinds of symbols, it makes a dramatic emotional impact. It's one thing to say, there's coming a world leader. It's another thing to describe him as a beast, a ferocious beast. That does something and it heightens the emotional impact. And I think, for those reasons, it is written.
Something else-- these idioms are foreign to us unless you are bathed in the Old Testament. If you are a student of the Old Testament, the idioms used in the book of Revelation are familiar to you. Here's what I mean. Out of the 404 verses that comprise the Book of Revelation-- that's how many verses are in it-- 360 contain pieces of Old Testament scripture. You will find all of those idioms that are mentioned in this book in the Old Testament.
So it presupposes you have a working knowledge of the Old Testament, because when you get to the Book of Revelation, there's a lot of familiarity there. And I mentioned 360 out of 404. If you were to take all of the allusions to the Old Testament, you would have well over 800 in the Book of Revelation.
So for a first century Jewish reader, makes perfect sense. For a 2020 post-COVID group of believers in gentile regions, it might be a little more difficult, but not to them. So the message of the Book of Revelation, I'm going to take you down to verse 9. No I'm not. I'm going to take you down to verse 19, if I can. And here's what I want to show you in chapter 1, verse 19.
Luckily, we are given by the author himself, in the first chapter, an outline of the book. Now, I tell you why I like this, because throughout The Bible From 30,000 Feet, I have outlined the book for you. Sometimes I do it with alliteration. Usually I do it that way so you can remember it a little more easily. But I don't have to do that in the Book of Revelation, because John, through Jesus, through God the Father gives us his outline. And here it is.
Chapter 1, verse 19, "write the things which you have seen--" that's number one-- "the things which are--" that's number two-- "and the things which will take place after this." That's number three. Now, that is precisely how the Book of Revelation is laid out. John first writes the things that he sees. That is the vision of Jesus Christ, this incredible vision that he had never seen of the Lord Jesus before.
Then he writes about seven churches, the things which are, the conditions that were going on in seven churches in Asia Minor at that time. Then, beginning in chapter 4 to the very end of the book, he writes about things that will take place after the things of the church. So in chapter 1, verse 19, where it says "and the things which take place after this," the Greek words are meta tauta, after this or beyond these, beyond these things, meta tauta.
And then when you get to chapter 4, verse 1, it begins by saying "after these things," and the word in Greek is exactly the same-- meta tauta. Beyond these, after these. So that is how the book is written. He writes what he sees, and then he writes the things which are, the conditions of the seven churches in Asia Minor. Then he writes about the future, what's going on after these things.
So let's look at what he sees, the things which are. Chapter 1, verse 9. We'll just skim through some of this. "I, John, both your brother and companion in tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice as of a trumpet saying, I am the Alpha, the Omega, the First, the Last. What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches, which are in Asia-- to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamus, to Tyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me, and having turned, I saw seven golden lamp stands. And in the midst of the seven lamp stands, one like the son of man clothed with a garment down to his feet, girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes like a flame of fire. His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and his voice as the sound of many waters. In his right hand, seven stars. Out of his mouth was a sharp, two-edged sword. His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
When I saw him," John writes, "I fell at his feet as dead." But he laid his right hand on him. "He said, Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last."
Now, this is John the apostle. He walked with Jesus. He remembers seeing Jesus face-to-face in the flesh. He saw Christ as the Nazarene. He was there when Jesus was transfigured before him with Moses and Elijah. He saw the resurrected Christ. He watched Jesus ascend into Heaven. But he had never seen a Jesus that looks like this.
Now John is in the spirit, he says. In the spirit on the Lord's day, or unto the day of the Lord it could be literally put. And in this capacity, he sees Jesus as the coming judge. Now, if you're, again, familiar with your Old Testament, Daniel chapter 7, the vision John sees is similar to the vision that is put out in that chapter in the Old Testament book. But John sees Jesus as the coming judge.
Did you notice, in verse 13, he is in the midst of seven lamp stands? And then there are seven stars in verse 16. Luckily, we don't have to try to figure out what that means. We don't have to make a guess. I think it means this or it means that. We're told exactly what that means in verse 20 of chapter 1. "The mystery of the seven stars, which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lamp stands, the seven stars are the angels--" angelos, messengers of the seven churches. "And the seven lamp stands which you saw are the seven churches."
So the seven churches are depicted as seven lamp stands. How fitting that is. The role of the church in any community is to be a bright and shining light. Jesus said, you are the light of the world. A city set upon a hill cannot be hidden. To be more exact, our role as light bearers, as a lamp stand, is to show people the way out of darkness.
How do you get out of the desperate darkness of this world? You know the answer to that. It's following Jesus. It's loving Him. It's that personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. So it is a fitting description of the church.
Verse 15, "his feet were like fine brass, as refined in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of many waters." Brass is a symbol of judgment as, again, you are familiar with from your reading of the Old Testament. In the Tabernacle, an animal was killed on an altar made of brass. The animal was bled on the brass altar. It was engulfed in flames on the brass altar.
Brass is a symbol of judgment. The brass altar was the place where sin was judged by God so that the people could approach God in that tabernacle setting.
Now, when we get to chapter 2 of Revelation, we're now dealing with the second part of the outline, the things which are, right? The things which you have seen, he does that, right? The things which are, and that's the things of the church. So it says, to the angel of the church of Ephesus write. Chapter 2 and chapter 3 are seven letters to seven churches.
Really, they're not letters. They're shorter than that. They're like seven postcards to seven churches. If Jesus were to drop a postcard in the mail to the churches, this is what they would read. Why seven? One thing you notice about the Book of Revelation, it's very seven conscious. I don't have time to explain all the symbolism and why that is. I've done that before. I have a short period of time, so I'm going to move on.
But there are seven churches. Why seven? Why these seven? There are seven churches located in Asia Minor. We have traveled to visit these ruins of the churches. They don't exist, by the way, anymore. They're all overtaken by Muslim mosques in these areas. But at the time, there were seven growing churches that were facing persecutions and temptations already to compromise.
Now they're gone. The lamp stand has been removed in these seven churches. But why these seven? For example, why isn't the church in Jerusalem mentioned. That's a prominent church. Or the church in Antioch. That's probably the second most prominent church. Or the church in Rome. That was probably the most famous of the churches. None of those are mentioned, but these are mentioned.
The seven churches that are listed in Revelation 2 and 3, these seven letters, represent, number one, seven historical churches that had these exact conditions going on in the assembly. Number two, the seven letters to the seven churches speak about historical conditions of the church. From the apostolic era to the last days, the apostate era, all of the eras of church history can be summed up by these seven letters to seven churches.
We have considered that in other studies. You can look that up and see how. But if you were to take these seven letters and put them in any other order historically, they would not fit. They fit perfectly in the order in which they're given. So local conditions, there is an historic application to the errors of church history.
Number three, there is a timeless application. It's for all churches of all ages. And I would even say there's a fourth. There is a personal application. You will read through these conditions of these churches, and you will be able to relate to one or more of them or all of them, depending on where you are in your walk. You might be like the church of Philadelphia one day, then you might feel like the church of Laodicea the next day, depending on what's going on. So it has several applications.
Now, in all of these letters that Jesus gives, He does two things. Number one, He borrows a portion of the vision in chapter 1 to introduce Himself to the church, and each one is different and unique, a different and unique piece. And in all of the seven letters, He says, I know your works. He makes an evaluation, but He always begins by saying, I know your works. I know all about you. So he is the perfect one to bring a judgment or an evaluation.
He does that through chapter 2 and chapter 3. I was going to draw notice to them, but we don't have enough time. So I'll take you over to chapter 3. Let's just look at the last one in the list, verse 14 of chapter 3. "To the angel of the church of the Laodiceans, write, these things says thee, amen. The faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God, I know your works, that you are cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth."
Go down to verse 19. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Typically, we quote verse 20 to unbelievers or about unbelievers. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice, open the door." And that does have application, generally, but please notice, in context, Jesus is speaking this not to unbelievers but to his own church which bears his own name. He is saying, I don't want your rituals. I don't want you to go through the motions. I want your heart. I want to have intimate fellowship with you.
That's the idea about whoever opens the door, I will come in and dine with him. You know, in the ancient Middle East, even in the modern Middle East, eating with someone is a very special honor and privilege. And it was always seen that when you ate with someone, you became one with that person. Because if I eat bread and I give you a piece of the same bread, that bread will eventually break down and go in my body and become a part of my body, and the bread will become a part of your body. So, in a sense, over the meal, we're becoming one substance. We're one with each other.
This is why, in 1 Corinthians, chapter 5, Paul says, I don't want you to fellowship with anybody named a brother, calls himself a Christian, but who is an adulterer or an idolater or a list of things. Don't even go and eat with them, because the idea is you're becoming one with them.
One of the things I love about Jesus in the gospels, he loved to eat. And I love to eat. And so that just makes me love Jesus all the more. Like Zacchaeus, come down from that tree. We're going to your house to eat lunch. You didn't know that till now, but you better get a good lunch ready, because I'm coming to your house to eat.
So the idea is Jesus is saying, I don't want ritual. I want intimacy. I want to get close to you. And he is saying that to his church. So write the things which you have seen. Write the things which are. Now, beginning in verse 1 of chapter 4, we get to the third division of the book, the things which will be after these things. We're dealing now with the future.
Here's a hint-- up until now, the word "church" has appeared several times in the Book of Revelation, chapters 1, 2, and 3. It is now absent from the book completely until the very last chapter of the book. Chapter 22, verse 16, is where the word church appears again. That should be a hint to you. Because he's writing about the things that will take place after these things, the things of the church, or the things, you might say, of the church age.
So verse 1, chapter 4, "after these things," meta tauta, "I looked, and behold, a door standing open in Heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet, speaking with me saying, come up here, and I will show you things which must take place--" meta tauta-- "after this. Immediately, I was in the spirit. And behold, the throne set in Heaven, and one sat upon the throne."
So in the next couple of chapters, chapter 4 and 5, the scene takes place in Heaven. Chapter 4 and 5 is adoration in Heaven. That's what takes place after this, adoration in Heaven, followed by tribulation on Earth. That's chapter 6 all the way to 18. Then chapter 19, Jesus Christ comes from Heaven to Earth. Chapter 20 is the millennial kingdom on Earth. Chapter 21 and 22 is the new Heaven and the new Earth. That's what takes place after these things.
Did you notice, in verse 1, he hears a voice. And he said, "The first voice I heard was like a trumpet." And the trumpet didn't just blast, but said, come up here. Does that sound a little bit familiar to you? Does that sort of sound like I Thessalonians chapter 4, where Paul said, "The Lord will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. And we who are alive and remain will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, so shall we ever be with him."
That's a classic verse that describes the harpazo, the rapture, the catching away of the church. So writing about the vision, writing about the Church, now the rest of the book is from a heavenly perspective after being caught up into the throne room of Heaven. And he sees adoration in Heaven and tribulation on Earth. It's all from a heavenly perspective.
He sees a throne. A throne is mentioned 13 times in chapter 4. Most of the time, it's God's throne, though there are other thrones. I saw a throne set in Heaven, and one sat on the throne, verse 2. And he who sat there was like a jasper, sardius, stone in appearance. There was a rainbow around the throne in appearance like an emerald. "Around the throne were 24 thrones, and I saw 24 elders sitting clothed in white robes. They had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. Before the throne, there was a sea of glass like crystal. In the midst of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures, full of eyes in front and in back."
It is a courtroom scene. There is a throne. There is an authoritative figure, God the Father, sitting on the throne. But then in this heavenly court, there are 24 elders-- 24 thrones, 24 elders. And the 24 elders are representative figures. Let me explain.
There's only one other time in the Bible where we have 24 people in a kind of a court setting, and that is back in the Old Testament. David appointed 24 courses of priests for the Levitical priesthood in Israel. And these 24 priests represented the-- since a priest represented the people, they were representative of the whole nation.
So 24 elders. An elder is a reference to a church position, a position of authority. Some prefer to break this up into 12 plus 12. That is, there's 12 representatives of the tribes of Israel, Twelve Apostles, like mentioned in the latter portion of the Book of Revelation in the new Jerusalem. And I go into depth in the book that I wrote. But these are representative, probably representing the church in Heaven before the throne of God.
Now, I'm going to take you to chapter 5, because we have to get going. It said, "And I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll, written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, who is worthy to open this scroll and to loose its seals? And no one in Heaven or on the Earth or under the Earth was able to open the scroll or to look at it. And so I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read this scroll or to look at it.
But one of the elders said to me, do not weep. Behold, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has prevailed to open this scroll and to loose its seven seals. And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures--" these are angelic beings-- "and in the midst of the elders--" that's the 24 elders-- "stood a lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the Earth. And he came and took the scroll out of the right hand of him who sits on the throne."
This has been called, by some scholars, the greatest real estate escrow deal in history. The scroll is a title deed. Let me show you why. Again, I said you can understand the Book of Revelation through the lens of the Old Testament. In Jeremiah chapter 32, while Jeremiah's in prison, the Lord speaks to him in saying, listen, your cousin, Hanamel, is going to come and visit you and offer you a deal. He's going to say that the right of redemption, to purchase a plot of land of his in the town of Anathoth, has come up, and he's going to offer for you to buy it, because you are related to him.
So he's sitting in prison, and one day Hanamel comes in and goes, hey, listen. I've got a plot of land in Anathoth, and the right of redemption has come up. And Jeremiah, you're a relative. So I'd like you to buy it. And as soon as this happened, Jeremiah said, I knew it was the Lord. Just like the Lord told me he was coming, he came.
So he bought the land as an act of faith, because he had already predicted the children of Israel-- we, us, in Jerusalem-- were all going to be taken captive. We're going to be expelled out of this country, taken into the foreign land of Babylon, which makes our land worthless. But by faith, I'm going to buy it, because I believe we're going to return to this land, and it's going to be worth something then. In 70 years, I'm going to get my cash back.
So he bought the land, and it says he signed the deed, the deed of purchase, which was a scroll that was sealed. So when you lost land, a kinsman could buy the property, somebody related to you. He had to be related to you. He had to be able to do so. He had to have cash in hand. He had to be willing to do so. That's the background of the Book of Ruth.
Boas becomes a kinsman redeemer, buying land, marrying Ruth, taking the bride to himself. Beautiful picture of redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ.
So this scroll is a title deed. The terms of the deed were written on the inside. Here, it's written on the inside and on the outside, and it's not sealed by one or two clay seals but seven seals. Now, each of those seals, when broken, represents a judgment. It begins in chapter 6 of the Book of Revelation.
So throughout the rest of the chapter, worship breaks out in Heaven because Jesus is the kinsman. He's related-- that is, he was a human being. He was able to do so. His precious blood was enough to purchase men's souls back to God, and he was certainly willing to do so. He said, "No one takes my life from me. I lay it down of myself." So he fulfills the qualifications.
Now, all of Heaven breaks out in worship. So in verse 8, down to verse 10, the four living creatures and the 24 elders worship. In verses 11 and 12, the angelic host of Heaven worships. And then in verse 13 and 14, every creature in Heaven worships. Verse 13, "Every creature, which is in Heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, such as are in the sea and all that are in them, I heard saying, blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne and to the lamb forever and ever."
So 4 and 5, worship in Heaven, adoration in Heaven. Beginning in chapter 6, there's a switch. We now move to the Earth, and beginning in chapter 6 all the way through the chapter 18 are a series of very graphic, cataclysmic, disastrous judgments. And there are three categories of those judgments. There are seals, as in the seven-sealed document that is broken and read and judgment ensues. And then there are seven trumpet judgments, followed by seven bowl or vial judgments poured out contents upon the Earth.
There's a pattern to these judgments. There is a six and one pattern. So this is how it goes throughout the rest of the book, all the way through to chapter 18. Chapter 6 gives you six seals that are broken. All of them are judgments. After the sixth seal, there's a parenthesis, sort of a catch-up. So chapter 7 is a parenthetical statement, where more information is given, followed by the seventh seal, which ushers in the next seven judgments, which are the trumpets.
Same thing. You have chapter 8, the six trumpet judgments, followed by chapter 9, chapter 10. You have more information given. Then you have that final trumpet. Then you have the seven bowls and a parenthesis in between those judgments. So it's just descriptive of the last seven years of history on the Earth before it's totally obliterated and destroyed called the tribulation period. So let's get into it, and I'll describe it a little bit more in detail.
"Now I saw, when the lamb--" verse 1, chapter 6-- "opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying, with a voice like thunder, come and see. And I looked and behold a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow, and a crown was given to him. And he went out conquering and to conquer.
When he opened the second seal, I heard a second living creature saying, come and see. Another horse, fiery red, went out, and it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the Earth that the people should kill one another. And there was given to him a great sword.
When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, come and see. And I looked and behold a black horse, and you sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, a quart of wheat for a denarius--" or a day's wage. In other words, it'll take you a day's wage to get about a loaf of bread. "And three quarts of barley for a denarius and do not harm the oil and the wine.
When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, come and see. Behold, a pale horse, and the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given over a fourth of the Earth to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the Earth."
Something you should know about the tribulation period. It's not just a bad time. It's not just a really bad day or a bad few years. There is no historical parallel to what's coming-- not the Holocaust of World War II, not the Great Depression, not the COVID pandemic. Nothing compares to it.
Jeremiah chapter 30, Daniel chapter 12, and the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 24 said, "There's coming a day upon the Earth. Nothing can compare to it." It would be the very worst time in human history. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But let just read to you what Jesus said.
"For then there will be great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect's sake, those days will be shortened."
What you should know is that more space is devoted in the Bible to the tribulation period, the great tribulation period, than just about any other subject. Massive amounts of detail in both Old and New Testament. What kind of things are going to happen? Well, we read a sampling of it, and it gets worse from here. From the seals to the trumpets to the bowl judgments, there is a progression and intensity of judgment. It just gets worse and worse and worse.
It's probably going to happen in a very short period of time, in that last 3 and 1/2 years of tribulation. But a sampling of it, there is smoke filling the Earth, fire from Heaven hitting the Earth, falling stars that destroy vegetation, demons coming up out of the bottomless pit and tormenting people upon the Earth.
We get to chapter 7, that's one of the parenthetical statements. Notice the question at the end of chapter 6, because it is answered in chapter 7. Last verse of revelation 6, verse 17, "For the great day of his wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
Now, that question gets answered in chapter 7 by introducing to us two groups that will stand, that will make it through the tribulation period as saved people, believers. They will come to faith during the tribulation. The rapture will have already happened. God's wrath is being poured out on the Earth, but the Holy Spirit will still be active during that time. So there are two groups that are introduced in chapter 7.
144,000 Jews-- they're called Jews from the children of Israel, and the tribes are given. And then an innumerable multitude of non-Jews, gentiles. So, in verse 4, "I heard the number of those who were sealed." That's what the first few verses are all about, sealing 144,000. "The number of those who were sealed, 144,000--" notice this-- "of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed."
So the next time a Jehovah Witness knocks on your door-- he's not doing it these days because of COVID, but they'll come back. And when they do and they announce to you, I'm a member of the 144,000, ask them which tribe they're from. Oh, are you from the tribe of Zebulun? And you can have a little fun with it. Because it's not the Jehovah's Witnesses that are described here or the Seventh Day Adventists. They, too, believe they're the 144,000.
These are 144,000 Messianic Jews. They come to faith in Jesus Christ during the tribulation period, probably because of the witness of what you're going to read about in chapter 11. Two witnesses that come with miraculous signs to Jerusalem, to Israel. And probably as a result of the two Jewish witnesses, 144,000 of them will be saved out of all of these tribes.
Now, they're introduced first, because they help explain the appearance of another group that is introduced in chapter 7, and that is verse 9. After these things, I looked and behold a great multitude, which no one could number, of all nations. So these are not Jewish people, but gentile people. "All nations, tribes, peoples, tongues standing before the throne and before the lamb, clothed with white robes and palm branches in their hands, crying with a loud voice saying, salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the lamb."
Go down to verse 13. "One of the elders answered and said to me, who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from? And I said to him, sir, you know. So he said to me, these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation and wash their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple. And he who sits on the throne will dwell among them."
So we have people being saved in the tribulation period. I've always contended that the greatest revival ever in history is coming in the tribulation period. And I don't plan to be there during that time. I believe the rapture of the church happens. And then after these things comes the tribulation period. During the tribulation period, however, the spirit of God will send two witnesses-- Revelation, chapter 11-- whom I believe are Moses and Elijah. I'll just spill that before we get to it.
And through these two people's witness, 144,000 will come to faith in Christ. They're sealed during that time. They become incredible evangelists. And the result is an innumerable group of people from all these tribes and nations who are living through the great tribulation period. Most of them will be martyred because of their faith. But they are saved during that time. So that's why I say the greatest revival is coming.
Chapter 8 of Revelation is phase two. This is where the trumpet judgments come. And the first four trumpets are natural judgments. The last three are supernatural. They involve demon activity. So the first trumpet, verse 7, hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown into the Earth. A third of the trees were burned up, and all the grass was burned up. And so the trumpets continue, these judgments, cataclysms, through chapter 8 and chapter 9.
Chapter 10 is another parenthetical statement, where more information is given. "I saw still another mighty angel coming down from Heaven clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow was on his head. His face was like the sun, his feet like pillars of fire." So this is like an interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments.
Now chapter 11. I'm going to take you to verse 3. "I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth." 1,260 days is 3 and 1/2 years, or 42 months. "These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands standing before the God of the Earth."
So get this. You're reading chapter 3, and you're going, OK, God's introducing two witnesses to us. They're going to do something. They're going to prophesy. And you go, gosh, I wonder who they would be. So he gives us now an explanation. "These are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands standing before the God of the Earth." And you're thinking, that doesn't help me.
"And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have the power to shut Heaven so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy, and they have power over the waters to turn them to blood and to strike the Earth with all plagues as often as they desire. And when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war on them and overcome them and kill them."
Oh, I wish I had time to tell you about Zechariah chapter 4. That unlocks the olive trees. Let me do it really briefly. Remember, Zechariah has a vision in chapter 4 of the Book of Zechariah, and he sees a golden bowl. He sees the lamp stand, a golden lamp stand, and above the lamp stand was a golden bowl. And there were seven golden pipes that went right into the seven lamps on the menorah, the lamp stand. And on either side of the lamp stand were two olive trees.
So it was like an automated menorah, where oil went directly from the olive tree into the bowl, and that receptacle then fed the menorah, the seven-branched lamp stand that he saw in the vision, which was a symbol that was used in the tabernacle. And so it was just automatically filling it. And so the angel that is with him says, you know, what does this mean? And sort of like John, he goes, well, I don't know. You know. You tell me.
So the angel says, I'll tell you what this is. This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel. It's not by might. It's not by power. It is by my spirit says the Lord. You go tell Zerubbabel that he laid the foundations of the temple, and he is going to finish the temple. You encourage Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the civic leader that what they started, they're going to finish, like those two olive trees. That's who they are.
I am with my people. I am going to give all that my people need to finish the project. So we have two witnesses who are like Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest, coming in the tribulation period. You follow me so far? But though they are Jewish in background, they have certain signs that they can perform, right? They can make the water turn into blood, and they can bring plagues upon the people. That's what it says in Revelation 11.
The only one I know who did that in the Old Testament, that guy's named Moses. And then he can stop rain from happening. He can call fire down from Heaven. Elijah did that. I believe that the two witnesses coming in the tribulation period are Moses and Elijah. You're going, oh, come on. Well, yes, it actually happened before.
On a certain mountain, in the northern part of Israel, Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, and who appeared with him? Moses and Elijah. I believe that was kind of a staff meeting before the final event, kind of running down notes of what's going to happen during that kingdom excursion here.
So given what they do, given the fact that they already appeared with Jesus speaking about the kingdom that was coming, and given the fact that Elijah never died-- he was taken up into Heaven, the Bible says. And Moses died, but nobody knows what happened to his body. And the Bible says, in the Book of Jude, Satan was disputing with the Lord over the body of Moses. Why? Who cares about a body? Unless God had a future use for that body.
So if I put all of those texts together, without any commentaries, just the texts of scripture, it leads me to believe that Moses and Elijah have a future testimony to the nation of Israel. And I got to tell you, if you were a Jew living in Israel and Moses or Elijah showed up, you'd listen. Because every Passover, they're waiting for Elijah to come. And Moses is the great lawgiver. So I believe it's Moses and Elijah being the witnesses.
The witness leads 144,000, chapter 7, to be saved. 144,000 leads that great revival in the tribulation period, the end of chapter 7. Let's close out chapter 11 verse 14, "The second woe is past, and behold, the third woe is coming quickly. The seventh angel sounded, and there was a loud voice in Heaven saying, The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and they shall reign forever and ever."
We'll close there. We'll pick it up next week with the end of chapter 11, all the way to chapter 22, where will finish out the tribulation period, see the second coming of Jesus Christ, chapter 19. The millennial reign of Christ, chapter 20. The new Heaven and the new Earth and the eternal state, chapter 21 and 22. But that is just barely touching the surface.
Because after all, if 404 verses in Revelation, 360 of them have pieces of Old Testament analogy in scripture, it takes a while to kind of manage through that. So one of the most stimulating, satisfying studies you can take is going through the Book of Revelation, finding out those Old Testament passages to unlock the meaning, and write down what you discover. And you'll come out the other end knowing this book.
So, Father, thank you for the book that tells the future. It shows us Jesus in His glorified state in chapter 1. It gives us church conditions in chapters 2 and 3. But then it tells us what is going to take place after this at some future, undisclosed moment in history, in our future, upon planet Earth. Lord, I pray that we will be ready. In Jesus' name, amen.
Can I have you stand to your feet? There's something that I neglected to share with you. And I just want to drop this off in your head before next week. In chapter 6 of Revelation, in the fourth seal, it says that he saw a pale horse. Power was given over a fourth of the Earth to kill with the sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the Earth.
Now, we read that word, beasts of the Earth, and we think about four-footed beasts. Don't narrow the meaning of that. It could be like four-footed beasts, or it could be-- now think of this interpretation, in light of what we're going through. It could be microscopic beasts. It could be not four-footed beasts like what you think about running around the street tearing at something, but it could be some kind of biological germ warfare unleashed in the world.
And you can look around and see the kind of fear and compliance that a society is willing to go through to eradicate something they really don't even know where it came from or what it's going to do. I wrote an article about this in Decision Magazine recently. And I believe what we're seeing now today is just a dress rehearsal for the future, when things will be unleashed in the world and the kind of fear Jesus spoke about. Men's hearts will be failing them for fear over what's coming on the Earth.
I encourage you, if you don't know the Lord Jesus Christ, invite Him into your heart, because these days are coming. They're coming. Nobody saw this coming. The days written about in Revelation, they are coming. And maybe Jesus has been knocking on the door of your heart. He wants you to open that door.
Father, I pray for anyone here who doesn't know You that they would say yes to Jesus Christ and invite him into their lives, into their hearts. If that happens to be you, right where you are, if you've come tonight or you're listening by radio or watching this online, invite Christ to be Lord and Savior. Say, Lord, I know I'm a sinner. Please forgive me.
I turn from my sin. I turn to Jesus as Savior. I want to follow Him as Lord. I believe He died on a cross. I believe He rose from the dead. I believe He's coming again. I want to be ready. So I give You my life. I make Jesus Lord. Teach me what it means to follow Him every day. In Jesus' name, amen.
Now, if you prayed that, I want you to identify yourself, mask or not, after the service to one of our leaders who will be upfront. You can get six feet away from them, but just say, I prayed that prayer. We want to give you something sanitized and place it in your hands. It gives you directions on what to do next. If you happen to be watching this on your phone, you can text the word "SAVED" to 505-509-5433.
If you're on the website, click Know God right in the right-hand corner of the calvarynm.church website, and we'll give you further information. Thank you for indulging me. I went over time. I'm so sorry. I'll really try to cut it off closer next time, but we finish 30K next time. Let's close with a song.
For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible From 30,000 Feet.