Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Revelation - Chapter 15

A Study of the Book of Revelation
Chapter 15

Revelation 15 is simply an introduction to chapter 16.  Here we study the seven last plagues and the judgements that come in the Tribulation before the second coming of Christ.  We will see these last seven plagues administered upon the earth.  The vials or drinking cups are said to contain the sins of the world. Christ actually drinks the sins of the world and then our sins were judged.

The sins of the whole world were poured out on Christ.  This is a picture of the seven vials or the seven drinking cups poured out.  Each of the vials contains the wrath of God and each is a judgment.

Instead of Christ drinking the cups, seven angels are going to pour out the contents of the cup on the earth.  Each of these judgments poured out is for a different group, but all of them are those who have rejected Christ.

1. ¶ And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. 

I saw another sign in heaven – here sign means wonder.  Notice the word another.  In Revelation 12:3 was the sign of the dragon, the dragon was Satan and here we have another sign which is the seven angels with seven vials of judgment.

Great and marvellous means it was breathtaking.

Seven angels speaks of God’s perfection in judgment.

Seven last plagues – these plagues are judgments.

For in them is filled up the wrath of God – This speaks of God taking all He will take and His judgment must fall. This is judgment on unbelievers.

This judgment is near the end of the Tribulation just before the second coming of Christ.
No believer will be judged here (Romans 8:1).

2. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. 

And I saw –  John saw those who won the victory.

A sea of glass mingled with fire. – We saw this first back in 4:6 when the church was taken out of the world at the rapture and was standing before God.

This is a figure meaning that the winds of sin can touch you no more.  Your old sin nature is gone and you are given a resurrected body. This is the same as described in 21:4.

Mingled with fire – This pictures the pressure which came to the tribulational saints.  These believers were pressured by the economic system of the dictator of the revived Roman empire.

They are described as victors. This is the meaning of the present tense of the verb “had gotten the victory.”  They were victorious right down to the core.  They didn’t allow fire or death to disturb them.

These are the martyred dead who did not yield to the beast’s demand for blasphemy and thus are pictured as the triumphant.

The statue and numbers will be everywhere during the Tribulation.

Number of his name means the total personality of the dictator, his religious system, political system, economic system and military system.

“Almighty” emphasizes God’s omnipotence.

There seems to be four basic titles to Bible songs
1.      Songs of Moses – they deal with the Lamb.
2.      Songs of Zion – they deal with the land.
3.      Songs of Solomon – they deal with love.
4.      Songs of David – they deal with the Lord.

3. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. 

Someone may ask, “If God is so righteous, why does He suddenly appear so vengeful? Why does He allow such tremendous wrath to pour out on the earth?”

The answer is simple. Today we view God as He deals in mercy and grace. This is the dispensation of grace. 

However, God has promised judgment as payment for sin, and He wouldn’t be just unless He fulfilled that promise.

When the age of grace is passed, the age of judgment is ushered in.

In chapters 4-19 we view God at work in the day of righteous judgment.

4. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. 

Here we have a form of a question to give emphasis to what is being said.

Who shall not fear thee, O Lord. – Here fear means to stand in awe of or reverence.

Glorify thy name means perpetual happiness.

For thou only art holy – refers to the one way of salvation

For all nations shall come and worship before thee. – This is in the future and refers to the Millennium.

For thy judgments are made manifest – refers to the reality of His judgments and all are just, perfect and fair.

5. ¶ And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: 

Verses 6-8 give clear indication that God is just in delivering judgment on the earth. The picture of the heavenly temple containing the ark of the covenant makes it evident that God is not dealing in grace but according to divine law.

Here we see the source of the seven last plagues.  Notice “the temple of the tabernacle”. It means there will be a temple in Heaven like the tabernacle.

Of the testimony in heaven was opened. – This temple is a testimony to Jesus Christ. 

The earthly tabernacle was a picture of Christ. It only had one entrance.
1.      The brazen altar spoke of the cross.
2.      The showbread spoke of Christ as the bread of life.
3.      The candlestick spoke of Christ as the light of the world.
4.      The altar of incense spoke of prayers in Jesus’ name.
5.      The altar spoke of Christ giving His life.
6.      The veil spoke of Christ as the bridge from earth to Heaven.

Opened – Notice the tabernacle door was opened in Heaven.

6. And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. 

Those who have broken God’s law are now judged by it.

Here we see the administrators of these seven last plagues.

Seven angels came out of the temple having the seven plagues. – Seven speaks of perfection.

Clothed in pure and white linen. – Clothed is in the perfect tense and means they are clothed forever in perfection.

Breasts girded with golden girdles – speaks of the belt they are wearing. This golden belt stands for the authority of God or God’s official representatives.

7. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. 

His agents of judgment are seven angels, clothed in pure and white linen with golden belts. They originate in the heavenly temple, and as they leave to bring judgment, each one receives a golden vial or bowl filled to the brim with the wrath of God (vs. 6-7)

One of the four beasts – means one of the four living creatures.

Gave unto the seven angels – were given the golden cups full of God’s judgments for the unbelievers on earth.

The angels came wearing the golden belts of God’s authority and the world will recognize they have the authority from God.

John the Baptist came in a similar way. He was not a college graduate, no degree, not approved by some religious system, but his authority was from God.

When a man has authority from God to preach or administer God’s plan, who has the right to condemn him?

These angels are superior to the demons who will oppose them in Ch. 16. These are high ranking angels. These are four living creatures who are higher in rank than the seven angels.

8. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

Throughout the entire span of the seven bowl judgments, the heavenly throne room is filled with smoke from the glory and power of God.  All of this suggests the sovereignty of God and His righteousness and justice in bringing judgment to sinful men.

And the temple – this temple is in Heaven.

Was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power. – Something that looked like smoke that represented God’s glory and power filled the temple in Heaven. “Glory of God” refers to His perfect essence.

And no man was able to enter into the temple. – The temple of God was closed temporarily and there was no activity.

Till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled – the activity in the temple ceased until the judgments were poured out on the earth.

With the beginning of Chapter 16, the second important feature of these chapters is noticed. This is God’s wrath.

Clark, Neal. Survey of the Book of Revelation. Pensacola, Florida: Thee WFBI Press, 1999. Print.
Falwell, Jerry. Liberty Commentary on the New Testament. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty Press, 1978. Print.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Revelation Chapter 14

Chapter 14
The Victory of the Lamb.
In the midst of this dismal revelation about the last days of the Tribulation, John is given another parenthetic vision recorded in Chapter 14. As if to encourage him as he writes, God allows John to see the Lamb, Christ Jesus, standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000. They are singing a new song before the throne, perhaps one they have been taught by the 24 elders.
You can almost imagine them singing: “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child, and forever, I am.”

1. ¶ And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. 

This is a description of the 144,000 Jewish evangelical studied back in chapter 7.  This group had maintained separation from the mark of the beast during the Tribulation and during the terrible dictatorship of these two ruthless rulers.

“…having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” – This speaks of their identity, they belong to God and always will.

2. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 

And I heard a voice from heaven – praise given these 144,000 evangelists.

Voice of many waters – the voice of angels singing in heaven. It sounds like the sound of a waterfall.

Voice of a great thunder – sound of authority and thunder speaks of the warning of the coming storm.

I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps describes a great stringed orchestra and they are accompanying this choir.

3. And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 

Rev. 5:9 Speaks of a new song which no one else could learn. They could sing it because they maintained their separation from religion during the Tribulation. Man that is not redeemed cannot sing these words.

No man could learn that song - They learned this song by being separated and faithful to God during the Tribulation.

But the 144,000 which were redeemed from the earth – were the only ones who had learned the song, and this is because of their faithfulness.

4. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 

What sort of life did the Jewish evangelists live for seven years?

They traveled under great danger and lived very much like Saul of Tarsus. Their married relationship was toward God. 

Marriage is a bona-fide institution, but here in the Tribulation, it was set aside because of abnormal times.

These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth – This is an identification of who they are and the reason for their being unmarried.

The 144,000 are called the firstfruits because they were the firstfruits after the rapture of the church.

5. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. 

This describes their message. This means they stayed with the Word of God. They stayed in constant fellowship with God.

6. ¶ And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 

The gospel to be preached is not the good news of salvation but rather the good news that God is at last going to deal with the world in absolute righteousness and rule the world in His divine sovereignty.

God looked on earth and saw two dictators. He saw their ruthless and wicked rule. He saw things were drifting further and further away.

Before Jesus comes back to finish the job He started the first time, God is going to give the world one last chance.

God’s grace is always before any judgment, God always gives man an opportunity to be saved, God is always fair.

“to every nation” – refers to Gentiles.

Kindred refers to racial groups.

Tongue refers to national units – language groups.

People refers to geographical units.

7. Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. 

Speaking in a loud and clear voice.

People are nearing eternity and they must be awakened to Christ. Christ is about to return and unbelievers will be cast off the earth. They must be awakened to the doom they face.

“Fear” is a bona-fide means of bringing people to Christ. Fear of judgment is a bona-fide means of causing people to come to Christ.

There is only one way to do this and this is to accept Jesus Christ through faith on the basis of grace. Christ did it all and He gets all the glory.

“For the hour of His judgment is come” – means that it is about over and judgment is knocking at the door.

Here Christ is again presented as the creator (John 1:3, Col. 1:16, Heb. 1:10).

8. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. 

A second angel appears to announce the fall of the great city Babylon (probably a reference to Rome). The consequences of participating in the spiritual degradation of this religious system are clearly outlined by this angel.

Any nation that shares in the spiritual corruption induced by Babylon will also share in her condemnation and destruction.

This is the second angel of judgment. The first angel brings a warning of judgment.
All religion is to be judged.

We have the first mention of Babylon in the Scriptures in Genesis 11. It is the first attempt to destroy nations and make one great international organization. God disapproved, God took the one race and one language and broke it up into many races and languages.

The word Babylon means confusion.

Babylon the Great represents internationalism trying to destroy nations.  It is ecumenical religion in the Tribulation.

Religion is the devil’s trump ace; it is counterfeit.  The devil has counterfeit ministers, churches, gospel and spirituality.  Religion is referred to as the spiritual fornication of the great whore.
Babylon the Great represents all the religion during the Tribulation.

“She made all nations drink….” Speaks of the devil leading people to receive his false religion system.

9. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 

John sees a third angel which predicts the doom of those who bow down and worship the beast.
The intensity of this destruction is without mixture of mercy. The agents of destruction are fire and brimstone. Its duration is continuous, for the angels which bring destruction on the worshipers of the beast have no rest day or night.

Here is the 3rd angel. Here is judgment against those who adhere to religion.

The system was judged and here is the judgment against those who adhere to they system.
This beast is the dictator of the revived Roman empire that we talked about in chapter 13. He is the political leader of a confederation of ten nations.

This is worship of a person and the system he represents.

“And receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand” refers to one endorsing this anti-Christ.  Those who receive his mark will be able to buy food and property and will be able to engage in business and take part in any of life’s activities.

You will have to be “in the circle” in order to get ahead during this time of ruthless dictatorship.

Behind all of this is a principle. In this ten nation federation, there is the union of the church and state.

The Bible is very clear on the separation of church and state and there are no personal freedoms when the two are joined together.

No system should ever come along and try to join a divine institution with a human institution.

10. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 

This is the judgment of the lake of fire.  

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God – is the figure. Later on, we will see the cup of the wrath of God. Jesus spoke of “the cup” and asked the disciples if they were able to drink of this cup. They said they were, but, they did not understand what Jesus was talking about.

The principle in this verse is “unless you let Jesus drink the cup for you, you will have to drink it yourself.  Just remember, Christ drank the cup during His first coming, accept that or drink it yourself at His second judgment.

Christ is judgment for you or you are in judgment alone.

Poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation – speaks of the concentrated wrath of God.

So the question is, who shall drink the cup of God’s wrath, you or Christ?

He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels… - speaks of judgment of God and those in whom’s presence you will be judged.

11. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 

Notice their punishment lasts forever and ever. The Hebrew word is Sheol which means torment.  The fire is a place called hades.  Hell is everlasting and those who reject Christ and die have no recourse.

Rev. 20:13 tells us that at the end of the Millennium hades will deliver up the dead. They will be given resurrected bodies and cast into the lake of fire.

They have no rest day nor night – describes the continuous punishment of the unbelievers.
Who worship the beast and his image – The who in this verse is unbelievers and the beast is the dictator of the revived Roman empire.  This dictator is an outstanding personality and a genius.
Dan 7, 9, 11 and Joel 2, 3 describe this beast as a very attractive person.

The image – refers to the statue of the beast that was placed in the temple in Jerusalem in the middle of the Tribulation as described back in Revelation 13.

And whosoever receiveth….refers to an identification tag of some kind and is the mark of the beast’s economic and political system.

There is no restraint on the beast at this time because the Holy Spirit, who restrains him, was removed at the rapture (2 Thess. 2:7). Here the beast has full power.

Worship the beast – means to worship his personality.

Worship his image – means to worship his economic and political system.

12. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 

This verse refers to those who believe in Christ during this terrible Tribulation time.

No matter how great the pressure, they continue to trust and have faith.

Patience – refers to the fact they are under maximum pressure, but they stay true.

They that keep the commandments – speaks of those that guarded Bible truths and Bible doctrines.

And the faith of Jesus – should read “faith in Jesus”. This speaks of them being sold out to Jesus.

13. ¶ And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. 

Those who die as martyrs at the hands of the Beast are called blessed. The henceforth indicates that this blessing particularly refers to those who will yet suffer and die under the Beast. A lot of believers are going to die in the Tribulation and God will provide dying grace for them.  God will hear every cry and collect every tear.

Their works will follow them into the presence of the Lord.

The word die here is active participle and means they will not die suddenly, but will die from torture.

Rest is used here for salvation, eternal rest or rest of perfection with God.

Salvation takes only one second and then in all the rest of your life, nothing can be done to take this salvation away from you.  You cannot commit any sin that will take away your salvation. For your sin is not greater than God’s plan.

That they may rest from their labours – a purpose clause and the purpose is no fear, no worry, no frustration of any kind.

Their works do follow them – their testimony will long be remembered.

Finally, in this parenthetic chapter just before the most severe judgments of the seven bowls, John’s heart is encouraged by getting just a glimpse of the battle of Armageddon, where the great winepress of God’s wrath will pour forth tremendous judgment.

God knows just when we need encouragement. Having received the vision of the seven trumpets and about to embark on the vision of the seven vials, the Apostle John is given encouragement by God by showing him a glimpse of the end and the ultimate victory of God.

This same function the book of Revelation performs for us. Bogged down in the trials and troubles of life, we experience a great uplift and encouragement in reading the Revelation, for it shows us that the victory is ultimately God’s. Perhaps this is the blessing promised to everyone who reads or hears the words of this prophecy (1:3).

The Vision of the Harvest on Earth. (14:14-20).

14. And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 

This is judgment of the fourth angel.

The one like unto the Son of man is Jesus.

Here the Lord is pictured with a golden crown, the victor’s crown, and a sharp sickle or judgment.

Jesus is wearing His earned crown and the right to judge from His unlimited atonement.
A sharp sickle expresses judgment the artist has not painted.

The great harvest of God is about to begin. Two figures are used in verses 14-16 and the vine verses 17-19.

They watched Him ascend on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-12), now He comes wearing the crown of authority and carrying the sickle of judgement. He is  the triumphant Christ and the ruling Christ.

Remember the one born in a stable at Bethlehem, look at Him now, He is chief of the earth and power of Heaven.

Remember the devil said to Him in Matthew 4 to bow down to me and I will give you a crown, Jesus said, “No.” I will earn my right to wear the crown.

Remember when Jesus came into Jerusalem riding upon the back of a donkey and they said Hosanna to the King, they didn’t want Him to go to the cross, but Jesus said, “No.” I will go to Calvary and earn the right to wear the crown. 

15. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 

Temple – the one in Jerusalem.

This angel was speaking to Christ.

“The ripe harvest is literally a dried or withered harvest (Mt. 21:19-20; Mark 3:1, 3; John 15:6; Rev. 16:12).

In other words, the inhabitants of the earth are withered, lifeless and fully ready for judgment. 

The grapes of the vine are also said to be ripe. This is the vine of the earth and stands in contrast to Christ, the true vine (Ps. 80:8; John 15:1).

The picture here is that all the false religion of man is fully ripe and ready because man in his own efforts, apart from the life of God, has fully developed an apostate religious system.” (Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Revelation, p. 92).

This verse speaks of the fact that the time is right for the second coming of Christ and the judgment of God.  The word crying really is shouting.  The one on the cloud is Christ.

Time is come for thee to reap – means God’s time calendar is fulfilled.

The harvest of the earth is ripe – means the unbelievers on earth continue to reject Christ and are deserving of God’s judgment.

16. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. 

Christ is putting God’s judgment into action.

Thrust speaks of God’s power.  Sickle speaks of the manner of His judgment.  On earth speaks of the place of this judgment.

And the earth was reaped – speaks of God’s complete judgment.  Human life being judged.

This is the second coming of Christ in judgment. The details are in Revelation 19:11-21.

17. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 

Notice where this temple is.  

The sharp sickle speaks of judgement.  

These angels are those who assist Christ in the Battle of Armageddon.

18. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 

This verse describes how it is going to come about.

The altar is Heaven.

Shouting with a very clear voice.  Notice this angel speaks to the other angel mentioned in verse 17.

These angels are assisting Christ in the Battle of Armageddon.

“Saying, thrust in thy sharp sickle” – means judgment has come.

Gather the clusters of the vine of the earth speaks of the people of the earth.  

Her grapes are fully ripe.  This carries the idea that they have had every opportunity to be saved and they refused every opportunity.

19. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 

A winepress in the days of Christ was a vat dug in the ground where the grapes were placed and the people would take their shoes off and trample the grapes until the juice was out of them.  The juice ran into another juice vat.

The Lord is using this comparison to show how He will trample the people of this earth until the blood of those people runs in the Valley of Megiddo to the bridle bits of the horses.

This is a picture of the judgment of God at the last battle.

20. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

The judgment of God on this vile system of worship is not hell but something that happens on earth. It is apparently a reference to the battle of Armageddon (19:17-19).

When the great winepress of God’s wrath is trodden outside the city of Jerusalem, the result will be the blood coming out of the winepress.

The blood slain coming out of this valley as the juice would come out of the ancient winepress. 

This is an awesome picture of the judgment of God.

So fierce is God’s judgment that the blood of those who battle against him will run as deep as the horse’s bridle for 1600 furlongs.

On the average the bridle of a horse is about 3 ½ feet from the ground.  Because the top soil in the Valley of Megiddo is about 25 feet deep and wet, apparently no vehicle could maneuver in this valley.  It is very possible that horses will be used.

The Valley of Megiddo has been the place of many battles, probably more battles fought in this valley than any place in the whole world.  I think it is so fitting that God would choose this ancient battlefield for the last great battle of the earth.

“By the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” This is a distance about 180 miles.  Just think, blood of the slain will flow in this valley like a river.

1.      The slaughter of the king of the north is told in Daniel 11:40-46.
2.      The slaughter of the king of the west is told in Daniel 11:44.
3.      The slaughter of the king of the east is told in Revelation 16:12.
4.      The battle is also described in Isaiah 63:1-3.

Clark, Neal. Survey of the Book of Revelation. Pensacola, Florida: Thee WFBI Press, 1999. Print.
Falwell, Jerry. Liberty Commentary on the New Testament. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty Press, 1978. Print.