February 28 - The Woman and the Child (pt. 1)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 28 – The Woman and the Child (pt. 1)
Revelation 12:1-6

The Revelation is some of the coolest stuff I have ever read and I’ve read some pretty amazing things. We are about to read descriptions of people, events and occurrences that will stretch our imagination. I grew up on Science Fiction and Fantasy and some of these descriptions blow my mind. But, what is even more exciting to me is that they make sense. On the surface it might seem weird to talk about a dragon, but maybe it’s just a large serpent. We know that the first time God and the serpent had to deal with each other, God won.

I can hardly wait to get into these next chapters, though. God is exciting!

“A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” (Rev. 12:1-2)

Great signs in heaven announced the birth of Jesus in the gospels. This is heaven’s view of Jesus’ birth. Yes, the child being born is Jesus, but the woman isn’t Mary. There are three descriptions in this verse that give us hints as to the identity of the woman. #1 – clothed with the sun, #2 – the moon under her feet, #3 – a crown of twelve stars on her head.

In Genesis 37:9-10, Joseph had a dream about his family. In it we find that he had the sun and moon and eleven stars bowing down to him. Jacob is the sun, Rachel is the moon and the twelve tribes of Israel are the stars.

This woman represents more than just a single individual. In Hosea 2:19-20, God tells Israel that He will betroth her to Himself. In Isaiah 54:5, He tells Israel that their Creator (Maker) is her husband. In Isaiah 9:6, we read “For unto US a child is born, to US a son is given …

Mary was the vessel, but Israel is the mother of the Messiah.

In Micah 5:2, we recognize a familiar verse, but there is part of this that we rarely hear during the Christmas season. “But you, Bethlehem Ephratha, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

The last portion of that sentence astounds me. From Bethlehem comes one of ancient times … He comes from eternity.

Israel is the bride of God. She was chosen by Him to be His light to the peoples of the world. The sun – Jacob (Israel), the moon – Rachel, the twelve stars – the twelve tribes, the beginning of this great nation’s existence. God is tying the beginning and the end together.

February 27 - The Seventh Trumpet (pt. 2)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 27 – The Seventh Trumpet (pt. 2)
Revelation 11:16-19

“And the twenty-four elders who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:

‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophet and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of the covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.”

As soon as the voices sing the song we recognize from Handel’s “Messiah,” the elders fall from their thrones again on their faces before God and worship Him.

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty.” This is the only time the word ‘thank’ is used in the Revelation. The Lord God Almighty is commonly an OT term for God. The Hebrew for this is ‘El Shaddai.’

“Who is and who was” Do you see something missing from this sentence? The time is now. The future has come and now simply ‘is.’

“because you have taken your great power and begun to reign.” He is. He is now. He has begun to reign.

“The nations were angry and your wrath has come.” We don’t see it in English, but this is a Greek play on words. John is actually being a bit ironic with this sentence. The Greek word for angry is ‘orgidzo’ which simply means ‘to arouse to anger,’ while the Greek word for God’s wrath is ‘orge’ which means ‘indignant anger, anger exhibited in punishment.’ John is telling us that the nations’ anger is impotent, while God’s wrath is omnipotent.

“The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great.” These three things will take place. All of God’s people, from the least to the greatest will be dealt with before …

“and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” …before it’s all over. We have seen some of this destruction occur, the rest is soon to follow. As soon as we finish this time of worship, we move into the horrors that await us.

When the temple is open, we see the ark of the covenant. This could either be the heavenly counterpart to the Ark designed for the Tabernacle or it could be the Ark that carried the Ten Commandments.

The original Ark disappeared at some point, probably when Nebuchadnezzar burned the temple (2 Kings 25:9). Jeremiah laments that the Ark will no longer even be remembered or missed, nor will another be made (Jer. 3:16). Tradition has it that Jeremiah hid the ark in a cave in Mt. Sinai to await the final restoration of Israel.

Now, though this story isn’t in our canon of the Bible, it is from 2 Maccabees, which is accepted in the Catholic church and is from the period of time between the Old and New Testaments.

“The same document also tells how the prophet, following a divine revelation, ordered that the tent and the ark should accompany him and how he went off to the mountain which Moses climbed to God’s inheritance. When Jeremiah arrived there, he found a room in a cave in which he put the tent, the ark, and the altar of incense; then he blocked up the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the path, but they could not find it. When Jeremiah heard of this, he reproved them: “The place is to remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy. Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord will be seen in the cloud, just as it appeared in the time of Moses and when Solomon prayed that the Place might be gloriously sanctified.”

Whether God has gathered the Ark of the Covenant to heaven or this is the heavenly original, the sight of it is there to remind us that He is the God of His Covenants. He made the covenants with us and He will keep them.

The chapter ends with lightning, rumblings, thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. God certainly makes a scene when He wants to. In a dramatic sequence in a movie, you might see a couple of these things happen, but to prepare us for the final battles, God presents all the noise and action He has. Are you ready?

February 26 - The Seventh Trumpet (pt. 1)

Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26 – The Seventh Trumpet (pt. 1)
Revelation 11:15

When the seventh seal was opened, there was pure silence. That is not what happens when the seventh trumpet is sounded. Loud voices – plural, not singular – said:

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Do you hear Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” as you read those first words? Can you imagine the joy in Handel’s heart as he read those words and heard the music in his mind that would be performed? It is said that his valet would find him weeping silently at his desk, overcome by the beauty and majesty of the music flowing from his pen.

We aren’t actually seeing the end of the world, we are seeing the celebration of what is to come.

Matthew 6:9-13 is the Lord’s Prayer. As we pray this, we find ourselves yearning for the coming of Christ’s kingdom. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

We are about to see this prayer finally answered.

Daniel 2:44 predicts this reign. “…The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.”

Zechariah 14:9 prophesies for us: “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.”

Satan offered Jesus a chance to have all the kingdoms of the world. In Matthew 4:8-9, Jesus told Satan that He refused to worship him and that you were to worship the “Lord your God and serve him only.”

I imagine that Jesus was laughing at the deceiver. He knew how it would all turn out. Why would he feel the need to rule over the kingdoms that Satan could show him from a high hill, when the day would come that He would rule over the entire universe?

February 25 - The Two Witnesses (pt. 4)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 25 – The Two Witnesses (pt. 4)
Revelation 11:7-14

“Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.

At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.”

When they finished their task, their testimony – the beast that comes up from the Abyss killed them. The Greek word ‘therion’ means a beast of prey – one with a ravenous appetite, a cunning of unreasoning violence that acts according to its own cruel nature. We have just met the antichrist and his first task is to destroy God’s witnesses. This is the first of thirty-six references to the Beast in the Revelation.

After killing them, he leaves their bodies out in the open for everyone to see. To the Jews, this was unimaginable desecration. The Torah requires burial as quickly as possible, generally the same day as death. An international celebration commences and we find that people are exchanging gifts due to these deaths. One of the commentaries I read likened this to our celebration of Christmas. As much as we love to exchange gift at Christmas, this hardened society will do so to celebrate the death of the witnesses who had tormented them.

The celebration is short-lived – only 3 ½ days (there’s that number again).

God responds! He breathes life back into them and they stood on their feet. John’s readers would have remembered the story from Ezekiel 37:10 when the army of dry bones rose up to prophesy. He called the witnesses up to heaven in a cloud which we saw in Acts 1:9 as Jesus was taken into heaven.

At that very moment, there was a severe earthquake. We also saw one of these appear at the moment when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51). Do you realize that the largest fault line runs right through Israel? The Jordan River lies on it and it is called “The Great Rift Valley” going from the Sinai Peninsula down to Mozambique in Africa. It is an immense fault. When God uses earthquakes to shake His people up, He knows full well that He planted the Israelites in a land sitting on top of this fault.

Seven thousand people (there’s that number again) were killed and survivors recognized God for who He is and gave Him glory.

This is the second woe – the third is coming.

February 24 - The Two Witnesses (pt. 3)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

February 24 – The Two Witnesses (pt. 3)
Rev. 11:5-6

“If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.”

Who are these witnesses? Some have said that they could be Zerubbabel and Joshua from Zechariah who are trying to restore Israel to her land. Others think that it could be Elijah and Enoch. Those interpretations are great. However, the references above suggest that we’ve seen these two witnesses together previously.

Anyone who tries to harm them must die.
They have power to shut up the sky so it will not rain.
They have power to turn the waters into blood.
They have power to strike the earth with every kind of plague.

Let’s answer the question first with another question: Who was with Jesus at the Transfiguration? From Matthew 17:3, we know that it was Moses and Elijah.

Now, about those powers. We’ll look at Old Testament references. In 2 Kings 1:10, Elijah brought down fire from heaven (fire comes from their mouths). In 1 Kings 17:1, Elijah stopped the rain for the next few years. By the way in James 5:17, we find that Elijah stopped the rain for 3 ½ years. I love the way God works.

In Exodus 7:20, Moses struck the water of the Nile and it turned to blood and in Exodus 7-11, he was given the power to bring forth plagues.

If these two witnesses are not Moses and Elijah, they have been given the same power as those two men in Israel’s history. In fact, they actually have more power. They can call upon it as often as they wish.

February 23 - The Two Witnesses (pt. 2)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23 – The Two Witnesses (pt. 2)
Rev. 11:3-4

“And I will give power to my two witnesses and they will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. (Rev. 11:3-4)

If information is given to us in scripture, it’s probably there for a reason. Sometimes it is easy to skim over a few words because they seem innocuous, but maybe they’re not! For instance, why do you suppose we are told that the witnesses are clothed in sackcloth?

Sackcloth is what we know as burlap. This isn’t comfortable to wear and generally is worn to show repentance or judgment.

In Isaiah 22:12, we find the Lord calling on the people to weep and wail, to tear out their hair and put on sackcloth. In Jeremiah 4:8, Jeremiah tells the people to put on sackcloth, lament and wail.

The witnesses are lamenting and calling down judgment on Jerusalem. This is reminiscent of two other witnesses: Zerubbabel and Joshua in Zechariah 3-4. We see in these chapters the origin of the lampstands and olive trees. A lampstand requires oil – olive oil to keep burning. The symbolism here is that the Holy Spirit is the oil that fills the Witnesses to assist them in their duties.

The Lord says that He will give power to His two witnesses. From Zechariah 4:6, we read “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” The Spirit’s power … the oil that fills the lampstand. This is what the Lord fills His Witnesses with.

Tomorrow we’ll look at possibilities regarding who these two witnesses might be.

February 22 - The Two Witnesses (pt. 1)

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22 – The Two Witnesses (pt. 1)
Revelation 11:1-3

“I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, ‘Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. But exclude the outer court, do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” (Rev. 11:1-3)

We continue in the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets. The third Woe is still to come, but we are about to be introduced to two new characters in the story. These two witnesses have much to say, but before we meet them, we see that John is drawn into the action of the vision. No longer is he a bystander, but now is an active participant. He is given a measuring stick and told to measure the temple and the altar and to count the worshipers. Funny thing, though – he never relates those measurements or numbers to us.

In Revelation 7:3, the 144,000 were sealed for the protection. That’s kind of the same thing that is happening here. John measured the temple – the holy place of the Israelites and counted the worshipers so that they would be under God’s protection.

In Zechariah 1:16 and Zechariah 2:1-5, the measuring line is used to measure Jerusalem. A line was stretched over a city ready to be destroyed so that it would limit and define the area of desolation. God will limit the destruction that is about to happen by stretching a line of demarcation over his holy temple and the worshipers that are there.

Looking at Zechariah 2, we find that Zechariah speaks with the man doing the measuring as well as the angels who tell him that the Lord will be a wall of fire protecting Jerusalem. There will be no other walls. Why not? The population is so immense that it can’t be contained within walls. Only the walls that God sets around the city will be able to protect the people within. In Zechariah 2:5, the promise from God is that He will be the glory within.

Back to Revelation … God is giving the Gentile nations (not necessarily referring to us – but those nations that oppose God) permission to trample on the holy city. The time for this is only 42 months.

If you’ve done any study in the book of Daniel, you will see that this number equates to ‘time, times, and a half of a time’ or 3 ½ years, or 1260 days. All of these numbers are given to us by God so we can see the cohesiveness in His mind. It’s as if we are given a clue to the codes that He has impressed into His word.

The witnesses (in Rev. 11:3) will prophecy for 1260 days.

These two things – the trampling of the city and the witnesses speaking – will occur simultaneously. It will last for 3 ½ years. According to Daniel 12, this is the last ½ of the final seven years before the end of the world.

We’re here. God told us in Revelation 10:6 that there would be no more delay. Jesus warned us of this event in Luke 21:24 where he says that the Gentiles will trample on Jerusalem until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The time of the reign of Gentile nations is coming to an end, along with everything else.

February 21 - The Angel & the Little Scroll (pt. 2)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February 21 – The Angel & the Little Scroll (pt. 2)
Revelation 10:5-11

“Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said ‘There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”

When the witness on the stand in a Perry Mason movie swears to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they raise their right hand. This angel does so and swears not on the Bible, but by the Creator of the Universe and the God who lives forever! Amen! What the angel swears to is that there will be no more delay.

The seventh angel will sound its trumpet and the mystery of God will be accomplished. I can only hope that I’m on the other side to witness this event.

“Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: ‘Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.’ So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, ‘Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’ I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.’” (Rev. 10:9-11)

John is told twice to take it – it’s not being thrust on him, he has to take it from the angel. This is not the same scroll that we saw in Revelation 6. In fact, a completely different Greek word is used here. In Rev. 6, the word is ‘biblion’ which means a small book, a scroll, a written document. This word is ‘bibliaridion’ which is literally ‘little scroll.’

There have been many interpretations of this scroll, but what seems to make the most sense to me is that this is the plan of God for humanity – salvation and judgment. When John tastes salvation, it is like honey. But, judgment turns his stomach sour.

It took me awhile to understand why John was asked to eat the scroll, but when you think of eating, terms like ‘devour, consume, chew on, feast upon, digest, swallow, absorb, ingest’ might all come to mind – the same types of terms that describe how we process the Word of God.

This imagery is taken directly from Ezekiel 2:8-3:3. Ezekiel is told to eat a scroll which had writing on both sides, words of lament and mourning and woe. And then he was told to go to Israel and speak the words to them.

Now … I want you to think about all of this. John was not allowed to write the words down from the angel, but he was asked to instead ingest the scroll.

God doesn’t force His Word on us, but we are continually asked to take it into ourselves. It is our responsibility to learn His plan for us in this world.

John is then told to prophesy. Both he and Ezekiel were expected to prophesy after taking in the Word of God. It is a compelling force that is being spoken of in this verse. John MUST prophesy. This is what happens when we devour God’s Word. We make it part of our being, our very nature. Our lives become the witness to God.

February 20 - The Angel & the Little Scroll (pt. 1)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20 – The Angel & the Little Scroll (pt. 1)
Revelation 10:1-4

We enter another interlude. John’s pattern follows true to form: 4 trumpets, 1 trumpet, 1 trumpet, interlude and final trumpet.

The description of the angel in verse one is amazing.

“Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head, his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.”

This is another mighty angel. We met our first in Revelation 5:2 who asked the crowd who was worthy to break the seals and open the scroll.

God continues to move in clouds. God uses this cloud to surround His angel. Psalm 104:3 says, “He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.”

Now the angel is not surrounded by the same emerald rainbow we saw encircling the throne in Revelation 4, this rainbow is filled with colors with which we are familiar. This reminds us that God is a God of the Covenant and the rainbow surrounds the angel like a warrior’s headdress. This image should bring great comfort. In front of John is a warrior angel who knows the history between God and His people, who also remembers the covenant that God established with His people.

His face was like the sun – he had just come from the presence of God. Matthew 17:2 says this about Jesus at the Transfiguration, “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.”

“He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” (Rev. 10:2-4)

He must have been immense! He encompassed all of the earth.

Hosea 11:10 “They will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west.”

God roars like a lion, but in Revelation, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. Notice the number seven again – completion. The full and complete voice speaks. If you look at Psalm 29, you find this seven-fold voice of God.

“The voice (1) of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice (2) of the Lord is powerful; the voice (3) of the Lord is majestic. The voice (4) of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice (5) of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice (6) of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice (7) of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” (Psalm 29:3-9)

But, the most startling thing occurs next. John is instructed to NOT write the words the Angel speaks. For me, this makes the Revelation much more real. There are things that are going to happen, that God will not allow to be revealed to us. He is the Lord of mystery.

“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved …” (Romans 11:25)

This verse is a comfort. The full number of the Gentiles and all Israel will be saved. God’s kingdom will be complete.

February 19 - The Sixth Angel (pt. 2)

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19 – The Sixth Angel (pt. 2)
Revelation 9:17-21

“The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.” (Rev. 9:17-19)

The horses are the focus this time – not the riders. In Rev. 9:17, we see that there are three colors making up their breastplates – red, blue and yellow. From their mouths come fire, smoke and sulfur.

This is almost like a volcanic eruption. John set the pattern before us – red = fire, blue = smoke, yellow = brimstone/sulfur. The people see the warning in the breastplates and immediately experience the plagues.

After all of this, we come to the saddest verses in this chapter.

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

It’s easy to imagine that we don’t worship idols, but I would have to disagree. We idolize our jobs, our home and lawn, our stuff, our vacations. Anything that we worship outside of God or set before Him is an idol.

In Rev. 9:21 there is a word that the NIV translates as ‘magic arts’ while others translate it as ‘sorcery.’ The original Greek word is “Pharmakeion.” Drugs. John had no idea the dependence we would place on drugs to get us through our lives, whether prescription or illegal. Anything to numb our minds and bodies to the pain and stress that we live through daily.

Even after seeing all of this destruction, mankind continued to rebel against God.

February 18 - The Sixth Trumpet (pt. 1)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18 – The Sixth Trumpet (pt. 1)
Revelation 9:13-16

“The sixth angel blew his trumpet and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God.” (Rev. 9:13)

This is the same golden altar that we saw in Revelation 6:9 and 8:3. The horns represent strength.

“It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.” (Rev. 14-16)

These angels were not angels of God, but of darkness. They had been bound throughout history for this moment.

“And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great day.” (Jude 6)

The Euphrates River formed one of the borders of the land promised to Abraham and is now the river that the enemies of God will cross before the final conflict. It separated Israel from two of its chief enemies – Assyria and Babylon. What we are seeing here is that the angels are releasing the terrors of the world onto God’s people.

John heard the number ‘two hundred million.’ Some wild interpreters suggest that this army is Chinese, due to the fact that it comes across the Euphrates (come from the East) and that it has so many people in the army, due to their large population. But, I believe that we should interpret this for what it is. This is a supernatural army, led by four evil angels.

February 17 - The Fifth Trumpet (pt. 2)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February 17 – The Fifth Trumpet (pt. 2)
Revelation 9:3-12

“And out fo the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given the power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

“The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. They had as king over them the angel o fthe Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.

“The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.”

These locsts have come up from the Abyss. This tells us they won’t be like anything we’ve ever seen on earth. They are demons that have been sent to torture humanity. This imagery is taken from Joel. If you spend time in Joel 1-2, you will find much of the same information. Joel 2:10 says “Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.”

The land is destroyed by the locusts. “Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste – nothing escapes them.” (Joel 2:3)

The locusts are limited to a time period of five months. They have been given the power to torture – not by Satan, but by God. Even with the awesome power they have, they are limited by God. The battle is raging, but there is no question as to who remains in control.

Locusts are actually grasshoppers in their swarming stage. My thoughts regarding the common locust comes from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book “On the Banks of Plum Creek.” She writes of a ‘glittering cloud’ of locusts so large it blocked out the sun. The swarm destroyed the wheat crop on her family’s farm and stripped the prairie bare of all vegetation.

Up until this point, locusts have never harmed men. In Proverbs 30:27, we read “locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks.” But, now, they have a king and his name is Abaddon in Hebrew – which means ‘Destruction,’ and Apollyon in Greek – which means ‘The Destroyer.’

February 16 - The Fifth Trumpet (pt. 1)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16 – The Fifth Trumpet (pt. 1)
Revelation 9:1-2

The imagery becomes more and more difficult to understand and the terrors continue to worsen. How are we to interpret this? As we move into this nightmarish images, I may share some of the contemporary interpretations, but for othe most part, I believe, along with many scholars, that John related what he saw. These aren’t simply a first-century interpretation of possible 21st century events.

Horses with smoke pouring from their mouths could be tanks with armament on the front blowing shells, horse tails like snakes have been interpreted as the Parthians from the first century, shooting arrows as they rode away from battle. The locusts might be a fleet of warplanes flying at high altitudes. But, I’m going to simply allow John to relate his vision to us as we continually move forward to the ultimate end.

In Rev. 6:13 and Rev. 8:10, we saw two different stars fall. This time the star is identified as “he” and has intelligence. The star might be Satan – we know from Luke 10:18 that he fell from heaven. Others consider that it is just another fallen angel.

“The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.” (Rev. 9:1-2)

The Abyss really stretched my imagination. Scripture implies that it is a prison. In Isaiah 24:21-23, we find that the powers in the heaven above and the kings on the earth below will be herded together and shut up in prison.

The book of Enoch tells us that it is the prison abode of fallen angels. Luke 8:31 tells us the story of Legion, the man who carried many demons. When they begged Jesus to send them into the herd of pigs, they were desperately begging to avoid the Abyss.

This is a completely different location from hell. Demons don’t even want to be sent there!

The sun and sky are darkened again by the smoke from the Abyss. I’ve seen pictures of smoke coming from the huge steel mills in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The skies are darkened, but this must have been incredible!

And oh, the horrors that come from that smoke.

February 15 - The First Four Trumpets

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15 – The First Four Trumpets
Revelation 8:7-13

The pattern is repeated. With the seals, we saw a series of 4 seals, then 2 followed by an interlude and the final seal. We will see this same pattern occur here. Revelation 8 tells of the sounding of the first four trumpets. With each blast, a different part of the natural world is attacked, but the destruction is not complete. Each time, a third of the earth sees its terrible fate.

Many authors and creative writers have come up with interesting interpretations of these events. I’ve read about how these are electrical storms or that Wormwood is one person and the mountain is another person. But, it is just as important to take the information as John gives it to us. This is just as horrendous as anything else I could imagine.

“The first angel sounded his trumpet and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up and all the green grass was burned up.” (Rev. 8:7)

Please notice that God never changes. We’ve seen these things happen before. The plague of hail is from Exodus. We also saw Moses hit the Nile River with his staff and cause it to turn to blood. God may not change, but He will escalate. From Joel 2:28-32 (and also Acts 2:17-21) we find that “I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

“The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.” (Rev. 8:8-9)

“The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water – the name of the star is Wormword (Bitterness). A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” (Rev. 8:10-11)

Wormwood is the plant that creates absinthe, an alcohol that is banned because of its toxicity. It is bitter and tastes a bit like anise (black licorice). In Exodus 15:22-27, Moses got to Marah and discovered bitter water. God gave him a stick that day. Now, God tosses Wormwood into the rivers and natural springs and they become bitter.

“The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.” (Rev. 8:12)

Being without light is different than the dark of night. There is no darkness that we can compare this to. A deep and heavy fog covering the sky during the depth of night might come close, but it is difficult to imagine a darkness that has no stars or moon. And to think that even the daytime will carry this darkness.

In Genesis 8:22, God promised Noah that as long as the earth endured, day and night would never cease. Day and night have ceased. The earth is facing its end.

“As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: ‘Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels.” (Rev. 8:13)

An empty sky with a solitary eagle flying across, bringing a warning of the tragedy to come. This has to be an eerie moment. This is a bird of prey. It could be an eagle, it could be a vulture. The next plagues will bring carnage to the people of earth, not just the earth itself.

February 14 - The Seventh Seal - The Angels

Sunday, February 14, 2010

February 14 – The Seventh Seal – The Angels
Revelation 8:2

“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.”

Who are the seven angels that sound the trumpets. We get just a little bit of information about them from Rev. 8:2. We find that they stand before God. If they are given the trumpets which sound the announcement of the end of days, they have to be fairly powerful. While there is a little information in our scriptures regarding them, there is much more found in Apocryphal or extra-biblical sources.

I will start with the sources from the Bible. In Isaiah 6:1-4, we find a description of the seraphim. They have six wings and are singing a doxology quite similar to that sung by the four living creatures in Revelation 4.

Isaiah then identifies the angel of God’s presence who saves his people in their distress in Isaiah 63:9, “In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.”

One of the most exciting verses is often passed over and is found in Luke 1:19, “The angel answerd, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God …’”

We see him moving throughout history. In Daniel 8:16-26 and Daniel 9:20-27, we find him interpreting dreams for Daniel. We also see the angel Michael in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 10:13 and Daniel 10:21, he is identified as one of the chief princes of God. That’s kind of a cool interpretation.

Some of the extra-biblical information is quite interesting as well. Tobit 12:15 says “I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Lord.” He comes from the presence of the Lord!

1 Enoch lists the seven angels as Uriel, Raphaelo, Raguel, Michael, Saraqael, Gabriel and Remiel.

Whether or not we can actually name the “Angels of the Presence” here in Revelation, they are about to move us into another chapter in the story of the end of the world.

February 13 - The Seventh Seal - Trumpets

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 13 – The Seventh Seal – Trumpets
Revelation 8:6

“Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.”

God decreed that trumpets would herald many of the activities of the Israelites in the Old Testament. Numbers 10:2 says, “Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out.” The rest of the chapter describes how the trumpets are used to call together the entire community or just the leaders, how the camps move out and about, who is to be in charge of blowing the trumpet, etc. He goes on to tell Moses that this is to be a lasting ordinance for you and generations to come. The trumpet blast is to be sounded to announce battle against and enemy and will bring the Lord to their rescue. It is to be sounded at festivals – times of rejoicing and at times the community is brought together to remember God.

These are metal trumpets, not just the ram’s horns. They look much like the trumpets used in heraldry with a flared end. Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 14:8, “If the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?”

So, there are four very specific things that God tells Moses to do with these trumpets: call the community together, send the camps out, announce battle, announce festivals.

The trumpet also announces the Day of the Lord. Isaiah 27:13 says that on that day a great trumpet will sound. Joel 2:1 tells us to “Blow the trumpet in Zion” on that day and Zephaniah 1:16 says that it will be a day of trumpet and battle cry.

In Zechariah 9:14, we discover that “The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south.”

Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:31 that “… he (God) will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, form one end of the heavens to the other.”

The references to the use of trumpets by God to announce His presence and bring His people to attention are numerous.

1 Corinthians 15:52-53, “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – 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.”

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thess. 4:16)

Much as I love the sound of a great trumpeter, when these angels come forth to sound their trumpets, not only is it a call to battle, we will finally be at the End of Days.

February 12 - The Seventh Seal (pt. 2)

Friday, February 12, 2010

February 12 – The Seventh Seal (pt. 2)

“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.” (Rev. 8:3-5)

We’re back at the altar.

The angel is sending up incense with the prayers of the saints. There are some passages that have made this image even more beautiful to me.

John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, was a priest in the temple. When the angel told him he was about to be a father, Zechariah was on duty at the temple. This was an incredible moment for him, even before the announcement. His priestly division was on duty, he had been chosen by lot to go into the temple. God had aligned everything just perfectly. But, read on to see what he was doing:

“Once when Zechariahs division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.” (Luke 1:8-10)

How amazing! With the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah was burning incense and everyone was gathered together in prayer. Incense goes up with the prayers of the saints.

In Exodus 30:34-38, Moses was given instructions for mixing the incense. “Take fragrant spices – gum resin, onycha and galbanum – and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted an pure and sacred.”

This incense was to be used for the sole purpose of burning in the temple. It was not to be used in any other way. God called for this mixture to be holy to the Lord. “Whoever makes any like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from his people.” (Exodus 30:38)

In Ephesians 5:1, Paul says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Christ’s sacrifice was a fragrant offering.

I love the way God involves all of our senses when we worship Him. Protestants have ceased using incense as part of the traditional worship service, but for centuries, the smells of heavy incense filled worship spaces.

In the Old Testament, the golden censer was used to take the fire from the altar of sacrifice to the altar of incense, which stood just before the Holy of Holies. In heaven, the angel filled the censer and hurled the fire to earth, causing the destruction to begin. This action is a little startling, but it wraps up the prayers of the saints and those martyrs that were under the altar in Revelation 6. Remember their question? “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Rev. 6:10)

Now, God is answering their prayers for vengeance. The time of punishment has come.

February 11 - The Seventh Seal (pt. 1)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February 11 – The Seventh Seal (pt. 1)
Revelation 8:1-13

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

It finally happens, the Lamb opens the final seal. We’ve waited and waited and bam!!! Nothing! Actually, it is more than nothing – it is a complete cessation of everything. Total silence. Can you imagine it? I can’t.

I think that the only people who have experienced complete and utter silence (other than the deaf) are John Glenn and others who have landed on the moon. No leaves rustling, no birds singing, no motors running … nothing moving at all. Pure silence.

This silence lasts for half an hour. I don’t know that I could have stood still for that long! John didn’t record his thoughts, but I would have been processing like crazy; wondering what was coming next, examining all the people in the throne room, trying not to make a sound as I shifted on my feet and then praying that the itch on my nose would go away.

There are two possible reasons for this silence. The first is a bit fanciful. What if everything were to halt in heaven so that the prayers of the saints (Rev. 8:3) could be heard? That’s kind of powerful, but doesn’t flow well with the text. There is silence. Then the angels are given the trumpets. It is more likely that this silence anticipates what is to come, like a calm before the storm. Sometimes silence is more effective than crashing thunder and explosive lightning.

When the Lord appeared to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13, Elijah experienced a great wind shattering the rocks and tearing the mountains apart. He then faced an earthquake and a fire. The Lord finally came to him in a gentle whisper.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Habakkuk 2:20 says, “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”

In silence, we find God. The chaotic nature of our lives drives us to insanity sometimes. We find it nearly impossible to quiet our spirits down so that we can hear God. But, God is there in the silence, waiting for us to hear Him.

February 10 - Through the Tribulation

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February 10 – Through the Tribulation
Revelation 7:13-17

“Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 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 spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. 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 first question from the elder seems rhetorical and John responds with a response that tells us only the elder knows the answer. And he does.

The word tribulation comes from the Greek ‘thlipsis’ which means, in essence, pressure. Notice that this group … the multitude … did not avoid the tribulation, they came through it.

In John 16:33, the word ‘thlipsis’ translates as trouble. “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus has overcome the pressure, the trouble, the tribulation. While this doesn’t always fix the issues that we face, it certainly puts them into perspective.

Then the elder tells John that their robes were made white by washing them in blood. While literally that doesn’t make sense,

In Exodus 19, the Lord wanted to meet with the people of Israel. He commanded Moses in Exodus 19:10 to have the people come to be consecrated and to wash their clothes. In Exodus 19:14, Moses has them do this several days in a row to prepare for the Lord.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:11 that we do not do this consecrating and cleansing ourselves. We are washed, we are sanctified and we are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Only through Jesus Christ can we be cleansed and can we receive the white robes to stand before the throne.

There is a tenfold blessing for those who have come through the great tribulation. I would choose to head through the tribulation for any one of these blessings, but God offers them all to us! If you want to see further explanation for these blessings, check out the scripture passages following each.
1. Before the throne of God (Rev. 3:21)
2. Serve him day and night in his temple (Rev. 3:12)
3. He will spread his tent over them (Tent is translated as tabernacle – Leviticus 26:11-13)
4. Never again will they hunger (Rev. 2:7)
5. Never again will they thirst (Rev. 22:17)
6. The sun will not beat upon them (Rev. 22:23)
7. No scorching heat. (Believers were often burned at the stake. This wouldn’t happen again. Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego came out of the fire, because angels protected them. Daniel 3:27 speaks further …)
8. The Lamb will be their shepherd (John 10:14)
9. He will lead them to springs of living water (Psalm 23)
10. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Isaiah 25:8)


February 9 - The Great Multitude

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 9 – The Great Multitude
Revelation 7:9-12

Revelation 7:9 begins with those two words again, “After this …” We’re about to see another sequence in the vision.

John is overwhelmed by what he sees next. When I was in elementary school, a teacher tried to help us comprehend the number ‘1,000,000.’ She described reams of paper with tiny numbers written on both sides of the paper. It was beyond my mind’s comprehension. Can you imagine what John was trying to assimilate? He saw a multitude that no one can count.

People as far as he could see – every ethnic background. Different hairstyles, small people, large people, young & old, boys, girls, women and men. All wearing white robes and holding palm branches.

On December 31, 1990, I stood in Times Square as the New Year turned amidst a sea of people. I moved only because the crowd moved. What John sees is greater than anything I’ve experienced or can imagine.

In Genesis 15:5, God promised Abraham that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars and in Genesis 32:12, He promised Jacob’s descendants would be like the sand of the sea which cannot be counted.

As the multitude stands before the throne and before the Lamb, we realize that God’s promises are always fulfilled. John sees more people than there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on the earth. With this fulfillment of His promises, we find that we are offered the chance to stand before the throne of God in white robes holding a palm branch.

From this, the majesty moves out in concentric circles. The elders and four living creatures, then the angels fill the room. As the multitude lifts its voice in song, the angels respond with a song of their own.

I love this portion of Revelation. The great multitude sings out “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:10)

Angels don’t actually experience salvation, but they actively rejoice in ours. Luke 15:10 says that “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

1 Peter 1:12 tells us that (concerning salvation) “even angels long to look into these things.”

They want to know more about salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ. And when we look at this doxology of theirs in Revelation 7:12, they ascribe seven (there’s that number of completeness again) attributes to God. The list is similar to the doxology from Revelation 5:12, but replaces ‘wealth’ with ‘thanksgiving.’

“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Rev. 7:12)

Do you notice that they sing to “our God?” These beings have been in the presence of God for eternity. They are His messengers, His warriors, His choir, His workers on earth. They do everything. This is their God as well as our God.

February 8 - The 144,000

Monday, February 8, 2010

February 8 – The 144,000
Revelation 7:4-8

John heard the number of those that were sealed – 144,000. There are a variety of interpretations regarding this passage. The questions posed ask things such as: are there only 144,000 to be sealed, is it a symbolic or actual number, are the Israelites to be a race of people or is it the progression of Israel into the redeemed church of God?

The list found here is interesting. If you compare this list to Genesis 35:23-26 you will find that there are some differences. In the book of Joshua as the land is allotted, neither Joseph nor Levi took any. Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim received these allotments (Joshua 17:16-17 tells us that Joseph was given a double portion.) The tribe of Levi was to be cared for by the rest of the tribes.

You will discover that in the Revelation list, Levi and Joseph (the double portion for Joseph remains) have been returned and Ephraim and Dan are missing.

Both Dan and Ephraim were guilty of idolatry. The tribe of Dan actually left its inheritance and moved north to Laish (Judges 18:30) and practiced idolatry. Deuteronomy 29:18-21 tells us that anyone who introduces idolatry into Israel will receive all the curses of the Law and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven! The entire tribe of Dan was gone from eternal inheritance. Passages relating to Ephraim are found in Judges 17:1-13, Judges 18:2-3, 31; 1 Kings 12:25-29, Hosea 4:17.

One last look at the tribe of Dan from Genesis 49. This is the point when Jacob blesses his sons. Genesis 49:17 gives us Dan’s blessing – which actually looks much more like a curse, “Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backwards.”

Nearly all scholars of apocalyptic literature believe that this verse tells us where the antichrist will come from. Since Dan’s tribe will end up producing that person, there is no way that God will include them in eternity.

There are many lists of the twelve tribes throughout the Old Testament. They rarely list them in an identical order. And it is more important to recognize that this list actually tells us how inclusive and complete it is.

One more point should be made though regarding the list in Revelation. At the head of the list we find the tribe of Judah. Jesus Christ is the lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). I want to send you back one more time to the blessings of Jacob on his sons in reference to Judah.

Genesis 49:8-12, “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness – who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.” ‘

The Lion of the tribe of Judah – the Lamb who was slain.

February 7 - Living God

Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 7 – Living God
Revelation 7:2

A fifth angel comes from the east, carrying the seal of the Living God. The three words ‘east,’ ‘seal,’ and ‘Living,’ will open up even more of the Old and New Testament to us. John expected his readers to understand much of this information. I will only touch a few of the passages used as reference here.

From the East:
We all learned that the sun rose in the east and this bit of information has anchored my way in so many instances. It happens every day and because of this I can find my way when traveling.

In Matthew 2:1-2, we find that the star announcing the royal birth of God’s son to the Magi came from the east.

In Ezekiel 43:4, the glory of the Lord entered the temple from the east.

In Malachi 4:2 we read, “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” The sun rises in the east.

The Seal
The angel coming from the east bears the Seal of the God. This is something that is very personal to our Creator. A seal was the way that anything could be authenticated, in lieu of or in addition to a signature. It was as good as a signature – nearly as personal as a fingerprint. This seal is God’s signature; He is placing His imprint on these people.

Ezekiel 9:1-6 tells us of God sending a man through the streets of Jerusalem placing a mark (a seal) on men’s heads so they won’t be destroyed when He kills the idolaters of the city. This is reminiscent of the seal made by the blood of the Passover Lamb on the doorways of the homes of the Israelites who were saved when the angel of death passed through Egypt.

Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:19, “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his.”

In 2 Corinthians 1:22 we find that God anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us and put his Spirit in our hearts. And in Ephesians 1:13, Paul says we were “marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…” And finally in Ephesians 4:30, we find that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of God for the day of redemption.

The Living God
This is the God who walked with Adam & Eve in Paradise, put a rainbow in the sky to remember the covenant with Noah, renamed Abram and promised his descendants would be innumerable, wrestled with Jacob, spoke to Moses in a burning bush and was present with the Israelites as the moved throughout the desert. He has been a part of their daily lives since the beginning of time.

Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

Matthew 16:16, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” And Peter responds with, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

February 6 - After this

Saturday, February 6, 2010

February 6 – After this
Revelation 7:1

I know that I spread the information regarding the first six seals out over several days and thus, probably lost some of the intensity that comes with reading Revelation 6, but that is a bleak and disturbing look at the result in our world. God’s punishment is meted out on creation through war and famine, plagues and pestilence. The earth itself and the heavens are beginning to show the signs of destruction.

Before we see the opening of the seventh seal, though, there is a break. John has just seen the destruction of 25% of the earth and this is only the beginning.

The first two words of Revelation 7 are “After this …” A new vision is being introduced. We are seeing events occur in a linear fashion, one event stops and another begins.

Now, the last words of Revelation 6 were “Who can stand?” Who can stand against the great day of wrath? Obviously, none of us can when we stand alone, but we are about to see that because of the sacrifice of the Lamb, it is possible. Let’s see what happens

“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea. ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,00 from all the tribes of Israel.” (Revelation 7:1-4)

The four angels were standing because God has given them power. They stand against complete destruction which will be wrought by indescribable winds.

Nahum 1:3 says, “The Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”

Jeremiah 4:13 tells us that God’s chariots come like a whirlwind.

On this great day of wrath, God will show Himself to the earth in a whirlwind.

February 5 - The Sixth Seal

Friday, February 5, 2010

February 5 – The Sixth Seal
Revelation 6:12-17

In December I went through some of the passages in the Gospels relating to the Second Coming of Christ. The passages in Matthew 24-25, Luke 21 and Mark 13 actually progress through in a similar pattern to the Revelation.

It’s important to see this because by 100 AD when the churches were receiving this letter, they knew the Gospels well. They knew Jesus’ words. They recognized John’s words as truth because it affirmed what they learned from their rabbis.

War: Matthew 24:6-7 / Rev. 6:3-4
Famine: Matthew 24:7 / Rev. 6:5-6
Death: Matthew 24:7-9 / Rev. 6:7-8
Martyrdom: Matthew 24:9-12, 16-22 / Rev. 6:9-11
Stars Falling, Sun & Moon: Matthew 24:29 / Rev. 6:12-14
Time of Divine Judgment: Matthew 24:32-25:26 / Rev. 6:15-17
(source: John Walvoord)

The Lamb opened the sixth seal. EARTHQUAKE! Obviously this was no ordinary earthquake. Even the worst that we can imagine – and we’ve recently seen some pretty awful images of earthquake damage – can’t compare. This earthquake ripped through the entire earth, roiling seas, mountains and islands, even reach through to the sky and disrupting the stars.

When God shows up – He makes Himself known. IN exodus 19:18, the Lord descended upon Mt. Sinai to meet with the Israelites. As fire and smoke encompassed the mountain, “the whole mountain trembled violently.”

You can find more references to God’s use of earthquakes in Ezekiel 38:19, Joel 2:10, Amos 8:8, Haggai 2:6 and Isaiah 2:19.

The sun turned black and the moon turned red. We find references to this event in the Old Testament as the prophets refer to the Day of the Lord. John is telling us that the Day of the Lord is near! Again – references that you can look up are: Isaiah 13:10, Isaiah 50:3, Ezekiel 32:7-8, Joel 2:10, Joel 2:31, Amos 8:9. Jesus’ teachings in the NT are found in Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:24-25 and Luke 21:25.

(Remember, if you read this online in the blog, all you have to do is hover over the scripture reference and it will pop up for you to read.)

The stars fell to the earth. Everything I read says this is probably just a meteor shower. We don’t have to get terribly worried yet. However, the real thing will come. But, to the first century Christian, this meant complete chaos. Psalm 119:89 says “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” If the heavens come down – how does God’s word stand forever?

Isaiah 34:4 says “All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.”

These are practically the same words used in the Revelation. John’s audience would have recognized them immediately.

Revelation 6:15 offers a list of those who hide in the mountains when things begin breaking apart: kings, princes, generals, the rich, the mighty, every slave and every free man. No one will be able to run from the judgment of that day.

When Isaiah speaks of that day in Isaiah 2:19, he says “Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty when he rises to shake the earth.”

Hosea says “The high places of wickedness will be destroyed – it is the sin of Israel. Thorns and thistles will grow up and cover their altars. Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’ (Hosea 10:8)

This is the ultimate rock and a hard place scenario. You either face the wrath of the Lord or call for the mountains to fall on you. The great day that has been prophesied for centuries has finally come. No one can say that they didn’t know … scripture is filled with the warnings.

Isaiah 2:10-22 is quite pointed in telling us what will happen on the Day of the Lord. “The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” (Isaiah 2:17) This is the purpose. And it comes from a command in Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

The Lord WILL be exalted above all else and on the day when He finally insists that this commandment be fulfilled, we will either find ourselves under the altar in the throneroom or we will be hiding in caves.

February 4 - The Fifth Seal

Thursday, February 4, 2010

February 4 – The Fifth Seal
Revelation 6:9-11

Avery & Marsh wrote a song called “This Room” that talks about the sanctuary and how we relate to it. At a conference in a former church, they asked us to find a place in the sanctuary we could relate to. I moved to the piano, others to a specific pew. Dick Marsh placed himself under the altar, explaining that it was important to him because the altar was a place of sacrifice and Jesus’ sacrifice meant everything to him. You know what? The place has become special to me as well.

As the fifth seal is opened, we find the martyrs under the altar.

When the Lamb opens the fifth seal, no rider comes forth, but John saw the souls of those who had been slain. Now remember, John is in the throne room. In Exodus 25:8-9, we read that God gave the pattern to Moses who was to follow it exactly. In Exodus 40:33-35, God fills the Tabernacle with His presence.

Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the high priests serve “at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.” The altar in heaven was the original which the Tabernacle and Temple altars were patterned after.

Why are the souls there? The one in heaven is the original … let’s look at what happens on earth in Leviticus 4:7. Some of the blood of the sacrifice is placed on the horns of the altar of incense. The rest of the blood is poured out at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

In Leviticus 17:11 we read “…the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

Those souls beneath the altar? Their life blood has been poured out as an offering to God. Oh my, what a beautiful image we have! They maintained their testimony through everything. These were the martyrs who had given their lives because of the Word of God!

But, they called out (Revelation 6:10) “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood.”

This cry echos Psalm 79:5-10 … “How long, o Lord?”

God really does not mind that we question Him in pleas such as this. He understands that we face limits of time on our lives. It may not change His plans, but He does understand. The Psalmist gives us permission to cry out before God, “How long?”

Each of the martyrs was given a white robe which would signify purity and blessedness and told to wait there a little longer until their number was completed. The day is coming!

February 3 - The Fourth Seal

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 3 – The Fourth Seal
Revelation 6:7-8

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

The Lamb opens the fourth seal, the fourth creature says “Come” and a pale horse stands before John.

The Greek word that is used for pale is ‘chloros.’ I think of chloroform, Clorox. The pale green color is similar to that of a corpse. William Barclay says it is like a face blanched in terror.

This rider carries nothing, but is given a name – Death and has a companion named Hades. They killed using four items – sword, famine, plague and wild beasts.

Ezekiel 14:21 tells us that God will bring four dreadful judgments: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague, against Jerusalem.

Our God is a God who never forgets His promises or His warnings.

Back to Leviticus 26:21-26. God tells His people that if they remain hostile to Him, He will punish them by multiplying their afflictions seven times over, He will send wild animals against them, He will bring the sword to avenge the breaking of the covenant, He will send a plague and bring famine.

He reminds us over and over that His discipline is brought because of His holiness (see the number seven here?)

Sometimes it is difficult for us to imagine the God that we’ve come to know bringing judgment. But, when the final days come, all chance for mercy will be over. He will judge an unrepentant world.

The opening of this scroll is more profound than our minds can begin to comprehend. Until this time, God has pursued every avenue as He attempts to draw us to Him. This passage in Revelation signifies that this is finished.

Is all hope gone?

How has God pursued you throughout your life? Even when we are unrepentant, His forgiveness offers us second, third, fourth chances. Hope is the reason for this letter to the churches. Hope is the reason God invited John into the throne room. We have had these words for 2000 years. God is still continuing to offer us hope.

February 2 - The Third Seal

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February 2 - The Third Seal
Revelation 6:5-6

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"

The Lamb breaks open the third seal, the third living creature calls “Come” and the rider on the black horse is before John carrying a pair of scales.

When a day’s wage will only purchase enough food for one person to eat – he feeds his family by buying a lesser product (barley) so he can get by.

Famine is generally a by-product of war and destruction. The black horse and rider will bring incredible pain to those left after the battles so far. God has been warning us since the beginning about being disobedient.

Leviticus 26:26, “When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.”

Ezekiel 4:16, “He said to me, ‘Son of man, I will cut off the supply of food in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair, for food and water will be scarce. They will be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of their sin.’”

All the warnings are coming true with the entrance of the Four Horsemen. There are many explanations for the warning against damaging the oil and wine. The best one seems to be that God is limiting the destruction wreaked by the rider.

February 1 - The Second Seal

Monday, February 1, 2010

February 1 – The Second Seal
Revelation 6:3-4

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.

The Lamb breaks the second seal on the scroll, the second living creature says “Come” and the rider on the red horse comes out. He is given the power to take peace from the world and he was given a large sword.

This is NOT specifically a rider who brings war. This rider removes peace. If all constraints are removed and no one has any moral obligation to be peaceful – war may occur, but anarchy and chaos will also prevail.

Isaiah 19:2 tells us that God will stir up “Egyptian against Egyptian – brother will fight against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom.”

The sword that the rider carried was a Roman short sword which was perfect for hand to hand combat.

Isaiah 27:1 “In that day, the Lord will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword.”

Isaiah 65:12, “I will destine you for the sword, and you will all bend down for the slaughter.”

The color red describes bloodshed. Internal strife on earth has begun.