The keys To Understanding The Apocalypse- The Book Of Revelations
The Apocalypse- Revelations Study Two!
1. Chapter Four - "After The Rapture"
We begin our study with Revelation 4:1: "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 show thee things which must be hereafter."
This chapter begins a whole new theme and speaks to us of future events. The words, "After this" take us back to Chapter 1, verse 19 which gives an outline of the entire Book:
1. "The things which thou hast seen" (the glorified Christ).
- 2. "the things which are" (the history of the Church from its beginning at Pentecost until the Rapture).
- 3. "The things which shall be hereafter" (God's final judgments and Eternal things).
In Chapter 4 the scene changes suddenly from earth to Heaven. The True Bible Believing Church is gone having been raptured and the apostate ecumenical false church, as well as all the other false religions of the world, known collectivly as the "Babylonian Mystery Religion", are "Left Behind". It is not owned by our Lord, it is therefore not mentioned. The word "Church" disappears entirely from the Book of Revelation after Chapter 3.
The voice from Heaven, "Come up hither," (Rev. 4:1) is the realization of the Blessed Hope for all believers, living and dead. "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:16,17).
Revelation 4:2-3:"And immediately I was in the spirit: and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 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 an emerald."
This throne is the sign and seal of the One-True Government of God. It was the same throne that Daniel saw in Daniel 7:9,10. John makes no attempt to describe God Himself but says He was to look upon like a jasper and sardine stone. Jasper speaks of His glory; the blood-red Sardine stone represents His redemptive work. The rainbow symbolizes God's promises of mercy for although judgment must come upon the earth there will be mercy for Israel.
Revelation 4:4: "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." The elders represent the redeemed of all ages-the Saints in glory. They are Priests for they are clothed in white. They are Kings for they are crowned. In the Old Testament the twelve tribes of Israel are prominent and in the New Testament the twelve apostles are preeminent. All the saints are included.
Revelation 4:5:"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."
While the rainbow speaks of mercy and grace, the lightnings, voices, and thunders speak of judgment and wrath. When God was ready to punish Egypt for her sins, He sent thunder, hail, and fire which ran upon the ground and Pharaoh said: "Entreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail" (Exodus 9:28).
The seven lamps of fire are the seven Spirits of God. These lamps were like the torches used by Gideon's three hundred men when they cried: "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon" (Judges 7:16-18).
In Revelation 4:6-8 we read: "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. 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."
The four beasts (living creatures) are similar to the cherubim of Ezekiel 1:10. Their continual cry of "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty" reminds us of the seraphim in Isaiah 6.
Let us keep in mind that John, in writing the Book of Revelation, is using words to express heavenly realities. We should understand these animal descriptions the same way we understand the Lamb when applied to Christ. He is called the Lamb because like the lambs sacrificed in the Old Testament, He died for sinners.
These animal symbols point to the fullness of God as revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Each of the four Gospels presents our Lord as one of the characters. In Matthew He is pictured as the lion-the King. In Mark as the ox(calf)-God's faithful servant. In Luke as man-the Son of Man. John presents Him as the eagle-Christ in His heavenly character as the Son of God.
These four living creatures were full of eyes before, behind, and within. This speaks of the eternal greatness of Him, who was, and is, and is to come. The eyes behind tell us that He knows all that is in the past. The eyes within speak of His omniscience-nothing is hid from His view. The eyes before tell us that all the future is known to Him.
The four living creatures lead the elders in their praise and adoration. Number four is the number of the world that God created and the world for whom Christ died. When four is mentioned we find that God is dealing with the earth.
These living creatures have to do with the working out of God's decrees for this world and for the life that He has created. They serve God in His eternal purposes regarding human history and the destiny of this world. In several places in Revelation (Ch. 6 For example) we see the nations of the earth opposing God. These nations will come under the judgment of God. The instruments of that judgment will be the cherubim, the living creatures.
The living creatures are also the emblems and instruments of God's grace towards us. They guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden lest man, in his sin, should eat and live forever in this body of death.
Revelation 4:9-11:"And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 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."
What a wonderful picture! here are God's true saints, His blood-bought people, enthroned around the eternal throne of God. What a glorious scene! The redeemed of all ages doing homage to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of all and the Redeemer of all who believe.
Joseph Seiss sums it up this way: "And these, my friends, are the dignities and glories to which you, and I, and all who hear the Gospel of Christ, are called and invited. There is not a prerogative of that celestial eldership-not an office or possession of these living ones-not a song they sing-not an attribute they wear-not a place they fill-which is not at this moment held out and offered to every one of us. Oh, the grandeur, the blessedness, the sublimity of the overtures of the Gospel of Christ! And with your eye on these heavenly splendours, these celestial princedoms and priesthoods, these eternal royalties with God and with His Son, Jesus Christ, and with your heart warmed with the contemplation of their unfathomed excellency, I ask you, whether you are willing to despise and cast away this your golden opportunity to obtain them?...I wish to have your honest, sober, practical decision on the question, whether you are willing to allow this world's fleeting vanities, and damning sins and follies, to occupy and possess you in preference to these immortal regencies, and eternal principalities and powers? "
2. Chapter Five
In our last study, Revelation 4, we saw a glorious throne which speaks of God's governmental power throughout the whole of His creation. Now in Chapter 5 we still have the throne, the elders, the Living One, and the glory.
Attention is immediately drawn to the book sealed with seven seals and all eyes are fixed upon Him who sits upon the throne. The book he holds has writing inside and out and the breaking of the seals is of the utmost importance.
Verse 2: "And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?" In verse 4 we find John weeping because no man was found worthy to take the book and break the seals.
Someone has said, "The little seven-sealed book in the hand of the one on the throne, mentioned in Revelation 5, contains the secret of the chapters which follow and is the key which opens up the entire book of the Revelation." I believe this is a true statement. But the problem is to find someone to break the seals and open the book.
We have here the final scene of God's whole plan of redemption for mankind. We must realize there are three phases of God's whole plan of redemption:
First-at the time of conversion - Redemption of the soul.
- Second - at the Rapture - Redemption of the body.
- Third - at the Second Coming or Revelation of Christ - Redemption of the earth.
The first two phases have been completed at the end of Chapter 4. Now Chapter 5 reveals the final scene of God's whole redemption for mankind. this third phase concerns the earth and those on earth, "Left Behind" after the Rapture.
The interpretation of the seven-sealed book is found in Leviticus 25:23-25: "The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold."
When the children of Israel possessed the Promised Land, certain provisions were made to keep the land evenly distributed among the people. It could be sold or otherwise disposed of, but the bill of sale was of the nature of a lease, which would expire automatically in the year of Jubilee, and the land would revert to its original owner.
If a man lost property or sold it, thus disinheriting his children, any kinsman could buy back the land at any time by paying the purchase price. Then the land would be restored to its original owners. This process was known as redemption and the man who bought it back was the redeemer. The land would then pass into the hands of the heirs who would possess it. This was called the "redemption of the purchased possession."
When a kinsman redeemed the property, papers were drawn up. On the inside were written the terms of sale and other such information. On the back were the signatures of the witnesses. The deed was then rolled up and sealed. The sealed book was delivered to the original owner, the heir. He could break the seals and with the opened book as his authority, take possession of the land. Such a transaction is recorded in Jeremiah 32:6-15.
Although the Lord Jesus Christ is the heir to all things, the devil is still the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4) though he has no right to the land or to control its inhabitants. The redemption price has already been paid by our Lord, Satan however, refuses to relinquish his power and as the end of the Day of Grace approaches, he will do all in his power to prevent eviction. It will then be necessary to break the seals and to produce the authority of the open book.
It is interesting to notice that although believers in the Lord Jesus Christ do not yet possess the land, we do have the Holy Spirit which is God's guarantee of our eternal inheritance. Ephesians 1:13,14: "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory."
Who is able to meet the terms of redemption to rescue the earth and its people from Satan's power? A search is made but according to verses 3-4, no man is found.
While John weeps, one of the elders brings a tremendous announcement: "Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof"(verse 5). There can be no misunderstanding who this One is. It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. As man, He is of the lineage of Judah. As God, He is the Creator, the root, the origin, the creator of David. This completely qualifies Him to finish the work of redemption.
In verse 6 He is called "the Lamb slain". This is His redemptive name. the seven horns speak of the nations and the seven eyes are the seven Spirits of God, the Holy Spirit in all His fullness.
Verse 7: "And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne." This will be the climax of God's plan of redemption - the redemption of the earth at the Revelation of Christ in judgment. For Christ to qualify as the one to take the little sealed book, He had to come to earth and go all the way to Calvary as the Lamb slain. This could not be accomplished by anyone but God for He alone has all power.
Verse 8 speaks of the answered prayers of the saints down through the ages. Yes, and in verses 9-10 we have the new song: "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."
Beware of the American Standard Version which leaves out the word "us". The reason for this is that it was translated form corrupt manuscripts, the Codex Alexandrinus, by men who do not believe in he future reign of Christ.
I want you to notice that whenever Christ is mentioned throughout the Book of Revelation some reference is made to the first chapter. Christ is spoken of in verses 5-10 as the Lamb and the Lion who takes the book from the hand of God before breaking open the seals. The reference here is to Rev. 1:5-6 in the King James Version. Again, beware of the American Standard Version which changes the text.
This song of Rev. 5:9 is a new song because it is the first time a song of redemption is sung in Heaven. Angels cannot sing the song of redemption because Christ did not die for them. It is the song the saints have been singing down through the ages.
"And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song, 'Twill be the old, old story, That I have loved so long."
As the redemption song dies away the created angels in verses 11-13 raise their voices in praise to God. "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
This closes the worship in Heaven preparatory to the opening of the seals and the Great Tribulation.
Chapter 6 - The first Six Seals
The verses of Revelation 6 cover the opening of the first six seal seals.
The first seal of Revelation 6:1-2 - "The rider on the White Horse" represents a false Christ who's ride brings religious deception. He goes forth "to conquer" and deceive the peoples of the earth into following a false Christianity, false prophets, false teachers, false religions and false christs.
The Second seal of Revelations 6:3-4 - "The Rider on the Red Horse" represents continual war on the earth. He rides with a sword "to take peace from the earth that they should kill one another"
The Third seal of Revelations 6:5-6 - "The Rider on The Black Horse" represents famine. He rides with a "pair of balances in his hand" He is commissioned to bring famine and hunger to the world.
The Forth seal of Revelations 6:7-8 - "The Rider On The Pale Horse" represents pestilence and disease. He is commissioned to "bring death" to those on the earth by disease and pestilence Hence he rides a pale horse signifying death by sickness.
The Fifth seal of Revelations 6:9-11 - "The martyred Saints". The opening of the fifth seal reveals the place of those martyred in the service of God. Their voices cry out to the Lord asking how long it will be until they are avenged and when will judgement be brought upon them that dwell upon the earth.
The Sixth seal of Revelations 6:12-17 - "The Wrath Of The Lamb" The opening of the sixth seal represents the beginning of God's wrath upon the earth. Here is a picture of God extending His hand out in judgement. Those who are "Left Behind" upon the earth after the Rapture, cry out for the rocks and mountains to fall upon them and to hide them from the "Wrath of The lamb"
Chapter 7 - The 144,000 Jewish Evangelists and The saved of the Tribulation Period
In Chapter seven we have the vivid description of four angels being sent by God , to find and seal, and deliver 12,000 Elected individuals out of each of the twelve tribes of Israel, for a total of 144,000 . Revelations 7:4-8 - "The Remnant out of Israel sealed"
These 144,000 Elected individuals will become, if you like, God's great tribulation period evangelism team.
Just imagine, 144,000 "Billy Grahams" going forth during the final stages of the Great Tribulation to proclaim the truth that Jesus is "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" the one and only True Messiah. Ministering this fact to all the Jews of Israel, and the rest of the world as well.
They are "sealed" which means they will have God's divine protection during their ministry.
In Revelation 7:9-17 we have the "Vision of the Gentiles Who are saved during the Great Tribulation"
"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..."
Here we have multitudes of people, all those of the Gentile nations, that were Left Behind during the Rapture, that finally woke up!, when they realized what had happened to themselves. The Spiritually sleeping nominal, professing Christians and those that had previously heard Christ's message, but refused to accept Him as Lord and Saviour, and all those multitudes of unbelivers and stragglers that had not heard about Christ, but are brought to salvation by the 144,000 Elected Evangelists, quickly repent and jump on the Lord's bandwagon.
Here they refuse to take the Mark Of The Beast and refused to Bow to the Antichrist and to worship him. They are put to death - beheaded, MARTYRED, for refusing to worship and accept the Antichrist. But because they had repented and died for their refusal to worship the Beast - God accepts them as His "Great Tribulation Saints".
Rv:20:4: And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
Are you a nominal professing Christian, that is spiritual asleep? Not looking for the Rapture? Are you distracted and deceived by a WORLDLY involved NOMINAL church or denomination?
THEN WAKE UP! If you don't, then you will be "LEFT BEHIND" to go through "THE GREAT TRIBULATION PERIOD"
Go to lesson Three: Revelations Study Three