John in Revelation 1 verse 9-10 reveals, “I John…was in the isle of Patmos…I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” As I said in Revelation 1, some believe this refers to the period of time prophetically known as “the Day of the Lord.” Other scholars are inclined to believe John is referring to receiving and writing down the whole book of Revelation on either a Saturday (Sabbath) or a Sunday (it is unlikely he could have taken all this down in writing in one day). I am inclined to believe John is referring to being brought into the very scenario of the Day of the Lord in vision. The Bible mentions “the Day of the Lord”, representing the period of time just after the tribulation, or sixth seal, in roughly 31 places that I counted in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Isa. 2:12, 18; 10:3 (Day of the Lord’s visitation); 13:6,9,13; 14:3; 30:25 (Day of great slaughter), 34:8, (Day of the Lord’s vengeance); 61:2 (the Day of vengeance); Jer. 46:10; Ez. 7:19; 13:5; 30:2-3; Hosea 1:11; Joel 1:15; 2:1-2, 11, 31; 3:14; 5:18, 20; Obediah 1:15; Zeph. 1:7-8, 14, 17-18; 2:2-3. Zechariah 14:1. So in Bible context, the Lord’s day here in Revelation 1 is probably referring the Great and terrible Day of the Lord, since that is just about the subject of the entire book. So here in verses 9-10 of Revelation 1, John is giving us the context for the whole book. If you look up those passages in the Old Testament, they directly tie into the events which follow in this study of the Book of Revelation.
Revelation chapter 4
John in vision on the isle of Patmos, is invited up to the very throne room of God the Father and Jesus Christ. This throne room is graphically described in Revelation 4. Revelation 4:1, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” “Hereafter” or “after these things”, means after the events which were just covered in Revelation 3. If you are on the side of the body of Christ that believes Jesus will protect the Philadelphia era Church by a rapture to heaven, “hereafter” would refer to the period of time right after the Rapture. If you lean to the interpretation of being taken to a place of safety by the Lord, “hereafter” refers to right after that event. Anyway, that era of the Church is no longer around, they’re either in heaven, having been Raptured there, or in a place of safety somewhere on earth. What does John see next? Revelation 4:2-3, “And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” The word “immediately” denotes very speedily, “I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne…” So immediately, John is in the spirit, probably in vision, at the very throne of God in the third heaven. There are three heavens, the atmosphere up to the upper atmosphere is one, what we would call the stratosphere. The other is outer space. And the third is the place where God’s throne is. So after John’s initial encounter with the risen Lord in Revelation 1, and then his taking dictation of the seven letters to the seven churches, John immediately finds himself in heaven. Apparently John could not distinguish any form of a person on the throne, just the brilliance and brightness of precious stones shining out. Jasper is a many-colored stone with purple predominating. The sardine stone is fiery red in color. “rainbow” in the Greek is iris, which can also mean “halo”. While the ordinary rainbow is multicolored, this one is emerald, which is green.
The twenty-four elders
Verse 4, “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” There is a tremendous amount of speculation about who these twenty-four elders are. The Greek word for “elders” is presbuteros, from which we get our word “Presbyterian”, which in Scotland was a church denomination run by a board of elders. An elder in a church is usually a member of higher rank, and can even be a “preaching elder”, which is pastor rank. But the book of Revelation doesn’t actually identify them. Those that hold to the Rapture doctrine interpret these elders as being Raptured saints, some kind of leadership group, who are now in heaven at or near God’s very throne. They interpret “clothed in white raiment” as being the righteousness of Jesus, or the saints, as believers are clothed in, and they have crowns of gold, indicating reward. But angels have appeared clothed in white, and have ranks as well. This is one of the Scriptural passages that if interpreted one way, would tentatively prove the saints have been Raptured to heaven at this point when John is viewing the 24 elders. But if interpreted as they’re being some other form of spirit being, i.e., angels, then it doesn’t prove a thing, except that maybe the saints are in a place of safety. Again, it’s not enough to hang a doctrine on. Jesus said in Revelation 3:10 he’d protect us, and that alone is sufficient for me, however he decides to do it.
The four living creatures, what are they?
Verses 5-6, “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.” The seven Spirits of God probably represents God’s Holy Spirit, as given to the seven churches, who were identified as “lampstands” in Revelation 1. Remember Jesus walking among the seven lampstands in Revelation 1? To say the least, this is an awesome picture, which probably blew John away so to speak. One thing that is apparent, John is up there in spirit, in vision. A sea of molten glass is hot to us, very hot. But to God in his full intensity, he could boil it off just by taking a dip in it. I don’t think heaven is a place where ordinary humans could survive, especially with God in his full brilliance (remember Mount Sinai smoking under the very feet of Yahweh). That is why I believe those that believe in the Rapture kind of explain that it is the spirits or souls of the saints that get Raptured, not their actual physical bodies. Also they believe the dead in Christ, in some kind of spirit form, reside, conscious in heaven. So far I think we’ve seen a stunning image of what heaven is like, regardless of your personal choice in interpretation. Now it goes on to describe the “beasts” that are all around God’s throne. “And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” Verses 7-8. Let’s let the Bible interpret itself to identify who the “four living creatures” are. Ezekiel saw these same creatures when Yahweh appeared to him on the river Chebar. Ezekiel 1:4-14, “Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of it’s midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.” Well, OK, if we’d seen this, we’d swear we were looking at a UFO. Poor Ezekiel must have been shaking in his boots. But wait till he sees these “alien lifeforms”. “Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.” Now that, folks, is a description of holy angels that accompany what by appearance is a portable throne Yahweh traveled in to visit Ezekiel. He also saw four of these “living creatures”, and each of them had four faces. So we see Ezekiel gives us a better description of the creatures, four of them, each having four faces, that surround God’s throne, whether that be in heaven, or what appears to be a portable throne, a wheel within a wheel, as Ezekiel goes on to describe. These six-winged creatures also correspond to the seraphim of Isaiah 6:2. Read Isaiah 6:1-5, the poor guy said he was “undone” by this sight, which must have been much the same as what Ezekiel experienced and saw. These angels cried out the same refrain, Holy! Holy! Holy!, and Isaiah says the doorposts were shaken by the voice of him who cried out. So get the image here. It’s an image of spectacular sight and sound, a sound and light show such as man (except for John, Ezekiel and Isaiah) has never experienced. “And when those beasts [seraphim, as we’ve seen] give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (verses 9-11) They are worshipping Jesus here, who sits with God the Father on the throne, with the Holy Spirit. This is the throne-room scene of the Triune God, depicted here in Revelation 4:1-11. What an awesome scene! Now we move onto Revelation chapter 5.
Revelation chapter 5
Jesus the Relevator
As we will see in this chapter, the actual book of Revelation was given by God the Father (the one who is sitting upon the throne in the scene that opens up here) to Jesus Christ, who is standing near by. It was given to Jesus Christ in the form of a scroll which had seven strong seals, sealing it up completely so it couldn’t be opened or read by anyone. Revelation 5:1-4, “And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” 1) So the prophecy of the book of Revelation was sealed. John is not the Revelator of the meaning of this prophecy, nor is any man or being in heaven or earth, and 2) Who broke the seals, who was it that revealed and reveals the ‘Book’s meaning? Verse 5, “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” Jesus Christ is the Revelator, not any human being, not any church leader, nor sect or denomination. What does that tell us? It tells us that we have to go to Jesus Christ to explain the meaning of the book, which by the way is filled with symbols. What was Jesus Christ called, named by John? He was called, named by John in John 1:1-2, 14, the Word of God, in the Greek, the Logos. The Bible, the whole Bible is the inspired written Word of God---Jesus Christ in print. In the Old Testament the pre-Incarnate Christ, Yahweh, inspired all the holy men and prophets of God, telling them what to write, sometimes audibly, sometimes through the Holy Spirit. He did the same as Jesus Christ, Yeshua haMeshiach for the New Testament writers. So we must look into the written Word of God to find the meaning of these mysterious symbols that fill the book of Revelation. We must not make the mistake of looking to any man to identify what Revelation’s symbols mean.
Jesus Christ takes the scroll out of the right hand of God the Father
Revelation 5:6-8, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.” In the Old Testament you have the altar of incense, which was in the temple of God. In the New King James language, “vials full of odours” is translated “golden bowls full of incense”. These bowls filled with incense are identified right here as being the prayers of the saints. When you pray properly, in the proper attitude, those prayers ascend to God’s throne as sweet smelling incense. It was the smoke of the burning incense that protected the high priest every year when he would enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. Here we see Jesus in Revelation interpreting what the incense was, the prayers of the saints. We also see that God the Father hands the scroll sealed with seven seals over to Jesus Christ, “the Lamb as it had been slain.” Jesus came and took the Scroll with Seven Seals out of God the Father’s hand. He was the one found worthy to take the book and open its seven seals.
A new song is song, a praise fest erupts
At this, a praise fest takes place. Notice the song they sing, Revelation 5:9-10, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on earth. Notice what our reward is. Our free gift from God is eternal life. But we each have a reward, and the vast majority, if not all the saints from righteous Abel to those saved during the tribulation, receive the reward of becoming kings and priests. And where does it say we will reign? Heaven? No, “and we shall reign on earth.” This book is all about the details leading up to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, and the set up of his Millennial Kingdom of God, which then will reign over the physical nations left alive after his return. The redeemed, born-again Christians and Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua haMeshiach (Hebrew for Jesus Christ) are to reign with Jesus as kings, and to serve people---on earth---as priests, leading the people left alive on earth in the way of salvation. During this song of praise to Jesus, everyone gets into the act, verses 11-14, “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” So Revelation 5 was a prelude to the opening of the scroll with seven seals. In the next chapter will see Jesus break one after the other of the seals, revealing through symbols, what each seal represents.
Revelation chapter 6
Revelation 6:1, “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.” Six of the Seven Seals are broken open in the sixth chapter of Revelation. One chapter covers all Six Seals and their mysterious symbols. Jesus Christ now takes the Book, the Scroll with Seven Seals, out of the right hand of God the Father whose sitting on the throne (Jesus is standing now), and one by one Jesus proceeds to break open the Seven Seals. As he breaks open each seal, John witnesses in 3D vision the mysterious symbols coming forth out of the Scroll. These symbols represent real events which are to occur on earth, but their meaning, just what they represent is not always revealed in the Book of Revelation itself. So what are we to do? Who is the One breaking the seals? It’s Jesus Christ. Can we just go up to Jesus Christ, who presently dwells on a throne right next to God the Father, and ask him what each symbol represents? No, we can’t. Only John the apostle, and perhaps the apostle Paul were granted the privilege of being taken to God’s throne in vision (not necessarily bodily). But we do have Jesus Christ with us on earth, in written form, as the written Word of God. So before we even begin to describe the symbols which appear as the six seals are broken open in Revelation 6, we must realize where we must look for their proper identity, what they represent in Jesus’ own words.
The first four Seals opened, revealing the four horsemen
Revelation 6:2-8, “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; [penny: denarius, about a day’s wages] and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell [Hades] followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” We have a white horse, a red horse, a black horse, and a pale horse, each with their mysterious riders. While we could probably take a pretty good stab at identifying the red, black and pale horse, three of the horses, let’s not. Let’s totally rely on Jesus for the proper identity for these four symbols, which we will see do represent real events to take place on the earth. Many religious leaders, trying to identify the white horse have ended up with interpretative egg on their faces. We must look to Jesus Christ, into the written Word of God for the proper identity of these four horsemen, coming out of the first four seals of Revelation 6. Jesus in Revelation 6 does not identify these four horses with their riders. We must look elsewhere for their identity. As J. Vernon McGee has pointed out, a symbol in the Bible is something that represents something real, tangible. Where in the Bible did Jesus Christ explain the events leading up to his 2nd coming? That should be easy enough for decent Bible students. We have seen that the whole book, in Revelation 1, has been linked with “the Day of the Lord”, which is linked to over 30 prophecies alone in the Old Testament. But let’s look first to where Jesus himself spoke of the events leading up to his 2nd coming. Where are these prophecies listed? Answer: Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, the Olivet Prophecy, as recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They basically record seven events, prophetic events to occur leading up to Jesus Christ’s 2nd coming. How many seals do you have on the Revelation Scroll?---seven.
First four Seals, events---the four horsemen---as seen in the Olivet Prophecy
1) Matthew 24:4-5, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am the Christ; and shall deceive many.”
2) Matthew 24:6-7a, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of war: see that ye be not troubled: for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…”
3) Matthew 24:7b, “and there shall be famines…”
4) Matthew 24:7b-8, “and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
There is a principle here we should notice. The four horsemen are tied into this book concerning the Day of the Lord, which means they come into full force as we approach “the Day of the Lord” and Jesus’ 2nd coming. But these four horsemen conditions have existed from the time of Jesus’ death, resurrection and the very founding of the Church in Acts chapter 2. So let’s look at the four items we just looked at in Matthew 24.
1) White horse and it’s rider: By Paul’s and John’s time in Asia Minor false teachers had been arising. We have read about some of that in the Church history section covered in the Revelation 2 & 3 part of this commentary. So the first symbol, the white horse with it’s crowned rider holding a bow, by Jesus’ own definition as recorded in Matthew 24:4-5 is false religion, false churches, culminating in one big false church, claiming to be Christian.
2) Red horse and its rider: In Matthew 24:6-7a, Jesus identifies the red horse and its rider as warfare, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” From the time of Christ to now wars have been fought and raged, and as time has progressed, so has the deadliness of those wars, as growing technologies have given armies and navies increased killing power. Now just within the 20th century mankind has entered into a new deadlier type of warfare, world war, kingdom against kingdom. We have been through two rounds of world war, and presently are in a lull or intermission period between the end of the 2nd World War and the coming World War III. That is what many Christians call “the Great Tribulation.” But the Great Tribulation is actually the culmination of all four horses of Revelation 6, along with two more Seals yet to be opened by Jesus Christ. This time of World War III would be so great that Jesus said later in Matthew 24:21-22 that unless the time were cut short, no flesh would be saved alive, as the Moffat translation renders it. Ever since the full arrival of the Atomic Age, the 1960s, mankind has possessed the nuclear capability to erase all life from off this planet, not once, but multiple times over. Once is quite enough, thank you. Revelation 6:3-4, “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.”
3) Black horse and its rider: Matthew 24:7b, “and there shall be famines,” Revelation 6:5-6, “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny [“a denarius”, a day’s wage], and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”
4) Pale horse and its rider: Matthew 24:7b-8, “and pestilence, and earthquakes in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Revelation 6:7-8, “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell [Greek: Hades] followed with him. And power was given them [“them”, i..e., these four horsemen] over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Pestilence or disease epidemics have usually followed in the wake of warfare and also in the wake of famine. Today, right now, according to the June 2009 National Geographic Magazine, the world again stands on the brink of not being able to feed itself. Scientists quoted in it say another “Green Revolution” is needed, and fast, in half the time it took to engineer the first Green Revolution with genetically altered cereal crops, if we are to prevent the world from going into a period of dwindling food production leading to potential massive famines worldwide. These four horsemen, false religion in the name of Christ (not Buddhism, Islam or Hindu, by the way), wars, national and world war, famines and disease epidemics are all currently extant on the earth, and have been since the time of Christ in 31AD. But now in the context of The Day of the Lord, these four horsemen reach their final culmination of full fury and power, culminating in the rise of a great and large false church, World War III, and the resultant famine and disease epidemics that follow such wars due to the interruption of food production in the major food producing nations (i.e. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States). Revelation 6:8, “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them [all four horsemen] over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” One fourth of the world’s population dies, roughly 1.6 billion people if this were to happen right now, as a direct result of these “four horsemen” working their final work. This is the beginning of the Great Tribulation, a period of false religion (and religious persecution and martyrdom, as we’ll soon see), World War III starting up, resulting in worldwide famine and disease epidemics. “All these things are the beginning of sorrows,” as Matthew 24:8 says.
The fifth and sixth seal opened by Jesus Christ
5) The Fifth Seal, Martyrdom: Matthew 24:9-13, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. [Comment: The Greek word for “love” here is agapeo, a word derived from the Greek Agape’, which is always used in the Bible to denote God’s special love bestowed onto and into Christians by the Holy Spirit, so this group of people ‘whose love is waxing cold’ are believers, caught in these bad circumstances, but obviously believers who have not been that close to God in prayer and Bible study because their love, agapeo is growing cold.] But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” The word “you” (verse 9) can be applied, unless the subject is clearly identified in the Bible, to either 1) born-again believers in Jesus, Yeshua, or 2) the House of Israel (now lost historically) or the House of Judah (the Jews and Israelis). In Matthew 24:9-13 “you” is being applied to believers. In verse 13 where it says “the love of many shall wax cold” the word for “love” is agapeo, which I commented on above. But in Luke 21:8-11 Jesus says, “And he said, ‘Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.’ Then said he unto them, ‘Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.” Now that lists all four horsemen, and the Sixth Seal, the heavenly signs, which we haven’t covered yet, but it is the Sixth Seal mentioned in Revelation 6, you’ll see. But in verse 12, Jesus backtracks, to say “but before all these”, and goes on as we shall see, to mention great persecution. “But before all these” would include the first four seals, or horsemen, false religion, war, famine and pestilence. So it almost appears that Jesus is saying that the persecution, which has some martyrdom in it, which he mentions both in Matthew 24:9-13, and here in Luke 21:12-19 is a persecution that is not the Great Persecution or Martyrdom of the saints in the 5th Seal. What I think is that Matthew 24:9-13, and Luke 21:12-19 refers to both, first a prior persecution which will involve all Christians (i.e. Philadelphia, Laodicea and what remains of Sardis). But then after the full force of the four horsemen has struck, then the real martyrdom of saints takes place, involving those believers who have not been brought into some form of place of safety, whether that be a Rapture to heaven or going to some place on earth designated by God. So this description of persecution and martyrdom represents both the initial phase before the big WWIII strikes, and then later, refers to the martyrdom of all Christians left behind (as Hal Lindsey so aptly puts it). Now Luke 21:12-19, “But before all these [i.e., what Jesus said in verses 8-11], they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of your heads perish. In your patience ye possess your souls.” Then in Luke 21:20-24 Jesus gives a very good description of the firing of the first shots in World War III, and they will be fired in Jerusalem, and some of the surrounding nations. This ties in with the beginning of the final fulfillment of the red horse. We will see later in Revelation 13 and 17 what superpower brings on this Blitzkrieg, the opening salvos of World War III. But Jesus shows where it will all start, and gives a warning. Verses 20-24, “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed [surrounded] with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it [of Jerusalem, I would assume] depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” But in Matthew 24:14, just before this opening salvo of World War III occurs Jesus says “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Then from verses 15-18 Jesus gives the same warning to those who live in Jerusalem or Judea (read it for yourself). So the real timing for the start of it all doesn’t start ticking until our job is finished, that of local, national and international evangelism. I covered that in the section on Revelation 3, how the Philadelphia era would be known as a missionary, evangelistic Church which adhered to and lived by the Word of God. We still have a job to do in that regards, by the way, we’re not there yet. Then, as Revelation 6 says, you have the great martyrdom of saints, occurring right after the four-horsemen, the first four seals. Then in Luke 21:25-26 you have the heavenly signs. Now if you know the story flow of Revelation, you have the heavenly signs as the Sixth Seal, then the Seven Trumpet plagues occur, and when the seventh trumpet is blown you have another bunch of heavenly signs that take place. Jesus here in Luke 21:25-26 lumped the two sets of heavenly signs together, just as he did with the two occurrences of persecution and martyrdom. Verses 25-26, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and waves roaring; men’s hearts failing from them for fear, and for looking after these things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Verse 27, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Hope that didn’t confuse you. Just wait till you see the whole of Revelation laid out for you, and you will see what I mean. Revelation 6:9-11, “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” Now that’s the 5th Seal, a Great Martyrdom of saints.
6) 6th Seal, the heavenly signs: Revelation 6:12-16, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:” And what are these heavenly signs an announcement of??? Verse 17, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” These heavenly signs, the Sixth Seal are an announcement, heralding the beginning of the Seven Trumpet Plagues. Cf. Joel 2:31 announces “The Day of the Lord” in the same manner. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.” So in Revelation 6:2-8 you have the four horsemen in their ultimate fulfillment ushering in World War III, with famine and disease epidemics following in their wake. This is but the opening salvo’s of World War III brought on, as we’ll see in Revelation 13 & 17 by the Beast Empire and the false church. Right after their initial victory, when whoever it is they’ve conquered (U.S. and British nations, and definitely the Israeli nation of the Jews) have been taken captive, then comes the great martyrdom at the bidding or behest of the great false church and its leader, called in Revelation “the false prophet”. This is depicted in Revelation 6:9-11, the 5th Seal. Now one comment about what the souls of those under the altar are quoted as saying. Those that believe in the Rapture interpretation for saints going to heaven also believe that those that die in Christ also go to heaven, or their souls or spirits (not their bodies, which remain in the grave until the 1st Resurrection to immortality) go to heaven. They believe the ‘souls or spirits’ of these individuals remain conscious, in some nebulous cloudlike form, outside their bodies. This is all explained in the link article about the various interpretations about heaven and hell (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm ). So this group believes these guys are actually crying out to Jesus, ‘When, Lord, will we be avenged?’ The other side of the body of Christ believe this passage is merely allegorical. Who is correct? We won’t find out until we die or Jesus comes, will we? So why debate, it’s a secondary issue compared to salvation, right along with the issue of “soul-sleep” versus “the-soul-stays-conscious-after-death”, it’s secondary. Don’t be divisive, drop it. Then comes the heavenly signs, the 6th Seal, which ushers in “the Day of the Lord”, which is a period of time in which the Seven Trumpet plagues are being delivered. It is thought that this period of time will last about a year. The Seven Trumpet plagues mark the real beginning of God’s intervention in the world’s affairs. For 6,000 years, with the exception of the nation of Israel, God has basically maintained a “hands off” policy toward the nations of the world. Now right after the 6th Seal, the heavenly signs, that all ends quite abruptly. The initial reaction of mankind is witnessed in verses 15 through 17 of Revelation 6, which we just read “Rocks, fall on us!”
Revelation chapter 7
A temporary delay thrown into the beginning of “the Day of the Lord”, the 7 Trumpet plagues
There is a major event God must perform before he begins dishing out the seven trumpet plagues (which make up the seventh seal). Revelation 7:1-4, “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” We will see a bit later that “these four winds” blow the Seven Trumpets which follow this temporary lull that’s been placed between the end of the 6th Seal and the opening of the 7th Seal. There are two groups of people “sealed in their foreheads”, first 12,000 taken from each tribe of Israel (Israel was made up of 12 separate tribes, united into one nation at the time of king David). And the second group is made up of an innumerable multitude taken from all the Gentile nations.
Who are the 144,000 taken from all of Israel?
Let the book of Revelation answer that one. Revelation 7:5-8, “Of the tribe of Juda [i.e., the Jews make up the tribe of Juda] were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Asher were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zebulun were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. [Comment: this would probably be the tribe of Ephraim, since Joseph represented two tribes, Ephraim and Manasses.] Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.” Here’s a comment made by Pastor Chuck Smith, Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, California.
“144,000. There should be no mystery as to the identity of the 144,000. They are “all the tribes of the children of Israel.” And to be even more specific, the angel broke them down by tribe. And yet, so many groups have attempted to identify themselves as the 144,000 which are sealed by God. It isn’t the Church; it is Israel. And notice, there are no “lost tribes of Israel.” God knows where they are.”
Now right here Pastor Chuck Smith has made an insightful revelation and admission for a theologian. And that is that Israel is more than the one tribe of Judah, i.e., the Jews. So many have assumed, both Christians, and even Messianic Jews and the religious Jews, that Israel means Jews. In a civil war the ten northern tribes of Israel broke free from and separated themselves from “the House of Judah” in the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and became known Biblically as “the House of Israel.” (Look it up in 1st Kings 12.) The House of Israel is alternately called Samaria in the Bible as well. In 2nd Kings 17 the warrior Empire of Assyria defeated the 10-northern tribes, called the House of Israel or Samaria, and took them all captive and deported them to the shores of the Caspian Sea. Historically they became “lost from view”, and that is why they are called, even by Jews to this day, “the lost ten tribes of Israel.” But Pastor Chuck Smith brought out an important point few bother to consider, “That they are not lost, God knows exactly where they are!”. It says in verse 5, “Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand.” That leaves 132,000 more Israelites left to be sealed from the other eleven tribes mentioned in verses 5-8 of Revelation 7. We know historically that either the half tribe of Benjamin or maybe more of that tribe also became part of The House of Judah in the civil war mentioned in 1st Kings 12 & 13. The tribe of Levi also went with Juda. Who are the rest? Where are the others? I’m not going to speculate, but rest assured, God knows exactly who they are (nationally) and where they are.
Second group comes under God’s protection
Revelation 7:9-17, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” After the horrific events of the first Six Seals, multiple thousands, maybe millions will finally recognize who’s who, who God really is, and repent, and call on his name. Obviously they are sealed with God’s Holy Spirit as well, receiving salvation. The elder identifies the great multitude from the Gentile nations as “the ones who come out of great tribulation.” I believe that the greatest period of Revival---the greatest number of people genuinely coming to Jesus Christ, asking, begging him to come into their lives---will occur when the true Church is no longer around. Why? Remember Revelation 3:10? Jesus has promised to remove his Philadelphia era Church out of harms way, so they don’t have to go through the great tribulation (“the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test them that dwell on the earth”). God in my estimation has not made it all that clear as to how he will do that, either as a Rapture of this Philadelphia era Church to heaven or by taking them to a place of safety on earth. Believe what you will on that point. But the true Church---Philadelphia era---is gone. The Laodicean Church has just been martyred, killed off. So when the 144,000 from all 12 tribes of Israel, and this innumerable multitude from all the Gentile nations come to their senses spiritually and recognize what’s going on---when they realize that what they’ve heard us preaching for years is true---they repent, ask Jesus into their lives. Then God seals them with his Holy Spirit. Some theologians believe that they come out of the tribulation or somehow remain protected right where they are. They may also be Raptured to heaven or to a place of safety on earth. I think verses 15-17 is looking forward in time to when they’re in the Kingdom of Christ on earth as immortal sons and daughters of God after the 2nd coming of Christ. So Philadelphia, take heart in your labours of evangelism, witnessing for the Lord to those you love, those you work with, those in your community, and also supporting international evangelistic organizations. This is the big pay-off to all your efforts! [Comment: J. Vernon McGee thinks that the 144,000 and innumerable multitude end up getting martyred in the Tribulation, just as Laodicea does. He may be correct. The “sealing” of this group may merely be with God’s Holy Spirit. His explanation is given in the Revelation 14 section, which mentions the 144,000 as well.]
Revelation chapters 8 and 9
The Seven Trumpet Plagues,
just what do they symbolize?
Revelation 8:1-2, “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.” These first two verses of Revelation 8 have just identified what makes up the Seventh Seal. So we’ve been through the Six Seals, and now the Seventh Seal is identified as being composed of the Seven Trumpets, and the plagues they bring. The Seven Trumpets, which compose or make up the Seventh Seal, follow right after the 6th Seal, and right after the 144,000 Israelites and the innumerable Gentile multitude have been sealed in their foreheads and perhaps granted protection by God. Right after the heavenly signs of the Sixth Seal in verse 17 of Revelation 6 it was announced that the day of God’s wrath is come, which is “The Day of the Lord.” So the Day of the Lord is the Seventh Seal, which is made up of the seven trumpet plagues. Where does Revelation reveal that they are plagues? At the end of the 6th Trumpet it says in Revelation 9:20, “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet not repented of the works of their hands…” In Zephaniah 1:6 it says, “A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.” The trumpet in ancient Israel was blown as an alarm for war. In the case of these trumpets, except for two of them, called the 1st and 2nd Woe, each trumpet plague is a form of God’s war against rebellious mankind, the opening salvo’s of God’s intervention in the affairs of mankind. In Revelation 7:1-3 it depicts the four angels holding back the four winds from blowing on the earth. These “four winds” blow or bring on the trumpet plagues. Revelation 8:3-5, “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.” This was being done in preparation to the start of the blowing of the seven trumpets. Notice that our prayers are mingled with heavenly incense and wafted before God as a sweet smell.
The first four trumpet plagues bring ecological disaster to the earth
1) “And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.”
2) “And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.”
3) “And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter,”
4) “And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.” You can imagine what kind of disaster this will cause. All livestock graze on grass, and are fed on corn. Who knows how many of them must die as a result. Trees are an important source for shade, and returning water to the air for cloud formation. One third of the earth is set ablaze with forest and brushfires. One third of the oceans, with all its fish are killed. Suddenly the earths ability to grow or catch important food sources is cut back by one third or more. One third of all the earths drinking water is now poison. It says many men died just from the poisoned waters, to say nothing of the ecological disaster on plant and animal life, and what further starvation that causes. You would think this would soften up these evil empires that are so bent on victory and world domination at any cost. But no. The last or final three trumpet plagues are called “Woes” due to the horrible woe that they shall bring upon the human forces of evil on this earth as well as the inhabitants of the earth. God is going to allow Satan to bring about a huge armed assault of one national-political power block against another one. At this point in man’s history, there are two major power blocks, the European alliance of ten nations, now united as one, and the other, made up of some Russian-Eurasian power block to the east of Europe and north of the Middle East. God is going to allow all restraints to be removed that has been holding mankind back from slaughtering himself into oblivion. That’s what the first two Woes are all about. God’s going to step back and say, OK, you guys love war so much, duke it out. I won’t stop you. Let’s see what follows. Revelation 8:13, “And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!”
5th Trumpet, the 1st Woe
Revelation 9:1-11, “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. [“star” can also be a Bible symbol for an “angel”, and as you see, this star is referred to as “to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.”] And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. [Comment: It appears here that the 144,000 and innumerable multitude are scattered throughout the earth by this verse, and they’re still alive.] And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.” Locusts do have the appearance of modern helicopter gunships, from the Vietnam war to present. The evil power which brings this Woe on mankind comes out of the “bottomless pit”. Revelation interprets one of its own symbols here, so we need not try to use our own interpretation for this. Revelation 17:8-14, “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall come out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on earth shall wonder, whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. Ad here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” [In Bible symbolism, a mountain can stand for a nation, kingdom or empire.] “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” We will see later that this is none other than a rebirth and revival of the Roman and Holy Roman Empire. Daniel 11:40-43 describes the revived Roman Empire coming into the Holy Land and conquering. After this “king” is settled in, verse 44 reveals this “king” receives military intelligence from the east that troubles him. This is when he launches an all-out attack on the eastern power-block. Let’s see what Daniel says. Daniel 11:40-43, 44, “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.” (Lap dogs.) That described the opening salvo of WWIII, just into 3 ½ years of this peace treaty this “king of the North” signs with Israel. Later on, he hears some disturbing news, which is shown in verse 44, “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.” To the north and to the east of Israel, where he’s just finished wrapping things up and relocating his headquarters to, is Russia and the C.I.S. states confederated with Russia. So this 1st Woe is an all-out attack on the eastern forces from that region, probably against Russia and its confederate countries. It appears to be either a chemical or biological warfare attack, by the description given in these verses we just read. Notice it says “that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree.” The ecological damage of the first four Trumpet plagues was so bad that the beast empire is forced to choose a type of warfare that won’t hurt the plant-life that remains alive on earth.
6th Trumpet, 2nd Woe
Revelation 9:12-21, “One woe is past; and behold, there come two woes more hereafter. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: [200,000,000 man army. That’s right folks, a 200 million man army!] and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” So the eastern alliance of nations, probably under Russia, have been seriously attacked by the united European military combine, being made to suffer severely for five months. Now the East counterattacks with a 200 million man army equipped with deadly military hardware. The result, one third of men die. Now whether that’s the world population of men, or just one third of the army of this Euro superpower, I don’t know. But it’s a large number any way you look at it. If it is one third of earth’s population, that’s 2 billion people, at current population levels. By this point in time, perhaps as many as half the world’s population has died, first about one quarter of the world’s population or 1.6 billion die as a result of the initial onslaught of World War III, famine and disease epidemics, the four horsemen, the first Four Seals of Revelation 6. Now perhaps as many as two billion more die as a result of this counterattack in the ensuing battle by some type of Russian/Eurasian confederation. This Eurasian army (probably including Russia as its leading nation and military power) will in all likelihood overrun Europe during this “2nd Woe.” Later during the 3rd Woe or 7th Trumpet all nations will be gathered at Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley of Israel, awaiting the final battle they will wage in Jerusalem against the returning Jesus Christ and his holy armies, as depicted in Revelation 19 as riding white horses alongside their Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Seven Thunders
Revelation 10:1, “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire…” I like Pastor Chuck Smith’s comment about who this mighty angel might be. He says, “The word “angel” means “messenger.” We usually think of angels as the spirit beings who were created by God as ministering spirits; But in the Bible, sometimes people are described as angels, and Jesus Christ appears often in the Old Testament as “the Angel of the LORD.” I personally believe that the messenger described here is none other than Jesus Christ, the Angel of the LORD. He is clothed with a cloud [the Jews call this the Shekinah glory, which surrounds Yahweh whenever he has appeared in all his glory, like on top of Mount Sinai.] Jesus himself said that he would return in the clouds (Mark 13:26). The rest of this description also sounds so much like the description of Jesus in Revelation 1. He is also holding a book, which is probably the Scroll he took in chapter 5. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that this “mighty Angel is Jesus himself.” I tend to agree with Pastor Chuck on that. Revelation 10:2-4, “And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.” This Angel, Messenger, perhaps Jesus, cries out with the voice of a roaring lion. “When he cried out” it says seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when John was about to write down whatever these “voices uttered”, he was told not to write them down, don’t ‘record what was said.’ So we have no idea what the seven thunders are. To me, then, there’s no reason to speculate. Jesus didn’t want it written down or revealed, so that’s that. Verses 5-7, “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” Just as it says, Jesus proclaims that there should be no more delay. Delay for what? The sounding of the Seventh Trumpet. Verses 8-11, “And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” John is told to eat this little book, which Pastor Chuck speculates is the Seven Sealed Scroll of Revelation chapter 5. John says it was sweet like honey to the taste, but made his stomach sour, bitter. Ever have acid reflux? Sour stomach? One pastor of mine said that the books of prophecy and their prophecies are exciting to read, but when they come upon you, they aren’t so sweet anymore, but bitter. Personally, I think these prophecies contained in the Book of Revelation should scare the wits out of us, and make us take our Christian calling seriously. Go back to Revelation chapter 3 and review what Philadelphia was said to be doing, and see if that fits your Christianity. If it doesn’t, make some changes while there is yet time.