The Blessing of Judgment

And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say,
Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because Thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Thy judgments.  Revelation 16:1-7 (KJV)

One of the four Living ones of chapter four gives each angel a golden vial [bowl] according to the plague for which they are assigned.

In 5:8 is mentioned “golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints”. It would appear that there is no more prayer – “no man was able to enter the temple”. The time for prayer will cease, and the time of God’s vengeance against those who mocked His name, His law, His holiness and righteousness, and His people has come.

The vials are the last judgment before the appearance of Jesus in all His glory.

The voice from out of the temple must be that of God the Most High. The prayers of the saints from 5:8 are being carried out to the fullest. Do we pray for vengeance upon evil today? Should we? I believe that we do and should; of course, for the cause of God’s glory. We must remember evil even in our own lives. In the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) is the phrase “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”; and that is what Jesus is speaking of. The fire of His Spirit falling on us burns away the dross and filth of evil. If you are “in Christ” ( a phrase used by the apostle Paul) you stand in the fire and come out purer and stronger before God.

Let us commit ourselves as followers/disciples of Jesus Christ to praying for God’s vengeance upon evil (starting with our own), and one day we will see it brought to pass. Let us pray also that friends, family, all our loved ones, and neighbors will be convicted of sin, and in that, lead them to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus. Every time a soul is saved evil is judged.

It seems that where the seven seals, and seven trumpets speak of man’s choice to live without God, their sin brings judgment and finally in the bowl judgments God’s own hand is stretched out to judge.

  1. For God to pull away and let mankind have his way is a terrible judgment;
  2. Man’s selfishness, pride, lust, greed causes pollution, and environmental harm bringing their own judgment;
  3. Finally, when wicked men see God’s wrath and yet reject His mercy and grace, God steps in in full force to put an end to evil.

These vials [bowls] seem to coincide with the seven trumpet judgments. Remember the seventh trumpet brings in the seven vials of wrath. Where the seals and trumpets only seemed to touch a part of the earth – one fourth part in the opening of the “seals” (6:8), one third part in the “trumpets” (8:7-9) – these judgments seem to touch the whole earth and the heavens.

What the seven vials of judgment deal with and their correlation to the trumpets:

  1. 8:1-7 “The earth” 16:1-2;
  2. 8:8-9 “The sea” 16:3;
  3. 8:10-11 “The rivers” 16:4-7;
  4. 8:12-13 “The heavens” 16:8-9;
  5. 9:1-2 “Mankind – torment” 16:10-11;
  6. 9:13-21 “An army” 16:12-16;
  7. 11:15-19 “Angry nations” 16:17-21

These seem very similar, but the scope of their devastation is much different. The vial judgments are said to be “the last”.

With the vials:

  1. (V. 2) The objects of this wrath are clearly the ones who worshiped the beast;
  2. (V. 3) The whole sea turns to blood compared to only one third with the second trumpet (8:8-9);
  3. (VV. 4-7) Every stream and fountain of fresh water becomes “blood”; with the third trumpet one third of the waters became bitter (8:10-11)….

Verses 5-7 are a doxology of praise to God. It is a righteous and just thing to praise the Lord when He judges evil.  Let us also rejoice because one day all evil will be eternally dealt with.

Judgment is not a pleasant to talk about, however it would not be appropriate, neither would it be right to ignore these horrible events.  It would be improper for a doctor to find cancer in a patient and not inform the patient. God has made a way for humankind to miss judgment, and that is by way of believing and receiving the gift of eternal life purchased for you on Calvary’s cross – Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and on the third day he rose again.  He is alive forever more.

We find a blessing in verse 15.  It is a word of hope for the Church, the believer, the follower of Jesus Christ throughout all ages. Let us continue…

And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give Him glory.
And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great. Revelation 16:8-21 (KJV)

4. (VV. 8-9) With the fourth trumpet the sun was darkened (8:12-13), but here the heat of the sun is intensified and is destructive (see Isaiah 30:26);
5. (VV. 10-11) This vial is poured out upon the throne of the “Beast”; even with this great wrath these wicked men refuse to repent;
6. (VV. 12-16) With this vial two important events take place; 1) the drying of the Euphrates River, and 2) the gathering of the armies of the world.

Within this, note the Beatitude (v. 16). It is God’s reminder to us of His provision for those who prepare by receiving His grace.

“Behold I come as a thief”. The Church can be assured that Jesus will come as a thief for His bride and take her out of the world. Who will He take out of this world before the Tribulation? 1) Those who are watching and alert; 2) Those who are living lives that please the Lord. “Blessed” or “Happy” will be those who are with Jesus during this horrible time of God’s wrath.

Also, see “THE HAPPY WATCHER”.

Verse 16 clearly shows the very sovereignty of God. When the world peace is not working and the armies of the world gather for battle against one another – remember it is God who brought them to this battle. While they are battling with one another the King of kings will descend from Heaven, and the armies of the earth will join forces against Heaven’s army and do battle. All He must do is speak a word, and it is over. What a mighty God we serve.

The final wrath of God is poured out. Sin is totally put away and evil destroyed. “It is done”, the voice from the temple says. It almost sounds like Jesus as He hung on the cross and cried out, “It is finished”. The work Jesus came to do was finished on the cross. The work God began in mankind with Adam will be finished when He completely destroys sin. PRAISE THE LORD!!!

What happens with the final or seventh vial being poured out?

  1. Voices, thunderings, and lightnings;
  2. Great earthquake – unlike any known by man;
  3. The destruction of Babylon – the political, economical, and ecclesiastical rule of man will crumble, probably recognized through a city;
  4. Because of the earthquake the face of the earth is changed (v. 20);
  5. Hailstones about the weight of 100 pounds will fall;
  6. Rather than repenting men still living will blaspheme God.

It is great to know we are still in a day of salvation. If people harden their hearts to God, it is certain to be that God will harden their hearts toward Him, and if that happens – there is no hope.

Repent when God calls (2 Corinthians 6:2). When God calls do not harden your heart (Hebrews 3:7-8). You may not have another day (Proverbs 27:1). Do not wait to experience the glory of His wrath. Experience His glory in His grace through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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The Great and The Marvelous Sign

“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest.
And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: and the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.” Revelation 15:1-8 (KJV)

There is a phrase used several times throughout the Revelation which becomes quite obvious after a while. It is the phrase “Inhabitants of earth”. The fullness of God’s wrath is in view upon this group, therefore it is fitting for all who will call upon the Lord, to do so before that day comes, do so by trusting exclusively in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ, and His finished work on the cross, believing that He died, was buried, and rose again bodily from the grave, that He ascended unto the Father, and that He is coming again.

Since we have been in an interlude, the Scriptures have three different times which  take us to the brink of the destruction of wickedness in chapters 11, 14, and will again in 16 only to stop and fill in some details until chapter 19 where it happens.

John is shown seven angels, probably different from the others, “Having seven last plagues”. “Last plagues” seem to certainly indicate these events will precede the coming of Jesus in power and glory. In these plagues is the bringing to completion of God’s wrath upon wickedness on the earth.

These “That had gotten victory over the beast…” are probably those who refused the mark, and all the things of the beast, and died by his hand. They are alive.

The “Sea of glass mingled with fire” certainly implies a persecuted people by the trials and fires of the Great Tribulation. There is another “Sea of glass”, but without fire in 4:6.

These, like the 144,000, sing a song. This song is clearly called “the song of Moses”. I mentioned in the previous chapter the possibility that the 144,000 sing the song of Moses from Exodus 15. These in this chapter, most likely, would fit in singing the “Song of Moses from Deuteronomy 32. The 144,000 being delivered physically would fit Exodus 15, while these of our present chapter of Revelation, being delivered by death would be in accord with Deuteronomy 32 because it is a song of God’s vengeance on the wicked persecutors. The “Song of the Lamb” is a song of grace, apart from which no one can be saved. As the Lamb, it speaks of His blood sacrifice; “Without shedding of [His] blood is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22b).

The Lamb of God is worthy of our worship and one day every tribe, and tongue and nation will worship Him. All shall see that He is holy in His judgments, He is righteous in all His assessments. All the earth shall bow at His feet and call Him “Lord”.

I am going to let John Walvoord describe this scene…

“Another vision now introduced by John as a later development constitutes the immediate introduction of the judgments represented in the vials. Our attention is arrested by the phrase ‘I looked and, behold.” This expression always introduces something dramatically new. As John observes, the Holy of Holies in the heavenly Tabernacle is opened. The expression ‘the temple’ (Gr., naos) refers to the inner holy place of the Tabernacle, the design of which God gave to Israel during the wilderness wandering. The expression ‘the tabernacle of the testimony’ is a reference to the whole tentlike structure, a portion of which contained the Holy of Holies. It is described as ‘the tabernacle of the testimony’ because of the presence of the tables of stone containing the ten commandments which were placed in the ark of the testimony in the Holy of Holies (cf. Exodus 32:15; Acts 7:44) and is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament (Exodus 38:21; Num. 1:50, 53; 10:11; 17:7-8; 18:2).” From THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST pg. 229 (1966).

It seems quite obvious that this “Temple” is not the Church. It is actually the temple from which God gave the design to Moses for the tabernacle in the wilderness.

John describes these angels as coming out of the temple. It almost seems to be a quiet, hushed, reverent procession.

These angels are clothed in white. These are angels of God. The white represents the righteous character of Holy God, and the justness of His wrath which is about to proceed from the heavenly throne. The golden girdle speaks of justice and righteousness of His wrath. The truth is bound in this golden girdle.

Each of the seven angels holds in their hands one vial of judgment, which seems to be given to them after they proceed out of the temple. God in His holiness will be glorified.

There is never a wrong time to praise and worship the Lord and to thank Him for His mercy and grace.  Those who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb always have a song in the heart. Fill your heart and life with Christ Jesus.  Receive His gift of grace paid on the cross for the redemption of the world.

The Redeemed from the Earth

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”  Revelation 14:1-5 (KJV)

By the promises of God’s Word, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, shall bring an end to sin and He will reign on the earth, and in the hearts of men.

To begin with I want to point out the seven divisions within chapter fourteen;

  1.  One hundred and forty four thousand sealed ones on Mount Zion (vv. 1-5);
  2. God’s closing testimony to earth: “The everlasting Gospel” (vv. 6-7);
  3. The angelic announcement of Babylon’s fall (v. 8);
  4. The doom of the worshipers of the beast (vv. 9-11);
  5. The second beatitude of the Revelation deals with those who die in the Lord (vv. 12-14):
  6. The harvest of the earth is reaped (vv. 14-16);
  7. The fullness of God’s wrath and vengeance poured out (vv. 17-20).

In these verses we find that the sealed 144,000 Hebrew witnesses have been protected throughout the final half of the seventieth week of Daniel. We see them standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb at His coming, at the end of the tribulation period. NOTE: Some very well known Bible teachers place this scene in Heaven.

These 144,000 are the same as those mentioned in chapter seven. These will aid Christ [not that He would need any] in setting up His millennial reign on earth.

The NIV, NAS, and the Amplified Bible read “…having His name and the name of His Father written in their foreheads” (v. 1). This does not imply it is a different group, but it does clarify and give more detail of whose seal it is – the Father’s and the Son’s.

There is music in Heaven. God surrounds Himself with heavenly sounds ringing out praises to Him. The 144,000 were given a “New song” no one else could sing. A song of deliverance and praise to God. In chapter 5:9 the “Living creatures”, and the twenty four elders sing a “New song”. There are several times in the Bibles hymnal [Psalms] where the Psalmist mentions singing a “New song” (Psalms 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1). It is a given fact that man is to praise the Lord in “New song”. The idea of a “New song” requires a changed heart and life. Certainly these remnant of Israel are changed.

Just as God led Israel out of Egypt and protected them in the wilderness for forty years He also protects and provides for this remnant, even to keeping them alive for their appointed position on earth. Only the redeemed can sin a “New song”, and theirs is one only they can sing. They could be singing the Song of Moses (EX. 15) from a whole new perspective.

These are pure before God. They have not committed immoral acts against God. They are free from spiritual and physical fornication and adultery. They follow the Lamb. They are pure, even as He is pure (v. 5). That is what it means to follow the Lamb. O, that the Church today would “Follow the Lamb”. These are “Redeemed from among men” clarifies verse three “Were redeemed from the earth”. They did not indulge in the harlotries of idolatry and worship of the beast. They stood as an open testimony to God’s goodness, grace and power to save.

“…First fruits…” to some may cause confusion by causing them to think this is referring to all the redeemed. It could be referring to their position in the earthly kingdom of Christ. It could also tie in with Revelation 20:5 where it reads, “This is the first resurrection”. Where the time of the resurrection of all who are in Christ is ended. The “First” implying a second resurrection which will follow.

As a born again child of God through faith in the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ; believing He is the Son of God and God the Son we have no need to fear these things.  We are already seated with Christ in heavenly places,  and He protects us daily.  He is God with us.  If you do not have the assurance that only Jesus can give, then, believe Him today.

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Revelation 14:6-13 (KJV)

There could be as many as seven angels mentioned from verse six through verse twenty. There are certainly six. Why six? Remember six is the number of man. Angels throughout Scripture and time have been servants and messengers to man as well as his protectors. For example see Genesis 18 and 2 Kings 6:8-23. If verse thirteen’s “Voice” is from an angel that would be the seventh, however, we cannot reasonably conclude the “Voice” to be angelic, but rather, possibly, the voice of the Spirit of God.

God is merciful. This is His closing act of mercy, lest there be some who will hear. The “Everlasting Gospel” is: 1) Fear God; 2) Give glory to Him; 3) The hour of judgment is come; 4) Worship your Creator.

This isn’t really an opportunity for those of earth to repent as it is assurance to those of God that He will have His way.

Babylon is practically a synonym for wickedness and all sorts of evil. Babylon, in our text can refer to three or four different earth agencies: 1) An actual city; 2) Political power and intrigue; 3) Economic power and banking; and/or 4) Religious power – one world religion.

We know from the study of history that the actual city of Babylon has already fallen, although, there were reports when Saddam Hussein was ruling Iraq, that he was rebuilding it. The other three we can be seen though, and greatly increasing; in the economic system of this present world. The Babylon of mankind’s politics will crumble to nothingness, the economy of the world banking conglomerates will crash, and the world’s religion will only add fuel to Hell’s fires. Just as surely as John sees it proclaimed, everything that man builds to exalt himself over God will crumble. It is as good as done. It is written – So it shall be. “Forever, O LORD, Thy Word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

This third angel spells out clearly the doom that the worshipers of the beast will face. Their doom is not of short duration. It is for ever and ever, everlasting.

The Bible mentions nothing of the soul’s annihilation, but it does of eternal souls. If the soul of man could be annihilated why does hell’s fires burn forever? Why doesn’t God put them out after the souls are all burned up?

We as Christians need to believe what God says in His Word about hell, just as surely as we believe about salvation and eternity in Heaven. Some say that in the Scriptures Jesus mentions hell more than He does Heaven. Hell is a place to miss, not to flee into. Every lost soul is living in condemnation on the road to hell, and some of them would repent and believe if only someone told them of Jesus.

When it comes right down to it, today, all those who reject Christ are worshipers of the beast. We can do nothing for those who reject Jesus, but we must tell them and let Jesus and the Holy Spirit do the saving.

The “Patience of the saints” is that they who trust Christ during this darkest hour will be delivered. Just as surely as the worshipers of the beast suffer forever and ever, they who “Follow the Lamb” (v. 4) shall enjoy eternal bliss. They are the ones who “Keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus”. The keeping of the commandments does not save, but they are saved to keep the commandments [to obey them] (Ephesians. 2:10).

Verse thirteen provides the second “Beatitude” of the Revelation. “Blessed” meaning happy. This encouraging word is to those who are in tribulation and their lives are in danger. To serve the Lord in the darkest hour of human history will cost the lives of many, but God would have us know that all they who go through the great tribulation, keeping the commandments by faith in Jesus, if they should “die in the Lord”, they are “Blessed”.
What benefits are there for them who “die in the Lord”?

  1. God’s promise of happiness;
  2. They rest from their trials and labor;
  3. Their works stand as a testimony of their faith.

These are true for all those who follow Jesus Christ in any day or age.  Trust Jesus today.

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” Revelation 14:14-20  (KJV)

If you were to read Acts 1:9-11 you would find how Jesus ascended up from this earth… “A cloud received Him out of their sight”. Verse eleven ends by saying, “…This same Jesus… shall so come in like manner…”

The “Sickle” – In verse 14 Jesus holds all judgment in His hands (John 5:22). This verse refers to Him as “Like unto the Son of Man” – this was a title Jesus used to refer to Himself. The “Golden crown” on His head should leave no doubt in our minds that this is Jesus.

In verse 15 we have the fourth angel. He comes out of the temple (heavenly) and speaks unto the “Son of man” the judge of men. He is worthy to judge men.
The ripe harvest has to do with over ripeness – drying, rotting, decaying fruit. The time of judgment upon the wickedness of the world.

When Jesus comes for the Church He will come “With a shout, the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” (1 Thessalonians. 4:16), not with a sickle.

Here Jesus comes with a sickle of judgment and wrath upon the tares of the field [world] (Matthew 13:40-43).

In verse 17 we find the fifth angel and in verse 18 the sixth angel of chapter fourteen.

These verses certainly deal with the fulness of God’s wrath. The men of earth are likened to overripe grapes cast into a winepress under the feet of the husbandman [owner]. This event is given in fuller detail in Revelation 19:11-21.

Be saved by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, or your blood will be on Him in judgment and wrath. Get ready to meet Jesus as Savior, or you will certainly meet Him at the final Judgment as the One who holds all Judgment in His hands.

Saint’s Prayers and the Sound of Angels

“And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”  Revelation 8:1-6 (KJV)

The One who created all things, also still holds these things in His hand, to show forth wrath upon the “Inhabiters of the earth”; and the Priest who judges sin.

In the national life of Israel trumpets played an important role and had three important uses: 1) For calling the people together (Numbers 10:1-8); 2) For announcing war (Numbers 10:9); and 3) For announcing special times (Numbers 10:10).

And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. Revelation 8:1 (KJV).

The final seal is opened. Notice the response of Heaven. Silence. This could be caused by awe because now the book is opened and the glories and power of God are revealed. All that was concealed is now revealed to all of Heaven for the first time.

Not a whisper, nary a sigh, but only silence. Sometimes the greatest reverence is given God by our silence. The Psalmist even wrote, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

It is not told us why there is silence for one-half hour, but it does have to do with the seventh seal and the book [scroll]. There could be more than one reason, but I do believe the above reason is a biblical one. Other than that we just do not know.

It seems that the seven seals and the seven trumpets are interrelated. The seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet introduces the seven vials of wrath. These cannot be separated, then, because they all fit together. Each series of judgments seem to lead to a more severe wrath.

The seven angels are not named and it is not necessary to do so. They are given one trumpet each.

There is “another angel”, an eighth mentioned who seems to be a priestly angel. Some have equated this angel to being like the appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ – referred to in the Old Testament as the “Angel of the LORD”. It is not clear who this angel is. Jesus is the High Priest who atoned for our sin, and He is the One who will judge the world. Whoever he is he is fulfilling the work and ministry of a priest – unlike the work of any angel.  Since the Lamb is Christ Jesus and the One who opens the seals, I will believe this is just a completely different angel.

He stands at the brazen altar of judgment and sacrifice, with a golden censer [cup or bowl] for the incense which was given him. The incense is offered with the prayers of the saints [your prayers and mine, as well as the saints of the tribulation]. The incense is a symbol of prayer and worship.

In the Old Testament the high priest would kill the sacrifice at the brazen altar, collect the blood, and God received the offering by fire. The priest would take the golden bowl and take fire from the altar [which was never to go out Leviticus 6:12-13, and it was lit by God Leviticus 9:23-24], and enter the holy place with the blood, and with the fire, take the incense from the golden altar which was located outside the Holy of Holies [the presence of God], and he would enter the presence of God veiled in the smoke of the incense, pouring out the blood of the sacrifice at the throne of God – the presence of God. This made atonement for the people’s sins for one year.

Notice after the prayers and incense is offered to God the eighth angel takes fire in the golden censer, from the brazen altar of judgment, and casts it upon the earth.

Our prayers for deliverance; the prayers of the tribulation saints for deliverance and retribution, and for the glory of God to come will be done in God’s time. The “Imprecatory Psalms” (Psalms 7; 26; 35; 52; 55; and 58 are examples); these are not cries from selfish people, but cries for God to vindicate them according to His Word and grace.

It is amazing that God seems to store our prayers as a sweet fragrance to Him and will carry out their request in His time and according to His divine will. Have you grown weary and tired of prayer? Keep praying from a yielded and repentant, and broken heart. He hears you.

After the fire is taken from the altar and cast to the earth it causes great upheaval. Voices, thunderings, lightnings and an earthquake. It seems clear that the censer used for offering up worship and prayer is now used to hurl judgment and vengeance upon the earth.

Nothing is said about how the seven angels “Prepared themselves”. It could be a simple thing as raising the trumpets.

Let us as the saints of God raise our hearts and voices in prayer to God.  The time which we live is urgent.  Let us begin by repentance, seeking forgiveness of sin, and seeking revival of the Church.  The world is in grave need.  Let us be the Church; the Body of Christ. The Great High Priest who forgives our sin; also judges sin.

“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!”  Revelation 8:7-13 (KJV)

This is not the Sound of Angels for the people of God, but for “the Inhabiters of the earth”.

The first four trumpets and their judgments are released in chapter eight. There are two more in chapter nine and the last one is in chapter eleven, beginning at verse fifteen.

If you will notice the seals were opened in the same way of separateness. The four horsemen are separate from the final three, and the seventh follows a short interlude. The same is true of the trumpets and the vials.

“All three of these series of sevens…are framed exactly alike. They are divided into four and three. Then the last three which are always separated and apart from the first four and divided are divided into two and one. Between the two and one (between the sixth and seventh), there is always an interlude. Between the sixth and seventh seals, the seventh chapter …. is an interlude. In the turmpets series chapters 10 – 11:14 form the interlude. Between the sixth and seventh bowls Revelation 16:13-16, is the interlude. The briefest interlude is between the sixth and seventh bowls of the wrath of God. The longest interlude by far is the one between the sixth and seventh trumpet.” BILL DUDLEY Notes page 31.

There is no reason for us to try and see these judgments in any other way than their literal sense. To look at them in another sense other than the literal sense makes nonsense.

The first trumpet could be parallel with Exodus 9:18-26. Each trumpet judgment seems to have some parallel with the Egyptian Exodus, and the plagues. If we are to take the plagues of Egypt literally, then we must take this hail, fire, and blood literal as well.

One-third part of the trees. According to some “trees” refers to fruit trees. This being the case “One third” of the fruit trees being destroyed would wreak havoc on the world, but it does not stop there. All green grass is burnt up, as well. This may include grain crops and this would drastically hurt meat and milk production causing further economic harm. The economy, of course, would be the least of their worries.

The second trumpet sounds and what appears as a “great mountain burning…” is “cast into the sea”.

A great large object falling from the heavens falls into the oceans turning one-third of the seas into blood, killing one-third of ocean life and destroying one-third of all ships on the ocean waters. Again this is to be taken literally. If God was able to send plagues upon Egypt, and He was, He is able also to send these judgments upon a Christ-hating world.

The third trumpet seems to bring about the poisoning of the fresh waters of the earth. It would seem that this “star” breaks in pieces upon entering the earth’s atmosphere and the pieces fall into individual sources of fresh water poisoning one-third of the streams.

This “star” is directed by the hands of God to judge evil. It seems many will get thirsty and drink these waters and die.

The fourth angel sounds the trumpet and the sun and moon are smitten, and also the stars. One-third of the sun, the moon and stars are darkened. How this is done we are not told, only that it is done. Since evil men love darkness and not light they should enjoy this time.

These first four trumpets destroy much of what men often take for granted in creation. We often do not think to be thankful for the trees, the grass, the oceans, streams of water, and the celestial creation. Many just think it will always be there. It does not matter how we live; grass and water will always be. While some may think the problem is ecological it is not. The real problem is a spiritual one. When wicked men of earth refuse God’s ways the ecology of earth suffers. God will even strike the stars and satellites of the heavens to show evil men that it is He who controls the universe.

The word “angel” in verse 13 is said to actually be “Eagle”. If that be so it could refer back to one of the four “Living beings” of chapter four. Verse seven of that chapter mentions the “fourth beast was like a flying eagle”. This “Eagle” is crying out, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabiters of earth”. The three “woes” correspond with the following three trumpets.

The word “Inhabiters” is dealing with the lovers of this world, solely those who are of the earth. Those who are believers [followers of Christ] during this time; their habitation is in Heaven. The woes seem to indicate that the judgments following will be far worse than anyone has ever seen, or has ever been through.

Be sure you know Jesus, NOW! Let us also be thankful for the fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and milk God has blessed us with so abundantly. For the water we drink, and for the heavenly creation praise the name of our Lord and Creator. The Sound of angels points us to Jesus, the Lamb, who is the High Priest and Judge who will put an end to sin and make all things right in His sight.

Jesus Christ Our Providence

“And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.  Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.” Revelation 7:4-8 (KJV).

In these verses we find that God names a specific group of people and a specific number of them. This is referring specifically to the nation of Israel. Some would like to spiritualize this and come to the conclusion that these and the “Numberless multitude” mentioned later represents all redeemed people of all the ages. There is nothing said about these being the Church, however. If we keep in mind that the Scriptures deal with three distinct people groups we will not spiritualize the text. The three groups are the Hebrews, the Gentile, and the Church of Jesus Christ.

It is quite evident that both groups mentioned here are groups who will be in the “great tribulation”. This group of Hebrews who number 144,000 are identified by their tribes. It seems two tribes are omitted and two added in their place. The two tribes omitted are Dan and Ephraim. In the book of Hosea “Ephraim” is another name given for the Northern Kingdom, and Dan was located within that kingdom. Jereboam set up two golden calves; one in Bethel and the other in Dan. Ephraim never had a godly king who trusted the Lord God. This could be the reason, at least, a partial reason for their apparent absence. SEE Deuteronomy 29:18-21.

Most likely, there is no Hebrew living who knows to which tribe they belong. Some would ask, “If that is the case, how will they be brought together for this purpose?” That is a good question. The answer is rather simple. Although, the genealogical records have been lost, God knows the genealogy of every living being. He will bring it to pass.

Who are these 12,000 times 12 tribes which equal 144,000 Hebrew men? “Watchtower” people say they are. Seventh Day Adventists say they are. Mormons say they are. Herbert W. Armstrong used to say that the people of the Worldwide Church of God was. They are all wrong. None of them are, unless there is a Hebrew male among them who will not leave in the rapture, and they are appointed and called by God as such. These are people chosen from the nation of Israel whom Jesus refers as the “Elect” in Matthew 24 -25. In “The Olivet Discourse” of Matthew 24 and 25, it could be, that, Jesus is speaking of the “Time of Jacob’s trouble” we know as the “great tribulation”. The “Elect” He mentions is possibly the 144,000 and possibly others who will believe at that time.

What is this seal in these messenger’s foreheads? These 144,000 are sealed with the name of God “In their forehead” (14:1).

There would appear to be a problem with this interpretation. The Holy Spirit removed with the Church at the rapture seems to be invalid if people are going to be saved during the tribulation. Keep this in mind. People were saved before the coming of the Holy Spirit taking up residence in the Church. People will be saved in the same way after the removal of the presence Spirit in the Church. Even in the time of great sorrow God has a people, the 144,000, who will preach the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of the kingdom is the Kingdom of Jesus’s rule and reign on earth. It is the long awaited and promised kingdom of David.

We end up with confusion when we spiritualize Scripture and try to make the Church Israel. Romans 9 – 11 deals specifically with the nation, the people called Jews, and Paul writes there that , “…all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Verses 4-8 are the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise.

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9-10 (KJV).

It seems that the ministry of the 144,000 is quite effective.

Matthew 24:14 says this gospel must be preached to all nations before the end comes. There seems to be a distinction between the gospel of grace and the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of grace has to do with the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and second coming of Jesus Christ. The gospel of the kingdom has to do with Jesus coming [His second coming] to set up the earthly kingdom of David.

These mentioned in verses 9 and 10 are converts of the witnesses, and who give their lives for the faith. These are some of the same ones mentioned in 6:9-11. They are “the great multitude” too numerous to even count. They stand “before the throne” and “before the Lamb”. The “white robes” show they are clothed in righteousness, and the “palms in their hands” symbolize their victory. Notice, they worship before the throne.

“And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, ‘Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.'” Revelation 7:11-12 (KJV).

If we keep in mind that chapter seven is not in chronological order we can see a complete ascription of praise around the throne. As a matter of fact this scene could be placed at the end of the book when the redeemed of all the ages are gathered around the throne worshiping God and the Lamb.

We have “all the angels” and, the “twenty four elders” – representing the believers of the Old Testament and the Church. We also see, once again the “Living ones”, and the martyrs of the faith during the tribulation. They ascribe to God perfect praise. There is a sevenfold ascription of praise as in chapter 5.

“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, ‘These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'” Revelation 7:13-14 (KJV).

One of the “elders” asks John, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes?” John’s answer is one of wisdom, “Sir, you know”.

The elder then tells us clearly who these are that are mentioned in verse 9. They “came out of great tribulation”. The Church down through the centuries has endured tribulation, but not like that which is called “great tribulation”. And it will not experience it. It would serve absolutely no purpose.

Notice, that it is also very clear how these became redeemed people. “And made them white in the blood of the Lamb”. It is still by the blood of the Lamb – the Lord Jesus Christ – that folks are saved in the “great tribulation” not by “works of righteousness”.

“Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.  For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Revelation 7:15-17 (KJV).

There is eternal bliss for those who die a martyr’s death for faith in Jesus Christ.

1. Serving Him continually;
2. He shall dwell among them;
3. No more hunger;
4. No more thirst;
5. No more suffering from the elements;
6. He shall feed them – “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”;
7. He shall lead them to “Living fountains of waters”;
8. He shall wipe away all tears.

It is very clear how one is to enjoy this eternal bliss”. By placing faith in the blood atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of all mankind.
JESUS IS OUR PROVIDENCE

Protected Servants of God

For some, there will be a problem in this chapter. We see two distinct groups of saints. A number of one hundred and forty-four thousand is given for the first group and, “…A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues…” (v. 9) of the other group. Of the latter group, it is said that they, “…stood before the throne, and before the Lamb…”. These seem to be martyrs who died for their faith during the early part of the tribulation.

One thing we can be assured of is that, no matter what happens on earth, God always has a remnant of people who are faithful to His cause.

It almost seems that chapter seven gives us a break from the words of judgment, and shows us His grace and the destination for all who have faith in Christ Jesus. Chapters fourteen and twenty-one, seem to have like purpose. There are going to be some who read this now, “There were no divisions by chapters and verses in the original writings.” That I would agree with but does it not seem very directed that every seven chapters (and some in between) provides a “rest spot”?

“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”  Revelation 7:1-3 (KJV)

“In contrast to chapter 6 which seems to give the chronological sequence of major events of the great tribulation, chapter 7 does not advance the narrative, but directs attention to two major groups of saints in the tribulation” JOHN F. WALVOORD.

Some have tried to use verse 1 as proof of the Bible’s lack of scientific accuracy, implying that “Four corners” would mean the earth is square. It is only speaking of the four points of the compass – North, East, West, and South. There you have the “Four corners” of a somewhat round earth. The winds of the earth are mysterious. Who controls the wind? Is it merely cool and hot, or is there a divine hand in it? All of creation is in God’s hand. Wind can aid the sailor at sea, and it can help a car get better gas mileage or worse, depending on the direction you are traveling. I am not sure what the significance of the angels “holding the four winds of the earth” is. Unless it might be to give a reprieve from judgment for a few moments. A time to stop, think, contemplate, all that is happening, and is about to happen. It is for sure to give time to seal the 144,000 messengers of God and postpone judgment until they are sealed.

These verses give us clear evidence that the control of the wind is in the hand of God. SEE Matthew 24:31. It could almost seem that satanic forces are trying to use the wind to hinder the placing of the seal of protection upon the people of God.

This break, actually a parenthesis, in the judgments give us reason to contemplate the purposes of God. The purpose of the judgments is for sin to have its way and run its course to its end while God redeems a chosen people from sins bondage. Oliver B. Greene says this of chapter 7…

“Chapter 7 of Revelation is parenthetical. In this chapter we look away from the breaking of the seven seals, in order that the Spirit might enlighten us concerning the sealing of a chosen group of evangelists to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the teeming millions who never heard the Gospel of the Grace of God. After the Rapture, these 144,000 will do what the Church should have done during the Dispensation of Grace. God has never been without a witness on the earth, and He never will be” From “The Revelation” commentary by Oliver B. Greene pp. 223 & 224.

These 144,000 messengers are to be sealed with the seal, “in their foreheads”. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is sealed by the Holy Spirit “Until the day of redemption” (Ephesians1:13-14; 4:30). These messengers are untouchable until God’s work for them is finished.

We as the servant and child of God need to remember this:  The man and/or woman of God, in the will of God, is invincible until the work of God in us and through us is finished.

The Inhabitants of the Earth, and Two Seals

And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Revelation 6:9-17 (KJV)

The Lamb opens the fifth seal to reveal “Souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held”.

There have been Christian martyrs ever since the near beginning of the Church. These are a different set of martyrs unless of course, you see this as merely historical, and that, in my opinion, does not fit with the rest of scripture. Who, then, are these martyrs mentioned in verses 9-11?

The Church is in Heaven praising and worshiping God around the throne as seen in the twenty-four elders. Whereas, man has been allowed (after the translation of the Church), by the coming of the rider on the white horse, to have his way on the earth to the point of destroying the human race; these martyrs are those who opposed him and died for the faith believing God’s Word and bearing testimony to that affect.. These martyrs are people who believe God and reject the rule of the “man of sin”, or “son of perdition”.

The cry of those who were slain is their cry for justice upon the unrighteous. These, are at this time without resurrection bodies. Yet, it is said, “White robes were given unto every one of them” (v. 10). It is not known how a spirit can support a robe, but they do seem to have some type of body. They are waiting to receive their resurrection bodies at the last part of “The first resurrection” (Revelation 20:4-6). (EXPLANATION: The first resurrection began with the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and those who came out of their graves (Matthew 27:52-53); it continues with the translation [rapture] of the believers, dead and living (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), before the time of judgment begins in Revelation six. The first resurrection ends when all those who died because of faith during the judgment will be raptured and given resurrection bodies.) These martyrs are told they must wait until all who will die for the faith have died.

The sixth and final seal of chapter six is opened by the Lamb and now begins the intervention of the divine judgment. The Lamb of God “Slain from the foundation of the world” is now wreaking judgment upon a God-hating, Christ rejecting world. As far as a time frame on this there is no certainty, but let me lay out a small outline of a proposed time. The first four horses and horsemen would represent the first three and one-half years of Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:24-27). The fifth horse and horseman would be at the end of this three and one-half years, partly due to the “prince” of Daniel breaking the covenant, and causing the death of all who believe in Jesus Christ. The sixth seal would then begin the latter half of the three and one-half years, with the seventh seal continuing the judgment upon the earth, and the “Inhabiters of the earth” (8:13 & 12:12). The “Inhabiters of the earth” are those whose heart is on the things of earth, rather than God and His Christ.

Earthquakes are not in the power of man, nor are the other celestial bodies in the realm of human control. The earthquake is probably one so violent the whole world shakes. Every living thing feels the shaking, heaving and volcanic eruptions which take place.

The sun is darkened. There appears to be no reason to see these as symbols of something else. It is simply divine judgment upon mankind. The moon turns as red as blood. Stars fall to the earth. We have meteor showers all the time, but this will be a spectacle of catastrophic proportions, such as never seen before, nor, will be again. Not only is the earth shaken, but it seems the entire solar system is shaken. Only the divine could accomplish that. Hebrews 12:25-29 could be a reminder and warning to God’s people of what is truly important. The Almighty God is doing this in order to build an unshakable kingdom.

When faced with this divine judgment the people of earth flee from God. Notice there is no economic, social or religious group which receives special favor among the unrighteous. Each is equal before the judgment of God. Many times today, when we face divine judgment we flee to God – at least that is the heart of a child of God. Because of the hardness of heart by sin, these flee from God and cry out for death rather than to face holiness. They cannot hide. Even in death, they will face their Creator and His eternal judgment.

From whom are they fleeing? From the Lamb and His wrath. The gentle, meek, bloodless (because He shed His for us), Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.

For those of you who believe that God is only love, and would never consign anyone to eternal judgment, you have never read the Revelation or either have chosen not to believe it. The Revelation makes it quite clear that the One who died for our sins will also severely judge those who reject His gift of eternal life.

Who shall stand in the great day of His wrath? Only the redeemed of the Lord.

BEHOLD. The wrath of the Lamb on the inhabitants of the earth.

The Payment Coming Due

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
And when He had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when He had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when He had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:1-8 (KJV)

In chapter six begins a series of judgment upon the earth. A judgment, unlike anything anyone has ever seen. We have all seen some of the movies of the destruction of the earth. We are constantly being warned of the destruction of the earth, if we do not stop using gasoline vehicles, etc. People living in fear of what is called “The greenhouse effect” caused by the earth warming. People living in fear of nuclear war, and destruction of the earth. Let me just say here; We need not fear these things. What we need is a good, old fashioned fear of a Holy God. The end of sin is going to come by Him and no other hand. We can be assured of that. We can either go on in fear of these former things mentioned or rest in peace with God as our Savior, our Lord, and Redeemer.

In the near past, there have been books written about the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. We see them here in the first four seals which are opened by the Lamb. In the opening of these seals, we see the judgment of the Great Tribulation beginning upon earth. (Keep in mind, that there is no more mention of the Church – the twenty-four elders, and the wife of the Lamb – until we get to chapter nineteen.) There is a “White horse and rider”, a “Red horse and rider”, a “Black horse and rider”, and a “Pale horse and rider”. The horse is a symbol of strength, and the rider is the one in control of the horse.

The Lamb, the only one found worthy to open the seals of the book (5:5), opens one of the seals. One of the “Living ones” (4:6) invites John “Come and see”. If these “Living ones” give John the invitation in the order they are listed in chapter four, there may be a connection with each of the first four seals. The first “Living one” was “like a lion”, the “King of beast”, and here we find a ruler ruling completely the opposite of godliness. This “Living one” would be grieved by this, but indicating to John it is (the rider on the white horse’s) short-lived deceptive rule. Could this be a possibility?

The sound of “Thunder” is warning of an approaching storm. The storm coming is one of judgment and gloom upon the face of the earth.

These first four seals are introduced by the “Four living ones”. It appears that the first four are done by man after God Almighty removes His messenger of restraint [the Holy Spirit] in order that sin might work its course. The end of sin is death. The fifth seal has to do with martyred souls, during the reign of the evil one, because of their faith in God (See 12:11 and 20:4). I will try and deal with this in more detail later. The sixth seal then is clearly of divine origin. The seventh seal is not mentioned until chapter eight, and it is opened to begin the judgment of the “Seven trumpets”.

What John sees is a rider on a white horse. There are two possible reliable interpretations of who this rider is: 1) He is Jesus Christ active in His Church taking the gospel and conquering the world – this view is held by those who see the Revelation as history; 2) He is the “Man of sin” referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, 7-10. Notice this rider is said to have a bow. There is, however, no mention of arrows. “He went forth conquering and to conquer” and it could be that he is conquering through persuasive and deceitful speech which would be suitable for the “Son of perdition”.

It would not make sense for the Lamb to be the one opening the seals and also the one riding the “White horse”, nor, would it make sense for the awful tragedies following His conquering, if it was for His kingdom. For Christ to appear here as conquering by peace, or whatever reason, and then appearing again in chapter nineteen, with His sword for war, would not make much sense either.

It appears to me that this rider is none other than the man who will deceive the world with his lies. With the deceitfulness of lies and trickery, the world will follow him to their death.

The second “Living one” says, “Come and see”. This seal fits with Jesus’s words in Matthew 24:6-7…

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places”.

This will be the real thing. The second “Living one” was “like a calf” which may represent “Service”, and war would definitely be the opposite of one who is serving. One with a servant’s heart is not usually given to war and would be one to ease the pangs of famine, pestilence, earthquakes and such. He would certainly not be one to initiate them.

This horse is red, the color of blood, and that is for a reason. The peace, which the rider on the white horse promised and seemed to give, is very short lived. There is bloodshed, war. His work is to “Take peace from the earth”. Who is to say whether this rider of the red horse is not the same as the rider of the white horse and the following riders as well. The rider being the man and the horse representing a power/political agenda. It just might be a possibility. This rider on the red horse is given a “Great sword”; an instrument of killing and war.

John, then sees, with the opening of the third seal, another horse, and rider, and is called by the third “Living one”, “Come and see”. This third “Living one” has a face “like a man”. It is in the heart of man to cheat, deceive, and defraud other men. It is in the heart of the God-Man Jesus Christ to deliver us from these things, but here it becomes a judgment of men upon the earth. We have heard of and seen things like this in the United States in recent political and natural disasters. People charging exorbitant fees for the removal of trees and debris from streets. Charging more than regular prices for generators and such because of excess needs. It just seems to me, that in these times there should be generosity, not greed. During this coming time of judgment, there will be excessive greed and no generosity.

This horse is black. Black represents suffering. Famine, plague, and all kinds of suffering are caused by war.

Jesus also refers to this in Matthew 24:7…

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places”.

These seals seem to fit perfectly with the apocalyptic words of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Famine does come often as a result of war. Economic hardship is there too. Notice the cost of food. The presence of the “balances” seem to indicate injustice in price. A penny was a regular days wage. This verse if written today could read, “It costs a day’s wages to purchase a loaf of bread”. Can you imagine paying 50 – 100 dollars for one loaf of bread?

The balances [scales] of verse five have to do with marketing – selling and purchasing for the purposes of business. These scales under the rule of an unscrupulous ruler would be unjust.

Imagine the stealing, killing, and chaos going on because of this rule. Anarchy would be the proper term.

We are now to the fourth seal, the fourth horse, and rider, and the invitation of the fourth “Living one” to “Come and see”. This fourth “Living one was like a flying eagle”. This “Flying Eagle” would represent the Omniscience of God and ability to see, and oversee all things.

What John sees now is a pale horse, a pale grey, ghastly color symbolizing sickness and death. Sickness and death would certainly follow a famine. Notice, though, the power given unto the rider. He has the power to kill one-fourth of the earth. If the population of the earth is around seven billion that means he would be destroying 1.75 billion people.

The sword, hunger, torturous death, and the use of wild beasts to kill are his instruments of death.

Keep in mind Christian, that God does not have wrath in mind for those who have trusted Jesus.

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (KJV).

We are reminded, as Christians, followers of Jesus Christ that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

Those who have been born again in Christ Jesus have no need to fear the judgment coming on the earth or earth’s inhabitants.  Yes, we are currently inhabitants of earth, but this earth is not our home.  We are awaiting our new home in the presence of Jesus.  See and read John 14:1-6.

The ONE On the Throne

In this chapter we see the One who died for us is also our Creator and worthy of worship. He has opened the door of Heaven for man to worship him, as does the rest of creation, in that it is obedient to its Creator’s design, and we will always be in His presence.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Revelation 4:1 (KJV).

After receiving the letters to the seven churches John sees a door “Opened in heaven”. If you will remember, the open door was set before the Philadelphia church. The church which had kept His word and had not denied His name.
The Laodicean church had closed their door and locked Jesus out.

The voice John hears sounded as a trumpet. It was a voice that called for attention. It was a voice he recognized. it was the voice of the Savior. This voice called, “Come up hither and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.”

In chapter one verse nineteen Jesus gave John the outline of the Revelation. Chapter one is the “Things which thou hast seen” [PAST]; chapters two through three, “The things which are” [PRESENT]; and chapters four through 22:5, “The things which sall be hereafter” [FUTURE]. Keep in mind, that the Church is not mentioned again until chapter nineteen.

John being caught up in the Spirit (v. 2) is shown what is to come. Everything from this point on is future. It seems that John’s being called to “Come up hither” is to show him the events following the Church age.

“And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” Revelation 4:2 (KJV).

TAKE NOTE OF WHO IS ON THE THRONE. The throne is symbolic of sovereignty, authority, and power. All through the Revelation “Throne” is mentioned forty six times making it a key word. This is to assure us that although, a period of terrible tribulation is coming upon the earth, to let satan kill, maim and destroy, He (God) is still in control, and will continue to maintain control.

John was amazed to find himself before the very throne of God. That is the place where all God’s children will one day find themselves. The ungodly, evil will also find themselves before His throne of judgment, and will be cast into a lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).

“And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” Revelation 4:3 (KJV).

We can begin to have an understanding of the Revelation if we keep in mind the rest of Scripture – the Old Testament in particular. This book is penned down by a Jew and the symbolism used is Hebrew in nature. The words of John Walvoord…

…“Significantly, the jasper and the sardine stone are the first and last of these twelve stones (cf. Exodus 28:17-21). The jasper represented Reuben, the first of the tribes, since Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob. The sardine stone represented Benjamin, the youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob. In other words the two stones represented the first and the last and therefore may be regarded as including all the other stones in between, that is, the whole of the covenanted people.’

‘Furthermore, the names Reuben and Benjamin have significance. The word ‘Reuben’ means ‘behold a son.’ The word Benjamin means ‘son of my right hand.’ In both cases these terms seem to have a double meaning: first, the fact that though Christ is the representative of Israel, He is also the Son of God. Like Reuben, Christ is the first begotten son. Second, like Benjamin, Christ is also the ‘son of my right hand’ in relation to God the Father. The person whom John sees on the throne looking like a jasper and sardine stone is, therefore God in relation to the nation of Israel.” From THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST pp. 104 & 105.

This must have been one of the most brilliant and colorful experiences John ever had. He saw a rainbow. This rainbow was complete, in that it was a complete circle “around the throne”. Its color was like an emerald. A very colorful place around the throne of God.

“And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” Revelation 4:4 (KJV).

These “Twenty four seats” and the “Elders” who sat upon the seats seem to represent the redeemed of the Lord. It would not be Israel, since they have not yet come as the nation to Christ, but the Church. Notice how they are clothed….
White represents righteousness and holiness. Some have supposed these twenty four to be angelic beings. However, there is no mention in Scripture of angels receiving rewards [crowns] or a group of angels “clothed in white raiment”. The “Crowns of gold” seem to be the crowns of reward, mentioned in Scripture for believers. The Crown of Life (James 1:12); the Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27); the Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20); the Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:50-8); and the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:2-4).

It seems, then, that these “Elders” would represent the redeemed from the time before the cross and resurrection to the time of the closing of the Church age. The Church age ending with the rapture of the saints.

“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Revelation 4:5 (KJV).

As a reminder to mankind God gives us ample proof that He is a wrathful God, judging sin and those who reject Him. For those of you who think that God is only love, does not judge, or find fault, you will probably make your own interpretation and deny all this truth given us in God’s Word.

“For our God is a consuming fire” wrote the writer of Hebrews 12:29.

He also wrote,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

The “lightnings”, “thunderings” and “voices” are warnings of wrath. A reminder that sin will be forever judged. Whether we like to admit it or not, our worship of God involves our confession, repentance of sin. There is no worshiping Him unless we repent.

Once again the fullness of the Spirit of God is revealed. It is by the power of God’s Holy Spirit that sin is revealed and we are led to repentance, and into the rightful worship of God. He is the Light that exposes sin and evil, and reveals the way to God.

“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” Revelation 4:6-7 (KJV).

Keep in mind the place, “Before the throne”, in God’s presence.
In these verses we have further evidence of the “Jewishness” of this Revelation. “A sea of glass” takes us back to the Old Testament. The Old Testament tabernacle and temple were designed in Heaven. “Sea of glass” is a reference to the “Bronze laver” (Exodus 35:16; 38:8; 40:7) of the wilderness tabernacle and the Jerusalem temple. The bronze laver was made from the “Looking glasses” of the women of Israel (Exodus 38:8). These looking glasses were of polished brass to make them reflect images similar to a mirror. It would not have been as clear as the mirrors we know now.

John’s focus is more upon the “Beasts”, possibly better understood as “Living ones”. Who are these “Living ones”? They are, possibly, angelic beings. They are representative of the attributes of God, in general. Let me quote John F. Walvoord,

“The fact that the creatures are full of eyes is taken as significant of the omniscience and omnipresence of God who sees all and knows all.’
‘In a similar way the four beasts as respectively a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle are considered different aspects of divine majesty. All of these are supreme in their respective categories. The lion is the king of beasts and represents majesty and omnipotence. The calf or ox, representing the most important of domestic animals, signifies patience and continuous labor. man is the greatest of all God’s creatures, especially in intelligence and rational power; whereas the eagle is greatest among birds and is symbolic of sovereignty and supremacy” THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST pp. 109 & 110.

Ezekiel, the Old Testament prophet had a similar vision. You can read that in Ezekiel 1:4-10.

“And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,” Revelation 4:8-9 (KJV).

These “Living ones” are worshiping and announcing the holiness of God, and declaring His omnipresence in time.

A similar announcement of God’s holiness is declared by the seraphim in Isaiah 6:1-3. They [seraphim] are also indentified as having six wings, representing humility, service and mission.

These proclaim to God the glory and honor He so richly deserves. The One “Who lives for ever and ever.” When we worship God we are to do so in holiness, with humility, service and mission; knowing and showing that the God of all creation is worthy of all worship and praise.

“The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,  Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11 (KJV).

Further evidence that the “Twenty four elders” are the redeemed, is that they “Cast their crowns before the throne” and worship.

These recognize the work of salvation God has done and gives the crowns to the One who is truly deserving. These “Elders” represent priesthood.

“There were twenty four courses of priests in the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 24:3-5, 18; also see Luke 1:5-9). God’s people are ‘Kings and priests’ (Revelation 1:6).” From BIBLE EXPOSITION Commentary pg. 582 by Warren Wiersbe.

If we will keep in mind that this book is Hebrew in its symbolism and trust the Holy Spirit we will not be led astray. Remember the time following the Church age is called, “…The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).

The Holy One of Israel is worthy to receive all that He is worth. Too many times we people get the idea that this world and all that is in it is just about us. It is not. It is about God. All glory, honor, and power belong to the One who made all that is. We were made for His pleasure, His purpose, His desire, and He can do with us as He pleases. He is completely just and righteous, and we can trust Him to do what is good and right. We are to be WORSHIPING THE ONE ON THE THRONE.

The One Who is Alive Forevermore

“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Revelation 2:8-11 (KJV)

Facing sorrows through trials of our faith we find assurance, in this letter to the church in Smyrna, of the eternalness of Jesus, and His promise of eternal riches to those who are overcomers. The “Crown of Life” is promised to those who are “Faithful unto death”.

The church at Smyrna was a suffering church. They had nothing of the world’s goods or praise. They did have the praise of Jesus. That means more than anything.

Polycarp was the bishop of the church and he was put to death for his faith. In John Walvoord’s “THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST” he writes, speaking of Polycarp,

“When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, he replied, ‘Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?”.

Polycarp seems to characterize the whole church at Smyrna.

The city of Smyrna is still in existence today, known as Izmir, unlike Ephesus which is in ruins. When Christians are willing to stand no matter what, it has redeeming qualities for all of society. There is also a Christian church in the city. How? By overcoming.

The church of Smyrna needed to hear from the One who is the “First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive”. Smyrna is located approximately 35 – 50 miles north of Ephesus. Like Ephesus, it too is a port city. The two cities probably struggled over which was the chief city of the region.

The word ‘Smyrna’ means “Myrrh”. Myrrh was used for embalming the dead. It was also used in Tabernacle worship, and as a perfume. The significance of this is the way in which Jesus identifies Himself to the church at Smyrna. “I Am the eternal One [the First and the Last], which became dead [myrrh was used for His burial], and I Am alive forevermore”.

These are certainly encouraging words. Our Savior who was humiliated and put to open shame upon the cross, and put to death is encouraging the church to stay on course, because they too will live eternally. They too, may die; you may someday get to die for your faith in Jesus, but that is not the end. You have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

His “I know” of verse 9 is somewhat different from His “I know” for the church of Ephesus.

The church is suffering fiery persecution. “Poor” means they were poor in this world’s material things. This partially due to them, as followers of Jesus, having no rights to worship. Their lands and houses could be taken freely, because they had no legal protection, no constitutional protections as we have.

Their persecution came by means of the unregenerate people of Smyrna. Both the Gentiles and Jews persecuted the Christians.

“…Jews, and are not” implies a racial identity without a Christ’s identity. In Pauls letter to the Romans he wrote,

“…He is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:29).

If these “Jews” had been anywhere near obedience to their faith they would have remembered God’s law which says,

“…the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:34).

Therefore, Jesus says that they “…Are the synagogue of satan” – lost, no relation with God, condemned, and needing salvation.

They are known by those who persecute them as being “Poor”. They are known by Jesus as being “Rich”. How are you known by people? More importantly, how are you known by Jesus? It is much better to be poor to the world and rich with Christ, than to be rich to the world and poor with Jesus.

Jesus is so very gracious. He speaks quite often in the gospels, “Fear not”, or “Be not afraid”. Here in verse 10 He speaks the words again. “Fear none of those things…”.
“If they come and take away your houses or land, do not be afraid. If they come to take you away for torture, pain and death, do not fear. If they come to take your family, do not be afraid. If they come to ridicule you, do not fear. If they bring false charges against you, do not fear. If they come to take your life, do not be afraid. It is not over. Your life is still in My hands”, Jesus says. My paraphrase.

Tribulation and suffering should not be strange for the follower of Jesus. He told us, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. (John 16:33).

Trials and testings come into every believer’s life. Sometimes we suffer because of our faith in Jesus. Sometimes it is because of sin left unconfessed and an unrepentant heart, or paying the consequences of sin forgiven. Sometimes it is to keep us from something for our own benefit and His glory.

“Tribulation ten days” is probably a reference to a short period of time. All the troubles we encounter as Christians are of only short duration compared to eternity. Many Christians suffer bad health for years, not because of sin, but for their good, and the glory of Jesus. It is only a short time compared to the glory and splendor of God’s eternal home.

The “Ten days” have also been compared to a period of time from Nero in 64-68 AD., through Diocletian of 303-313 AD.. Nero 64-68 AD., Domitian95-96 AD., Trajan 104-117 AD., Marcus Aurelius 161-180 AD. (According to some this is when Polycarp was martyred), Severus 200-211 AD., Maximinius 235-237 AD., Decius 250-253 AD., Valerian 257-260 AD., Aurelian 270-275 AD., and Diocletian 303-313 AD.. This would have represented the ten days as being periods of persecution under these leaders.

How faithful would you be to public worship and faith in Jesus Christ if our government suddenly declared worshiping God in Jesus to be illegal? Would you be in Bible study and worship next Sunday? The worship of the church of Smyrna was illegal, yet they worshiped and lived their faith. They suffered. Jesus words were, “Be faithful unto death”. “Don’t be afraid, be faithful”. Even if it means your life, be faithful. Jesus was. He gave His life as not only as an act of love for you and me, but also an act of faithfulness to the Father. The reward? He will give a “Crown of life”; “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12). This crown is often equated with being the “Martyrs crown”, but probably received by all who are faithful in life without fear for their lives.

Finally, Jesus says to the church of Smyrna, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…” (v. 11). Those who are followers of Jesus Christ will hear His voice.

The Spirit gives understanding. He is our ears to the words of the Lord Jesus. The message is now to the individual – “Hear”.

“The second death” is total and eternal separation from God. The word ‘death’, in essence means separation. Physical death is the separation of the body from life. Spiritual death is the condition all people are born into, separated from God. The “Second death” being different only in that it is eternal separation from God. There is an eternal place where the eternal wrath of God is suffered.

All who overcome are “Born of God”. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4). All who are “Born of God” [born again] overcome. The “second death” has no hurt to the born again (Revelation 20:6). The second death is reserved for those not found in the book of life (20:14), ‘the fearful and unbelieving…the abominable, …shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (21:8).

The only way to miss the “Second death” is to be born twice. The second time through faith in Jesus Christ. Someone once said, “If you were born once, you will die twice. If you were born twice, you will die once.”

Troubles, inevitably will come, at least while we live on earth. Some people will ridicule our faith and faithful practices. Sickness comes occasionally or regularly for some. Nevertheless, we are called on to be faithful.

If we keep in mind the humiliation of Jesus and His suffering, even though He was sinless, and the glory that is His after His resurrection, we can overcome every trouble and trial of suffering that comes our way. No material possession can keep us from the “Second death” only Jesus can. After all He is THE RESURRECTED ONE.