Scriptures

The Book Of Revelation Part 3

Introduction

‘Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.’ Revelation 2:10

We’ve just looked at seven main points that can help us understand this great book. Now we’re going to go chapter by chapter and hit the main thoughts in order to weave everything together to see God’s overall message to Christians in the first century and His message of encouragement for us in the twenty-first century today.

Let me encourage you to carefully read through each chapter first before you read the comments on each chapter.

Revelation 1

In Revelation 1 Christians are immediately impressed with the  mage of Christ, the One Who is in control. Remember that this was during times of great persecution. Rome was persecuting Christians, some were being dragged off. People like Domitian were in control. Thus, Christians are reminded by the image of Jesus in Revelation
1 that Jesus is still ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’, Revelation 19:16

During times of persecution, we must look to Christ for help.

‘Among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.’ Revelation 1:13-16

Here we see this image of Jesus that presents His holiness, power, radiance, and the Word of God that came out of His mouth. The impression we receive from this image is that Jesus is alive, well, and in control, which means that during persecution we must look to Christ.

There’s a practical lesson here for Christians then as well as for us today. When we face difficulties, when we struggle, and when things don’t always go the way they ought to in life, we need to go to Jesus first for help. Too many times we look to self-help books, doctors, psychiatrists, and so on. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but the first place we ought to be looking for help is Jesus Christ, Hebrews 12:1-2. If we want real help in times of trouble, we must look to the Lord. He is able to help those who are in need of help, Hebrews 2:17-18.

Revelation begins on a positive note, Jesus is alive and well, and can help us. Thus, we must look to Him in time of trouble.

Revelation 2-3

Revelation 2-3 probably are the chapters that have been studied the most by people who have examined the Book of Revelation. Paul had spent three years in Ephesus and during that time ‘all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.’ Acts 19:10.

All seven churches may have had their start during this time frame. They’re now facing a severe crisis, there was wide spread persecution of Christians. Persecution came in the form Judaisers,
pagans and from the Roman government. At the close of each letter a special blessing is pronounced on those who overcome the persecutions.

We aren’t going to spend a whole lot of time talking about the letters to the seven congregations. Let’s simply notice that Jesus says this to these congregations. He knows what’s going on in His church, and we need to let Him be the Head of the church.

Jesus rebukes five of the congregations, Ephesus, Revelation 2:1-7, Pergamum, Revelation 2:12-17, Thyatira, Revelation 2:18-29, Sardis, Revelation 3:1-6, Laodicea, Revelation 3:14-22 and only two are not rebuked. The church in Smyrna, Revelation 2:8-11, isn’t condemned and the church in Philadelphia isn’t rebuked, Revelation 3:7-13.

Five out of the seven are rebuked for things they are not doing or for things that they should not be doing. Either they were doing something wrong, or they were lacking in some area. During times of persecution, we mustn’t forget that Jesus is still the Head of the church, and that we’re responsible as a member of that church for how we live our lives.

‘To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.’ Revelation 3:21

This verse reveals the encouragement that Jesus offers saints who live faithfully, 2 Corinthians 13:5.

Summary Of The Seven Churches

In a general sense the problems that existed in the seven churches of Asia are the same kind of problems experienced by congregations today. We would do well to carefully study these seven churches and learn from their mistakes. These churches were in a state of crisis, some were strong, and some were about to be overcome, they needed encouragement.

Revelation is a symbolic presentation of the church in conflict with Jewish, pagan and Roman persecuting powers. It promises victory if they will overcome, it’s up to them to diligently fight the battle. If they will put forth the effort to overcome Satan and his angels, then Christ will help them in their battles.

During times of persecution, we must not forget that Jesus is still the Head of the church, and that we are responsible as a member of that church for how we live our lives. We must look to ourselves and examine ourselves to see if we are living in the faith, especially in times of persecution. But at all times we must make sure that we’re right with God and that we’re living as we ought to live, realising that if live faithfully, then we can come over and live with God.

For A Sermon Series On The Seven Churches Please Click Here

Revelation 4

Revelation 4 presents for us a great throne room scene and offers one main idea. God is on the throne and is in control. Every time it looked like Domitian was ruling the known world while putting Christians to death amidst great persecution, Christians needed to remember that God is on His throne. He is in control, and we need to trust Him and let Him have His way with us in this life.

From the very beginning Revelation is filled with imagery, many are very puzzling and difficult to decipher. Yet, with all their difficulties we can still get the overall meaning. Beginning with chapter four we now launch out into a great sea of symbols, we’re now about to get a glimpse of the Omnipotent throne of God Almighty. This throne-room scene surely would have been an encouragement to Christians in the first century so that they would know that the God of Heaven was still in control, Daniel 5:21.

God was talking to Nebuchadnezzar, who was going through some hard things but had learned an important lesson. We’re told that Nebuchadnezzar went through those difficult times ‘until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth.’

That’s the message of Revelation 4. Domitian isn’t in control, the Roman government isn’t in control, God still rules in the kingdoms of men and sets over them whom He wishes. We need to be encouraged by knowing that God is in Heaven and that He is in control, His will ultimately will be accomplished, so we must be faithful to Him and to no one else.

Revelation 5

Revelation 5 introduces us to the Lamb, ‘Who was slain before the foundation of the world’. Revelation 13:8. John has a scroll that no one can seem to open, but the Lamb then comes and opens the scroll in order to unleash the wrath of God. Christians, as a result, cry out, ‘Worthy is the Lamb!’ Revelation 5:12

Who is this Lamb?

John the Baptist sees Jesus approaching and says, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’ John 1:29.

Christians were being persecuted, they wanted to know, if God is in control, who will help us overcome the great world power that is Rome? The Lamb takes the scroll and unleashes the vengeance of God. Who is the Lamb? It’s Jesus Christ, Who is able to offer help during times of persecution.

‘In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!’ Revelation 5:12

The Lamb is pictured as the One Who is worthy to receive our honour. We aren’t to pay honour to Domitian. The Lamb is going to unleash God’s vengeance, and He’s the One Who is worthy of our honour or glory. Our lives must be about giving Jesus, the Son of God, the glory and honour He deserves. In fact, that’s what our lives are all about, Isaiah 43:7 / 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Revelation 5 tells us that the Lamb is worthy, He’s able to unleash God’s vengeance, and we must give Him the glory and honour that He deserves. It’s through Jesus that the devil, the beast, and Rome itself will be defeated because of Jesus’ actions.

Jesus, through death, overcame that ‘he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.’ Hebrews 2:14

Revelation 6

In Revelation 6 we find six seals that are going to be broken, seals that are directly related to the scroll. The seals represent God’s vengeance, God’s wrath will be unleashed against Rome and her ungodly government. God is in control, and He will deal with those who are punishing His saints.

‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood? Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.’ Revelation 6:10-11

The saints asked God how much longer He would allow this to go on and He told them to be faithful a little while long because it was all going to work out.

‘For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’ Revelation 6:17

This is picturing Rome and the coming destruction that was going to take place. People cried out, ‘God’s wrath is coming; how can we stand it?’

Even Rome realised that God was in control. These seals, representing acts of vengeance on God’s part, showed Rome that she wasn’t in control, God was! And they desperately needed to submit
to His will and obey the teaching of Christ.

In Revelation 6 we find six seals that are going to be broken, seals that are directly related to the scroll. The seals represent God’s vengeance. God’s wrath will be unleashed against Rome and her ungodly government. God is in control, and He will deal with those who are punishing His saints.

We see the hand of Christ opening the sealed book held in God’s right hand. Only Christ is qualified to open the seals. As the first seal is broken there is the noise of thunder signifying an ominous announcement. One of the four beasts say, ‘come and see.’ Thus, John is about to see the mystery contained within the scroll. He will see what is going to happen to the churches in their great struggle with the persecuting powers.

The Seals

First Seal. A White Horse. Jesus The Conqueror

‘I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.’ Revelation 6:1-2

Before Solomon’s time no horses were permitted in the armies of Israel. The horse was looked upon as a noble animal and a very valuable animal to man. This first horse is a white horse.

A white horse was ridden by a conqueror returning from battle, his troops would march behind him followed by those who had been captured to serve as slaves.

Who was the rider?

Since Revelation is about victory in Jesus it would seem it could easily apply to Christ. We can be assured the church would be victorious over the persecutors. Revelation 19:11 / Romans 8:37.

Second Seal. A Red Horse Represents War

‘When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, ‘Come!’ Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.’ Revelation 6:3-4

Red would seem to stand for bloodshed, the rider of this horse would wage war, shedding blood, against the enemies of Christ and His church. He has power to overcome Satan and the nations he controls, all enemies of the church. He also carried a great sword with him. This is probably the idea of conquest, it can also signify destruction. The blood thirsty enemies of the church cannot overcome the church as they may think.

Third Seal. A Black Horse Represents Famine And Economic Hardship

‘When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!’ Revelation 6:5-6

This is a colour of distress and calamity, it’s a picture of the grim, dread calamity of famine. The balances were scales to measure out food indicating the scarcity of food in the land. The rider is told not to hurt the oil and wine, everything else would be scarce except these two commodities.

Why?

This is difficult, oil and wine weren’t necessities of life, they would be looked upon as luxuries. Could the meaning be that while the necessities of life were scarce luxuries would be abundant? Oil and wine were also used as medicine. Could this mean the binding up of the hurts of the suffering Christians? We can only guess at best about this symbol.

Fourth Seal. A Pale Horse Represents Death

‘When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.’ Revelation 6:7-8

This would indicate death since the name of the rider was death. Hunger follows a famine and this in turn leads to mass starvation. Under such circumstance’s pestilence, ravishing diseases, usually follow. They can destroy more than a war. Thus, this horse and rider represent pestilence. Hades followed the rider, Hades is the region of the dead.

Thus, we have a picture of the grim reapers of death and Hades claiming those struck down with diseases. Ezekiel 14:12-23.

Fifth Seal. The Martyred Saints

‘When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.’ Revelation 6:9-11

The symbolism now changes, up to this point we have observed the means of judgment, now we will begin to see the reason for the judgment.

The slain under the altar are the martyred saints, these are the ones who have suffered in the tribulation losing their lives. Revelation 1:2 / Revelation 12:17 / Revelation 14:12 / Revelation 19:10. They cry out, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’

The altar symbolises the sacrificial nature of their death, they were sacrificed upon the altar of the Cause of Christ. They cry out for retribution against the persecutors. The ‘earth’ would be the place where these persecutors existed.

Each one is given a white robe, symbolical of victory and purity, Revelation 3:4 / Revelation 19:8 and they are told to be patient for God’s retribution, Isaiah 33:1 / Daniel 11:36 / Daniel 11:45.

The Sixth Seal. The Wrath Of The Lamb

‘I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’ Revelation 6:12-17

This seal depicts judgment in answer to the plea of the souls under the altar. The sun, the moon the stars are all judgment talk, Isaiah 34:4-6 / Jeremiah 4:23-25. This judgment will on the Roman persecuting power as indicated in verse 14, ‘Every mountain and island were moved out of their places.’

This seems to encompass the known Roman world. The kings and great men of verse 15 would fit the Roman authorities who spread out over the Roman Empire. They look for somewhere to hide, Isaiah 2:10-11 / Isaiah 2:19-22.

In Revelation 6:10 the saints asked God how much longer He would allow this to go on. He told them to be faithful a little while long because it was all going to work out. Notice what is said in Revelation 6:17 ‘For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’

This is picturing Rome and the coming destruction that was going to take place. People cried out, ‘God’s wrath is coming; how can we stand it?’

Even Rome realised that God was in control. These seals, representing acts of vengeance on God’s part, showed Rome that she was not in control. God was! And they desperately needed to submit to His will and obey the teaching of Christ.

Revelation 7

In Revelation 7, we’re introduced to the 144,000, but who are they?

144,000

The number twelve represents God’s people. In the Old Testament there were twelve patriarchs, and thus the twelve tribes of Israel constituted God’s nation, and in the New Testament the twelve apostles were the ambassadors of Christ. The number ten came to mean completeness. When multiplied by itself three times, in other words, 10 times 10, times 10, the number becomes 1000 and signifies complete fullness.

144,000 is a multiple of the number representing fullness, and the number representing God’s people, in other words, 12 times 12 equals 144. Multiply these together and 144,000 is reached, signifying the full number of God’s people or the total number of God’s faithful servants.

It never ceases to amaze me how some people are so inconsistent when it comes to interpreting the Scriptures. We’ve all met these sincere people who want nothing more to convince us that Christians can’t go to heaven where God dwells because that space is for the elite, it’s for the 144,000 but we can possess second best, heaven in Earth and remain here on Planet Earth after it has had its fiery cleansing process.

When it comes to the Book of Revelation we have to remember that it’s highly figurative and highly symbolic and when we come to understanding what John wrote we need to be consistent with what is literal and what is figurative, otherwise we end up withal kinds of wonderful ideas.

‘After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.’ Revelation 7:1-8

Now if the number 144,000 is literal, then we must conclude that its composition must also be literal, which means the number is composed of 12,000 Jews from each tribe mentioned, and none from Dan, Judges 18:14-31. If the tribes of Revelation 7 are to be literally taken, then that would mean that not one person from the tribe of Ephraim or Dan will enter heaven, because they’re not included in this list.

And if we take this literally that would mean that the Old Testament heroes like Joshua, who was from the tribe of Ephraim, and Samson, who was from the tribe of Dan, won’t be in heaven.

Notice also that even though, ‘tribe of Joseph’, is mentioned, we know that Joseph wasn’t a tribe in the literal sense, which again helps us see that the whole context is figurative. The number was sealed, indicating God’s protection of all His people on earth, the great multitude had white robes, indicating victorious saints in the keeping of God, Revelation 7:4 / Revelation 7:9.

The Great Multitude

‘After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.’ Revelation 7:9

John later will identify the great multitude as in heaven, not on earth.

‘After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God’. Revelation 19:1

If this is to be taken literally, then those who believe it’s only the 144,000 will be in heaven, must exclude the ‘great multitude, which no one could count’ from heaven. Those who argue for a literal translation have a get out clause for this, which is to create yet another group of people, they say this group represents the ‘earthly class.’

They tell us that only the 144,000 will be in heaven and everyone else will be on earth, but notice what the text actually says, this multitude was described as ‘standing before the throne’, and where is the throne, it’s in heaven, Revelation 1:4 / Revelation 4:2-10.

Again, these saints ‘before the throne’ were serving God in ‘His temple’. ‘They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.’ Revelation 7:15.

‘Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.’ Revelation 11:19

‘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. 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. 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. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.’ Revelation 14:1-5

The 144,000 are mentioned again in Revelation 14:1ff and again, the number is grouped with several other prominent symbols. Notice the following, there is the ‘Lamb,’ which is a figure representing Christ, John 1:29.

‘Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.’ Revelation 5:6

There is Mount Zion, a symbol of divine government, Isaiah 2:2-4.

There is the number 144,000, suggestive of the heavenly complement of God’s people, in other words, no one will be missing who is supposed to be there. And then we have the saints who are depicted as ‘virgins,’ which descriptive emphasises their purity, 2 Corinthians 11:2.

And so, once again, when we read these passages we must be consistent with our interpretation, if we’re going to say that the 144,000, is a literal number, then to be consistent, we should also argue that a literal Lamb was literally standing on literal Mount Zion with a group of literal men who had never been intimate with literal women, hence, were literal virgins!

If this whole thing was to be taken literally this is what we would end up with. Only men will be in heaven, hence, Deborah, Naomi, Mary, Dorcus, and women of like faith are without that hope. Only unmarried men who are virgins will gain heaven. This would exclude Abraham, Moses, Peter, and a host of other Bible characters. Surely, we can see how crazy this could get!

Who are the 144,000?

The 144,000 of Revelation 7 and Revelation 14 are to be identified with ‘the great multitude’, they are the same group viewed from different standpoints and they all signify the entire body of the redeemed. This group represents a body of people who were ‘purchased’ from among men. The only purchase price ultimately available for human salvation is that of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake about it, there’s not a person alive or who has ever lived will go on to live in planet Earth because when Christ returns the Earth will be totally and utterly destroyed, Matthew 24:35 / 2 Peter 3:10.

‘Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.’ Revelation 21:1

Wherever we look at the 144,000 we must remember that John is using figurative language, and the Bible plainly teaches that there’s ultimately one hope, Ephesians 4:4 and that hope is reserved in heaven for the faithful, 1 Peter 1:3-5. The Scriptures teach nothing about an earth class and a heaven class in eternity.

Also in Revelation 7 we find a scene where God’s people are being sealed. God is unleashing His wrath upon the ungodly Roman government, but Christians are going to be sealed and safe. They will be taken care of because God knows those who are faithful to Him.

An important principle that we can learn from this has to do with the fact that during times of ungodliness, or at times when the world is immoral, as it is in our day today, we can be sure that God knows who are faithfully serving Him, we will be taken care of.

‘Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ Revelation 7:13-14

These are the ones who served God and who worshiped Him. Christians were suffering, and many would wonder, why did God allow these things to happen? One of the elders asks, ‘Who are these redeemed people?’ John says, ‘You know. They are the ones who came out of the tribulation and who had their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb.’

If we’re going to endure and be victorious, we must be faithful to God! We must make sure that we’re one of God’s children and that we’re living as we ought to live. We must be sure that our robes have been ‘washed in the blood of the Lamb.’

How does that take place?

If our robes are going to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, that means we must obey God’s teaching regarding the plan of salvation.
We contact the blood of Christ when we are baptised in order to wash our sins away in the blood of the Lamb, Acts 22:16.

That is where we contact Jesus’ blood. These Christians in Revelation had endured, and they were the ones who would be victorious, not Rome!

Revelation 8

In Revelation 8 we see four trumpets that are sounding out God’s vengeance upon Rome, and that will defeat her and bring her down. One trumpet makes a sound.

The Seventh Seal

‘When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.’ Revelation 8:1-2

The symbolism of this chapter is indeed very difficult for us to understand. The first six seals have been opened in succession. With the opening of the seventh seal there is suddenly dead silence in heaven for the space of about one-half hour before its ominous mystery in revealed. It seems to be a silence of suspense, the hosts of heaven are silent, waiting to see what will come next.

It seems to express a fearful expectation or the calm before the storm is unleashed. These 30 minutes could seem like an eternity, Revelation 10:3 / 1 John 2:18. Seven angels with seven trumpets now appear. We recall the seven angles of the seven churches, they appear before God, Exodus 25:17-22.

Are these the same angels?

They are given trumpets. Trumpets were used to summon or to announce something important. God is ready to speak, Numbers 10.

The Trumpets

The First Trumpet

‘The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on 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.’ Revelation 8:7

This trumpet is for the purpose of getting their attention. Hail, fire, and blood are symbolic of devastation and woe which seem to affect the earth. Exodus 7-11. It also seems that a certain area of the earth is the place of the persecuting powers. This signifies vengeance, God’s warning is clear. If you harm my people you will answer to Me. Jesus once said that the prayers of saints can move mountains.

The Second Trumpet

‘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.’ Revelation 8:8-9

A great mountain burning may signify a great power or nation. Zechariah 4:7 / Amos 4:13. This is the power of Rome. A third of the sea turned to blood, Exodus 7:20-21. Later, the Roman emperor is symbolised as ‘the beast of the sea’ and is presented as coming up ‘out of the sea’ thus, this trumpet signifies mighty Rome. In time, the mighty military power of the Roman Empire would be destroyed. Daniel lists Rome as the last of the great empires.

The Third Trumpet

‘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.’ Revelation 8:10-11

The falling star as in Matthew 24:29 / Revelation 6:13 represents divine punishment. Isaiah’s description of the fall of Babylonian rulers has the same imagery, Isaiah 13:10-11. Falling of the rivers and fountains of water signified the drying up of their powers. The waters become like wormwood and caused many to die. Wormwood is a bitter plant thus destruction would be bitter, Jeremiah 23:15.

The Fourth Trumpet

‘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. As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in mid-air call out in a loud voice: ‘Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!’ Revelation 8:12-13

Each of the four trumpets damage some part of the natural world. The object is to get sinners to repent. Here a third part of the sun, moon and stars are smitten thus leaving darkness. Isaiah 34:4-5 / Joel 2:10. Darkness, doom and distress, would come over the Roman empire. The angel crying ‘woe, woe, woe’ to the inhabitants of the earth signals that even worse things are yet to come. These first four trumpets have signalled great calamity, but the three remaining trumpets will signal even worse things.

Prayer

‘Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne.’ Revelation 8:3

Here we see a throne-room scene again. In the midst of trumpets that are unleashing God’s wrath, the saints’ prayers go up before the throne of God as sweet-smelling incense.

One powerful lesson we can learn from this is that during times of trouble and tribulation, God is no further away than the avenue of prayer. God is willing and able to help, but we must have the faith to pray and ask Him for that help. We learn here the importance of prayer in the Christian’s life at all times, but especially during times of trouble, James 5:16 / 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

We must never stop praying, and we must realise the value and importance of prayer, Luke 18:1. Christians’ prayers rise up to God as a sweet-smelling savour and during times of trouble, we must approach God, Hebrews 4:16.

Revelation 9

Revelation 9 shows us that God will deal with Rome in several ways. Rome’s government will decay from the inside and there’s also going to be an external invasion. God promised that Rome would be punished, the government would begin decaying from the inside.

The Fifth Trumpet

‘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. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads, they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails, they had power to torment people for five months. They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer). The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.’ Revelation 9:1-12

A star denotes a ruler and heaven his dominion the falling symbolises a dethroning. This is said of a Babylonian ruler in Isaiah 14:2. This star being an agent of the Devil is given the ‘key’ to the abyss of Satan to unloose the woes already announced by the angel of Revelation 8:13 / 2 Corinthians 4:4 / Revelation 9:11 / Ephesians 2:2.

When the bottomless pit is opened there was unleashed a great pollution of smoke so dense that the sun cannot shine through it as the air is smoggy, it was darkness. This would seem to symbolise complete corruption or pollution of the land. Exodus 10:21-23. Out of this horrible smoke came locusts, locusts were a scourge to the land and were dreaded.

They invade an area like an army, Exodus 10:14-17. This is further amplification of the woe pronounced upon the earth by the angel. These locusts have the power of scorpions. Thus, the distress which was to come upon the land is personified as being poisonous and able to kill. In Revelation 9:3 the locusts are commanded not to ‘harm the grass of the earth, any green thing, nor any tree.’

Thus, Christians would be spared. Ezekiel 9 / Exodus 8:22 / Exodus
9:4 / Exodus 9:6 / Exodus 9:26 / Exodus 10:23 / Exodus 11:7. This tells that Rome was going to be taken over.

The victims of these woes were not to be killed immediately but tormented five months. This torment was to be as a scorpion’s sting. These locusts were shaped like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns like gold and their faces were like men, this would symbolise a great army.

The locusts are further described as having hair like women and teeth like those of a lion. The breastplates of iron depict the invaders armour. They come in chariots also. This army has power to inflict great horror.

They have a king over them whose name in Hebrew was ‘Abaddon’ meaning destroyer and in Greek ‘Apollyon’ which means the same. This king was the angel of the bottomless, this is Satan himself. John now tells us that of the three woes announced by the flying angel, one is now past and two are yet to come.

The apocalyptic descriptions in this and the preceding verses is the same kind of imagery Joel employs to describe the invasion of Jerusalem about 600 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar.

The Sixth Trumpet

‘The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four 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.’ And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number. The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulphur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulphur. A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulphur that came out of their mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury. The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.’ Revelation 9:13-21

As this trumpet is sounded four angels, Revelation 8:3-5 are loosed from the Euphrates river, which was symbolic of military might. Isaiah 8:7-8. The symbolism of this section is also parallel to Joel’s vision of horsemen and chariots going into battle. These four angels may be the same four mentioned in chapter 7 as ‘holding the four winds of the earth.’

With the sealing of the 144,000 the suspension period is now lifted. The Euphrates River had served as a boundary line for Old Testament Israel. These angels had been held at the boundary line but are now released, thus destruction of the land is now turned loose.

The preparation of an hour, day, month and year doesn’t seem clear. It could denote the time of suspension while the Romans were preparing for invasion. We have a picture of an overwhelming military power poised to kill. The tormented locusts were to hurt men, while the armies of the Euphrates were to kill men, Habakkuk 1:5-17. One was probably famine and pestilence while the second was bloodshed.

The judgments in the seven trumpets seems to be divided into three woes, thus this would explain why each directive is applied to ‘a three woes,’ thus this would explain why each directive is applied to ‘a third part.’ In Revelation 6:8 a ‘fourth part of the earth’ is involved. However, there were four judgments in this chapter. The division of parts in made proportionate with the pronouncements of judgments or woes.

John heard a number of such magnitude to make human resistance impossible. Ezekiel 38-39. An impressive description is given of the army. An awesome description is given of the doom that was to the Roman Empire.

Similar descriptions of the 600 B.C. Babylonian invasion are given in Joel 2:2-4 and Jeremiah 25:9-11. The ‘rest of the men’ were the survivors of the second woe. The answer may be found in the Judaizers and false teachers living in other parts of the world. They shall not escape God’s final judgment.

History tells us that that happened. Also, Rome was invaded, and outside forces came and overtook Rome, eventually bringing punishment upon her. Although Rome looked like she would be victorious, God promised that she would decay from the inside that be invaded in order to be punished.

How does all of that apply?

Look at Revelation 9, where we’re taught that we must stay true to God and always be sure that our lives are right. To Rome God said,

‘The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.’ Revelation 9:20-21

These things were happening and should have been recognised as signs to bring the people of Rome back to God. Yet they didn’t repent of their works. God loves all people and ‘wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.’ 1 Timothy 2:4. ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ 2 Peter 3:9.

The Bible makes it clear that God is patient toward us, and isn’t willing that anyone should perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance.

Did God want the souls in Rome who were opposing Christianity to be lost and go to Hell? Absolutely not! The Romans should have seen their destruction as the power of God. They should have seen the internal decay and external invasions as God’s power, and as signs that they needed to get their lives right.

They needed to make sure that they were worshiping the God of Heaven, not idols of silver and gold that couldn’t see, talk, or hear. Yet, unfortunately, they didn’t repent of their works. It’s so important for us today to realise that we must, at all times, examine ourselves to make sure that we’re right with God, Luke 13:3.

How serious it is for us to take the time that we have here and now very seriously so that we will use it to honour God and make sure our lives are right before Him. The people of Rome were lost because they refused to change their ways. God doesn’t want people to be lost but because He is a just judge, He will punish those who do ungodly things.

Revelation 10

Revelation 10 shows us a scene in which John is given a book by an angel, who tells him to eat the book, which represents some of the things that will be happening to the Roman government, and some of the things that will be happening to Christians.

‘So, I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, ‘Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’ Revelation 10:9

In some ways the book was good news yet was bad news in other ways. It was sweet in John’s mouth but would be bitter in his stomach. The sweetness represented the good news, which was that God was going to take vengeance upon Rome as ungodly people were punished. But the bitterness was that Christians would have to continue to endure and be faithful to God because there would be more persecution yet to come. Ezekiel 3:14.

The assurances of victory and reward were sweet, yet, the anticipation of the sufferings and trials they would be called upon to pass through was indeed bitter. Psalm 19:10 / Psalm 119:103.

In this life, we have never been promised by God that life would be full of roses without any thorns along the way. In fact, we have been promised that there will be trouble, and that we will experience trials, 2 Timothy 3:12 / Acts 14:22.

In this life, as we face struggles, that is the bitterness, the hard part, but we must realise that there is sweetness, in the sense that if we endure and remain faithful to God, we can overcome, be faithful to God, and live with Jesus. Jesus said in Revelation 2:10 that ‘if we will be faithful unto death, then God will give us a crown of life’.

How we must make sure today that in the midst of our troubles, we refuse to ‘throw in the towel.’ We mustn’t let our troubles drag us down, but instead we must realise that God is faithful, and that with temptation will help us through them so that we can endure such temptations in this life, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Revelation 11

In Revelation 11 we see God’s two witnesses who are prophets of God. They are sent out to proclaim His message, but they are killed. The people didn’t want to hear what the prophets had to say, so they put them to death. Their bodies lay in the street, and it looked like Christ and Christianity had been stamped out.

But notice what happens! In the midst of this scene, these two witnesses are resurrected and begin to preach again. God sent a message, but the people of Rome didn’t want to hear it. Rome therefore persecuted Christians, to the point where it appeared as if Christianity would be stamped out. It may have looked like Christ and Christianity were ‘lying in the street, dead,’ but God and His cause would rise up and be victorious.

The 1,260 Days Or 42 Months Represents A Period Of Time For Persecution But God’s Care

‘And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.’ Revelation 11:3

Here are some of the passages which the phrase appears.

It’s the period the ‘little horn’ Domitian, persecutes the saints, Daniel 7:25. It’s the period of the holy city being trodden underfoot.

‘But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.’ Revelation 11:2

It’s the period during which the witnesses prophecy.

‘And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.’ Revelation 11:3

It’s the period the woman is nourished in the wilderness.

‘The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.’ Revelation 12:6

‘The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.’ Revelation 12:14

It’s the period of the beast’s authority.

‘The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.’ Revelation 13:5

The Two Witnesses

‘They are ‘the two olive trees’ and the two lampstands, and ‘they stand before the Lord of the earth.’ Revelation 11:4

‘Then I asked the angel, ‘What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?’ Again, I asked him, ‘What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?’ Zechariah 4:11-13

The two witnesses in Zechariah are Zerubbabel of the royal line and the priest, Joshua son of Jozadak but here in Revelation 11 we see God’s two witnesses who are prophets of God, who represent the church.

But why two?

‘Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.’ 1 Timothy 5:19

‘If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true.’ John 5:31

‘But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ Matthew 18:16

God’s two witnesses are sent out to proclaim His message, but they are killed.

‘Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified.’ Revelation 11:7-8

The people didn’t want to hear what the prophets had to say, so they put them to death. Their bodies lay in the street, and it looked like Christ and Christianity had been stamped out. But notice what happens.

‘But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them.’ Revelation 11:11

In the midst of this scene, these two witnesses are resurrected and begin to preach again. God sent a message, but the people of Rome didn’t want to hear it. Rome therefore persecuted Christians, to the point where it appeared as if Christianity would be stamped out. It may have looked like Christ and Christianity were ‘lying in the street, dead,’ but God and His cause would rise up and be victorious.

On the heels of that message we find which may well be the most important verse in the Book of Revelation.

‘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 Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’ Revelation 11:15

After the witnesses were resurrected, Christianity was infused with new life. Rome had been defeated, God was victorious, and Christians were the winners in the end. No matter how bad things may get or how immoral our world may become, we must realise that God is still in control and that it’s the kingdom of Christ that will be victorious over all other kingdoms.

Rome didn’t win, Great Britain isn’t going to win, no country in the world will be victorious over God. Christ and His kingdom will outlast and outlive all other kingdoms and will be victorious. What is the message of these first eleven chapters? It’s simply this,

Christ is in control

We need to look to ourselves to see if we’re living as we ought to be living. If there are changes that need to be made, either individual or congregational, then we need to make those changes so that God will be happy with us. We need to realise that Jesus is the only way for us to escape the ungodliness, immorality, and corruption around us, and ultimately the punishment that God is going to unleash on an ungodly world.

We must realise that God will punish those who don’t live according to His will. There is a day coming when God will judge every person on Earth. Those who have done evil are going to be punished and those who have been righteous will be exalted.

After reading the Book of Revelation, and after seeing what happened to the Roman government, the message is simply this, why would anyone ever want to be against God and His Cause? Instead, we need to realise the importance of obeying God and of being a member of His kingdom.

Go To Revelation Part 4

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."

Ephesians 3:20

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