Revelation chapter four begins with the Greek word “meta autos”. And the first verse begins and ends with the same Greek words. The words literally from the Greek are "after these things". So as we come to this phrase, "after these things," our minds should flash back to chapter 1:19, where the book of Revelation was divided into three basic divisions. “Write the things which you have seen, the things which are, and the things which will be after these things”, “meta autos”. So obviously we are coming into the third section of the book of Revelation, after these things. After what things?
Well, it seems to me that it would be quite apparent and obvious. It would be after the things that he was just talking about. And the things that he was just talking about were the things of the church; so, after the things of the church. For we had in chapters two and three, the messages of Jesus to the seven churches of Asia, which as we pointed out represent seven periods of church history.
So, after these things, the things of the church,
I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show you things which must be after these things (4:1).
I believe that when the church has completed its purpose upon the earth and has finished its witness, or as Paul describes, “when the fullness of the gentiles is come in,” that the Lord is then going to catch away His church into heaven.
Paul said, “behold, I show you a mystery. We are not going to all sleep, but we are all going to be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. The trump of God shall sound, the dead in Christ shall be raised incorruptible.” First Thessalonians 4:16-17, Paul said, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
So, I believe that the church is to be raptured. And I believe that the point of the rapture in the book of Revelation is in here in chapter 4:1. I believe that John was taken by the Spirit unto the day of the Lord and experienced through the Spirit the rapture of the church. When the Lord had completed His messages to the churches, then the call to John was “come up hither and I will show you things, which must be after these things, after the things of the church”.
So as we enter then into the fourth chapter, we enter into the post-church era upon the earth. We will be coming back to the earth in chapter six, but it is the post-church era, when God now judges the world for its ungodliness and unrighteousness and for its rejection of His Son. But the church, with John here in chapter four caught up into heaven,
And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat upon the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald (4:2-3).
So the basic color that emanates from the throne is a green, along with the sardine red, along with the jasper which is a clear crystalline-type of a stone with a purple hue.
Now, Paul told us in Timothy that God dwells in a light that is unapproachable by man. And here in heaven, even in our glorified bodies, we only see the radiance of the glory of God as it emanates from His throne like a brilliant light, the predominant color being green, the rainbow about the throne like an emerald, green in color, with the sardine red color and the jasper stone in brilliance in coloring and light.
And round about the throne there were twenty-four lesser thrones: [thronus in Greek translated 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 (4:4).
The twenty-four elders clothed in white raiment are representative of the church according to most Bible scholars. These twenty-four elders are representative. The fact that they are in white robes is the church is to be clothed in white robes, the righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to the church of Laodicea, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne”(3:21). The twenty-four lesser thrones. Now we see the heavenly scene sitting in white robes upon their thrones.
And out of the throne [that is the throne of God] there proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God (4:5).
Now again it is important that we place in our mind the tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness, because we are told in the book of Hebrews that the tabernacle was actually a model of heavenly things. If you want to know basically what heaven is going to look like, you can go back to the tabernacle and you can get an idea of what the throne of God is like in heaven.
And there in the tabernacle we remember when the priest came into the holy place on the left-hand side, there was the seven candlesticks coming out of the one base. And these seven golden candlesticks, we now know from the book of Revelation, are representative of the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Holy Spirit there before the throne of God, the seven-fold work or the complete work of the Holy Spirit. We remember that in the Holy of Holies there was that Ark of the Covenant that Moses made covered with the gold lid, which was the mercy seat, upon which there was carved these golden cherubim with their wings touching the corners of the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle.
And so as we go on in the reading of the description here of heaven, we next come to these cherubim. These angelic beings created by God who seem to be the highest order of angelic beings.
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 living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. And the first living creature was like a lion, and the second was like a calf, and the third had a face as a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle (4:6-7).
Now, there are those Bible scholars that see in this the four phases of Christ as represented in the Gospels. The first, Matthew, presents Jesus as the lion of the tribe of the Judah. The lion, of course, is known as the king of the beast. The second, like a calf, as Mark presents Jesus as the suffering servant. The ox is considered the top of the domesticated animals. The third, like a man, as Luke presents Jesus as the Son of man, and man the crowning order of God’s creation. And the fourth, like an eagle, as John presents Jesus as the Son of the living God, and the eagle being the greatest of the flying foul.
These cherubim were first mentioned in the book of Genesis. When God drove Adam out of the garden after his sin, He put the cherubim at the gate of the garden lest man should return to the garden and eat of the tree of life and live forever in a sinful state. The cherubim are again mentioned in the book of Ezekiel, as in chapter one and in chapter ten. Ezekiel had a vision of the throne of God, which parallels the vision of John here in the book of Revelation. As Ezekiel saw the cherubim, each had the four faces, so on each side a face, and the faces of the ox, and the lion, and the man and the eagle in the vision that Ezekiel had. And for background you should probably read Ezekiel one and ten to find parallel passages to John’s vision here of the throne of God in heaven. And it is Ezekiel that names these creatures as the cherubim.
Now from the book of Ezekiel, also we know in the twenty-eighth chapter that that was the position that was once occupied by Satan. That the Lord speaks of him declaring that he was one of the anointed cherubs. So he had a place that was very close to God, for the cherubim are about the throne of God in their worship of God. And Ezekiel tells us that at one time Satan was one of these anointed cherub.
Again in a parallel passage Isaiah six, Isaiah also saw the throne of God. And when he got the vision of the throne of God, he said, “Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips. I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). And he saw a seraphim, which is probably in the order of the cherubim. Cherubim is only the plural of cherub. So you have heard of cherubs, so the plural of cherub is cherubim, as the plural of seraph is the seraphim. The “im” is a plural in the Hebrew.
So he saw the seraphim, who came to the altar of God with a live coal and touched his lips and said, “Now, are you clean.” But we find here in John’s vision of them that,
each of them had six wings; 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 (4:8).
And so they are there around the throne of God declaring the holiness of the eternal God.
And when these living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, [the eternal God] 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 (4:9-11).
And so here we see the first scene in heaven. And this will probably be one of the first scenes that you will observe in heaven as John did; the throne of God and the cherubim about the throne of God, and the worship of God as He sits upon the throne.
And then the response to the declaration of the holiness of God made by the cherubim are the twenty-four elders responding saying, “Thou art worthy to receive glory and honor and power.” Why? First of all, because You have created all things, not that You have allowed all things to evolve. You created all things. And not only that, but it is for Your pleasure they are and were created. Here is a statement of fact that is important for us to accept. I was created for God’s pleasure. That means I was not created for my own pleasure.
Thus, I should not seek to please myself, because then I am not answering the purpose of my existence. I should seek to please God; then I am answering the purpose of my existence. But the interesting thing is when I live to please God I find great pleasure myself. Therein is happiness. Therein is satisfaction. Therein is fulfillment when I live to please God. “If any man seeks to save his life, he is going to lose it, but if he loses his life for My sake,” Jesus said, “you will find it”(Matthew 10:39). And to really find what living is all about, you have got to just live for His pleasure. Thus, you are answering the purpose of your existence and thus your life is fulfilling and rich.
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat upon the throne a scroll that had writing both within and on the backside, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open this scroll, 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 to look thereon. And I sobbed convulsively, because no man was found worthy to open and read the book, neither to look thereon (5:1-4).
What is this book that has such a strong reaction upon John when no one is found worthy to open? This book is nothing other than the title deed to the earth. Under Jewish law whenever you sold property in the deed there was always a redemptive clause. You always had the right to buy the property back within a specified period of time providing you could fulfill the terms and the requirements that were written in the deed.
So wherever there was the sale of property, there was always two deeds that were drawn up. One deed was sealed and it was put away in a safe deposit. The other remained open and was kept by the person who sold the property. And in the time of redemption you would bring both deeds, the one that was open and the one that was sealed. And by the open deed you would prove that you were the one that had the right to redeem it. And in the redeeming of it, you would break the seals of the closed deed and you would fulfill the requirements therein, and thus, the property would revert to you.
In the book of Jeremiah thirty-two, we find Jeremiah is in the prison. He has predicted that Jerusalem is going to fall to the Babylonians. He has encouraged the people not to resist in order to spare their own lives, because resistance would be suicide. The Babylonians are going to conquer them and so capitulate. Well, he was arrested for treason and he was thrown into the dungeon, because of his encouraging of the people not to try to resist the Babylonian invasion, but to surrender because Babylon was going to conquer them. He also prophesied that after seventy years of Babylonian captivity, they were going to come back and they were going to occupy the land again. They were going to be carried off to Babylon, but after seventy years they will come back and occupy the land.
Now, here you are. The Babylonian army is outside of the city. It has now put the siege around the city. They are about ready to conquer the city and here is Jeremiah sitting in the prison, because he has encouraged the people not to resist because they are going to fall. But he has also prophesied we are going to have this land again.
So the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah and said, “Look your uncle’s property is coming up for redemption. Go ahead and redeem it.” Now there was this clause in these contracts that if you personally could not redeem your property again, then one of your relatives could step in and redeem it for you so that the property remained in the family.
So the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah that Hanameel’s field is coming up for redemption. “Go ahead and redeem it.” His uncle was unable to do it himself. So in order to show his faith to the people in the promise of God that they were going to come back and have this land again, Jeremiah went ahead and redeemed the field.
The next day as he was there in the dungeon, his cousin came in and said, “Hey, my dad wants you to redeem the field. The right of redemption is yours. He can’t do it. He wants you to redeem it. Jeremiah knew it was the Word of the Lord that came to him saying, “Redeem the field of Hanameel.” So he said, “I took the instruments and I sealed the one.” And He gave them to his scribe and he said, “Now bury these in a jar so that when we finally come back into the land. So keep the two documents, the one that is sealed and the other, and bury them both together in the jar, and when we come back into the land we will claim this field which is ours.” So you can read that in the thirty-second chapter, the two deeds that were written up, the one that was sealed and the other that was open.
So, here we find in the scroll of the right hand of Him who was sitting upon the throne, a scroll that is sealed with seven seals. It is a title deed. It is the title deed to the earth.
Originally the earth belonged to God by creation. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof and all they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). When God created man, God gave to man the earth. He said to Adam, “have dominion over the fish of the sea, the foul of the air, over every moving and creeping thing for I have given it unto thee. It is yours”(Genesis 1:26). So God gave the earth to man. But Adam turned the earth over to Satan when he disobeyed God and obeyed the suggestion of Satan. He forfeited the earth over to Satan and it became Satan’s. We sing this is my Father’s world. Yes, in a technical sense. Yet, in a very practical sense at the present time it is Satan’s world. Paul said, “He is the god of this world. He has blinded the eyes of the people” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Jesus twice or three times called him the prince of this world.
You remember when Jesus came; what was the purpose of His coming? It was to redeem the world back to God. And what was the first thing Satan did? He took him out into the wilderness and tempted Him. The first was to turn the stone into bread. But the second, he took Him up unto a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. And he said, “I will give these all to you and the glory of them, if you will bow down and worship me, for they are mine and I can give them to whoever I will”(Luke 4:6-7).
What a boast Satan is making. “Hey, the whole world is mine. I have the capacity to give to whomever I will.” And Jesus did not dispute that claim. It's right. The world is in Satan’s control. The world is in rebellion against God. Satan indeed is the god of this world, and when you receive Jesus Christ, you become an alien to the world. Jesus said, “If you were of the world, than the world would love you, because the world loves its own, but you are not of the world”(John 15:19). This world is under Satan’s power and control. That is why it is so obviously wrong to blame God for all the problems that exist in the world today; yet, man wants to blame God for all of the suffering that is going on in the world.
If God is the God of love, than why are there people starving in Ethiopia? Why over in Cambodia are they going through such horrors? If God is the God of love, why are children suffering here, there, and in other places? Why this? Why that, if God is a God of love? Because the world belongs to Satan in rebellion against God and man has joined in Satan’s rebellion.
And I am certain that if we could have a vote, and we placed on the ballot “Who do we want to rule over the world? God or Satan,” Satan would win by a landslide. Now you may challenge that statement. But just put Satan in the guise of the flesh in which he comes, living after the flesh or living after righteousness, and you don’t have to go to the ballot. People express their vote by the lifestyles that they live. And I dare say that those that are living after the flesh far outnumber those that are living after the Spirit. So, the person casts his vote by his lifestyle and obviously Satan has won by a landslide.
Living a righteous life, living after the Spirit is not the popular life. It isn’t the life that is applauded by the world nor even admired by the world. So Jesus came to redeem the world back to God. He paid the price of redemption. And what was the price of redemption? His blood shed upon the cross. And whenever you read of redemption in the New Testament, it is always related to the blood of Jesus Christ. That was the price that He paid to redeem the world.
When Adam died, he died for his own sin, because God declared that the soul that sinneth, it shall surely die. He said to Adam, “In the day that you eat thereof, you are going to die”(Genesis 2:17). When he died, he died for his own sin, and so with every other man since Adam with the exception of one. There was only one man who died for the sins of others not for his own. Jesus was without sin. Peter said, “We are redeemed not with corruptible things like silver and gold from our empty manner of living, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ who was slain as a lamb without spot or blemish” (1Peter 1:18-19). So in the innocent one dying, His death then was the price paid for the redemption of the world.
Jesus said, “ The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man going through a field and discovering a treasure, and who for the joy thereof immediately goes out and sells everything that he has in order that he might buy that field so he can obtain the treasure”(Matthew 13:44). And the parable, the field represents the world. Jesus said, “ Now the field is the world.” Who gave then everything to purchase the world? Jesus Christ. And for what purpose did He purchase the world? That he might take the treasure out of it. And what is the treasure? His church, the body of Christ, you who have come to believe and trust in Him. And He redeemed the whole world that He might take you out of it.
So, as we come now to the heavenly scene, we are coming now to that time of redemption. There was always the appointed time when the property was to be redeemed. And of course there was another specification within the law. If you or your family members were unable to redeem the property at the time of redemption, then you lost the rights of the property forever and it remains now perpetually in the new family ownership that has taken control. You have lost your rights forever. You had the one chance to redeem it and that was it.
In most cases the redemption period that was set was that of seven years, which corresponded also to the time of redemption for a man who was sold into slavery. You could not remain there for more than seven years. Interesting to me that just about six millennia ago, man was sold into slavery to sin and the world was sold over to Satan and he took control and has had control for almost six thousand years. For Adam forfeited the earth just about 4000 years B.C. and we are coming out to the 2000 years AD
I personally believe that this year of redemption is coming up very soon. And what we are reading about here in the book of Revelation will take place within twenty-five earth years. I believe that God has established that six thousand years, the six in one pattern, and that it will be fulfilled in the big overall view, when Satan will have had his reign for the six thousand years and the earth is now coming up for redemption.
And here is the heavenly scene and we observe it here with John. An awesome scene, there on the throne God sits with all of His glory, as the cherubim worship Him, and as the twenty-four elders respond to the worship declaring the worthiness of God to receive it. And now the scroll in His right hand and the angel proclaiming with this strong loud voice, “Who is worthy to open this scroll, and to loose the seals.” And then the notation, “No man was found worthy.” What does that mean? No man has the capacity to redeem the world.
Now every four years we have men stand up and tell you that they can save the world. And if you will just vote for them, they have got a program and a plan of redemption. And man has been trying to redeem mankind, but no man is found worthy. No man can redeem himself, much less the world. So, no man was found worthy. And this of course then brings on John’s weeping. Why? Because if nobody redeems it, it stays Satan’s domain forever. That thought is more than John can bear. It wipes him out. He begins to sob convulsively with a horrible contemplation that the world will forever be under Satan’s control and power and the misery will reign on and on through that.
And I wept much [literally sobbed convulsively], because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 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. [Don't worry, John, it is not all lost. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David has prevailed.] And I beheld, and, lo, in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, there stood a Lamb as it had been slain [literally slaughtered], 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 [or scroll] out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne (5:4-7).
It is interesting to me that the elder declares to John, “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah”. When John sees Him, he sees Him as a lamb that had been slaughtered, which would indicate that John perhaps sees Him still bearing the marks of the cross and His suffering for us.
It could be that your first view of Jesus in heaven will be a very shocking experience. For in our minds we have envisioned in looking upon the face of Jesus of seeing someone who is just perfect in beauty, glory, standing in awe of that beauty. But in the prophecy of Isaiah fifty-two and fifty-three, he said, “And as many as looked upon him were astonished.” They were shocked. For his face was so marred you could not recognize Him as a human being. “And we hid as it were our faces from him.” In other words, it was so shocking we could not bear to look. But then he went on to say, “But He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.”
These wounds that he bears are the wounds that he suffers for you when He paid the price of your redemption, when He took the judgment for your sins, when He died in your place. And it could very well be that our first view in heaven, prior to this completion of the redemptive act, that our fist view of Jesus will be a very shocking experience as we see Him with the marks of the sufferings that He bore for us in order to redeem us.
I turned and I saw him as a Lamb that had been slaughtered there in the midst of the throne among the living creatures, the cherubim, and in the midst of the twenty-four elders, there stood the Lamb.
And when he had taken the book, the four cherubim, living creatures and twenty-four 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 (5:8).
When in the Old Testament the priests went into the holy place of the Tabernacle each day, he bore a little golden bowl that was attached to these golden chains. And he would have incense in this little golden bowl, and when he would come past the altar where the sacrifices had been offered, he would take a burning coal from the altar and would place it in this little bowl of incense. And of course, the smoke of the incense would begin to rise. And he would go into the holy place where they had the altar of incense, and he would wave this little golden bowl of incense before the altar and the sweet savor of smoke would ascend up before the veil, behind which dwelt the presence of God. And it was the offering of incense unto God, which was representing the prayers of the people. And there are Scriptures that refer to our prayers ascending as sweet incense before God.
So at this point these twenty-four elders act, as do the priests when they take these little golden bowls full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints, and they offer them at this point before God.
Now our redemption is not yet complete. The price is complete. It has been paid. Jesus died once and for all. But, Paul the apostle in Romans eight said, “And we and all creation do groan and travail waiting for our redemption, to wit, the redemption of this body.” So in the mean time, my body is not yet redeemed. I am longing for that day. I am waiting for that time.
In the meantime, God has given to me the Holy Spirit as a down payment, as an earnest of my inheritance until the redemption of His purchased possession. So God has shown that He is earnest in His intentions of redeeming you, and to show you that He gave to you the Holy Spirit. He has sealed you with that Spirit of promise until the day of redemption. And Paul talks about that in the first chapter of the book of Ephesians. One of the glorious blessings that we have in Christ, in heavenly places, is that after we believe we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession. The Lord has purchased you. He has paid the price. He hasn’t yet picked you up. He has paid the down payment, but He is coming to get you one of these days. He says, “Hey, they are mine. I paid the down payment. This is it.”
Now we are told in Hebrews that God has put all things in subjection unto Him, but we don’t yet see all things in subjection. That isn’t yet the reality. We still see a world that is in rebellion against Him. It is not submitted to Him. The world is in rebellion against Him. So we do not yet see all things in subjection unto Him, but we do see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, and He is waiting until the Father brings all things into subjection. He is resting in His finished work and now the Father is going to bring all things into subjection unto Him and He is going to establish Him then as the King of kings and the Lord of lords. But the redemption is not yet complete, for He hasn’t yet laid claim to that which He purchased.
It is like you going in to buy something from the department store and you realize you don’t have enough money for it right now, but you want it, so you put a down payment on it and you would like them to hold it for you. So they will write up the contract and put it on hold and you have a specified period of time to come in and pick it up. In the meantime it belongs to you technically. No one else can come in and buy it. Someone else could come in and say that they want it, but they would say, “Sorry, we sold the last one. They put the down payment on it.” So that is the earnest. You showed that you are earnest. You are intending to buy it. That is what it is all about. You just haven’t picked it up yet. So, we have the Holy Spirit, the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.
So as they offer these little bowls, odors before the throne of God, the prayers of the saints. How many times have you prayed “Thine kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”? That is an unanswered prayer up to this point. Now the church has been offering that prayer for centuries, but that is still an unanswered prayer. Now it doesn’t mean that God does not intend to answer it. God does intend to answer that prayer. It is just a matter of timing, which of course is one of the problems with a lot of our prayers. The time is now come and so the prayers are now brought before the throne of God, the prayers of the saints, the prayers through the centuries, “Thy kingdom come and Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”. And soon God’s kingdom will be coming and soon the will of God will be done here on the earth even as it is in heaven. And you won’t have the rebellion against God, which is destroying our planet, but you will have a planet all in obedience and subjection to Him. Oh, what a glorious place this could be if everybody lived as God wanted us to live, if we lived together in love, in righteousness and peace. For the kingdom of God is not meat or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy.
The earth can produce enough food for everybody. It is just that we are using the resources and managing the resources very poorly. We are using them for the wrong purposes, but when Jesus comes and establishes His kingdom, then shall we see the earth that God intended and righteousness upon the earth covering the earth as the waters do cover the sea.
And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and you've redeemed us to God by your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation (5:9);
So, redemption. ”Thou art worthy to take the book and loose the seals for you have redeemed us by your blood, out of every kindred, tongue, people and nation”.
Now the question: Who can sing this song? Is this the song of redeemed Israel? No, because these people are taken out of every kindred, tongue, people and nation. Surely it is not the song of angels. That leaves us one group, the church. The song of the redeemed church made up of people from all over the world, from every family, every tribe upon the earth. They are redeemed through Jesus Christ, the family of God, one in Christ. For “there is neither Jew, nor Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:11), one big family in Jesus singing of the redemption through His blood.
Which brings up a very interesting point. Inasmuch as the Tribulation does not begin until chapter six and the church is there in heaven declaring the worthiness of the Lamb to take the scroll and loose the seals, the Tribulation does not begin until the seals are loosed. It precludes the church being on the earth during the Great Tribulation period. Surely the Lord is not going to send us back down to go through the Tribulation and then rapture us again.
And have made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth (5:10).
Jesus, again to the overcomers, promised that they would be able to reign with Him, in His kingdom, and that ruling with Him with a rod of iron, that is to Thyatira.
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands (5:11);
Now what is ten thousand times ten thousand? One hundred million. Thousand of thousands would be millions more. How many are redeemed and will be there in heaven? I don’t know, but a good-sized crowd. All one in Christ, all declaring the glory of our Lord.
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 (5:12).
So that chorus of angels joining in with the church. You see, they can’t sing the verse. They only can sing the chorus. They don’t know what it is to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. But when we come to the chorus and we begin to declare His worthiness to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing, they can join that chorus and they do.
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 sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four cherubim said, Amen. And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped him that lives for ever and ever (5:13-14).
So, this scene in redemption in the heavenly places.
Now in chapter six, He begins to open the scroll.
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four living creatures saying, Come and see. 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 (6:1-2).
And so the first thing that takes place upon the earth once the church has been taken out, the moment this first seal is broken, the antichrist comes forth on a white horse. He is the false Messiah, the false Christ. And he begins to conquer over the earth, bringing the earth under this sphere of his power and control. Because we are told, and again to prove that Satan is still in control of the world, we are told in Revelation thirteen, that Satan will give to Him his throne and his authority. So He is going to turn the earth over to the antichrist, but we see his emergence here, the first thing after the church is gone.
Now according to Paul in second Thessalonians two, talking about the antichrist, he cannot come forth until the church is out of the way. “For that which hinders shall hinder until it is taken out of the way and then shall the son of perdition be revealed.” So he can’t be revealed until the hindering force is removed, which is the Spirit of God within the church of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth”(Matthew 5:13). What is salt? It was a preserving influence. It was a preservative. Jesus is saying the church is preserving the world. They use the salt in the meat in those days to kill the surface bacteria, because they didn’t have refrigeration. So the meat was salted to keep it from rotting, from putrefying. So when Jesus said to His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth,” they understood that we are an influence to keep the world from getting rotten. But He said, “If the salt has lost its savor than it is good for nothing and will be cast out and trodden under the foot of man”(Matthew 5:13). And if you will look at those nations that have fallen to communism, in every one of them the church had died. As far as its influence was concerned, it was dead; the salt had lost its savor.
The church is the only preserving influence in the world today. If it were not for the church, even the United States would be down the tubes already. Now they hate us because we are restraining them from all of the evil that they would love to be doing. We do form and should form a restraining force in the world. If a person said, “Oh, I'm sorry, I didn’t know that you were here.” Rejoice. You have a purifying influence where you work. If they make fun of you saying, “We can’t do it because look who is here, holy Joe.” Rejoice. That is what God wants you to be, a purifying influence. Keep them from telling those filthy stories. Keep them bragging over their filthy acts. Make them embarrassed for the evil things that they do. You are the salt of the earth. You are to be a preserving influence.
If we cease to be that preserving influence, we will cease to be. If the salt loses its savor, it is good for nothing. The Lord is saying you are only good for one thing and that is preserving the world. The moment the church is removed, that preserving influence is gone and right on the scene comes the antichrist. “That which hinders shall hinder until it is taken out of the way and then shall the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition who goes forth with all deceiving and lying” and so forth.
So right in order, the church is there in heaven having been caught up. The first seal is opened, which is really one of the first orders of business in heaven, and the antichrist comes forth conquering to conquer, bringing the world under his control. Now for the first three and a half years he is going to be hailed as a savior. The world is going to say, “Aha, you see. We told you all the time the problem was those rotten Christians. They kept us from all the prosperity and everything else.”
Of course, all the wealth of the Christians will be left here and be divided up by the world and everybody will be having great days as they come in to plunder the goods of the Christians. And the antichrist will offer his new economic programs and his new peace proposals and they will say, “Yes, the church was responsible for all of the wars. Now that we got those warmongers out of here, we can have peace here on the earth.” And he is going to come in with peace and prosperity and the big program and they will think that this guy is it. This guy has saved the world. The world was ready to go down the tubes, but this man has saved the world. He will be hailed as the Messiah or the savior. “He goes forth conquering and to conquer”, but after three and a half years things change.
And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second creature 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 the third seal was broken, I heard the third living creature 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 cherubim say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine (6:3-6).
So the third horse unleashes the famine which follows the war. Of course, if such a horrible thing should take place, and I think that it possibly will, a nuclear holocaust, I do not believe the church will be here when it happens, but I believe that such a thing is probably in the books for the future. One of the byproducts would of course be the tremendous fallout, which would destroy the crops, as far as they’re being edible, and thus what is happening in Ethiopia would be happening around the world. A measure of wheat is about a quart of wheat and a penny is a day’s wage for a laboring man. And what are laborers getting today? About forty dollars. So forty dollars for a quart of wheat.
Hey, if you want to be the richest man in the Tribulation, just go buy a bunch of wheat and store it. When this takes place, just take it out of storage and you could be the richest one in the Tribulation. You may even end up the richest man in hell, if that is any consolation.
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, Come and see. 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 over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth (6:7-8).
And so in these plagues, one fourth of the earth’s population will be wiped out. Now let us assume that when the church is taken out that it leaves maybe four billion people upon the earth, which means in the first four of the horsemen, or the second through the fourth, one-fourth or one billion people will die. That is awfully hard to conceive.
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, do you 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 told them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled (6:9-11). So here is a group, not the church, who have been martyred during this period of the reign of the antichrist.
Now when the antichrist comes forth to reign upon the earth, he will make war against the saints and prevail against them, the Scripture tells us. They could not be the church, because the gates of hell can’t prevail against the church. But when the church is raptured, I believe the earth is going to experience one of its greatest revivals in its history. Think of all your friends that you have witnessed to and they have been laughing and making fun of you, but when it actually takes place, these things that you have been sharing with them, it is going to be a sobering day for them and they are going to realize what a fool they had been. And when the antichrist begins to establish his reign, his authority, his power, hopefully they will have enough sense to resist him, which will mean their death, because he has the power to put to death those that do resist. That is those that refuse to take the mark or worship his image, but through their martyrdom at least they will be gaining their salvation.
And here is a great number of souls that are under the altar. And they are crying, “Lord how long until we can come in, before we can take our part in the heavenly scene?” And they are given white robes and told to wait a little while until the rest of them are slain, as you were slain, until the full numbers of martyrs has been complete. And then they will be brought into the heavenly scene, which we do see them in the later portion of chapter seven.
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, 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 cast her untimely figs, when she is shaken with 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 (6:12-14).
We read this and are reminded really of the parallel things that will be taking place in the sixth vile that is poured out upon the earth. And it could be that these are parallel judgments that are coming, that they will come in parallel with each other; the great earthquake, the islands being moved out of their places, and tremendous cataclysmic upheavals, as the earth probably will go through again a polar axis shift, which will have as a result each of the things that are described here, with the exception of course of the meteorite shower, and yet that could be what perpetrated the polar axis shift.
They think that the polar axis shift could have possibly been caused by a meteor striking the earth and putting it out of tilt. The force of the meteorite hitting the earth at the right trajectory, and all, could twist the earth around so that suddenly a shift of maybe sixteen hundred miles would put the subtropical climate under the massive polar air, which the air would of stayed stabilized by the earth being hit by a meteorite. And they think the one that hit in Arizona, that meteorite crater out of Windslow, would be sufficient if the meteor hit at the right trajectory to bop the earth in a tilt, which it is at twenty-three and a half degrees, and would create a constant wobble of the earth from then on, which this wobble effect is there.
And that accounts for the mammoths that were encased in solid ice up in Siberia with tropical vegetation in their digestive tracks, but the meat was still edible. Some of the men that were on the expedition that found these mammoths roasted some of the meat and ate it. They gave it to the dogs and they ate it. So these mammoths were frozen instantly. It was a quick freeze. And this could happen by the earth being jarred by a meteorite, thrown to this twenty-three and a half-degree tilt. As it was pushed, it twisted and that could have perpetrated Noah’s flood also. The tremendous shift of water, oceans and so forth, with the earth moving and the water masses ripping up everything. And of course the weight of the water coming upon the thinner crust of the earth, the plates, causing it to collapse and the water pushing in and forcing the mountain ranges up and things of this nature. And this polar axis shift could explain it, which would be perpetrated by a meteorite.
Now here we find the meteorite shower, the stars falling from heaven like a fig tree dumps it untimely figs in a strong wind. Here you find a tremendous earthquake. Here you find mountains and islands disappearing. It is a tremendous cataclysmic upheaval.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And they said to the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (6:15-17).
Notice, this is called the “Great Day of His Wrath”, the wrath of the Lamb. It is comforting to note in first Thessalonians 5:9 that “God has not appointed us unto wrath”. Paul also declares that in Romans 5:9, “that we have not been appointed unto wrath”. The day of His wrath has come, which means we cannot be here, because we have not been appointed unto wrath. But the earth is going to experience this great cataclysmic judgment as the day of God’s wrath does come upon the earth.
And so we see these awesome scenes, that I believe, I personally am convinced, will transpire within the next quarter of a century. But when it gets down to this stage, I don’t expect to be here. Don’t look for me here.
Jesus said when He was talking of these very same things in Luke twenty-one—He's talking of these very same things, the heavens being shaken and the meteorite showers and the cataclysmic things that would transpire along with them, Jesus said, “Pray always that you will be accounted worthy to escape all of these things and be standing before the Son of man.”
Expect to see me standing before the Son of man. I expect to be with that crowd in the fifth chapter, singing “worthy is the Lamb to take the scroll and loose the seals for He was slain and He has redeemed us by His blood”. And by the grace of God, that is where we shall be. God has not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ.
Father, we thank you for the promises of God that they are to be trusted. And Lord we thank you tonight for Your Word that it is true. And Lord even as you told Daniel similar things to what John is recording here, you said to Daniel, "And these words are true." Lord help us that we will live in all sobriety. That we will not be caught up in the snares of the enemy in these last days, so that the Day of the Lord would catch us unaware, but being children of the light. Lord, help us to walk as such in all holiness, and righteousness, and godliness. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Next week, we'll move on into chapters seven, eight and nine. And so we encourage you to read them over and next Sunday night we will continue our study of this extremely fascinating book, the book of the things of the future, the book of Revelation as we see what will be coming to pass very shortly upon the earth. May the Lord now be with you and bless you, and you be the salt in this corrupting world around us. And may the Lord use your life as a purifying influence in your class, on your job, in your home, in your neighborhood. And may you walk in fellowship with Him, enriched in the things of the Lord day by day. In Jesus' name.