Revelation 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.
Who is this Lamb standing before the throne of God? Jesus! John 1:29, 35 has John the Baptist proclaiming Jesus as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."
In the verse before this one, Jesus is described as the Lion of Judah and the Root of David. How do we juxtapose all these word pictures? King David was of the Tribe of Judah and Mary, the mother of Jesus, was descended from David. Christ, as the spiritual head was the origin of David and the Lord of David. But He was also a descendant of David through Mary. A root is hidden underground, unseen by man. But it is from this root that all of us, as born again Christians, spring from and owe our spiritual life to! He bears and supports us with His life and it is through Him that grace flows. If we remain in Him and He remains in us, then from that life flow comes fruit (the fruit of the Spirit). Jesus was the sacrificial lamb who took on our sin and was killed on our behalf. He faced the wrath of God for us so we wouldn't have to. But He didn't stay dead. The Lamb that was slain conquered death. He was victorious over sin, over satan and over death and therefore is the Lion of Judah! He has been given all power and authority (Mt 28:18). As a lion, he has the power, majesty, courage, strength and sovereignty!
But this power was manifested in humility, righteousness, purity, meekness, gentleness. He suffered for us. The Lamb represents His sacrifice, His willingness to suffer for us. In the old Jewish law, a lamb without spot or blemish had to be sacrificed to cover the sins of the person who brought the lamb. Jesus never sinned, He was without spot or blemish. And, in this scripture, the Lamb has the marks of being slain on him. The blood still flows. He has the marks of death on Him, yet He lives, standing before God! The suffering Lamb who died for us, yet He lives! It is Christ crucified who has the power and authority represented by the seven horns. A horn always symbolized strength. Seven is the number of perfection and completeness so His 7 horns represent complete and perfect power. The 7 eyes represent his complete and perfect knowledge, omniscience (all knowing) through the Holy Spirit who was sent to earth. When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to earth on the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit came to basically do 2 things: work on the hearts of the unsaved to try to bring them to salvation, and, to move into those who accept Jesus as their Savior and live within us to illumine God's wisdom in our hearts so we can grow spiritually. The Holy Spirit illumines and makes clear the things of God to those in whom He dwells. He teaches, trains, opens our eyes, opens our understanding, is the light to show us the things of God; empowers us to grow spiritually.
So Jesus is the majesty and glory of God with all power and authority but He did it as the suffering Lamb who gave Himself for us, a Servant Lord. He was victorious over sin, death and satan. He sits at the right hand of God. They have sent the Holy Spirit into the world to do His work. But, one day, this church age will be over and the days of judgment will be here. The Holy Spirit's work to bring man to the saving knowledge of Christ will be over. I'm about to study the end times in Revelation.
Revelation 5:7-8 And He came and took the scroll from the right hand of the One seated on the throne. 8 When He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held the golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
God has the scroll or book in His right hand, extended, proffered. The only one worthy to take it is the Lamb that was slain, Jesus Christ. He approached the throne of God (a throne that no other creature can approach without a Mediator-Jesus) and is worthy to take the scroll/book. He takes it. In taking it, He takes all the privileges and responsibilities of His Kingdom. Often the scroll with seven seals is depicted and sometimes it's a book with seven seals. In Christian artwork, you may see a white lamb lying on a book with seven seals.
When the Lamb of God does take the sealed scroll (or sealed book), the 4 created beings that surround the throne, and the 24 elders who represent the Church, fall down before Him in adoration. The elders hold a harp which represents the praises of God's people and a golden bowl, vial or censer of incense which represent the prayers of God's people.
Psalm 33:2 Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Psalm 141:2 Accept my prayer as incense offered to you and my upraised hands as an evening offering.
Sometime ago I had done a study on the sacred incense used in the Jewish Tabernacle and, later, the Temple in Jerusalem. God gave very specific instructions on how to make the incense, its' burners and how to use it in the Tabernacle/Temple worship.
Exodus 30: 34-38 34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, 35 and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. 36 Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. 37 Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord. 38 Whoever makes incense like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from their people.”
I looked up the components:
Stacte may have been distilled myrrh made into drops or it may have been the gum of a storax shrub.
Onycha is the door membrane of a snail like mollusk found in the Red Sea. It is cleaned and then beaten into a powder.
Galabanum is a bitter aromatic gum resin from Ferula plant.
Frankincense is an astringent aromatic gum resin from the African tree.
The Israelites were not use this sacred incense for anything else but the worship of Jahweh in the Tabernacle/Temple. If the incense represents prayer, then that reminds us we should only pray to the one true God. Our prayers are not to be lifted up to idols, angels, saints, etc.
Resins are collected by making cuts in the tree/shrub/plant and letting the resin bleed out. It is then collected, beaten into a powder and mixed.
Jesus was cut, beaten and bled and died for us. His sacrifice is how our relationship to God was healed and therefore our prayers are made acceptable to God. But He also rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven to sit at the Father's right hand and make intercession for us. Just as the incense smoke rose from the ashes of the incense.
Often our prayers come from times when we feel beaten and pounded by life. We mix tears with our prayers. But if we pray, that means that from the ashes of our situation, a small inkling of faith is lifted up and rises to God. That little bit of aromatic smoke (called faith) reaches Him and He hears and answers! That prayer of faith is a sweet aroma to Him and He does not ignore that prayer but rises from His throne and answers. We will realize that we are slowly rising up and putting one foot in front of the other when we thought we couldn't go on. We become stronger and are able to face another day. It is God, using the Holy Spirit within us to empower us, give us life for one more day. He gives us strength and revelation and hope.
We are to bring praise and prayer to God in adoration. When we see it through the prism of Christ, we have no difficulty praising and adoring God for the love He has shown us!
Revelation 5: 9 And they sing a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation."
The representatives of God's creation (the heavenly beings around the throne and the 24 elders who represent the church) have fallen down before the Lamb and are singing a song of praise. The present tense is used, "they sing", to indicate it is a continual and unceasing song of worship.
Jesus is worthy because He was slain on our behalf and His blood paid the price we owed. Why did the price have to be blood? God created Adam and Eve. We weren't just made like Legos or Barbie dolls. Legos and Barbie dolls can be built but they aren't alive! God used His hands to form and shape Adam and Eve but they weren't alive until He breathed His breath of life into us. God had created the earth, plants and animals by voice, "Let there be...". But when it came to Adam and Eve, God used His hands and His breath. Adam and Eve were perfect and immortal creatures who had body, mind and spirit. They communicated with their God on a daily basis and were friends, companions, of God. Can you imagine!?! But satan tempted them with the same temptation he himself had fallen to. Satan had wanted to be God. He led a rebellion against God in which he and 1/3 of the angels were tossed from heaven and eternally damned. Now satan goes to Adam and Eve and tempts them.
Genesis 3: 5-6 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
"You will be like God". Adam and Eve wanted "to be like God". So, in disobedience to God's direct command, they ate the fruit. It was done in disobedience with the desire to be like God.
We all want to be God. In our pride and arrogance, we want to take God's place. It can be so subtle too. When I think I'm better than anyone else and have all the answers, I'm saying that I want to play God. When I try to take control, I'm pushing God aside and saying, "You aren't doing a good job, here let me do it!"
When Adam and Eve disobeyed and fell to the temptation of wanting to be God, sin entered the world and with sin comes it's consequences - separation from God, death and eternal punishment. Their spirit died and they were now only body and mind. And it is the spirit that communes with God.
God's perfect creation, man and woman, were taken from Him. The creatures He had created and given His very life to, were taken from Him. He no longer had a relationship with them because a holy, pure and righteous God cannot be in the presence of sin. And they would be lost to Him for eternity for there was no way to bring them back. He had lost a dear and precious race. The entire race was infected with sin. Every human being born came from Adam and Eve and we are tainted with sin. We are born in sin. There was no man or woman who could be perfect and pay the price for sin. We had no chance to be rescued because no human is born sinless.
There was no hope! Or was there? God had a plan. God sent His sinless Son into the womb of a human woman named Mary. Jesus was born to a virgin. Mary provided the human building blocks and God provided the divine spirit so that a perfect man and perfect God was born and His name was Jesus. He was fully human and yet fully divine. He lived a sinless life and did not fall to temptation. In fact, when satan tempted Him in the wilderness it was the same old temptation that he, Adam and Eve had fallen to. "You wanna be God, do what I say". But Jesus didn't fall into the trap and didn't give in to sin. When He went to the cross, He was sinless.
Life had been stolen from God by sin. Adam and Eve died and they were never meant to die. But there was no one from the race of man who could pay the price of pure blood for pure blood until Jesus Christ. And when Jesus paid the price, He rescued us. He purchased, redeemed, ransomed, rescued, bought us with His redeeming blood! He took our place and paid the price that we could not pay. If we accept His sacrifice on our behalf, we are set free from sin and death! And our spirit is born again so that we are back to being body, mind and spirit! And the spirit can commune with God! We are no longer separated from God! What a privilege to have our relationship with God again!
Titus 2:14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
And Jesus didn't save a particular nation, group, family or tribe. In Revelation 5:9, it says His blood purchased men from EVERY tribe, tongue, people and nation! His offer of salvation is all inclusive. No one is excluded. Everyone has the offer to be saved through Jesus Christ! In fact, Jesus commanded his disciples, just before ascending to Heaven, to, "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to everyone."
What about those who never hear the gospel? A remote tribe in a jungle or someone kept in a cave? God knows everyone. He created us, each and every one. He knows who has a heart that is receptive to Him and would respond to the good news of salvation through His Son. He knows, and responds, to any heart that seeks Him. And God is not limited. If there is a person who has a heart after God, God will make sure that person will learn of Jesus one way or another. God will send someone to them with the gospel, or He can send them a dream or vision, or a Bible will fall from the sky, but one way or another, God can, and will, reach that person. God doesn't want any to perish and be lost and His Holy Spirit is roaming the earth, seeking all who will respond. God can make Himself known to anyone who has the desire for Him.
My last thought on this verse is, What excuse do Americans have for not knowing the gospel? We live in a free country where we can worship God without consequence. We have free education so almost all of us have the ability to read. We have free libraries, free churches on every corner, free Bibles are available, free Bible study aids and reference books are available on the Internet, free Bible study groups in most churches, free praise and worship music. But what percentage of our American population takes advantage of the spiritual wealth afforded to us? Millions prefer ignorance so they can mock God and revile Christianity. They don't want to know God. Despite the luxury of having all this knowledge available and free, we refuse to take it. Americans are choosing to spiritually starve to death rather than reach out and take what is available for free. It's like going on a cruise. What if someone paid for you to go on cruise. They say there is every imaginable food offered in the dining rooms onboard and the cost is included in the price so it's free. But what if most of the people on the ship chose to stay in their staterooms and starved to death rather than going to the banqueting halls? How stupid would that be? And whose fault is it?
Revelation 9:10 You have made them into a kingdom, priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
We, who are saved through Jesus Christ, become citizens of God's Kingdom.
Psalm 103:19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
Psalm 22:28 For the kingdom is the LORD'S And He rules over the nations.
God rules and reigns over all. He is King. We think the President of the United States is the most important man in the nation, maybe the world. But he is just a tool used by God to accomplish His Purposes. Whether Donald Trump is a Christian or not, God can, and will, use him, to accomplish what God wants to accomplish. We are all broken clay pots, some more broken than others, but God uses us. If we participate in God's work, we are greatly blessed. But He can use us even if we are kicking and screaming against God.
Daniel 2:21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
Acts 17:26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
The nations of Assyria and Babylon were used by God to punish the Jewish nations of Israel and Judah who were falling into apostasy, idolatry. The Assyrians conquered the northern Jewish nation of Israel and, later, Babylon, conquered the southern Jewish nation of Judah. What happened to these tools?
Jeremiah 25:12-14 “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever. 13 I will bring on that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations. 14 They themselves will be enslaved by many nations and great kings; I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”
God slew 185,000 Assyrian forces in one night (Isaiah 37:36), and the Assyrian King Sennacherib returned to Nineveh where he was slain by his own sons as he worshiped his god Nisroch (Isaiah 37:38).
So these two heathen nations were used by God as tools. They were not God's people but they were used by God.
The tool does not build the house. A carpenter, who wields the tool, builds the house.
If we think of Jesus and the traitor, Judas, we see where God used Judas to bring about the events that led to Jesus' crucifixion which was God's Will in order to save the souls of millions.
God knows what He's doing and He is in control. This is what has gotten me through several presidencies where the elected man was not my choice. I have to accept that it is what it is and then trust God knows what He is doing and will accomplish His purposes despite who is President. According to the Scripture, our job is to pray for our leaders and trust in God. I must remain close to my God, try to be obedient to Him and live my life according to His directions. The rest is up to Him.
So I am first and foremost a citizen of Heaven. I'm a child of God, saved by Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit lives in me. That makes me a citizen of Heaven and part of the family of God. I am a part of the Church, the Body of Christ, and Christ is the Head.
Before being an American, before being a South Carolinian, before being a member of my family - I'm a member of God's family. After that I'm a Huneycutt/Harris, then a South Carolinian, then a Southerner, then an American. My relationship with God is first and of the highest priority. His law comes before any other. For instance, God says, "Thou shalt not kill". But, in America, abortion is legal. So if I had an unwanted pregnancy, whose law do I obey? Do I obey God and trust Him to work out how my child and I will live? Or do I decide that I know what's best and therefore I'm going to take control and have an abortion because it is legal in America? As a Christian, God's command should be a clear answer to the dilemma. I hope I would obey God's law and trust Him for the outcome even though it's legal in American law.
That example was not to judge anyone and yet to judge us all. Because we all sin, including myself, and that means we are disobedient to God and His laws. But, thanks be to Jesus, we can be forgiven for our disobedience when we repent.
My point is we should see ourselves as citizens of Heaven and God is our king! Before we are anything else, we are part of His kingdom! And His kingdom is over all.
The kingdom of God is both now and not yet. The kingdom has come in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. A new covenant has been established. Jesus is victorious! But its final manifestation and consummation is in the future. When we pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," we are praying for that future completeness. Right now, I walk the reality of the kingdom while I'm here on earth. One day I will be living the reality of the kingdom of God. When I accepted Jesus as my Savior I joined this Kingdom of God. I still live in this foreign land called earth but I'm a citizen of Heaven. I'm an alien in a strange land. One day I will be at home, but for now, I'm still on earth.
How do we know someone is a foreigner? If I'm in a group of people, how would I recognize someone as being foreign? They look different. They have a different language. They show evidence of their culture as far as how they are dressed, what they eat/drink or what/how they celebrate. Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead. The Chinese celebrate Chinese New Years. Americans celebrate the 4th of July Independence Day. HOW do they celebrate? Russians celebrate Christmas on January 7th. Mexicans celebrate Christmas with 9 prosadas (processions or parades). These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for somewhere to stay. The prosada parties have pinatas. Americans celebrate on Dec 25 with Christmas trees, Santa Claus.
As a Christian I dress in a way consistent with being a kingdom citizen. Some Native Americans dress with feathered headdress, beads, fringes, etc. Swiss ladies wear colorful smocked folk dresses with puffed sleeves, tight ribbon crest tops, aprons. As a member of the kingdom of God how do I dress? Modest. God does not require us to cover ourselves from head to toe in a burka like a Middle Eastern muslim. But we dress modestly. Modesty in 1850 was one way, modesty in 2018 is another. I can wear shorts today as long as they aren't short shorts that show things that others shouldn't see. I can wear a skirt as long as it's a modest length. A miniskirt is not modest. I should attempt to wear shirts/blouses not cut too deep or a skirt cut too high. If I don't dress modestly, does God not love me any more? Of course not. God still loves me. I'm just saying, our attire is one way others know we are different from the world. If the way I dress gives the opposite sex crude ideas, then I'm not dressed modestly. Back in 1850, if I had worn shorts and a tank top, the men would have thought I was a prostitute at the very least! If I wore a bathing suit and a pair of shorts in Baghdad today, I would be drawing lustful attention. But it's OK for walking to the beach at the Isle of Palms, SC. We should be aware of the message we are sending with our dress and dress modestly and appropriately. God loves us no matter how we dress but modesty reveals our difference from the world.
Our language often tells others we are foreigners. If we speak a different language or have a heavy accent, people will know we are foreigners. What does that mean to Christians? Our language should be free of cursing, gossip, threats, maliciousness. That's how people of the world talk. If people listen to us, they should be able to tell we are different from the world. Our language should be pure, should be full of faith and praise of God, our King.
We celebrate Christian holidays and should celebrate them as Christians would. Not in selfish, greedy, ungodly ways. How is this translated in a Christian household? Gifts are moderate and given from love, not entitlement. Gifts are received with a grateful heart. Our main focus is on celebrating the birth of Christ not on Santa Claus and getting gifts. The world gets drunk at Christmas parties. The world goes crazy at Christmas sales. The world spends all day drinking beer and watching football. Does this mean a Christian can't watch a football game? No. Does this mean a Christian can't go shopping? No. Does this mean a Christian can't go to a party? No. But we do it as Christians. We show balance, sobriety, good humor, unselfishness, kindness, generosity and respect. And we leave if things take a wrong turn. We are different from the world.
Just as a Frenchman comes to visit America. While he is in America, he is a foreigner visiting. Christians are foreigners with a temporary visa on earth. We will be leaving and going home. This may be a long visit, but it's just a visit. We will go home. And eventually, when Christ returns, He will bring His Kingdom with Him. Anyone can become a citizen of His Kingdom. But there is only one way to do it and that is through accepting Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. If they refuse this free offer to become citizens, they will suffer the consequences. When Christ establishes His Kingdom, we will be at home but the unsaved will be the unwelcome foreigners and will be deported. They belong to satan and will suffer the same punishment he gets.
When we enter that future Kingdom of God, Jesus says we will reign with Him! We will rule under His authority!
2 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny and disown and reject Him, He will also deny and disown and reject us.
Daniel 7:18 But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever--yes, for ever and ever.'
Revelation 2:26-28 To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. 27 They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. 28 They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!
Colossians 1:12-14 May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
We are also priests!
1 Peter 2:4-5, 9 [Jesus] is the living stone people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored. 5 And now you are living stones being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God...But you are God's chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things he has done.
Exodus 19:5-6 Now if you will faithfully obey me, you will be my very own people. The whole world is mine, 6 but you will be my holy nation and serve me as priests.
Our life, here on earth, is a time of preparation to become the rulers and priests we are meant to be. Like leadership training! By the Holy Spirit that lives in us, we are being sanctified and transformed to be more like Christ. To be chosen by God to be a priest is such a privilege! Because of Jesus' death upon the cross, all believers now have direct access to the throne of God through Jesus Christ our great High Priest. We are to offer up spiritual sacrifices, and to proclaim the praises of God. By both life (1 Peter 2:5; Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:10) and by word (1 Peter 2:9; 3:15), our purpose is to serve God and praise Him.
Revelation 5:11 Then I looked and I heard the voices of many angels and living creatures and elders encircling the throne, and their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands.
Psalm 148:1-2 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him all His hosts!
The chorus of the redeemed is followed by the angels and heavenly hosts joining in. It expands to include all the angels of heaven! The number of angels is staggering, incalculable! They join us with one voice, in unity of praise. The praise and adoration is unanimous, full, spontaneous, joyous and loud! Man's redemption gives the angels joy! They rejoice over very sinner's conversion! In Psalm 148, the word for praise is the Hebrew halal and it means to boast, make a show, extravagantly praise, to shine, to rave, to give glory. May we join in the praise of our God!!!
Revelation 5:12-14 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” 13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” 14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
This doxology (a hymn containing praise to God) begins with a sevenfold and thus perfect and complete song of praise: power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and praise. They are praising what they observe in Him.
Matthew Henry's Commentary - It is matter of joy to all the world, to see that God deals with men in grace and mercy through the Redeemer. He governs the world, not merely as a Creator, but as our Saviour.
Philippians 2: 8-11 [Jesus] humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place, and gave Him the name above all names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We have seen a couple of times in Revelation, where the elders fall down before the Lamb in praise and adoration. The don't just bow before him, they fall before him. Fall on their faces. The word in Greek is pipto and means to fall, to fall prostrate. This reminds me of what we pentecostals call being "slain in the spirit". A temporary, physical response to a spiritual encounter with God that leaves you unable to stand. A genuine encounter with God that causes your physical body to react. The effect of God's presence on an earthly vessel. I know that some people fake it or it may be done out of emotionalism but the times I've experienced it for myself, it was the sudden inability to stand in God's presence. There is no push, no wind, nothing to cause it. You just are on your feet worshipping and then no longer on your feet but prostrate in worship.
Every thing in heaven and on earth and under the earth are praising the Lamb. In Philippians, God says EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. That includes the satan, his demons, the lost and unsaved. They may have refused to acknowledge Jesus in life but they will be made to in the end. But it will be too late for them. The lost had every chance during their lifetime. Every minute they had, every breath they breathed, was a chance to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of their life and they refused. God loved them, wanted them, gave His Son to give them the free gift of salvation. They don't go to hell because God wanted them to. They go to hell because they choose to. God doesn't want anyone to be lost and made every provision for us. If we just accept Jesus. But whether we accept Jesus as Son of God and King doesn't affect that He IS the Son of God and King and we will all admit that, willingly or not.
Keep in mind, that God releases these horrors. They are under His control and He permits it. God has provided the way to salvation, and during this church age (already more than 2,000 years old), He has sent His Holy Spirit to try to bring men/women to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We also have the Word of God. God has been merciful, gracious, loving and PATIENT! But there is an end to the patience. Evil must be judged. We have had every chance to be saved. If you refuse to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it is not because God wanted it that way, it's because you chose to refuse Christ. There is an end of patience and He will release His righteous judgment and wrath against sin, evil and satan. He will use these tools to bring an end to sin and judge the evil.
Revelation 6:1-2 1 Then I watched as the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say in a thunderous voice, “Come!” 2 So I looked and saw a white horse, and its rider had a bow. And he was given a crown, and rode out to conquer and defeat.
God had told Daniel to close the book and seal it. Now John sees the seals being opened by the Lamb.
Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased
There are different views of these seals. Some believe these seals happened already either in the history of the Jews before Christ or in the history of the early church. And some think this is in the future and the seals will begin after the rapture of the church.
Much of prophecy has a twofold fulfillment. If we know biblical prophecy and the history of the Jews and the early church, we see that sometimes these prophecies seem to have been fulfilled in the events soon after the prophecy but have a future fulfillment in the end times. Some prophecies in the Bible have both a short-term and long-term fulfillment (types and antitypes). For example, the Olivet Prophecy by Jesus and recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (Matthew 24) was partially fulfilled by the siege of Jerusalem, Antiochus Epiphanes’ sacrifice of a pig on the altar in the Jewish Temple (the Abomination of Desolation) and the destruction of the Second Temple by Titus Flavius. But we also know it will be fulfilled during the Great Tribulation immediately before the second coming of Christ. Are the seals dual prophecies. To John, the seals would have been prophetic (fulfilled in the future) whether it was fulfilled in the first decades of the church or fulfilled in the end times. My belief is that the seals are end times or dual fulfillment prophecies. But I'm no trained scholar.
When the first seal is broken, the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse comes forth.
The minor prophet (major prophets are the prophets with the longest prophetic books in the Bible and the minor prophets are those with the shorter prophetic books in the Bible), Zechariah had a vision of these first 4 horses:
Zechariah 6:1-7 1 I looked up again, and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze. 2 The first chariot had red horses, the second black, 3 the third white, and the fourth dappled—all of them powerful. 4 I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 The angel answered me, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. 6 The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south.” 7 When the powerful horses went out, they were straining to go throughout the earth. And he said, “Go throughout the earth!” So they went throughout the earth.
The living creature calls him forth with a command, "Come!". This horse is white and has a rider who is given a golden crown and a bow. The golden crown is a stephanos=a wreath (garland), awarded to a victor in the ancient athletic games (like the Greek Olympics); the crown of victory. The bow is representative of weapons, military power. In Revelation 19, Christ comes on a white horse wearing many crowns but those crowns are diadema=a royal crown: "a narrow filet encircling the brow," a "kingly ornament for the head" and the rider of that horse is called "Faithful and True" and "Word of God". This white horse (in Revelation 6) is not Christ but one given power to go forth and conquer. If this is the end times, is it false religion? Masquerading as the Christ, but NOT the true Christ.
Matthew 24: 4-5 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.
He is a false teacher and this deceitful ministry conquers by deceiving the masses. This could be the anti-Christ. He proclaims himself to be Christ but is not and is actually everything that is opposite of Jesus Christ. As we will see later, the anti-Christ is so deceptive that everyone will believe he has come to save the world but then he turns on them. Whether it is false teaching and deception about Christianity, or the actual anti-Christ, it is deceiving and gives people a false sense of security. They may think they are saved but are not, which is truly heinous. Even today, many think they can go to heaven by being "good", or believing in anything because "all religions lead to the same God". Many even attend Christian churches but have never had a heart conversion. God is very clear that we are only saved through belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the only Savior. He is also clear that we must make the personal choice to repent and ask for Christ's forgiveness and accepting Him as Lord. We can't be saved because our parents are saved or because we were raised in a Christian home or because we attend church. It's a personal reaching out to God through Jesus Christ. We are born again (meaning our spirit is born) and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us to empower, teach and train us. The Holy Spirit is the seal that guarantees we are His child and saved.
Today, it seems many will believe anything BUT salvation through Jesus Christ. People believe in ghosts, aliens, Native American "spirits", demons, fairies, angels, ad infinitum. But they can become really hostile if you mention Jesus Christ. We are suppose to be tolerant of all religions except Christianity. The author, Dan Brown, is a genius at using art and history to create a novel and people will believe his fiction books as though they were some kind of gospel because his books attack Christianity. Let me give you a hint, just because Da Vinci believed Mary Magdalene carried the blood line of Christ doesn't mean it's true! Just because a cult grows up around evolution doesn't mean it's true. His latest book has a wealthy man creating his own religion complete with church, sacred text and teachings, disciples and adoration. It's just he's his own god with Darwin and Henry Blake's writings as his sacred texts. As for me, I'm one of those Brown speaks of, if the Bible says 2+2=5, then I believe it. I would believe it because I trust God far more than I trust men. (Now, I've never found 2+2=5 in the Bible, just saying.) For a man/woman to be so arrogant to think he/she knows more than God, is a scary place for a man/woman to be in.
So can false religion conquer and be victorious over the masses? I should say so. It's already been proven, but in the end times it will be the vast majority.
How do you avoid this kind of deception? Accept Jesus as Lord and pray for the Holy Spirit within you to teach you through God's Word. And READ His Word. Sit under good teaching by people of faith.
The rider is also given a bow which usually means military power. Could this be that false religions will usher in wars under the name of their god? We've seen this happen many times in history and even today (muslims believe in world domination and the killing of infidels, non-muslims, to get into heaven). Even false teachers within the Christian church, have led "Christians" in wars like the crusades and the inquisitions.
Revelation 6:3-4 3 And when the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse went forth. It was bright red, and its rider was granted permission to take peace from the earth and to make men slay one another. And he was given a great sword.
Zechariah 1:8 I saw at night, and behold, a man was riding on a red horse, and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine, with red, sorrel and white horses behind him.
Zechariah 6:2 With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses
Red=the color of blood. Throughout history we've seen wars and man's inhumanity to man. There have been times of such brutality that we could imagine it was the end times as talked about in this prophecy. For instance, Rome's brutal conquests and violent rule, especially over the Jews. Or World War I, the first war that encompassed countries from around the world and led to millions of deaths. Or World War II which literally involved EVERY country in the world and led to more millions upon millions being killed. Every time people thought this could be the end times talked about in these scriptures. But now we are afraid of a World War III with nuclear capabilities. Yes, it can get worse.
There has always been prejudice, hatred, racism, sexism, jealousy, lust, greed and selfishness. There has always been men who are willing to annihilate others to have power and riches. There have always been men who enjoy the pain and suffering of others and the feel of power it gives them. It is the nature of unregenerate man. But this will be complete and total violence as to be worse than any we've known so far.
Matthew 24: 6-7a You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. These things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
Matthew 10: 33-39 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven. 34 Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn ‘A man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. 37 Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; 38 and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Jesus was fully aware that those who accepted His salvation and lordship would become hated. We are anathema to the unsaved. Even natural affections that would normally knit us together as family will be tossed aside. It is the natural enmity of son, daughter, and daughter-in-law, to everything divine, spiritual, and evangelical. We are hated and persecuted because we have chosen Christ and are saved. But Jesus calls us not to return hatred and ill will to those who persecute us. We are hated because they hate Jesus and because we have a relationship with Him. The number of Christians systematically exterminated in Nazi Germany was a million, while the number of Orthodox Christians and others murdered in Russia between 1917 and 1950 at 15 million. In China, at least 200,000 Christians and foreigners were killed in the Boxer Rebellion of 1898 to 1900, just 2 yrs time. Another 700,000 were killed in communist China between 1950 and 1980. The number of Catholics killed in Mexico from the late 1800s to 1930 is estimated at 107,000, while 300,000 Christians are believed to have been killed under Idi Amin in Uganda between 1971 and 1979. It is increasing! Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, with 900,000 martyred just in the decade from 2005-2015. According to Open Doors Ministries, Christian persecution across the world has steadily increased over the last three years and 2016 was "the worst year of persecution on record." The Middle East accounts for a majority of countries ranked in the top 10 for extreme persecution of Christians today. In order, the countries are as follows:
1. North Korea
This map shows the areas in the world that have the highest rates of Christian persecutions for 2015.
According to the Open Doors Christian advocacy group, one in 12 Christians today experiences high, very high or extreme persecution for their faith. **Warning! The following photos are horrible and disturbing but it's happening people!**
These numbers are shocking to an American who has the right and freedom to practice their religion built into the U.S. Constitution. Our forefathers knew of religious persecution and ensured this freedom for us. And yet, even in America, we face persecution although not to the extent of martyrdom. In our society today, Christians are demonized, mocked, ridiculed and demeaned. We are called narrow-minded, fanatical, judgmental, Puritanical, Medieval, homophobic, Neanderthal, racist bigots. And those who call us that are applauded. It is politically correct in America today to demean, insult and marginalize Christians. We are told that we are intolerant and we must be tolerant of other lifestyles and religions or else! It doesn't seem to occur to them that they are thus being intolerant of our lifestyle and faith. They are what they accuse us of being. Throughout all of this, Jesus calls His children to not return insult for insult. We are to turn the other cheek and not hate in the face of hatred. We are to forgive and show kindness. We are to attempt to keep our heart pure of anger, revenge, hatred. In my human-ness, it goes against the grain. "You've got on my last nerve and now I'm about to open up a can of whoop-a**!" We want to defend ourselves and that's natural. What Jesus calls us to do is unnatural. How do we do it!?! By remembering that the Holy Spirit lives inside us to empower us to follow God's commands to love others. He can help us forgive and turn the other cheek. So we stay in the Word, we pray and ask God to forgive us for any bad feelings. Then we ask the Holy Spirit to help us to live as Christ calls us to live. If we continue to do this, eventually we will find that we are living it. Remember, if it's God's command and we want to obey His command, then the Holy Spirit within us will insure that we can follow His command. He didn't leave us helpless in this world. He sent a strengthener, a comforter, a power, a teacher to live in us to enable us to obey God's commands.
Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are truly suffering and being martyred!
But it's bad even in the civilized world now. **WARNING! I warn you that some of the pictures are vulgar but it shows you to what level they will go.** These topless women screamed and threw water all over this priest.
With these statistics and history, we can see what Jesus calls the "birth pangs" of the end times. We've been building up to this end time total war since Christ ascended to heaven. Our population has grown and our technology has grown to the point that we can annihilate millions whereas before, it was only thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands. If we had a world population of 5 million people and bow, spear, and sword technology then wars couldn't kill as many. But our population ranges in the billions today and we have the technology to kill millions of our population. In the last 100 years we've seen two World Wars and technology that produced the atom bomb and now nuclear technology. So we have killed each other in unprecedented numbers and have the technology to kill even more in the next world war.
Zechariah 14:13 On that day they will be terrified, stricken by the LORD with great panic. They will fight their neighbors hand to hand.
In 2017, in America, we saw liberals and conservatives fighting, Republicans and Democrats, Antifa and BLM, White Supremacy and LGBT, old and young, white and black, male and female FIGHTING in the streets! The hate and intolerance on both sides is horrible to see! Each side is so uncompromising, vulgar, belligerent and enraged that it's turned into rioting in the streets in "protests", beatings, attacks, assaults, and arrests. More and more women are joining the men in violence and vulgarity. They don't seem to understand how they are demeaning themselves by dressing as vaginas, going naked and carrying signs with vulgar, disgusting statements. It's sad to think women believe they should lower themselves to the filthy pit of hell to be "equal" with men. Men shouldn't be down there either!!
And notice the red horse follows the white horse of religious deception as prophesied by Christ. This horrendous violence will be world wide and so bad that mankind would become extinct if not for the shortening of the time.
Matthew 24:9- 9 Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and killed, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray and hate one another, 11 and many false prophets will arise and mislead many. 12 Because of the multiplication of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. 13 But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come...21 For at that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened. 23 At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible.
"In the midst of wrath God thinks on mercy. He providentially ordained that the days of vengeance should not be indefinitely prolonged" - Pulpit Commentary
In a recent article, Justin D. Long emphasized the startling fact that more people have died for their faith in the Twentieth Century than in all of the previous centuries combined. “During this century, we have documented cases in excess of 26 million martyrs. From AD 33 to 1900, we have documented 14 million martyrs.”
Revelation 6:5-6 5 And when the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” Then I looked and saw a black horse, and its rider held in his hand a pair of scales. 6 And I heard what sounded like a voice from among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not waste the oil and the wine.”
Black is typical of woe and mourning. distress and calamity, want. There seems to be two interpretations on this third seal. One is that true spiritual food, as in the Word of God, will become scarce and people will starve in the knowledge of God. The other is that there will be famine and foods that we rely on to sustain ourselves will become scarce and we will physically starve.
I have said this before, we have printing technology and the computer capability to print Bibles in every known language. We have scholars who have studied the original manuscripts and texts in original languages. They have written resource material that is available to us. We have their multiple translations and study guides. In America, we have churches on every corner with free Bible study in multiple services during the week. We have Sunday School classes, training union, Men/Women/Teen Bible studies for free, Bible colleges, private Christian schools. We have it on TV, radio and Internet. Our churches are live streaming services and keeping libraries of past sermons. In America, we have public school education that is available to every child so that we can all read and write. And, yet, we seem to be more ignorant of the Bible and of Christ and His teachings than ever before! We have talking heads pontificating about things they know nothing about. They make judgments based on ignorance. If you were to go out and ask people to recite the simplest and most fundamental of Christian commands in the Bible, they couldn't do it! They can't tell you the Ten commandments or recite the Lord's Prayer or John 3:16. But they don't mind mocking Christianity or making ridiculous statements as though they knew what they were talking about. People who have read the Bible, studied it, sat under teachings, meditated on it, studied it for themselves are few and far between. I remember memorizing the Golden Rule, John 3:16, 23rd Psalm, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments IN SCHOOL along with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. But we aren't allowed to do that any more. Families used to attend church, but many do not so children don't learn it at church. Parents used to be able to train their children because of how they were taught but now we have generations who have never stepped foot inside a church and are proud of it! So the children don't learn from their parents. All they hear is the mockery, insults and talking points from TV, movies, music, books or magazines. They can sure repeat the words of a song they like or tell you every word the actor is going to say next in a movie they watch over and over again. It's not that they are stupid. They are simply not taught and a relationship with God is not exampled in a meaningful way to them. So they grow up ignorant. Opinionated but ignorant! Knowledge and practice of true religion have become scarce.
So I can definitely see where a famine of spiritual truth and the Word of God could be meant here. Matthew Henry's Commentary says, "When a people loathe their spiritual food, God may justly deprive them of their daily bread. The famine of bread is a terrible judgment; but the famine of the Word is more so."
What happens when the truth is so despised and ignorance is so total? Heresies and heretics with their deceit, words of vanity and empty, meaningless religions will fill the void. How do you avoid falling into their webs? Know the Word for yourself. Read the Bible. Make it a resolution that you will get an easy to read paraphrase to start with. Then read it all the way through. Once you've read it from cover to cover, pick a different translation and read it again. As you go through reading the most important book that has ever been written, be sure to underline, highlight, maybe take notes and jot down questions as you go through it. Also begin attending a Bible believing church. Unfortunately, even going to a church does not guarantee that you are going to a church where the pastor and leaders believe in the Bible. You have to find one that believes and teaches from this belief. Take some Bible study classes from teachers who are believers. There are video classes, Internet and Youtube, books, workbooks. There are ways to study and learn. Eventually you will begin to use the study techniques you learned in school (hopefully) and apply them to your study of the Bible. If you have diligently read and studied it for 10 years, then you might be able to form opinions and make intelligent conversation about the Bible. Otherwise, just keep your mouth shut because your ignorance is showing!
But the other interpretation of this third seal and the black horse is literal famine. In the Bible, wheat is measured and not weighed. Balances (or scales) are used to weigh precious things, but here a scale is used for measuring wheat as though it were so precious you can't waste a bit of it. The wine and oil are so scarce that it also cannot be wasted or harmed. You wouldn't want to spill a drop by being careless.
This interpretation is also not hard to envisage. We've seen it in the past and even today. When all able bodied men are drafted for war, and no one left to sow and harvest the crops, then famine is sure to follow. It's what happened in the South during the War of Northern Aggression. There weren't enough men left at home to defend the farms and to run the farms. When families began starving, men felt compelled to leave their military positions, and try to get back home to help their wives, children and elderly parents. Many deserted even if just for a time to get home and help. Some came back. Some never made it home or back to the lines if they died or were killed. Many families starved to death and were never heard from again. Men who might have made it through the War came home to nothing and no one. Labor intensive crops would especially suffer. It's easier to get a loaf of bread out of grain than it is to harvest, process and produce oil and wine.
The prices charged for the grain are twelve times normal prices. It seems that common families would spend all their money on grain to keep from starving and would have nothing left to spend on better things. Of course, the rich will always live comfortably and will charge exorbitant rates to make money. Many businessmen have no qualms about taking advantage of people to make a dime even in the most serious situations. It's why our government tries to stop thievery, hoarding and profiteering during natural disasters.
Micah 6:9-15 (New Living Bible)
9 Fear the LORD if you are wise!
His voice calls to everyone in Jerusalem:
“The armies of destruction are coming;
the LORD is sending them.
10 What shall I say about the homes of the wicked filled with treasures gained by cheating?
What about the disgusting practice of measuring out grain with dishonest measures?
11 How can I tolerate your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights?
12 The rich among you have become wealthy through extortion and violence.
Your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can no longer tell the truth.
13 “Therefore, I will wound you!
I will bring you to ruin for all your sins.
14 You will eat but never have enough.
Your hunger pangs and emptiness will remain.
And though you try to save your money, it will come to nothing in the end.
You will save a little, but I will give it to those who conquer you.
15 You will plant crops but not harvest them.
You will press your olives but not get enough oil to anoint yourselves.
You will trample the grapes but get no juice to make your wine.
And, God is involved here. It is He who is in control and He can withhold rain, sun, wind, natural nutrients, even seed in order to allow a famine in the land.
Amos 4: 6 “I brought hunger to every city and famine to every town. But still you would not return to me,” says the LORD.
We are talking about His righteous justice! The Lord has given us every chance. He has provided the way. He has consistently, patiently and lovingly invited every one of us to salvation. Yet, we turn our backs to Him and refuse His every effort. If we do this, then it is not His fault. It is our own choice if we suffer His wrath and judgment. He has held out His hand in love and mercy, yet many refuse to take His hand. That is their choice. Judgment will come one day. It is inevitable. I'm saved through Jesus Christ and you can be too. If you haven't, please take this time to reach out to Him because we never know when it will be too late.
Revelation 6:7-8 7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 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.
Ezekiel 14:21-22 21 For thus says the Lord GOD, "How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague to cut off man and beast from it! 22 "Yet, behold, survivors will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come forth to you and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the calamity which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it.
The word for "pale" is actually "greenish white, livid". This is the color of disease, horror, terror, and death. Death kills and Hades swallows up. Hades is the Greek term and Sheol is the Hebrew term for the place of the dead. What is this place of the dead? It's where all souls, saved and unsaved, go after death. But there are two distinct places in this realm of the dead: the place of torment for the unsaved and the place of Paradise for the saved. And there is a huge, uncrossable chasm that divides the two realms. Paradise in Hades is also referred to as "Abraham's bosom".
Luke 16:19-31 19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side (in King James' it's Abraham's bosom). The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30“ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
Notice that the rich man said, "but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent." Jesus came back from the dead and many still refuse to listen to Him and so, Abraham, tells him even that wouldn't work.
When a Christian dies, according to Jesus, we go to Paradise. Luke 23:43 Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
This place of Paradise will be with Jesus and we will safely remain there until it is time for Jesus' Second Coming when He will establish the new Heaven and the New Earth and we will be ushered into His eternal kingdom! So we have no worries about where we go when we die. But for those who have refused Christ, when they die, all hope is gone and they enter a place of torment. On Judgment day they will be sentenced to an eternity of torment in the Lake of Fire.
Please, realize that God does NOT want anyone to go to the place of torment and eternal damnation! It's why He provided His very Son to die for us. All we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and ask for forgiveness! But if you refuse every attempt, then it's on your own head. The Holy Spirit will continue to try to bring the truth and the gospel (good news) to you but after repeatedly rejecting it, your heart may become too hard to hear any more.
So the pale horse is the one that brings horrible death. We've seen death by war and violence, death by famine and now death by plague/disease/epidemics, and wild beasts! Today, we don't think of death by wild beasts. But Christians were placed in ampitheaters and wild beasts sent in so the audience could WATCH and be ENTERTAINED by the mauling, maiming and deaths. This reminds me of us as we watch TV, movies and video games to see all the ways people can be killed in gruesome ways for our entertainment. The more blood and guts, the more we like it. So we haven't really evolved very much from those Romans and their ampitheaters. It could also mean that men become like wild animals attacking for little reason but their hatred. Not for war, not for conquest, not for revenge or gain but just to roam and kill as they wish. Animalistic, little logic or reason, just brute strength and desire to inflict pain. Of course, if you look at it that way, most animals don't even do that unless they've gone crazy. They usually attack to defend themselves, for food or for domination.
In history, we have seen epidemics that have killed huge swaths of humanity. The Bubonic Plague (aka Black Death or the Black Plague) is estimated to have killed 75-200 MILLION people during the Middle Ages. That was 30-60% of the population! To put it an understandable context, if you have 10 people in a room, 3-6 of them would die of the Bubonic Plague. It is thought it started in the dry plains of Central Asia, where it then traveled along the Silk Road, reaching Crimea by 1343 and then on into Europe. It is thought that it was carried by fleas on rats and humans. It was a horrible death with oozing sores. People had no idea how it was transmitted and had no defense against it. They didn't understand about viruses, germs, bacteria. It was the worst pandemic earth has ever faced.
This doesn't even take into consideration the other major diseases that humanity faced before modern science. Diseases such as typhoid fever, malaria, cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, tuberculosis. In modern times, we had the Spanish Flu epidemic that killed approximately 75 million during 1918-1919. Then there was the polio epidemic in the 1940-1950's. Those who survived the early epidemics that had devastated Eurasia in the Middle Ages, went on to explore and inadvertently passed on the same diseases to other continents who then went through the same holocaust of diseases and deaths. Today, we've come across diseases and viruses that still have no cure such as AIDS, cancer, flu viruses.
Jesus described the finals days as a woman in labor; they will be days of contractions that increase in the frequency of pain and the intensity of pain as we draw closer to the end. So although all these things have been seen in the past, they will increase which is a scary thought. But, as God's children, we are well taken care of. I'm not saying no Christian will die. As you know, Christians die every day now. But our spirits are eternally secure and the Holy Spirit will supernaturally aid us and see us through and into the presence of God. Can I be martyred like Christians have been throughout the last 2,000 years? It's possible. Should I be afraid? Should I fear what could happen? What if I'm one of those that is burned alive on a pyre or set upon by wild animals or beheaded? I used to really fear that because I was afraid I couldn't withstand and therefore would lose my salvation. But I finally came to the conclusion that I am saved through Jesus Christ who KNEW we could not do it alone. Then He sent the Holy Spirit to enable us. If God calls me to be martyred, then He will supernaturally provide the strength and help that I need until I stand in His presence and He looks at me with love and says, "Well done!". He doesn't want to lose me any more than I want to lose Him! I cannot do it on my own. I would cave and give in. But I'm not alone. I have a secret weapon and God will step in and take over so that I can do all things through Him! So I try not to be afraid and live in fear. It may or may not happen to me. I could walk outside and an airplane fall on me this afternoon and I would have worried for nothing. Either God won't ask of me what I cannot do OR He will provide what I need to do what He asks. It's faith or it's nothing. And I have faith.
Who are the riders? They are not angels but demons who have been given this power over the earth. But they are totally harnessed by God. They cannot do anything without the permission of the One in control, God the Father! These demonic forces have worked in this world since Adam and Eve disobeyed God and fell into sin. Satan was cast out of heaven and has been given limited power and limited time by God as the prince of the earth. But God is in control and NOTHING can touch His children unless He allows it. And if He allows it, He will supernaturally, miraculously see us through. We may hurt, experience pain, but we will survive and make it into His arms and it will all be worth it. But where I am weak and incapable, He is strong and very capable. So I try to trust in that and have faith in that. There will be a remnant. Those of us who have accepted Jesus as Lord, are the remnant. And just like Noah and his family were rescued by the Ark, Jesus is our Ark and we will be rescued through Him.
Revelation 6:9-11 9 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. 10 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?” 11 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.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were unleashed. Now the fifth seal is broken by the Lamb. It is not introduced by the voice of the living beings, and the cry "Come." There is no horse and rider called forth. The voice which is now heard is the oppressed and persecuted Church. John now sees the souls of the martyred about an altar. Yesterday we talked about Hades, the place of the dead. The unsaved go to the place in Hades that is a place of torment and regret. The saved go to the place in Hades called Paradise where they are with Jesus, safe and at rest until His Second Coming. The martyred souls that John sees are safe and at rest although they are in great anticipation of the culmination of all things and the establishment of Christ's Kingdom! Their blood, poured out at the foot of the altar, cries out for justice. Life is in the blood. This reminds us of Cain and Abel. They were Adam and Eve's sons. Out of jealousy, Cain killed Abel. Abel's innocent blood called out for justice and vengeance.
Genesis 4:8-10 8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" 10 He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground.
Christ's blood called out forgiveness.
Hebrews 12:24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.
Our blood is precious in His sight.
Psalm 72:13-14 13 He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save. 14 He will rescue their life from oppression and violence, And their blood will be precious in his sight;
These Christians were "slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained". The Bible is the truth,and the inspired revelation of God. The more I study it, the more I believe EVERY word and the more exciting it becomes. God assured that we would have His Word. He miraculously gave His Word, protected His Word, provided a means for His Word to be passed down, and that His Word could be read by all who seek Him. It's not a coincidence that God's revelation to men has come down to the book that sits dusty on your coffee table. People take it for granted; pass over it and think it's some boring text. In America, it's so readily available that people don't see it as valuable and precious. God revealed Himself in human words to help us understand Him. The Bible is His love letter to us. It is history, poetry, adventure, parable, mystery, romance, how-to and self improvement. But beyond all that, it is the living Word of God to us! It is more precious than diamonds, more costly than gold. Do you realize how many people have died to bring the Bible to us in a readable format? It was in it's original languages until it was translated into Latin. But for centuries, the common people could not read and understand Latin. They had to rely on the priests to interpret for them. When some scholars decided to translate it into common languages, the Catholic church felt threatened and men were put to death for translating the Word of God into English or other "common" languages! But, even if it was written in a common language, before the technology of printing presses, the Bible had to be copied BY HAND and it took inordinate amounts of time. Each page had to be reviewed for any errors. If an error was found, not only was the page destroyed but the pages that had TOUCHED the incorrect one were also destroyed. I.e. if page 2 was incorrect, then pages 1, 2, and 3 were destroyed. It was a time consuming and expensive endeavor only educated men could do. Remember, most of the population were uneducated and illiterate. So if they had a Bible in hand, they couldn't read it. Today, we have widespread literacy with free public school education. We have printing presses. And the Bible is available free or very inexpensively. But we don't treasure it!?! These martyred Christians treasure it as the Word of God. They see it as truth and are willing to die for it. They believe its message is personally vital, current, and authoritative, and they are willing to die rather than compromise its instruction. They were also killed for the word of their testimony. This means they know first hand of something and are willing to swear to it. They can give testimony as first hand observers. "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?" They testify that Jesus Christ is Lord and is the Son of God. They testify that He forgives sins and saves us. They testify that He is the Christ, and the Savior of mankind. Their testimony is something so precious that they hold it fast, bear it, maintain it, keep it in trust, possess it, consider it, believe it, and adhere to it.
Luke 21: 12-19 But before all these things [the heavenly signs of the sixth seal], they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will send some of you to your death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. In your patience possess your souls.
John 16:2 They will put you out of the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.
Evangelist Billy Graham died 2/21/2018 and this is what one feminist writer, Lauren Duca tweeted, "The big news today is that Billy Graham was still alive this whole time. Anyway, have fun in hell, bitch." 11:02 AM - Feb 21, 2018. Later she added, "'Respecting the dead' only applies to people who weren't evil pieces of shit while they were living, thanks." 11:19 AM - Feb 21, 2018.
Gill's Exposition of the Bible "Christ may be meant by the altar here, as he is in Hebrews 13:10, who is both altar, sacrifice, and priest, and is the altar that sanctifies the gift, and from off which every sacrifice of prayer and praise comes up with acceptance before God; and the souls of the martyrs being under this altar, denotes their being in the presence of Christ, and enjoying communion with him, and being in his hands, into whose hands they commit their souls at death, as Stephen did, and being under his care and protection until the resurrection morn, when they shall be reunited to their bodies which sleep in Jesus: and they were slain."
Christ alone makes our obedience, and even the sacrifice of our life for the truth, acceptable to God.
In the Old Testament, the animal sacrifices were sacrificed on the brazen altar which stood at the door of the tabernacle (later the Temple in Jerusalem) (Exodus 39:39 and 40:29), and the blood was poured out at the foot of the altar (Leviticus 4:7). The martyrs are therefore regarded as having offered themselves as sacrifices upon the altar of God by yielding up their lives for him. The Apostle Paul said, "For I am now ready to be offered ['to pour out as a libation], and the time of any departure is at hand;" (2 Timothy 4:6)
Deuteronomy 32:43 "Rejoice, O nations, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And will render vengeance on His adversaries, And will atone for His land and His people."
These martyrs are given a white robe. This is symbolic of their righteousness and justification through Jesus Christ. The blood of Christ purifies and makes us white as snow.
Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.
Then God reassures them and asks them to be patient a while longer. They will have to wait until the start of the second half of the Tribulation, when the Bowl Judgments will pour out God’s wrath upon an unrepentant world. Then the number of martyrs will be complete. God knows the exact number as it has been fixed according to His Plan and Purpose from the beginning of time. The Day of Judgment cannot come until this number is reached. There is a limit placed on the number of martyrs which means the suffering will not go on forever. There will be a point at which it is over, when the Lord's justice will finally be seen by the world and when there will be no more tears. Let me leave you today with this...
Luke 12:4-9 4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.
Revelation 6:12-17 12 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, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 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. 16 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! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
Matthew 24:32-33, 37-42 32 Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that the time is near, right at the door...36 But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
The first five seals describe the birth pangs of the end times. They grow increasingly in intensity. With each seal we've seen how our world, in history, has suffered and how it will increase. All of these things have been happening in the world since before Jesus ascended to His throne. The volume and magnitude of them has increased, but none of it is new. Famines, pestilences, death, earthquakes, war...these are not new events. In Matthew 24, Jesus tells His disciples about the end times and it's a summary of Revelation 6. Here are the corresponding verses in Matthew 24 with today's 5th seal:
Matthew 24:29-31 29 Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
30 Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Here we have cosmic events. It starts with a great shaking and is translated as earthquake. "Earthquake" is not the best translation as the shaking extends to heaven and earth. Haggai 2:6 For this is what the LORD of Heaven's Armies says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land.
The worst earthquake had a magnitude 9.5. The Valdivia Earthquake that struck in Chile in 1960 created a tsunami, which together killed an estimated 5,700 people. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami registered a 9.3 magnitude. Sumatra, Indonesia, Dec. 26, 2004, Magnitude 9.1, 227,898 deaths. Haiti Magnitude 7.0., According to official estimates 222,570 people killed. On March 11, a magnitude 9.0 quake triggered a tsunami that killed an estimated 29,000 people and damaged some nuclear reactors. This earthquake is the largest ever recorded in Japan. Hurricanes, wild fires, tornadoes, floods, mud slides, volcanos, monster waves, shark attacks, droughts are constantly in the news. Also in the news are the regular meteorite showers, eclipses, red and blue moons, lunar eclipses, etc.
"The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red". Sackcloth is the Greek sakkos and it was a coarse cloth, a dark coarse fabric made of the hair of animals; a garment of the like material, and clinging to the person like a sack, which was usually worn (or drawn on over the tunic instead of the cloak or mantle) by mourners as a sign of grief, It was furthermore a sign of submission, self-humiliation; as a self-imposed means of mortification of the flesh. Sackcloth made of goat's hair was often used as tent cloth. The goat's hair made it water proof. It was a coarse, rough, thick cloth and very uncomfortable to wear. Sackcloth and ashes were used as an outward sign of one’s inward condition. Such a symbol made one’s change of heart visible and demonstrated the sincerity of one’s grief and/or repentance. The sun itself is in mourning. These signs demonstrate the sovereignty of God over the heavens. Is it possible that with the shaking, came such a volcanic action as to release smoke, ash, dust into the air which obscures the sun and moon?
Joel 2:30-32 30 I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. 31“The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32 And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
Amos 8:9 "It will come about in that day," declares the Lord GOD, "That I will make the sun go down at noon And make the earth dark in broad daylight.
Acts 2:19-20 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and clouds of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
"And the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind" Meteor showers? Asteroids? Nuclear missiles?
Isaiah 34:4 All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.
Luke 21:25-26 25 There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among the nations, bewildered by the roaring of the sea and the surging of the waves. 26 Men will faint from fear and anxiety over what is coming upon the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Unbelievers from all walks of life will be terrified. But will these panic stricken people call on Jesus to save them? No! They will call upon mountains and rocks! They would rather die than turn to Jesus Christ. They realize that their money, power, fame will not save them so their terror is great. They try to hide. Just as Adam and Eve tried to hide from God after they disobeyed and sinned. Genesis 3:8-10 "When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. 9 Then the LORD God called to the man, 'Where are you?' 10 He replied, 'I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.'” When God came to fellowship with Adam and Eve, they hid from Him. A clear indication that something was wrong. As if we could hide from God!?! God's questions are not because He doesn't know. His questions are to prompt Adam and Eve to think and contemplate. God knew, and he wanted them to know, that hiding and lying were in vain. We deny, obfuscate, justify, deceive, lie, i.e. try to hide behind ridiculous "fig leaves". Whereas, before, when God came to the Garden to fellowship, the two had run joyfully to God in innocence. Now they were afraid, hesitant, trying to hide, withdrawn from the Father. In the time of the 6th seal, the unsaved can no longer deny that there is a God. In terror they still do not repent and turn to God. Rather, they flee and try to hide and call upon the rocks and mountains to kill them. But the day will come and who can stand it?
Isaiah 2:19 Men will go into caves of the rocks And into holes of the ground Before the terror of the LORD And the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble.
For more details on The Rapture of the Church see my study on that.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, 4 that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Corinthians 15:50-54 50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
What is the Rapture of the church? The word for rapture ("rapio")is NOT in the Bible but the concept of being “carrying off” is taught in Scripture (see the above scriptures). It comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” At the rapture, the Lord comes “in the clouds” to meet us “in the air”. He does not step foot on the earth but rather “snatches away” all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment and wrath to be poured out on the earth during the Great Tribulation. God will resurrect all the bodies of believers who have died, reunite the believer's spirit with their new glorified bodies, and take them from the earth. All living believers, will be taken as well and be given their glorified bodies at the same time.
After we are raptured and gone to Heaven, Paradise in the place of the dead (Hades), Christians will come before the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Judgment Seat is not about whether we will enter heaven - we’ll already be there. It will be a time to give an account of the works we have done on earth, and we will be rewarded accordingly. We’ll also be assigned places of authority in the coming Millennium based upon our faithfulness to God when we were on earth.
When will the Rapture occur? There is some debate about it happening before the Great Tribulation (Pre-Trib), during the Great Tribulation (Mid-Trib) or at the end of the Great Tribulation (Post-Trib). I believe our earth will see the birth pangs of God's coming Wrath with increased intensity but these "birth pangs" are NOT the Great Tribulation, only the signs of the coming Tribulation. So I believe the Rapture occurs before the Great Tribulation. If you read Revelation 6 about the breaking of the seven seals, I believe that the Rapture occurs at the time of the 6th seal or just after the 6th seal is broken.
Matthew 24:29-31 29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ 30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Verse 29 here seems to indicate the Sixth Seal. "Then will appear", Jesus comes to rapture His Church, His Bride. It does not say he touches earth but that He comes with an angelic trumpet call and we will be gathered. It says "all the peoples of the earth will mourn". Why? Because Christ has come and gathered people to Himself. The unbelievers who are left behind will be in shock, grieving, fearful. Those who know about the Rapture will be dealing with the shock that it's occurred and they are still here! The news commentators and talking heads will begin to look for explanations for the missing people and it won't be long before they find some reason that will be acceptable in their site and in the site of their audience. And here is where my theory comes in... alien abduction. People would rather believe this because if they believe they missed the boat with Jesus Christ, it could mean eternal damnation. “This generation” in Matthew 24:34, refers specifically to the people who live to see all of the terrifying events that Jesus had just mentioned as increasing immediately before His return; such as wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes in various places, widespread famine and disease, and the Antichrist’s rise to power.
An interlude occurs between the breaking of the 6th seal and the 7th seal.
Revelation 7 1 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. 2 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: 3 “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.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. 5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
6from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
7from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
8from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
The Great Multitude in White Robes
9 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. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 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. 15 Therefore, 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. 16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, a nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The Sealed of Israel
The angels will take up key positions on earth, the 4 corners of the earth. Their job was to control the four winds of His wrath until God says to release them. The wrath is held back until those who must be sealed are sealed. This shows God's grace and salvation. The winds depict God's judgment of the earth, and the four angels are restraining agents who hold back the judgment until God's special servants can be sealed. The 144,000 will be on the earth during the Great Tribulation but they will be protected, for they are sealed with God's name on their forehead in full view. God has said throughout the Bible that there would be a remnant of Jews. It was common in John's day for masters to seal, or brand, their slaves on the forehead or hand to show ownership. This mark also gave them protection from those who would steal or abuse them. It was a sign of ownership but also a sign of security. In future days, the Antichrist requires his followers to be sealed, have marked his followers, with 666. God's witnesses will be sealed as well, with the name of the Father "in their foreheads". This reminds us of Saul of Tarsus (Paul) who was miraculously brought to faith on the road to Damascus. In multiple miraculous incidences, 144,000 Jews will be brought to faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, and will become powerful evangelists. They are the beginning of a greater harvest (Revelation 14:4, Romans 11:1, Romans 11:26, Matthew 23:37-39).
“They are not a part of the Church proper; for their repentance comes too late for that. They are a superaddition to the Church – a supplementary body – near and precious to Christ, but made up after the proper Church has finished its course.” (Seiss)
The 144,000 servants will be marked men on earth, working directly counter to the interests of the global leader. They will be under attack by the Antichrist's forces as well as demonic powers unleashed upon the earth. They will suffer from hunger, exposure, ridicule, torture and imprisonment. But they all will be miraculously preserved to continue their witness throughout the Great Tribulation period. It will be perilous to aid and abet them. They will no doubt be on the Antichrist's "most wanted list". But God's man, or woman, is indestructible until God's purpose is fulfilled on earth. At the very end, the 144,000 witnesses will stand triumphantly on Mount Zion with Jesus. Jesus refers to them as "these brothers of mine". They bring in a great harvest of souls during the Great Tribulation.
Two tribes are missing and 2 others have been substituted in their places. Why? Some scholars believe the tribe of Dan is missing because the Jewish Antichrist, known as the False Prophet, will be a descendant. This certainly seems to be the meaning of an ancient prophecy that Jacob gave about the tribes of Israel in the last days:
Gen. 49:17 "Dan will be a serpent in the way, a venomous viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that his rider falls backward".
This may or may not be the case, but without doubt, Dan was the tribe that introduced idolatry into the nation of Israel (Genesis 49:17; Judges 18:30). There is a wonderful redemption for the tribe of Dan. Dan is the first tribe listed in Ezekiel’s millennial role call of the tribes (Ezekiel 48).
From this list of 12 names both Dan, and Ephraim are omitted. Dan was omitted because of the evil in his life. On the other hand, Levi, Joseph, and Manasseh help to make up the twelve. Levi was not listed before, because he received no land. He was of the priestly tribe which inherited no land. Joseph was represented by two tribes: Ephraim and Manasseh. Since the tribe of Manasseh is mentioned, by elimination, the tribe of Joseph must mean the tribe of Ephraim – who is listed, but not by name. Perhaps Ephraim was slighted because the tribe of Ephraim was also associated with great idolatry (Hosea 4:17). But, when all is said and done, God says these 144,000 will be Jews who will be saved and they will evangelize and lead many to salvation during the Great Tribulation.
A Multitude from the Great Tribulation
“These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
These are martyrs from the great tribulation. The presence of so many tribulation saints is a powerful statement of God’s grace and mercy. Even in this time of judgment and wrath on the earth, many are saved. Because the great multitude are mentioned right after the 144,000, many think they are – at least in part – due to the work of those 144,000 servants of God. Perhaps the 144,000 are evangelists who help reap this huge harvest for the kingdom during the great tribulation. Those saved in the great tribulation are saved just like everybody else, by the blood of the Lamb. Even if they are martyred, their martyrdom does not save them. Only the work of Jesus can cleanse and save.
Revelation 8:1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
This 30 mins of silence in heaven must have been a heavy silence. For those of us in Heaven, our focus is on what is about to be revealed. For the unsaved on earth, it is the lull before the storm. We've seen 6 seals opened and there seems to be a Sabbath rest on the 7th seal. When a nation, and now the world, is so far gone into rebellion against God with no repentance, The Lord removes His Holy people and allows for a period of “silence”, right before His judgements are unleashed onto the world.
When Noah was commanded to build the Ark, God intended for the Ark to be Noah's refuge, his safe place, where he could ride out the flood in safety. Why did God send the Flood?
Genesis 6:1-4,9,11-12 1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown 5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. 9 These [are] births of Noah: Noah [is] a righteous man; perfect he hath been among his generations; with God hath Noah walked habitually... 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.
It seems the people on earth had been breeding with "Nephilim". Who are they? These scriptures indicate they are "sons of God". These were the angels who had rebelled against God with satan. God had cast them out of Heaven and on earth where they roam a temporary time. We call them demons. Satan and his rebellious angels (1/3 of the angels in Heaven participated in the rebellion) are temporarily relegated to earth. These demonic angels were breeding with human women and the result was what I would call halflings. Half human, half demon. They are the evil giants that the Bible mentions. For more information see my post on Giants In The Earth.
So the human race had been polluted by demons and they were becoming more and more evil. So God had to bring judgment and wrath and destroy them. Why did He have to destroy all those people? Because they weren't fully human beings. They were halflings and halflings could not be saved by God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. If God didn't save someone who was still pure human, then there would be no humans to save. In Genesis 6:9 "Noah [is] a righteous man; perfect he hath been among his generations;". This tells us that not only was Noah a man after God and a man of faith, but he was still undiluted human being. God would remove Noah and his family from the judgment and wrath and keep them safe in order to start the human race again. Evidently, in Noah's sons' wives, there must have been some of the Nephilim blood because we see giants later but they were very rare and finally killed off. Goliath was probably one of those.
Now you see that the Flood was God's wrath expended for the evil. It was righteous judgment! What does this story have to do with the period of silence in Heaven? Look at these verses.
Genesis 7:1,4,6-7,10 1 The LORD then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation... 4 "For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made... 6 Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. 7 Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood... 10 It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth.
God commanded Noah, his family and the animals into the Ark and then there was 7 days before the rain started. Seven days before judgment began. Do you think Noah and his family were wondering, "OK, God, we obeyed and here we sit. Did we 'miss the boat'"? (Pun intended) Or maybe they were feeling safe and secure in the Ark because they knew it was their refuge? Maybe a little of both? The 7 days are like the lull before the storm (pun intended, I know, I know, LOL!) It was a Sabbath rest before the wrath was expended. You see, Jesus is our Ark, our refuge of safety. He is the one who saves us from God's wrath and judgment. In Him, we are safe. He will come and rapture us before the Great Tribulation just as he brought Noah and his family into the Ark before the rain began.
Revelation 8:2-6 2 And I saw the seven angels who stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 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. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire from the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. 6 And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
Let's read Jesus' Olivet Prophecy in it's entirety:
Matthew 24:3-30 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. 15 So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’a spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time. 26 So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. 29 Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ 30 Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."
We have seen the first six seals as the birth pangs. Of course, there are some who believe that the seals begin the Great Tribulation so the rapture of the church would come midway through the Great Tribulation. I believe they are the birth pangs before the Great Tribulation and the rapture occurs before the Great Tribulation begins. I think I've explained my reason thus far.
What is the "abomination of desolation"?
Daniel 9:20-27 20 I was still confessing my sins and those of all Israel to the LORD my God, and I was praying for the good of his holy mountain, 21 when Gabriel suddenly came flying in at the time of the evening sacrifice. This was the same Gabriel I had seen in my vision, 22 and he explained: Daniel, I am here to help you understand the vision. 23 God thinks highly of you, and at the very moment you started praying, I was sent to give you the answer. 24 God has decided that for 70 weeks, your people and your holy city must suffer as the price of their sins. Then evil will disappear, and justice will rule forever; the visions and words of the prophets will come true, and a most holy place will be dedicated. 25 You need to realize that from the command to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Chosen Leader, it will be 7 weeks and another 62 weeks. Streets will be built in Jerusalem, and a trench will be dug around the city for protection, but these will be difficult times. 26 the end of the 62 weeks, the Chosen Leader will be killed and left with nothing. A foreign ruler and his army will sweep down like a mighty flood, leaving both the city and the temple in ruins, and war and destruction will continue until the end, just as God has decided. 27 For one week this foreigner will make a firm agreement with many people, and halfway through this week, he will end all sacrifices and offerings. Then the “Horrible Thing” that causes destruction (Abomination of Desolation) will be put there. And it will stay there until the time God has decided to destroy this one who destroys.
The AntiChrist will masquerade as the savior of the world and many will believe him. But at some point he will unmask himself for the true AntiChrist he is. He will demand to be worshipped as God.
Contained in the seventh seal are all the subsequent developments, including the seven trumpets and the seven bowls of the wrath of God. The “Seven trumpets” are of greater intensity than the seals, but not as destructive as the final vial or bowl judgments. Just before the Seven Trumpets will be "thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake". People will not be able to deny these "acts of God".
Each time one of these trumpets are blown, it announces another judgment. Trumpets can call an army to mobilize, a call to assemble, or a command to march (see Numbers 10:1-10). These are usually done with silver trumpets. The fourth annual holy day is the Feast of Trumpets, a "memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation" (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1). For this purpose, a ram’s horn (or shofar) was used. The piercing blast of a shofar also symbolized an alarm of impending attack or war. Only the sons of Aaron, the priesthood, had the authority to blow these trumpets. Jesus Christ is our High Priest (Hebrews 6:20). In addition, God caused the walls of Jericho to fall after seven successive days of trumpets sounding (Joshua 6:4-20). Trumpets draw attention and sound alarms.
Each trumpet plague will affect part of man’s physical world. First, plant life will be affected—the primary food source. Second, the seas will be affected—another source of food. Third, water will be affected—without which life cannot exist. And fourth, light is to be affected.
This is the end of my study on the Seven Seals. I plan to continue studying Revelation.