Revelation 12-22 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight REV02
The Bible from 30,000 Feet, soaring through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Tonight the plane lands. Finally, we're going to get through the book of Revelation and all 66 books of the Bible. Yeah, it's been a long time coming, and COVID didn't help. In one sense, when it hit, I think the most common question I was getting is, is this the end of the world? Surely this has to be the end of the world.
Well, I don't exactly know when the end of the world is going to be, but I do know that predicting the end of the world is not a new enterprise. I want to show you a sampling of that, we're going to put it on the screens, of people who have predicted the end of the age, end of the world. And I'm giving you a sampling of hundreds, even thousands, even multiplied thousands of predictions made about the end of the world.
First of all, 2000 years ago there was a community down by the Dead Sea known as the Essenes community where the Dead Sea Scrolls have been found. That community believed that the Roman invasion of Jerusalem and its subsequent fall in 70 AD, they saw the great struggle, the revolt of the Jews against the Romans in the year 66 to 70 as being the final battle that would bring the Messiah.
This is it, they said. This is the end of the world. Finally messiah is going to come. He had already come, and he had already predicted the fall of Jerusalem. They missed that.
In 365 AD-- and again, I could give you several others in between. I'm just giving you sort of highlight dates. 365 AD, a French bishop named Hillary of Pointers announced the end of the world would happen that year. 500 AD, Hippolytus of Rome and Irenaeus who lived in Lion, France at the time predicted the return of Christ. 1000 AD, a variety of clergymen, including the Pope Sylvester II, the speaker was in the way, predicted the end of the world and the beginning of the new millennium.
Now, when that happened, there were riots all over Europe. Think of it. It's like the new millennium is coming up. And so they thought that this is it. We're entering into the millennial age once we hit the year 1000. And there were riots all over Europe, and several people headed east to Jerusalem to be there to wait for the event to happen.
In the 1500s, Martin Luther interestingly predicted that the end of the world would take place no later than 1600 AD. In the 1900s, there's a variety of cults that have arisen. Herbert W Armstrong and the Worldwide church of God made four predictions of the end of the world, and they're listed there. The first in 1943, the last in 1975.
In the 1900s, David Berg who is the cult leader of the Children of God predicted that the end would be in 1974. And they, the Children of God, that cultic group would save the world from the Antichrist. Somehow they had the power and the authority to do that. The Jehovah's witnesses have been notorious for predicting all sorts of things that have never happened, But they predicted several wrong dates. The return of Christ in 1874, the end of the world in 1914, then revised to 1918, then revised to 1925, then revised to 1975. That's just a sampling of their false prophecies.
Edgar Whiesenant, I don't know if you guys remember this if some of you are old enough to remember a booklet that was passed out called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Take Place in 1988. It was sent to clergymen. 300,000 of them sold. I remember people taking that and shoving it in my face saying, you owe it to this congregation to tell them that Jesus will be back on this date in 1988. Well, he was wrong, and then he revised it to 1989. He had two dates in 1988, and then 1990, and then 1991.
Harold Camping, notorious for saying that the world will end. Gave several dates. Interesting, to sort of throw this in at the end, Nostradamus said that in August of 1999 it would be the end, and he said from the sky will come the great king of terror. And some people interpreted that as Satan, the Antichrist, a whole bunch of things.
So the end of times has been predicted by a number of people for the last couple thousand years, and people are still writing books and telling you when Jesus is going to return even though the Bible clearly says of that day and hour knows no one. Not the Jehovah's witnesses certainly, not Harold Camping, not Whiesenant and the other ants that have been wrong throughout history.
We have in Revelation chapter 1 an outline in 1:19. Now, we're going to be in chapter 12 tonight. But if you remember in chapter 1 verse 19, there is an outline that is given to John, and John follows the outline in writing the book of Revelation. Write the things which you have seen. Write the things which are, and then what will take place after these things or after this.
And that is how the book of Revelation unfolds. John writes what he sees-- a glorious vision of Jesus in chapter 1. He writes the things which are or were at his time contemporary in chapters 2 and 3. Seven churches in Asia Minor. Letters from Jesus to them. Special messages for each one.
So he sees the vision, writes it, writes about Jesus, messages to the church the things which were taking place at that time. Then beginning in chapter 6, he writes about the things which will take place after-- or chapter 4, actually-- the things which will take place after this. He is caught up into heaven, and he sees everything from that vantage point all the way to chapter 22.
Now, in case you don't know, I have a literal view of the book of Revelation. And I just want to explain that because not everybody shares my view. There are four major interpretations or major viewpoints in interpreting eschatology in general and the book of Revelation in specificity.
One is called the preterist view, and the preterist view is that the things written in the book of Revelation all are historic and have all been fulfilled. They've all been fulfilled within the first century of church history. Seen in the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. But within the first century, all of it has been fulfilled. There's a little modified view called a partial preterism that says most of what is in Revelation has been fulfilled with the exception of the last couple chapters where there's a new heaven, a new earth, and the final judgment, et cetera. But other than that, it is all historic and has been fulfilled.
The problem with that view is it goes against what Revelation describes itself as no less than seven times. It calls itself a prophecy. Verse 3 of chapter 1, "blessed is he who reads, those who hear the words of this prophecy." something is being predicted in this book.
So that's one viewpoint. Let's push that aside for a moment. The second viewpoint is the historical viewpoint, meaning the book of Revelation is essentially a panorama of the ages-- a historical presentation from the invasion of Rome, the rise of the Catholic church, the rise of Islam, some even see the French Revolution in the book of revolution-- Revelation. Revolution, the book of Revelation. And again, that defies that it is a prophecy. They just see it as a panorama of church history that has mostly been fulfilled historically.
A third viewpoint is the allegorical viewpoint. The allegorical viewpoint is it doesn't really mean what it says. It is simply lots of mumbo jumbo written to tell you the cosmic struggle of the ages between good and evil. And boy, if you want to see conflicts in interpretation, just look at people who have viewed the Bible, and especially the book of Revelation, allegorically. Because no two people agree on anything because you're making it mean what you think it means. It's all allegorical.
The fourth is a futuristic viewpoint. That is the viewpoint that I hold. The futuristic viewpoint is interpreting the book of Revelation, especially chapters 6 through 22, as something that will happen yet future. Than what we have here are emblematic predictions of literal events. Listen to that again, emblematic predictions of literal events.
Sure, they're in emblem form. Sure, they're in sign form. That's what it says in Revelation 1:1, the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show His servants. Things which must shortly take place. He sent and signified it, or told it by signs.
So the picturesque language is emblematic in form, but it predicts literal events that will take place. A literal tribulation. A literal return of Jesus Christ to the earth. A literal millennium. A literal future judgment. A literal recreation-- new heaven and new earth in the eternal state.
That viewpoint I believe does two things. Number one, it harmonizes with Jesus' own prediction of the end time events in Matthew chapter 24, and Luke 13, and-- excuse me, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. The Olivet discourse. Jesus predicts future events that correspond beautifully to the book of Revelation. Revelation expands that teaching of Jesus, but it harmonizes beautifully when you look at it futuristically-- literally.
And number two, it follows the grammatical, historical interpretation of the Bible. When you take a historical or preterist or allegorical view of eschatology, what you're saying-- many are saying-- the millennial reformed will say, I believe in the grammatical historical interpretation of the Bible except when it comes to eschatology. Except when it comes to the book of Revelation. This, the futuristic view, holds the grammatical historical interpretation and keeps it homogeneously the same no matter what type of literature you are dealing with.
Well, beginning in chapter 12, we are well in the tribulation period. We began that last week when we took the first half of the book of Revelation, Chapters 1 through 11. We summed it up by saying that there are a series of judgments portrayed during that future time of judgment. There will be seven seals, followed by seven trumpet judgments, followed by seven bowl judgments. They are progressive, and they are progressively intense as time goes on.
When God is done with the final pouring out of the seventh bowl or vial, then God is done judging the earth. And he will then establish his kingdom. When we go to Revelation chapter 11 toward the very end, it's a parenthetical statement in the formulation of judgments given. In chapter 11 verse 15, the seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven saying the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. And he shall reign forever and ever.
And the 24 elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshipped God, saying, we give you thanks, oh Lord God almighty. The one who is, who was, who is to come, because you have taken your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. And the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that you should reward your servants, the prophets, and the saints, and those who fear your name small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.
Now, in chapter 12 and 13, we are introduced to a great conflict-- a cosmic conflict. One that has been going on from the beginning of time. It began in heaven, and it finds its fullness on earth. And that's where chapter 12 and chapter 13 come into play. It's a conflict that started in the heavenly places with Satan and his minions at the fall. But then the great battlefield, the theater of the earth is in question, and that takes us well into chapter 13 with the Antichrist.
Now before we jump right in, as I am wont to do-- I often give long introduction, sorry about that-- but I wanted to underscore something that I think you need to know as we finish out the tribulation period and see the coming of Christ in chapter 19. I mentioned last week that the tribulation isn't going to just be another bad time. It's going to be the worst time ever. Underscored, exclamation, point, exclamation point, exclamation point. Ever. And I'm going to read you three passages.
The first is Jeremiah chapter 30. Listen to it in poetic language. "Ask now and see--" this is Jeremiah 30 beginning in verse 6, "ask now and see whether a man is ever in labor with a child. So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas, for that day is great so that none is like it. And it is a time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it." That is, Jacob or Israel will be saved out of it.
And then, I won't read the whole chapter, but at the end of the chapter it says, "in the latter days, you will consider it." So here is a prediction that will find its fulfillment in the latter days, and we are dealing in the tribulation period with the latter days. The second scripture is Daniel chapter 12 in verse 1. "At that time, Michael shall stand up-- the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people--" it is told to Daniel that his people would be the Jewish people-- "and there will be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that time. And at that time, your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book."
Finally, Matthew chapter 24, these are the words of Jesus. Verse 21, "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." Sounds pretty bad. It sounds like the worst of the worst of the worst. He continues and says, "and unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved. But for the elect sake, those days will be shortened."
They will, indeed, be shortened. They'll really only last 42 months, 3 and 1/2 years, 1,260 days. All of that is given in the book of Revelation and the book of Daniel. So far worse than World War I, far worse than World War II, far worse than COVID-19, far worse than the Holocaust. The very worst time in history. And when you read the book of Revelation in a grammatical, historical, futuristic, literal interpretation, you walk away saying, I get it. That sounds-- it's depicted, it's described as the very worst of the worst.
Now we're into chapter 12 verse 1 of Revelation. Now, a great sign appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet and on her head a garland of 12 stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven, behold, a great fiery red dragon having seven heads, and 10 horns, and seven diadems on his head.
Fortunately, we are not left with our own devices in making interpretation of any part of the book of Revelation. I mentioned last week that out of the 404 verses in Revelation, there are 360 direct quotations from the Old Testament. The only other time in the Bible where we have an emblem like this, where you have a sun, and the moon, and 12 stars, is in the book of Genesis.
And the Father of Joseph, named Jacob, gives us the interpretation. So we don't have to figure out, is this the virgin Mary like the Catholic Church has depicted? Is this that person, or that, or this thing? We don't have to guess. We know. It is the nation of Israel. The woman is Israel.
How do we know? Well, Joseph had a dream. And it was pretty graphic, and he was naive enough to tell his brothers about the dream. He goes, hey, you guys, I had a dream.
And it was in two parts. He said, here's the second part. He goes, yeah, so in this dream, the sun, and the moon, and 11 stars all bowed down to me-- my star, the last star. And Jacob knew exactly what the dream meant. He said, what? Do you think me, or I, and your mother, and your 11 brothers are going to bow down to you?
Now, that's exactly what happened. Before the end of Genesis, they all bowed down before him because he is the second in command in Egypt, right? But here he gives us the interpretation. Jacob, and his wife, and the 11 sons-- Joseph being the 12th, so you have 12 stars, sun and moon, all emblematic of what would become the 12 tribes of Israel. It is the nation of Israel.
So if we take scripture and let scripture interpret scripture, it can only mean one thing. It is a woman giving birth to a child. The woman is Israel. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and pain to give birth. Some people say, well, this is the church giving birth.
No, it's not the church. The church is a virgin bride the New Testament describes her as. If this is the church, she's in trouble because she's pregnant as a virgin bride. So it is, if you interpret it out of Revelation or out of Genesis, it is the nation of Israel.
Being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven, behold, a great fiery red dragon. We're told who that is as we go on. That it's Satan in this chapter. Having seven heads, 10 horns, seven diadems on his head.
Now, we are not surprised to find Israel prominently displayed in end times prophecy. After all, like I just read to you out of Jeremiah 30, for it is a time of Jacob's trouble. Jacob is another name for Israel. It's the first name given before God changed it to Israel. It is the time of Jacob's trouble.
Daniel chapter 9, the Daniel 70 week prophecy. 70 weeks are determined-- listen to the language-- for your people and for your holy city that is Jerusalem. So there is so much about Israel in end times prophecy throughout the Old and the New Testament, this doesn't surprise us to see this here. Look at verse four. His tail, the dragon's tail, drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth to devour her child as soon as it was born.
And she bore a male child who is to rule all the nations. We know who the male child is. There's only one son that was given who would rule all the nations. The prophecy and Isaiah said the government will be upon his shoulder, and that is Christ the Messiah. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Amazing, in one verse we have the life of Christ from the incarnation to his ascension and coronation. That's verse 5.
So we have predicted the persecution of the Jewish people by Satan historically and into the end times, all because of one child and in hopes of destroying that child before the child's birth. Now, all you have to do is go back to Genesis chapter 3. You don't have to do it now, but you can write it down to look at it later. Genesis 3 verse 15 where that first proto-evangelium is given, that first promise of the salvation through messiah.
Where God said to Satan, to the serpent, I will put enmity between your seed and her seed-- between you and the woman, between her seed and your seed. And you will bruise his heel, but he will bruise or crush your head. So there is a prediction that you're going to cause a child who is going to be born suffering. You're going to bruise his heel, but he's going to crush your head. He's going to take your authority. He's going to crush you.
Ever since that promise in Genesis 3:15 was given, we see the battle laid out in the scripture. I mean, think of it. If I told you before church, after church I'm going to hunt you down and I'm going to crush your skull-- don't worry, I would never say those words to you. But if I did, and you thought I was serious, you would do everything you can to avoid that, to evade that from happening, or to counterattack.
So we see throughout the Bible Satan's desire to get at the seed. The first occurrence of that is Cain killing Abel. Maybe Abel is the one. Maybe that child is going to take me out. So Satan inspires Cain to kill Abel.
That doesn't work because God upholds his seed through another lineage, that is of Seth that is born. And the promises continue. As time goes on, Satan corrupts the entire world so that God has to judge the world in a flood, and everyone is destroyed. Almost.
Eight people survive-- Noah and his family. And the lineage continues through Noah. Then there is Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob steals Esau's blessing. Remember the story? Esau doesn't care about his birthright. Sells it for a bowl of red chili, if we were to contextualize it a little bit.
Esau gets the blessing, or Jacob gets the blessing. As soon as Esau finds out that his brother has tricked him, he says, I'm going to kill him. Strong language, I'm going to kill him because he took what I didn't want to begin with and I sold it for a bowl of chili. Yes, I'm going to kill him. Why? Why so violent?
Satan is inspiring him to get at the seed that would eventually take out Satan. Keep following that through. Pharaoh gives this crazy order to the Hebrew midwives, kill all the Hebrew male children. If baby girls are born, let them live. If it's a male, kill them.
This continues on as the prophecy is made that through the line of David the Messiah would come. So Saul is inspired Satanically, I believe, to try to pin David to the wall-- to kill David. To chase him for almost a decade to exterminate him.
It was, yes, anger, but more than that it was something provoked, I believe, by Satan because of the prophecy in Genesis chapter 3. It gets worse as you keep going in the Bible. Haman decides, I'm going to kill all the Jews in the kingdom of Persia. Every one of them, all of them will be exterminated. Same ideology.
You can look it up later, but 2 Chronicles chapter 22, Athaliah is successful in killing all of the royal heirs in the kingdom of Judah. All of them except one. A kid by the name of Joash is hidden. If Joash would have been exterminated, God's promises would be null and void to provide a seed to crush Satan's kingdom.
So you see this revelation and counterattack all the way through the scripture all the way to the time when the male child is born in Bethlehem. And this crazy king by the name of Herod says, kill every male child two years and lower in Bethlehem. Gruesome. Why? All an attempt to exterminate the seed.
But as soon as the male child who was to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, her child was caught up to God and into his throne. Jesus was born, he ascended, he was coronated. Then the woman, Israel, fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God that they should feed her there 1,260 days, or 3 and 1/2 years, or 42 months. It is the second half of that seven year period, and that second half is called the great tribulation.
The great tribulation begins with the abomination of desolation-- that's the middle part of that seven year period. The last 3 and 1/2 years, 42 months, 1,260 days is the last 3 and 1/2 years. Let me take you to verse 13. Now, when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness to her place where she is nourished for a time, times, and half a time-- an Old Testament rendering for 3 and 1/2 years-- from the presence of the serpent.
So in the tribulation period, in the coming tribulation, Satan is going to unleash his fury on the nation of Israel. That's why it's called a time of Jacob's trouble. A time of Jacob's trouble.
Jesus put it this way. "And when you see the abomination of desolation as spoken by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place, let him who reads understand. Then those who are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains." And so what he said is emblematically shown here as something that they will do.
They go to the wilderness. We don't know where. Some have guessed the Rock City of Petra in modern day Jordan because it's a safe place. I guess it's a safe place in ancient times, but in modern times when you get bombs dropped from the air, I wouldn't want to be there during a bombing raid.
But people have made a big deal out of this. It's going to be in Edom. It's going to be at the Rock City of Petra. I honestly have no idea where it's going to be. All I know is it says God is going to protect Israel for that 3 and 1/2 year period when she is being persecuted.
Now, it talks about a great eagle, and people have been very creative in interpreting these things. First of all, do you remember what God said to the children of Israel when he took them out of Egypt in exodus chapter 19? He said, "you saw what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagle's wings and brought you to myself." That was an emblem of protection in the wilderness.
But some have said, because it mentions an eagle, it's probably showing that the United States is, indeed, in prophecy. This is the eagle that is emblematic of our nation. It is on the great seal of the United States of America, and maybe this refers to the United States Air Force protecting Israel, or the 6th Naval fleet which has a very cool symbol of a protective eagle that is stationed-- that fleet is stationed off the coast of Italy, I believe. I don't know.
Chapter 13 takes us to one of the main characters during this time, and that is the beast. Now, we don't typically call him the beast. God does, though. God knows his real character.
This leader in the tribulation period goes by-- you could count almost 50, five-zero names, in scripture. He is called the Antichrist by John. He is called the lawless one by Paul. Also called the man of perdition by Paul. He's given a number of titles by him.
He's called the little horn by Daniel, but we typically call him the Antichrist. God calls him a beast. Chapter 13, verse 1, then I stood and saw-- I stood on the sand of the sea and I saw a beast rising up having seven heads and 10 horns. And on his horns, 10 crowns. That is the crowns of a king or a ruling authority. And on his heads, a blasphemous name.
Go down to verse 4. So they worship the dragon that is Satan who gave authority to the beast, and they worship the beast. Saying, who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for 42 months.
And he opened his mouth and blasphemy against God to blaspheme his name, his tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. And it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority was given over every tribe, tongue, and nation. And all who dwell on the earth will worship him whose names have not been written in the book of life of the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
He comes not as a beast, he comes as a peacemaker. He comes with smooth language. He comes with an economic plan when the world is in economic and political chaos. He comes with a solution.
He is seen back in Revelation chapter 6 as riding a white horse, like the good guys in the movies. White hat, white horse. And he comes in with a peace plan. He comes in probably solving some of the great problems in the Middle East between the Arabs and the Israelis, the Palestinians and Israel.
But there is a change. He also has a mouth speaking great things, and in the middle of that seven year period he will demand to be worshipped. How do we know this? Not only Revelation, but 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 tells us. This man of sin who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped as God so that he sits in the temple of God and shows that he is God.
Those are the words of Paul. This will take place according to Jesus in the middle of that seven year period called the abomination of desolation. At that time, his peace plan will be unmasked. His suave temperament will become unmasked, and he will make all-out war against Israel.
I'll take you down to verse 16. And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free, enslaved to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. We don't know what this will look like. A chip perhaps.
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.
Pretty obvious that in the tribulation period, the only solution to the woes of the world will be something that some leaders dangerously are looking forward to called globalism. There will be a massive demise of nationalism. It will be global all the way around because everybody will be in turmoil. The whole world will be in turmoil.
Up till now, people have counted on the stability of the dollar, and the euro, and the yen, but people-- globalists, even leaders in Russia at the last G20 summit, or one of the G20 summits-- advocated not for individual currencies or the dollar, but a world currency that would tie everybody together. That will become a reality.
Chapter 14 are a variety of announcements given. One in particular that fulfills a prediction made by Jesus Christ himself in Matthew 24. I'm going to take it down to verse 6 of chapter 14. "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people."
Now understand this. During the tribulation, the great tribulation, the worst time in history, the rapture will have already taken place. Some people mistakenly think people will not get saved. I mentioned last week, I believe the greatest revival ever is going to be at future during the tribulation period.
There's going to be, first of all, two witnesses in Jerusalem. 144,000 Jewish people-- their tribes are listed-- will convert and believe in Jesus Christ. So you got the witness of the two witnesses, you have the witness of the 144,000. The rest of that chapter that introduces the 144,000, Revelation 11, talks about a host of people-- an innumerable group of people from nations of the world who have come to believe in Christ in the tribulation period, evidently, because of the 144,000's witness and the two witnesses.
So you got two witnesses, 144,000. You have this huge multitude around the world of believers from nations who have come to put their faith in Christ. Now it's as if God gives one last-ditch, all-out effort to get the gospel preached to the world, and notice an angel flying in the midst of heaven preaching. Now honestly, I have in the past thought, you know, God, you'd do yourself a favor and all of us if you'd pull this off earlier.
Like imagine if an angel flew through heaven tomorrow all 24 hours to every single nation, every language, and proclaimed the gospel. But that aside, in the tribulation period, two witnesses, 144,000 this innumerable group of gentiles, and an angel. This is what I believe Jesus referred to in Matthew chapter 24 when he said this, "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come."
I've heard that verse for years. Used at missionary rallies saying, we've got to get the gospel out to every nation. It's on us to do it, and Jesus won't come back until we get the gospel to every creature, every tongue. We're holding Jesus back, and if you become a missionary, you share the gospel, who knows? You could be the one that hastens the return of Jesus.
All that's nonsense. We should be preaching the Gospel, yes. You're not holding anybody back. God's going to come on his own perfect good time, and it's not up to you to bring Jesus back sooner. What he is referring to in Matthew 24 of the gospel being preached to the world is 144,000 people-- witnesses-- the two witnesses, and the angel flying through heaven preaching the everlasting gospel. Then the end will come.
It goes perfectly-- by the way, you see the word nation in that verse? Ethnos is the word. Ethnos. It means every ethnic group on earth will hear the gospel in their tongue, in their dialect, or in their language.
Now, chapter 15 is the shortest chapter in the book of Revelation. It has all of eight verses, but it introduces the final round of judgments called the bold judgments. Or the vials that are poured. They are rapid fire judgments that come from the throne of God on the earth, and they seem to be worse than all of the previous ones. As I said, it's the worst time in history.
But after this, God is done judging the earth. After this, Satan is bound. After this, Jesus comes. After this, he sets up his kingdom on the earth. And it gets good.
So chapter 15 introduces that. Chapter 16 is a list of those bold judgments. Verse 1, I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, go and pour out the bowls of wrath of God on the earth. So the first went out and poured out his bowl upon the earth. A foul and loathsome sore came upon all men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image.
Seems to be a very targeted judgment. It is. God will judge those and those only who have the mark of the man of sin that is on them. And they are loathsome sores. It's some kind of plague.
Jesus predicted that there would be pestilences. We're going through a pestilence right now, and we have learned something very interesting in the midst of COVID-19. That it does not take much to control a population by means of fear. Tell them something that will give them so much fear, like this will kill you. You can make a population do just about anything you want.
That's why I said before, I believe what we're experiencing isn't the book of Revelation chapter 13, 14, 15 or 16. I believe it's a dress rehearsal, though, for it. It shows that governments can say, you have to do this, and now you have to take this vaccine. What if the vaccine comes with a chip that you can't buy or sell anything unless you prove that you've had that vaccine?
Verse 3, then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became as blood of a dead man and every living creature in the sea died. I remember living on the coast of California we had this thing called red tide. Remember red tide? The ocean turns red. You have these dinoflagellates in the ocean that give this pigment, and it stinks, and it looks bloody. But this is a divine judgment that affects not just one coast, but the oceans of the world.
Verse 4, "the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood." So you have the entire hydrological cycle being messed up from what's going on in the oceans, to rainfall, what feeds into the rivers, and back again. Verse 8, "the fourth angel poured out his bowl in the sun, and the power was given to him to scorch men with fire."
Some kind of radiation burn from the sun. Could be explosions on the surface of the sun. I don't know. Could be a burning of the-- or depletion of the ozone layer. We're not sure exactly. Verse 10, the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness. And they nod their tongues because of the pain.
It's interesting. I have for years noted that secular scientists, including Carl Sagan, said that if there were the use of nuclear weapons on the earth that the particulate and the particles that are released in the air could plunge the earth into what he called nuclear winter. Where you wouldn't have the sun shining upon the earth any longer.
That aside, verse 12. The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and his river was dried up. So the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. The word east is the Greek word on anatolia. If you know your geography, you know that Anatolia is modern day Turkey-- ancient Asia minor. So there's a lot of ways to look at that. I don't have time to break it down like I did in the book that I wrote, You Can Understand the Book of Revelation, but thought you should know that.
Let me take you with that down to verse 14. No, verse 16. "And they gathered them together to a place called in the Hebrew Armageddon. The seventh angel poured out his bowl in the air and a loud voice came out of the temple saying from the throne, it is done."
Armageddon is a valley. It has been known as the Jezreel valley. It is a real valley in Israel today. Our first day of touring, usually we take you to an outlook so you can look down at the valley of Armageddon. You have a beautiful view of it from Nazareth. So Jesus saw the valley of Armageddon every day from where he lived and grew up.
It's also called the Valley of Jezreel. It is about 150 square miles. Today, it is used for agriculture, but in the past the greatest battles that took place in that part of the world, the armies converged on that valley floor in the valley of Armageddon. Historically, it was the time for conflagration in the Middle East, and the Bible predicts it will happen again.
So Euphrates is dried up. Armies can now converge upon that land. This is the last great battle, the battle of Armageddon. And the seventh bowl, which completes God's wrath, now, chapter 17 and 18 show you a couple facets of God's judgment when he judges a city known as Babylon. Chapter 17 is religious Babylon, chapter 18 is commercial Babylon. But I want to skip ahead to chapter 19.
"After these things," verse 1, "I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven saying, hallelujah salvation, and glory, and honor, and power to the Lord, our God. For true and righteous are his judgments, because he judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth that is Babylon. with her fornication. He is avenged on her. The blood of his servants shed by her. And again they said, allelujah, and her smoke rises up forever and ever."
In chapter 19 of the book of Revelation, we have the culmination of Christian hope for the last 20 centuries. This is the pinnacle of it. For it presents the second coming of Jesus Christ. It will be the answer to all of the prayers for the last 20 centuries. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Now it gets answered.
This revelation 19, what you're about to read with me in verse 11, is what Isaac Watts had in mind when he wrote a song that sadly we just relegate to a Christmas hymn. But he didn't write it about the first coming, he wrote it about the second coming. He wrote about revelation 19. Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her king. Let every part rejoice, et cetera. No more let sin or sorrows grow or sin infest the ground. All of that language is employed as the fulfillment of Revelation 19.
Or how about this great hymn, the Battle Hymn of the Republic written after the Civil War? Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He has trampled out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He has loosed the faithful lightning of his terrible, swift sword. His truth is marching on.
That was written about this chapter. Now let's read it together. Not together out loud, but follow along in verse 11. "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on him was called faithful and true. And in righteousness, he judges and makes war.
His eyes were like a flame of fire," like the vision in chapter 1. "On his head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the word of God.
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed him on white horses. Now out of his mouth goes a sharp sword that with it he should strike the nations, and he himself will rule them with a rod of iron." Stop right there. Remember Revelation 12? The male child who will rule the nations with a rod of iron.
This is the male child, Jesus, born in Bethlehem now returning to the earth to rule the nations with a rod of iron. He himself treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God, and he has on his robe and on his thigh a name written, King of King and Lord of Lords. And I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried with a loud voice saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, come and gather together for the supper of the great God that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people free enslaved, both small and great.
This is Jesus coming back at the end of that battle of Armageddon. It really won't be a battle. It'll be a total wipe out. Jesus won't be fighting, working up a sweat. He'll just end it all at his return. But this is his return. This is his second coming to the Earth. And if I go, I will come again, Jesus said to his disciples.
The second coming of Christ is the subject-- well, let me put it this way. Next to the subject of faith, next to the subject of faith, the second coming of Jesus Christ is treated more than any other subject in the Bible next to the subject of faith. 1,844 times it is predicted in the Bible.
One out of every 30 verses in the New Testament is about the second coming of Christ. For every one time the first coming is mentioned, the second coming is mentioned eight times. For every one time atonement is mentioned, the second coming is mentioned two times. Next to the subject of faith, it is talked about more than any single subject in the scripture.
Notice that Jesus is coming back with a sword. He is coming back as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. This is Jesus, but not like his first visit.
Remember that Sunday school song, gentle Jesus meek and mild, look upon this little child? That works at his first coming, not his second. This is not gentle Jesus, meek and mild. This is giant Jesus, mighty and riled. And he will give to the earth the judgment that is due the earth for what they have done-- for what we have done.
Chapter 20, "then I saw an angel coming down from heaven. Having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand, he laid hold of that dragon, that serpent of old who is the devil and Satan and bound him for 1,000 years." Yeah. "And he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him so that he should not deceive the nations-- he should deceive the nations no more until the 1,000 years were finished. But after these things, he must be released for a little while."
Now briefly, six times in these seven verses in Revelation chapter 20 the word thousand years is mentioned. That's where we get the term millennium. Millennium simply means 1,000 years. It's spelled out here, but it is written about in gobs of texts in the book of Isaiah, chapter 11 of Isaiah, chapter 35 of Isaiah, several chapters in Isaiah. All the details about what will take place in the Kingdom Age. Some of the book of Psalms especially.
But the Bible anticipates a time when the earth-- the world, the physical universe, the physical earth-- is restored to Eden-like conditions where there will be massive geographical, topographical, and climactic changes. That is, if you take the scripture in a grammatical, historical approach, you take it to be literal, then you must concede that this isn't figurative. This is literal. It's an actual thousand years.
Now, I know not everybody agrees. The amillennial interpretation is to say, well, it says a thousand years, but it doesn't mean that. So then ask the amillenialist this question. OK, if it doesn't mean that, you tell me what it does mean. He can't give you an answer.
Well, whatever it means, it doesn't mean what it says it means. You see, this is where the amillennialist is left in interpreting the scripture because the Bible is very number-specific, right? There are seven churches. There are 12 tribes. There are 144,000. There is 1/3 of mankind. There is 1,260 days. There are two witnesses. There are 42 months. There are 144,000. There's 12,000 furlongs.
The whole book of Revelation is filled with numbers. So you're telling me, you go through the whole book only to say it doesn't mean a thing? So why did God spend 22 chapters to tell me what I said doesn't mean what it reads? It is the wildest way to look at the Bible. If you look at it in a normal, natural, grammatical, historical interpretation, then you can take it chronologically and you see the emblems speaking of great but literal events in the future.
Verse 11, "I saw a great white throne--" and there are several reasons why I believe the millenium is a necessity. I just don't have the time to do it. I'm out of time. "I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it from whose face the earth and heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God. The books were open. Another book was open which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to the works by the things which are written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and death and hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged each one according to his works. Then death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, and anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
It is the most sobering scene what I just read to be found anywhere. It is a courtroom scene. There is a judge but no jury. There is no debate over guilt. There is the sentence, but no acquittal, no parole, no debate. Just a sentence is rendered and judgment continues.
Now, the last two chapters-- just look them over because we're going to end the book-- is the final phase of forever called the eternal state. The eternal state. It is new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem. New Jerusalem is the capital city.
This earth after the millennial kingdom gets uncreated, gets completely wiped out and destroyed by God, God pushes this one aside, creates something brand new-- new heaven, new earth, with a new capital city. What's odd about the capital city is that it's a satellite of the new earth. It measures in this chapter 1,500 miles cubed. Think of a square about roughly the size of the moon coming out of heaven toward the earth.
Well, let me just read it to you so we can close the book. "I saw a new heaven, a new earth," verse 1, "for the first heaven and the first earth passed away. Also, there was no more sea." I have mixed feelings. I have-- no, I have very strong feelings about that, but I won't tell you what they are at this point.
I, John, saw-- but you could ask a question next week. That's what next week is all about. "Then I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, behold the Tabernacle of God is with men and he will dwell with them. And they shall be as people.
And God himself will be with them and be their God, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There will be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. And he who sat on the throne said, behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, write, for these words are true and faithful."
He has given in this chapter more detail, beginning in verse 9, of the new Jerusalem. Let me just throw this out at you. 2,250,000 square miles in cube form. It is estimated conservatively that it could house 20 billion people, each with 75 acres to himself. Fun to look at it. Don't have the time to really get into it.
Chapter 22 takes us full circle. "He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God. And from the lamb in the middle of its street and on either side of the river was the tree of life," connect this with Genesis, "which bore 12 fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing or the therapy of the nations.
And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the lamb shall be in it. And his servants shall serve him. They shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads." Verse 6, "and he said to me, these words are faithful and true. The Lord God, the holy prophet, sent his angels to show his servants the things which must shortly take place." Remember that term from last week, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]? We get the word velocity from that, tachometer from that.
Once they start, they'll happen quickly. "Behold, I am coming quickly," verse 7, "blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." Go down to verse 20. "He who testifies to these things says, sure I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus."
Now, before we read that last verse-- and yes, I know we're a couple minutes over, but do you notice how the Bible has come full circle? Life began in a garden for mankind. Life in the new heaven and new earth, the new Jerusalem, will be in a garden city, a garden environment. There was a tree of life that man was banished from in Genesis. Now the way is opened up for the tree of life here.
There was death and sorrow back in Genesis. Death, sorrow, tears, all wiped away. We have come full circle, and now we come to the last verse. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." Amen. The plane has landed.
Father, thank you for the time tonight, for the last several months where we have looked at an overview of your revelation from Genesis to Revelation. All 66 books. Every historical, every narrative, every poetic, every eschatological, every gospel narrative. Book of Acts, all the letters. We've looked and considered them all.
But you said, blessed are those who hear and keep the words. Lord, you said you are coming quickly. Lord, I pray we would be ready. We don't know the day or the hour, but your servant Paul did say of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write to you for you yourselves know.
So we believe, Lord, some of us, that we are experiencing birth pangs that are leading up to the time of the end. We pray, Lord, that your peace would prevail upon your people in the midst of this worldwide pandemic. In the midst of all that has come along with it, parents, Lord, that are feverishly trying to figure out how to educate their kids because of closed schools. People who are juggling work, or the lack thereof, trying to find work.
Lord, I pray that you will bless, and strengthen, and infuse your people with hope as we wait for you to come. In Jesus' name, amen. Let's all stand.
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