Finally, we want to look at the river of life. Images of rivers are used often in the Bible. They are used to show how God brings his grace, often from unusual places — water from a rock, how healing comes from the place we least expect — dirty Jordan, how great the grace of God is — river from the temple, that rivers of justice and righteousness must flow, that we must be washed in the river from the cross.The river of life, where all things are made new, where God is dwelling with his people, in the city of God. It is a river of reconciliation, rejuvenation, and reunion.The Panama Canal makes it possible for ships to cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific, saving lots of time. That canal became a reality because of a vision, but not only a vision, but because of a great engineering feat, a job that involved 1000’s of people moving an incredible 175,000,000 cubic yards of dirt.It is nothing compared to the great feat God did, removing the soil of sin that stood between God and man. Each generation has added to that barrier, and each generation has wondered how to get rid of it. All sorts of engineers have come along, with all sorts of tools, but God accomplished what everyone else tried to do, he built a canal through which flow the resurrection waters. (See Ephesians 2:13-16) All of this is from God who reconciled us to himself in Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 5:18)Mankind has long yearned for the assurance that our souls will survive death, never has man had that assurance till God stepped in. He stepped into our uncertainty and despair, and from the throne of God and the Lamb flows the river of reuniting, that river that flows into the dwelling place of man and back to God.What do you cling to carry you in the stream, but a ship. One of the old names for the part of the church that you sit in is the NAVE, it comes from the latin word for ship. That is right, the ship that carries you and I is the church, the body of Christ. Not the bricks and nails and chairs, not this place, but the people, the body of Jesus Christ brought into existence by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. That is why the fellowship, the gathering, the being here is so important. The passport or ticket for the ship is given by Christ, paid for by him. When Jesus Christ comes into your life, your journey to eternity begins and that passport is faith, a free pass given by the captain Jesus Christ. With that ticket, you are on the journey. If that ticket is not in your possession, reach out your hand, empty your heart of all that is there, and take the ticket so freely given. With that ticket, you may run the rapids of life, but no matter what happens, the ship is strong, for the Lord himself built it, steers it, and in it, you will ride out all the storms.I happen to grow up in country where there was all sorts of lakes and rivers, many so clean that you could dip water out of them and drink them without fear of pollution. There was one lake, West Hawk Lake, we would go snorkeling in that was so clear, a 20 foot depth seemed only a few short feet. The river running through the new city, is described as clear as crystal, no stagnant pool, no four odor. The scene is one of purity, dazzling beauty, radiant colors, a birth of new creativity. It is as Paul says: (See Romans 8:18 and 1 Corinthians 2:9)Too often heaven is painted as a dull place where people are burdened down with wings and harps, dully sitting around. That is not particularly appealing to me, I like activity, it would be terrible if heaven were a place where I sat doing nothing. In fact, if that is the way it is, I don’t really want to go. The picture we get here, is a picture in which all the ills, all the hurts, all the pains are gone, a place where — well, the best way to describe it is like this earth, only much better, where the river is clear and clean, and brings healing. It is a place where we will work like we are supposed to work, where we are healed and life is worth living. It is a place where you will reach fullness, because God is not the God of unfinished businessIf we were finished on earth, then heaven would be nothing. In death, we cry out, God is not finished with me yet and in heaven God says now is fullness.The river running through the new city speaks of motion, activity, life. When we arrive, we will find new tools, better working conditions and the benefits are fantastic. I am looking forward to working, to wandering all over God’s great creation, exploring, enjoying, working etc.The people of the Old Testament, the Israelites, God’s chosen people, knew what it was like to wander, their shepherds wandered looking for grass, the people spent years in captivity. The writer of the book of Hebrews describes their plight and their eternal hope. (See Hebrews 13:14 and Hebrews 11:10) The city meant home, the new city coming from heaven.We call this planet home, but only for a few short years, there is an eternity that waits. Heaven is like home, and you know how they describe home: Home is the place where all the masks we wear, are dropped and we can be who we really are. Home is the place that when you get there, they have to take you in.Where will your home be, will it be with God, will you be reunited with the one who made you, or will you be reunited with the one who dragged you down.The joy of reunion with Jesus can be yours, because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ for in Jesus Christ when you die, and you step through the door of death, you find heaven, you wake up from death’s sleep and find yourself home.The river of life leads right down the main street of life to heaven, it can carry you home on the ship of faith, that is what this book is all about, the news that is yours.
We have come to the one passage in Scripture where the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ is mentioned. There is a lot of confusion about this passage, a lot has been written about it. In looking at this passage, I may get technical and theological, I will try not to, but may have to.We need to remember two things: 1) The Bible is one book with one message, even though it has been written by many people over many years, it has but one author and he has one message. 2) The Book of Revelation is not a timetable of events, but reveals Jesus Christ.The book of Revelation says the same thing as the rest of the Bible, it talks of Jesus Christ. If we find an interpretation that is different than the rest of the Bible, then our interpretation is wrong. We must read this book with the glasses of the rest of Scripture, not the other way around, that is, read the rest of Scripture through the glasses of this passage.All the mistaken views have one common thread, they use this passage to interpret Scripture, whereas the key to Scripture is Jesus Christ and him crucified. To follow the main thread in these views: Christ will rule for 1000 years on earth. He will rule in Jerusalem over a converted Jewish nation, where the land will be fruitful. At the end of the 1000 years, Gog and Magog (whoever they are) will rise up in rebellion.And then the final battle where Jesus will win and then the end of human history. Not too detailed, but basic picture.However, there are problems with this: 1) Depending on the particular viewpoint, there are at least 2 and as many as 4 resurrections and judgement days, Bible only talks of one. 2) Bible only speaks here of the 1000 year reign, and it is a highly visionary book and a book full of images. 3) This then becomes in many places and among many groups the true mark of a Christian. How or what you believe about the 1000 years, not how or what you believe about Jesus Christ.There are three basic views of the 1000 year reign: 1) Post-millennialism — the world eventually becomes Christian. There will be a long period of peace and prosperity. Then Jesus Christ will come again. 2) Pre-millennialism — the world is moving toward a grand climax. Jesus Christ will then return and the first resurrection will take place and he will set up a kingdom. Peace and righteousness will reign for 1000 years. Then the final resurrection, the new heaven and new earth, then the eternal kingdom. 3) A-millennialism — the time between the first and second coming is the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ. This present form of things will end with Jesus Christ’s second coming and at that time the renewal of all things will take place.The result of all this is that Christians have been led up the road of fruitless speculation, for if the church had spent as much time and energy on missions as on this, the church would be a real force in the world.
John writes, and then I saw, he is writing about his vision. That is what we need to remember — this is a vision, and visionary language needs to be interpreted.Some will not allow interpretation, because you are not supposed to interpret, you just take it as it stands. However, if we take this passage that way, we need to take all passages that way and then what do we do when Jesus says he is bread, water, etc.Now if we do take the passage literally, then vv. 1-3 tell how satan is bound for 1000 years; vv. 4-6 show how martyrs are raised to reign 1000 years and this easily turns into a timetable.Is this the only way to approach this passage? I submit not.To come to an understanding of this passage, we need to go back to Revelation 12. There we read of the vision of the woman and the child. We noted then that this was a summary of the whole of the history of redemption, of God dealing with his people, a message of hope, that Jesus Christ is on the throne and that satan has but a short time. (See Revelation 12:5 and Revelation 12:9)We read of the overthrow of satan and this is what Revelation 20 is telling us about, not about 1000 years, but about the overthrow of satan. What is portrayed in Revelation 20:2 is what Jesus talks about in Luke 10:17-18.The disciples have come back from their mission. Their message is one of joy — that the demons obey them. Jesus says that he saw satan fall like lightning from heaven, satan suffer defeat, the mission of the 70 is associated with satan’s fall.John 12:31: satan has been driven out, he no longer has a place in heaven, the cross seems to be the defeat of Jesus, but it his great victory.Colossians 2:15: Jesus won over satan on the cross, he has triumphed.In Christ’s death and resurrection satan is bound, bound so his LIE will not reign on earth. Before he was bound, satan’s lie ruled, that salvation was for the Jews, to become saved one must become a Jew. Now satan is bound, and people come to Jesus Christ come by the 1000’s from all nations. satan is bound, but not completely, like a dog on a chain, he can make noise and scare, but he cannot destroy the church.The world is not getting better except for one thing, the freedom and truth of the gospel can now be proclaimed.We ask is it all true? Is Jesus Christ reigning — for it looks like satan is free. However, now is the 1000 years, the time when satan is bound, now Jesus Christ is the ruler and those who have gone before rule with Jesus. They have suffered the first death, but will not suffer the second.satan seems to be the most powerful force on this earth, but he is bound. In many places the light of the gospel and rule of Christ seem non-existent, it seems as if we are losing.Revelation 20:7: a last attack is permitted, an avalanche of evil, pictured in Ezekiel 38 and 39.Listen closely, satan may not rule, he may attack, but never rule, for Jesus Christ is the ruler and we in faith can never expect enough from Him.We live in the Golden Age of the Gospel — the 1000 years. satan is bound, the King reigns. To spend time trying to figure out the timetable is a waste of time, that is time better spent on the spread of the gospel.
My family likes to take pictures as do many of you. Whenever we go out, we try to take a camera. Molly and I have different ideas about what should be in a picture, because when we take a picture, we want to show what we are seeing, we want others to know and see what we feel is important. And yet, when we show the pictures, we have to be there and explain what the picture is, who is in it, what is going on. Because without that, those looking at the pictures, don’t know what we know.We need to remember what the book of Revelation is all about. It is not here to give us a timetable, so we can predict the end of the world. This book does say what the rest of the Bible says, it tells us of Jesus Christ, it tells us that God reigns and that gives us comfort. Chapters 15-19 are full of visionary pictures, that are often confusingAs chapter 15 starts out, we see a wonderful picture, a picture of those who stand victorious over the beast through the victory of Jesus Christ and these people sing, sing a song to the conqueror. The song of praise is raised because of the victory of the Lamb.Then we read of the punishment of God that is poured out. This is familiar, because we have heard it before in our look at Revelation. Chapter 16 gives us the horrible picture of God’s wrath being poured out, as each bowl is poured out, the punishment of God is seen, seen in all its fullness. There is no mention here of 1/3 or ½ of the earth, the destruction is total, the punishment given is tailored to fit the crime. The crime is having shed the blood of those who announce and bring good news, because they have shed blood, they are given blood to drink. All this simply means is that God’s wrath is full and the punishment is passed out and it is horrible. What is more horrible that all, is that with all these things happening, the people still don’t repent, because repenting time is over, now is judgement.Look at what happens, the hailstones come, the earthquakes rumble and in spite of it all, these people curse God. It is the punishment of the beast and his followers, there is no further chance to repent. The last bowl is poured out into the air, not land, and it is announced, “It Is Done”.In chapter 17, we have a picture that is something evil, totally evil that matches the evil of the dragon, the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth, he evil woman, the prostitute, the one who is the counterpart of satan.Remember the woman that was taken to the desert on the wings of the eagle, Revelation 12:14, a picture of the church kept safe. Well, satan always has his evil counterpart, the evil trinity, and now his woman in the desert, a woman who is warped and twisted, ugly. She rules the peoples, who is drunk on the death of God’s people. This is the woman that rules, she thinks she has all the power, she has led the nations into evil and they have drunk full and now they fall.Here is how horrible, how evil this system is that oppresses God. It is called a habitat for demons, and for those who have been enticed by the evil. The call comes to God’s people, to get out of there, get out, get out, get out, for destruction falls. Babylon, the system that stands against God is destroyed. Babylon that represents the political, the commercial, and religious systems against God. The kings are terrified because their power is gone, what they held onto is destroyed.There is now no one to buy our cargoes, money is destroyed, riches are gone. The sea captains who depended on the kingdom of the beast cry out, all is gone.No more magic, no more music, no more celebration and worship at the throne and altar of evil.The millstone that grinds out God’s judgement is thrown into the sea. Remember that the sea stands for people, mankind. God’s judgment grinds and the city is no more.God’s people respond in praise, that great multitude of God that we heard in Revelation 7:9. This multitude sings, sings praises to the Lord. For his judgement has come, and his judgements are true and righteous. The 24 elders and 4 living creatures fall down in worship. Again and again and again, the call goes out to Praise the Lord.The overriding message of the Revelation is Jesus cannot lose, and satan cannot win! Those following the Lamb wherever He goes will at last be joined to Him. Natural assaults like famine, pestilence, and flood fail, fierce and relentless persecution, and the passing of opposing laws, are powerless to pluck the weakest saint from the hands of Christ. We see the bride without an adversary, the enemy has been cast down, and the bride of Christ is ready to be joined forever to her Husband.In this passage we are standing on the threshold of eternity, the beginning of a reign that will never cease, an occasion of great joy that brings great honor to God. Even though there have been periods of history during which this did not seem to be the truth, we must not allow ourselves to be deceived by appearances. God’s people are being kept and the enemy is being cast down.All of heaven has been waiting for this marriage! Without this marriage, everything else is futile. In this world, gladness and rejoicing are often considered an end of themselves. Our text speaks of a genuine joy-genuine because it reflects the joy of the Savior.We are told of a time when gladness and joy will be brought to their fullest measure, for what God has purposed has come to pass! What the Son has longed for has now arrived!This is the marriage of the lamb, not the church. The church is being presented to him as pure and holy, without blemish. This marriage was central in the thinking of Christ when He lived among us. He referred to Himself as “the Bridegroom,” and His return to heaven as a time of absence from the bride (Matthew 9:15). The purpose of his death and resurrection is to place us into His Kingdom, to be in the light, to be His bride.Remember, it is the Lamb’s marriage, not the church’s! The church is “His wife,” she is presented to him, He is the focus of it all. His wife has made herself ready, no longer a bride, but now the wife, The preparation involves the maintenance of purity, to remain unspotted. (James 1:27)This is purity from every angle: thought, word, deed, and motives and is made possible because of the provision of Jesus Christ the righteous. We are not limited to our own efforts, the Holy Spirit is given to assist us in preparing for the marriage. Whatever hinders our preparation for the “marriage of the Lamb” is to be avoided, for when the marriage arrives, there will be no time for ANY preparationPicture the kingdom of God as the great hall, which houses the light of God’s presence. Imagine that you are walking toward the door of the kingdom, hoping against hope that you will be allowed to enter. As you approach, you see that the door is haloed by an unearthly glow. When you get closer, however, you realize that the “halo” Is really the escaping rays of light that refuse to be contained behind the wooden door. So brilliant is their light, that even these scattered rays have the awesome power to expose the previously unseen. As you stand spellbound by their power, you begin to notice that your garments appear soiled and lightly stained. You wonder why you didn’t notice that before, and then suddenly realize that the light stains are becoming darker and darker. Could it be that the colors are actually deepening right before your eyes? Or is the light opening your eyes to realities that you simply had not noticed before? Yes, that’s it! Along life’s journey your robe had become ragged and black with sin, but you just hadn’t been able to see it, or perhaps you hadn’t looked.As you stand there, contemplating your inexcusable blindness, you begin to see the hopelessness of your plight. The kingdom you see before you is the kingdom of holiness and the light you ponder is the penetrating light of God’s presence. Surely, no one whose robes are stained and spotted with sin will be permitted inside this kingdom of perfection. In utter despair you turn to leave, but just then you hear steps behind you. Glancing back over your shoulder, you are amazed to see the sinless Christ, brilliantly robed in gleaming white, smiling. “Would you like to enter the kingdom?” He asks.”Yes,” you reply. “I long to be a part of God’s family, to live with Him forever. But I am unfit. His kingdom is the kingdom of perfect light, and in that light my darkness is exposed. I cannot enter.”Once again He speaks. “But do you not desire to enter?” “Yes, oh yes,” you cry in frustration. “But in these rags?””No, my child. My Father would not accept those rags. But I will exchange your soiled robe for Mine of gleaming white. Here, take it, put it on. Then you can go into the kingdom.”You attempt to speak, but you find no words. You can’t even bear the thought of the Sinless One wearing your rags. You stand silent, in disbelief.Finally He speaks. “It’s the only way, My child. Only My robe is pure enough to withstand the intensity of My Father’s light. Take it, and enter.”Your heart heavy with remorse, you begin to remove your filthy rags. You don’t look up, but soon you feel His tender touch as He places His robe on your body. Then He says, with gentle confidence, “Now you’re ready. Go inside and stand before My Father.” Before you walk through the open door, you turn and watch Him walk slowly away, burdened under the weight of your soiled robe.As soon as you enter the room, you understand why there is only one robe worthy to be worn there. Each corner of the great hall is bathed in the light of purity. The walls, the floor, and the ceiling all glow with the radiance of God’s holiness. And then you see Him, the King of kings, on His throne, and you are melted by His loving smile. “The robe,” He says. “I’ve seen it before. Where did you get it?”Surely he knows your answer. Could He think that you would dare claim it as your own or say that you earned it? Too well He knows the condition of the rags you wore as you approached the kingdom.You whisper the only word that will satisfy His question. “Jesus.” And then His smile widens as He says, “Welcome home, My child. This is where you belong. Come, join the celebration! One whom I have loved and called has made the exchange and now stands unblemished in My presence!”Jesus took the accumulated rags of human sin with Him to the cross and freed us to accept His robe of purest white. But what exactly does that mean? When do we place the robe on our shoulders? Do we wait until we stand in the shadow of heaven’s gate? No. We will have no time, after death, to contemplate our plight. It is here, in this life that we must decide to respond in love and faith to Jesus’ accomplished work of salvation. It is here, through he revealed truth of Scripture, that He meets us and offers us His robe of redemption.Then comes the rider on the white horse, we have come to the great climax of all history. This rider on a white horse is identified for us by four different namesVerse 11 Faithful and True, to bring in perfect justice. All the wrongs done on earth will be made right; all the cheats and scams that we are familiar with today will be exposed and corrected; all drugs that blow the minds of people will be eliminated; all crime will be brought to an end; all hatred among mankind will cease.Verse 12 A name written on him that no one knows but himself. His blazing eyes speak of full discernment, penetrating knowledge. Many crowns speak of full authority.Verse 13 His name is the Word of God. The sharp sword is the Word of God. Have you ever been smitten by the Word of God? Some word from the Bible has caught your attention and awakened your conscience, and you are suddenly aware that God sees deeper into you than you thought he ever could.Verse 16 KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, He rules with an iron scepterHere is Jesus Christ, no longer the lamb, but now the Warrior, the King, the Messiah. He goes to conquer and rule and his weapon is the Word. He has a name that is secret to those who do no know him, but to those who are his friend, we know his name. He is king and He is lord and He is Jesus.Look at the end of the battle, the beast and the prophet, the unholy son and unholy spirit are cast into the fiery lake and the rest are destroyed by the Word.The invitation is to come to the wedding feast of the Lamb. We who are part of the wedding feast are robed in robes of righteousness, these are given to us by Jesus Christ.The end is coming and the judgement of God will fall, the judgement which was for you, however, has fallen on Jesus Christ. You need not fear the beast, the prophet, the dragon, for you will be at the wedding feast.So I make a recommendation, start practicing praise songs.
Revelation 14:1-201 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.2 And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.4 These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.5 No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth– to every nation, tribe, language and people.7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”8 A second angel followed and said, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand,10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.”12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”14 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one “like a son of man” with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.15 Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”16 So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.18 Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.”19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
One problem the church seems to face is this, we seem to be on the losing side. The church is not listened to, it is even made fun of. Christians on the major networks are pictured as bigoted, narrow minded. It is simply this, if satan can’t win will drag as many as he can with him.
The picture John gives us is different, it is the picture of a victorious church. Can we believe it?. To see this victorious church, we need to adjust our eyes, like when we adjust our eyes when we come from a dark room to a lighted one. It takes time, but it need to be done.
There are two different interpretations of verses 1-5. The first is that the 144,000 are the saved out of Israel —12.,000 form each tribe. This view has these particular ideas within it. These are a special group of believers, ones that God sets aside from the rest, they are unmarried, and thus pure, they are the new government of Jesus. They are rewarded because of what they have done. However, this picture is strange, because it is different than what rest of Bible says. The Bible tells us that God shows no partiality to certain groups of people. This also seems to say that there seems to be something wrong with sex, and the Bible does not say that. And finally, that they are rewarded for what they have done, ie, they are the 144,000 because of what they have done, and that flies in the face of God’s grace.
The second view is that the 144,000 refers to church in a symbolic way, that it refers to the people of God from all ages. Here we we see a picture of the victorious Lamb and the victorious church. Here is the church as God sees it, undefiled and pure, in Jesus Christ. When it seemed as if there was no escape, that the unholy trinity had won the day, then we look and see Jesus Christ and the victory He has won. And because of His grace, they are rewarded, the whole church is rewarded, and they sing the new song, the song only God’s children can sing.
But how can we say this is the church? Look at the description given. We are not undefiled and pure, that is a different picture than what I see. The answer to that is that we need to see what the Lord sees. (See 2 Corinthians 11:2)
John sees the church as the bride of Christ, when the bride comes down the aisle dressed in white, all thoughts of impurity flee. Our Lord sees His church as one who is faithful, being singlemindedly faithful. The church has not followed its own plan, but the plan laid out by its Lord. The church does not create the kind of Jesus it wants, but listens to the Who He is. They are the sign of the harvest to come, they have sacrificed themselves and dedicated themselves to Jesus, a picture of God’s chosen, no one is left out, each one counted is there
Then in verse, we see the church stands victorious and views the scenes to come in confidence, knowing they will not be lost. There is another angel who proclaims the eternal good news, the special messenger of God and he speaks a special message. It is the good news that he brings, the good news is found in verse 7.
The good news is that judgement is at hand, the end is near. Proclaim this news, and worship the one who created. Then a second angel comes with other news, that Babylon the great has fallen, the political and religious systems of this world have gone down to defeat, the unholy trinity does not win the day.
And a third angel comes and tells of the judgement of God, a horrifying vision of torment that goes on forever.
On that note, comes another appeal, God reaching out another time. The gospel is preached and man is called to worship God. However there is a time coming when man will not listen and believe, when it will be too late. However, those who die in the Lord are blessed, those who don’t will be tormented.
This is not something to hide but to shout from the housetops, the kingdom has come and is coming, Babylon has fallen, all that man has set up falls, it is only a 6. Here is something to be joyous about, it is not an announcement of death, but the end of death, it is not announcing pain, but the end of pain, it is not announcing sin, but the end of sin
Then the scene shifts. (see verse 14) There on the clouds is one like son of man, crowned with gold, the crown of victory, and he carries a sharp sickle, a sickle that is used for harvest. (See Daniel 7:13). This one is given authority. (See Matthew 26:64) It is Jesus Christ coming to do the harvest.
There are two harvests pictured here. The first is grain, a picture of God’s people and here is Christ going out to harvest his own. This is not left to some angel, but he does it himself, he claims his own. Jesus in all his glory, He waits until the right time and then he harvests. His first coming was the sowing time; His second coming is harvest time.
The second harvest is the harvest of grapes. This harvest is done by the angels, who are given a sickle. The harvest of the angels is the harvest of wrath. The grapes are taken in and the judgement of God’s wrath descends upon them. The evil that man is full and they are gathered and pressed out.
This is a comforting picture, it is a picture of victory. A picture of the victorious church where not one is lost, every single one who is to be there, is there, the number of God’s people is full. It is a picture of God’s grace, as the gospel goes forth and a picture of the harvest, Jesus gathering his own.
If we are still preaching, if we are still witnessing, then it is still the sowing and growing time. We dare not ask the lord to send forth the harvesters unless we really mean it. Rather than praying that the Lord send forth harvesters, pray that the Lord send forth the sowers, so the harvest will be abundant.
We need to make sure we are doing the right thing with the Word of God. Are we sowing the Word, or are we holding to ourselves in storage?
In v. 13 we hear about those who die in the Lord. They are blessed, for their work of sowing, cultivating, and feeding is done. The harvest time will come and the seeds they have sown will grow and be fruitful. Praise God that He leaves us time to sow. Praise God that in Jesus our work and we are victorious.
Revelation 13:1-181 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.4 Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast — all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.9 He who has an ear, let him hear.10 If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns Ike a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.18 This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.
When we last left our study, we saw God bringing comfort to his people. We saw the birth of Jesus Christ and the wrath of satan, trying to get at Jesus, and there is war, and satan is cast out. He pursues the woman and her child, but God cares for them and satan is cast to earth and persecutes the church.Today, we see how the dragon makes war on the church. This is the most evil chapter of the book, when we read it, it seems as if there is no comfort, but as we look closely we find comfort. Here is a chapter that shows the character of satan and the way he works, how he makes a mockery of everything, and his power is tremendous.We are also introduced to the most famous number in the world — 666. If you get that number on your license plate or on your credit card it sends shivers of fear down your spine! There are people who have had that as their house number and petitioned the city to change the number. 666 has become a sinister number in the eyes of many, Movies have been based upon the powerful mystery connected with it. Today we will learn the secret of that strange number and of the beasts that are identified with it.
The church, God’s people, are a paradox, seemingly so weak and yet the crown of the universe. The church, God’s people is used by God to bring the Messiah into the world and shares in the victory and conquest of Jesus. At the same time it is a bundle of humanity fleeing from the dragon, a dragon that warps all that is holy and makes an evil imitation of the good. Here in this chapter we have what I call the satanic trinity, the dragon corresponding to the Father, the first beast corresponding to the Son, and the second beast playing the role of the Holy Spirit, satan’s imitation of the true God.
First there is the Unholy Father, the dragon. satan is often pictured as a dragon, a great serpent. The first time we run into the serpent is in Genesis 3, the serpent who causes the Fall. In Revelation 12:9 he is called the great dragon, the ancient serpent, satan who leads the whole world astray. In chapter 12 we read of his war with God, because of his desire to be God, more clearly pictured in Isaiah 14:12-14.He has been cast out of heaven. (See Luke 10:17-20)All this does not sit well with satan, for his desire is to be the Father. Direct conflict does not work, so he hatches an evil plan. He sets up his own kingdom, one that imitates and ridicules the Kingdom of God. He has seen how God works and he uses an evil imitation of God’s Kingdom. His kingdom is one that catches man’s eye, it has all the stuff that people love to have and see, power, miracles, glitz, but it is one that leads to hell. He sets himself up as the unholy father, wanting the same thing that God wants, that is, he wants people to worship him and makes a mockery of true worship. Worshiping the unholy father, they do things like saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards.
Then there is the Unholy Son, the first beast, rises out of the sea, the sea which stands for humanity. The last time we saw that out of the people of God, the Messiah was born. Here we see that out of the sea of humanity, satan brings forth his son. All we can say is that this is a beast, he looks like a leopard, lion, bear and monster. In the Old Testament, in Daniel 7, you will find the same description of four beasts who are described as those who are against the Kingdom of God. However, here they are all gathered into one beast, and ugly monster: LION: full of pride, exerts a mighty power in the world to rule; BEAR: paws that grab and destroy and an appetite that is never satisfied; LEOPARD: swift and cunning, can move fast to kill and destroy those who oppose him. Like a cat, playing with victims; MONSTER: one with horns, that denotes authority.The combination is one of great evil, is the anti-Christ, the highest opposition to God and his Kingdom. As we look through his description we see many of the things are imitation of Christ:Fatal wound: he is given a fatal wound, but does not die. He is healed and the world is astonished and stands in awe. You cannot kill this monster, it must be God. This shows the power of satan, not something to fool around with. Something so powered by satan, cannot die. The world of man sees that whatever this evil is, it cannot be killed off.Don’t we know that, stamp out evil one place and it rises again. Time and again satan raises someone to stand as his candidate and we wonder if evil will ever be stamped out. Even in your own life, we try and try, till we often get to the point we give in because we think we cannot stop itAuthority: the beast is given authority, like Christ is given authority by the Father. Such is his power and authority that the cry is raised, who is like the beast? Who can make war against him? And even this is an evil imitation of the words of praise given to God. (See Exodus 15:11 and Psalm 35:10)The beast is given authority over every tribe and nation and it is given the power satan would have given Jesus in the temptations. Jesus was offered the nations by satan if he would only have bowed down and worshiped, Jesus refused. satan finally finds someone for his plan and he is given power to war against the church and to conquer. If your name is not written in the book of life, you eventually will worship the beast, an evil imitation to an evil imitation.
Finally there is the Unholy Spirit, another beast. He does not rise from humanity but from the earth. This beast looks so peaceful, evilness covered by sweetness, looks like a lamb, a pet for children. Does this sound like the mother nature, mother earth we hear so much about, the mother nature that we see in commercials: “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature”. That commercial is so true, for when this beast speaks, it is with the voice of the dragon, a picture of what Paul portrays in 2 Corinthians 11:14.Here is the highest of evil, the unholy trinity is complete. Here is one who goes out among men, to point people to the anti-Christ, who plays the same role as the Holy Spirit, who points to Jesus Christ. He points to the anti-Christ and persuades, and deceives mankind. Look at what he does, he performs signs and miracles like the Holy Spirit, he even calls down fire from heaven, does that remind you of Pentecost. He is given power to breath life into a statue, what a wonder, no wonder mankind is deceived. He serves the interest of the first beast. In these two beasts is a deadly combination.First beast: the political power of the dragon portrayed. Here we see the rule of the dragon. Government is good when God controls it, but when the dragon rules, then it become beastly; Second beast: No political power can stand by might alone. It needs more, it needs a prophet, to preach its philosophy and to lead to worship. When someone takes over a country, they try to get the people on their side by getting the church on their side. The second beast makes up the slogans and forms the ideas and makes up the hymns of the beastly kingdom.
Is there comfort in all of this, for is not Revelation written to bring comfort? Iit is in this, satan does not have one candidate, for his people keep dying off. Each age, he has to raise another one, another beast. Some of those in history have been Nero, Caligula, the mad emperor, Adolf Hitler And he has to bring in new propagandists, and new prophets, the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are always here.I was reading on the Internet a few days ago, some comment on this and this person was talking about the anti-christ and anti-god. The person made a little typo, that points out reality, in the word anti left of the i, so it became ant-god and ant-christ and that is the reality of it, they are just ants compared to God.
Our survey of the evil kingdom is not over, for not only does this kingdom have a messiah, a prophet, signs and wonders, and pushes a new order, it has one more thing. There is a baptism, a mark to show you belong, the famous number 666. The mark is satan’s imitation of God’s seal on his own people.In Chapter 7 we learned that 144,000 or the great multitude were sealed on their foreheads by God, that indicates they are owned by God, they belong to him. Every believer in Christ is sealed by the Holy Spirit and the sign of that is baptism. The mark that is mentioned is said to be either the name of the beast or the number of his name, his name is unknown, but the number is given: 666.The most foolish thing you can do is to try to identify a person today by using number 666. Ancient languages used letters for numbers, the letters have numerical value and many feel that when you add up the numerical value of certain names if it comes out to 666 that person must be the Antichrist. However, the problem is you are using English letters. Another thing that has been done is to see 666 in all sorts of things, like Social Security numbers, computers and the fact that they use numbers, in Zip Codes, you name it. No one has come up with any explanation that makes sense using these methods.What does this mean then? The scripture tells us that it is the number of a man, or man’s number. In the Bible, the number 7 is used to mean perfection and stand for God and his perfection, 6 is the number of man, a number that never reaches 7. All human endeavor can only add up to 6 or 66 or 666 or 6666, always short of God’s number 7.After the beast does its work, people are amazed and say, Who is like the beast? His work may come close to perfection, but not good enough. It is always One Fry Short Of A Happy Meal; two sandwiches short of a picnic; a few chapters short of a book; one taco short of a combo plate; one brick shy of a full load; six cents short of a dollar, it can never be enough.Eugene Peterson says, “This religion has nothing to do with God. Get its number: it is a human number. This is not divine mystery, but a confidence man’s patter; it is religion that makes a show, religion that vaunts itself, religion that takes our eyes off of the poor and suffering and holy Christ. In the language of numbers, 666 is a triple failure to be a 777, the three-times perfect, whole, divine number.”666 means his work is failure upon failure upon failure and this mark of failure is placed on all who worship the beast. Those who don’t have this mark are considered a threat to mankind, they will be boycotted, for all the works of the beast will have his mark and ours will not. The comfort is that satan’s work will never match the work of God.I want to leave you with two thoughts:First there is the evilness of satan, how he warps, twists, imitates the good of God, how he tries to cut off the people of God. For unless you live as a worshiper of the beast and unholy trinity you will suffer.Second is comfort and this has to do with the mark of the beast. The beast can never reach the perfection of God, he can never really ultimately deceive. There is comfort in the perfection of 7, of Jesus Christ. There is hope for tomorrow, Jesus will come again and make all things new and perfect.John says this calls for insight, for wisdom, count it up, add up the number of man and the beast, it always falls short. As evil as the world seems, as overpowering as the beast and his prophet seem, as powerful as the dragon seems and acts, there is one more powerful. Although the beast cannot be slain by man, but the lamb, Ah the lamb. In the words of Genesis 3, he crushes the head of the serpent, and throws him into the eternal lake of fire. What a comfort to know that satan can never attain God’s perfection.
THE GREAT WAR
Revelation 12:1-13:1a1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring — those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. 1 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.
I’d like you to imagine, for the moment, what it would be like to be following the Houston Rockets in a playoff hope, coming closer to the championship, things look good till you wake up and hear the news that they had simply decided to quit, drop out, default to another team. Hhow would you feel?Or imagine being in a business partnership with someone. It’s going well. Sales are good. You’re set to expand. And suddenly she pulls out on you. Leaves you holding the entire bag, and walks away. What would you think?Or suppose you’d been diagnosed with a serious, but treatable ailment. The doctors spend a great deal of time and resources in the diagnosis. Just before you’re set to go in for the vital treatment a phone call comes, everything’s called off. Period. No explanation. Can you imagine your feelings? Confused, perhaps? Troubled?I sometimes wonder if there may be similar thoughts and feelings for those who read the Bible’s account of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, His Easter victory over death, and the events that follow? The post-Easter chapters seem to narrate precisely such an inexplicable, illogical sort of pullout and retreat. Everything seemed to be flying high! It looked as though nothing could possibly hold back the kingdom of God. Death had been defeated! Surely it was the end of the road for the kingdom of evil, and then, suddenly, Jesus goes away. This time for good! Gone! And the disciples are left to try and figure out why.It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. What sort of strategy is this? To find an answer we are forced to turn our attention beyond the immediate circumstances of earth and gaze heavenward, to gaze into another dimension of reality, into the spiritual dimension, the dimension of heaven and hell, angels and demons, God and satan. When we peek into that dimension, we are able to understand.
This portion of scripture is a vision that shows all of history, thousands of years in a few short verses. It is also an interpretation of history, thousands of years in a few short verses. We can’t be too detailed, for this is not just past history, but also future history. And because it is interpreting all of that history, we cannot take as a detailed calendar of events.
In verse 1 we see a wondrous picture, a woman clothed with the sun, the moon as her footstool and the stars as her crown. Who is this woman, well, she represents God’s people of all ages, what we call the church. This woman represents God’s people, the church. She is glorious beyond description, a picture of God’s people as they were meant to be, a picture of the people of God, imaging God, the high point of God’s creation. And all creation decorates God’s beloved. There are many people worship the stars, read horoscopes, etc because they feel these bodies have power and control. Here we are told that the stars, the heavenly bodies are merely a decoration for God’s people.This woman, we are told, is pregnant and she cries out in the pangs of birth. In this picture we have represented 2000 years of the history of God’s people. God’s people who are to give birth to the Messiah, the Savior, the Christ. Here is the Old Testament explained — why did God chose Abraham, why were the laws given, why was there a covenant made with David. Because God’s people had to give birth to the Savior. All the sufferings of the Old Testament are explained as birth pangs. All the books that have been written to try to explain this forget one point, that God’s people existed to give birth to the Christ, the Savior.
In verse 3 the next picture is seen, a red glow, a dragon, the Anti-Messiah, the other candidate for the throne. The description shows great power and wisdom, an awesome picture, especially when we consider that throughout the book of Revelation, one picture of Jesus is that of a Lamb.Who can stand up to the power of a dragon? He is pictured with seven heads — his great intelligence; ten horns — his great power and might; seven crowns — great authority; and his great tail sweeps ⅓ of the stars from the heaven, which refers to the ⅓ of the angels that fell with satan.The dragon threatens the woman, in order to destroy God’s candidate for the throne, for the woman and her child are loved by God and hated by satan. All the trials and attacks on Israel are summarized and explained by the dragon who stands before the woman to devour the child. All of satan’s attempts to do away with the Christ, to make the promise of God invalid, a promise that goes back to the very beginning. (See Genesis 3:15)
In verse 5 we are given a description of the child who is born, the description is given in the words and pictures of Psalm 2:9. The whole life and death of Jesus Christ is summed up here, he who was born to serve and raised to reign.
Then to verse 7, all the participants have been introduced. There is war in heaven and satan loses. The gospels are the story of the victory of Christ from our point of view, obedience, death, resurrection, ascension, however, there is another point of view, that of heaven.It is a war between heaven and satan and satan loses. This is so important to note, Jesus is on the throne, satan is cast out. Victory is assured because God’s candidate is on the throne. There is not hope here for satan, satan’s attempt on earth failed and so did his attempt in heaven.
At verse 13, we get the picture that things are not so good for us. We hear: “But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”satan turns on the church, on the earth, because he cannot defeat the child, his territory and time are limited, he has lost his bid for complete dominion, he is not reigning from heaven. He is like a spoiled little brat of a child, who can’t get his way, he strikes out somewhere, a good picture of satan, a brat of a child, all his fury is reaction to his loss. Don’t get me wrong, he can be and is dangerous, but his time is short, we are told how short in 2 places — 1260 days, 3 ½ years, compared to history, that is short.
Now to verses 10-12: Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
The roles of satan are: Tempter — tries to deceive the people of God; Destroyer — the anti God, not one who builds up or strengthens, but destroys. Here he is called the Accuser, an accuser is one who goes about digging up dirt to show how bad we have been. We see satan taking a good thing and using it wrong, he takes the law which God pronounces as good and holy and changes it into something it is not. He does not want us to see the cross and the dismissal of all charges Jesus death and resurrection brought. He would rather us try to use the law as our way, our good works, for then he can point out how often we fail.
The accuser is cast down, no longer can satan accuse you and I, the case against you has been removed, it is cleared up. (See Romans 8:1) There is now no one left to accuse you. (See Romans 8:33)
There is no one who has a right to bring a charge, the only one who can has declared us NOT GUILTYOne of the most beautiful stories in the Bible is found in the gospel of John 8:2-11. The only one who could condemn her, did not.
The accuser is cast down, no longer does satan have access to the throne of God. Now there is one on our side and this advocate has taken the throne and he reigns and he is our brother. Not only has Jesus conquered, but we are told that: We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
By the blood of the Lamb, by the Word of testimony, satan is defeated. We cannot be to ready to give up on the struggle with satan, because he has lost, we are victors. satan can no longer accuse, he can only tempt.
The great war is greater than we think, it is the war of history, but it has been won, behind it all is the reality of heaven, the war won, the devil and his fury. The great war had greater dimensions than we think and far greater effects than we care to see. There is a three fold effect: 1) Salvation done by God in Jesus Christ is made real. God’s rule in the world is firmly established. The false candidate for the throne is cast down. 2) God’s people triumph. There is now power in Jesus Christ to defeat satan. satan cannot make a direct attack on the church and cannot destroy the church. We win by the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of the Word. 3) satan is filled with fury. satan wants to wipe out the church but cannot. He tries with all sorts of ways, but is prevented.
satan is limited in power. No longer has he a place in the heavens, his domain is earth, and even here he is tied down. Christ has won the victory, he has overcome. satan may use all his resources against you, but Jesus Christ uses all his resources against satan, in Christ, you are free.
Sometimes we can be really dense. We are warned time and again, but somehow we think we know better. In mid-July the snow on Mount Rainier was deep. The sun was shining, and the air was pleasantly warm. What a perfect day for skiing and hiking! You could play in the snow in summer clothes. “Watch out for sunburn!” the ranger warned. “Put plenty of lotion on your face, and keep your arms and legs covered.” “Who ever heard of sunburn in snow country?” Nancy thought to herself. Ignoring all warning, she set with friends, wearing a short play suit. Many hours later her friends brought her back, so badly sunburned they had to take her to a hospital. Her whole vacation was ruined. The ranger had warned her, but she thought she knew better.
What a terrible mistake we make when we ignore God’s warnings! That is what the seven trumpets are, warnings from God that sound throughout history. These trumpets are not to be taken chronologically, as one happening one after another, but as God constantly warning us throughout history.If we do not take seriously his warnings, then they turn to judgement. Johnny, don’t pull the cat’s tail or you will get bit, if Johnny does not listen to and heed the warning, he gets bit. Don’t speed or you will get a ticket, if you do not heed the warning, it turns to a judgement.The seven trumpets are God’s gracious warning to the world throughout history, of what will happen if we do not listen. John is not interested in giving us a time table and neither is God, however, both are interested in revealing God’s vision, God’s plan, what God is doingBack of it all is the call to repentance. Here in the terrible warnings, in the awesome judgements, comes the call, if you do not repent, see how bad it will be. The 7 trumpets sound not judgement, but warning, the first four are on the earth, and the last three are on man himself.
Trumpet one: Revelation 8:7– The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
One third of the vegetation of earth is destroyed, notice, it is just ⅓ of the vegetation, not all. The burning of vegetation, think of great forest fires started by a match, the burning of the rain forest. Every time you see a great forest fire, this is a warning from God and left uncontrolled, this can become a judgement.
Trumpet two: Revelation 8:8-9 – The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
A burning mass falls into the sea, an awesome picture, ⅓ of the sea creatures die, shipping is disrupted, ocean turns into blood. A great problem we face is something called acid rain, that has devastating effects on the oceans and the fish. When you hear the stories on TV, this is a warning from a gracious God.
Trumpet three: Revelation 8:10-11 – The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water—the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. (See Jeremiah 23:15)
The drinking water is effected, what we think of as safe is effected by God’s warning. How common is the pollution of water sources, how many people around the world drink contaminated water? How safe do you think your water is? Remember this is a warning from God.
Trumpet four: Revelation 8:12 – The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.
God even uses the lights that light the day and night are effected. What we think of as eternal is swept from the sky or darkened. The sun loses ⅓ of its power, think of pollution that chokes out cities and makes them dark. This is a warning from God that can turn to judgement.The forces of nature have fallen under the judgement as a warning to man. Be warned unless the judgement of the last 3 trumpets fall on you. And the eagle cries, Woe, Woe, Woe!
What these mean is that no part of creation is beyond God’s power, He made it, He can and does use it for His purposes. The judgements are not total, notice, it is only ⅓ of creation. Events of our age are part of the warning, for the trumpets are to warn.Jesus Christ has not returned, so this is still the age of grace, God is still calling people to come. The Lamb makes it possible for all sorts of people to come.Do you want to be safe from the judgement then come? The trumpets are designed to drive man to his knees before the Lamb, before it is too late. See how bad this is, it is even worse if you do not repent, for the wrath of the Lamb is unbelievable, come now says God, before it is too late. Here is the answer to prayer, a warning to repent, a time to repent. (See Matthew 3:10)
God moves heaven and earth to wake people to His call. He is willing to let ⅓ of creation be destroyed so that 1 person will hear His call. He wants and yearns for His people so desperately that nothing will stop him from claiming them, even to bringing such severe judgements, even to dying on a cross.
Throughout the book of Revelation we see that God is a god of grace. He continually warns and plead with people, constantly gives people more time. His arms are open wide to receive and He is holding back His judgement with divine patience for the last person to get the message. He uses all sorts of things to warn, threaten, plead, for He wants his desire fulfilled. In warning God lets ⅓ of nature be destroyed, but those first 4 do not work.
The Fifth Trumpet: Revelation 9:1 – The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.
We see a star fallen from heaven, what is this star? (See Isaiah 14:12-15) This is a reference to satan being cast out of heaven. He is given the key to the abyss, and he opens it, smoke comes out, the demons fly out to plague people. The abyss — the living place of the anti-christ, the dwelling place of the host of demons, who all come forth to plague mankind. In dramatic imagery, John pictures the demonic, the evil that constantly plagues mankind. The picture is that of a cloud of locusts.
Ray Stedman tells this story: One summer when I was a boy in the state of Minnesota, we were visited with a great plague of locusts. They came in a cloud that actually darkened the sky. I remember hearing them descend onto the standing fields of grain, and it was like listening to a hail storm. As they munched away at the vegetation, the noise was like a rushing river. They destroyed everything in their path, leaving the farmers with no crops at all that year.
The locusts that John sees travel in columns like an army, and they strip the land bare. They have scorpion tails that sting, a sting that is painful but not deadly, but an intense pain that lasts for a long time. These are the hosts of demons that are under the control of satan, who constantly inflict man with pain, the evil done is intense, such that people beg to die.
There are a number of things to note here, that are a comfort. satan is given the key, he does not own it. At the beginning of Revelation we are told: (Revelation 1:18) I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
All the powers of the demonic, of evil, of sin, are overcome by the Lamb in his victory and He controls what they are allowed to do. He does not end it, it is not time, it is still the day of grace.
These powers are frightening, we see and feel the presence of the demons that rise out of the pit to influence and plague mankind. However, Jesus Christ is in control and we are told that the sealed of God are not to be touched. The demons want to dwell in man, to become a part of them, to possess them, but that cannot happen to the sealed of God, for they are possessed by God. They can be influenced by satan, but cannot be possessed. John tells us that it is only 5 months, a short time in which they have to work, and this torment and torture cannot lead to death, it is this which gives hope. For those who do not know Jesus Christ can still be brought to life.
The Sixth Trumpet: Revelation 9:13-14 – The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
Here is one of those strange sights from the book of Revelation. Reading a little father, we have a picture of horses breathing fire and brimstone with snakes for their tails. Again this is a picture of hordes of demons, with powers to plague mankind. People will not listen so God repeats and makes it stronger. It is like with your children and discipline, when speaking doesn’t work, you spank. Again, it is controlled, because the purpose is not to destroy, but to warn, to turn people to God, to make us realize that sin is serious, God hates it and God uses everything He can to turn hearts to Him. Does it work, NO! (See Revelation 9:20-21)
James Dobson tells the story of a father who was at a high school basketball game. He had his little girl with him and she insisted on trying to go out on the court. He warned her and finally had to paddle her. This seemed to work, until he turned his back to talk to the coach. She stuck her foot over the line and stuck her tongue out at her father.
Once the heart is turned in hostility to God, even such a warning does not seem to work, even with such intensity as this, nothing seems to happen.
I want to spend just a little time on the little scroll and the two witnesses. The little scroll is a picture of the Word of God. The word of God is sweet, until the consequences of it are seen and felt. The two witnesses portray those who prophecy, who tell the word, who show the effects of that word. They are the ones who testify before Christ returns, a picture of us. Their ministry is for a time and then the beast rises out of the pit and overcomes them for a short time. Then they are brought back to life, even though satan tries to put down the witness of God’s people, he can never do it permanently, God always brings it to life again.
The Seventh Trumpet: Revelation 11:15 – The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (See Revelation 10:7)
When the seventh trumpet is sounded, God’s mystery will be accomplished. What are we expecting as the trumpet sounds? The trumpet sounds and surprise, surprise, another scene of praise and worship, loud voices of praise and worship, the kingdom has come, the mystery of God is accomplishedAnd the mystery is — the Kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of God. What God purposed in creation and made possible in the blood of the Lamb comes to be and is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is a reality. Not a picture of woe, but a picture of fulfillment as the drama moves to its climax. Do you hear the announcement, IT IS DONE.Surprise, no judgement, for something more important must be told, the result of the end is that victory is won, victory is fulfilled. And because of that, worship again rings forth. We see the 24 elders — who represent God’s people — singing a new song to him who is and was. The picture for God’s people that comes from the seventh trumpet is that God is here, he has taken his seat in power. Although the wrath of the Lamb will be poured out, the decisive point in history has been reached and passed. The time of the cross and the judgement on God’s people has been carried out, the mystery is revealed, the Kingdom of God has come.
What we are left with? Are you part of those sealed, who cannot be touched? This is a comforting message if there ever was one, for sealed, nothing can snatch you out of the Father’s hand. Even if 1/3 of creation is destroyed, even if satan himself tries to overcome you, God will not allow you to be destroyed. Food, clothing, freedom to worship, even life can be taken away, but God will not allow you to be destroyed.
Warnings can frighten us, for they are intended to, Warning sober us, warning correct us, they force us to face unpleasant facts about ourselves. Warnings strip away our illusions and restore us to reality. Warnings humble us, we see that we are really not in control, we do not run everything about our lives. Warnings reassure us, they comfort us, we learn that God does not like judgment either, He calls it his “strange work.” He keeps it as brief as possible and gives ample warnings before it gets unbearable, for the Bible portrays God as a loving God, “slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.”