Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Book of Revelation: The Throne Room, the Four Horsemen, & 7 seals of the Scroll

Today we dig into the book of Revelation, one of my favorite books in the whole Bible, though I think I probably say that about every book in the Bible.

Let me ask you this, have you ever wondered: What would heaven be like? I think all of us have probably wondered that at one time or another. Will it be beautiful? Will there be plants and animals? Will we live in houses? Will I be able to fly? And I love Revelation because it gives us some pretty detailed pictures of heaven, but it also gives us a great deal of detail about the last days of planet Earth during a time called the great tribulation.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We have John, in his old age, living on this island, Patmos, It’s about 50-60 years after Jesus had been crucified and rose from the dead. So John is probably in his eighties or nineties at this point. And he has this vision from God. And that’s why we call it revelation, it’s a revelation, an unveiling of Jesus Christ, in which we hear about how the world will end, and.. begin again.

The vision begins with John seeing Jesus Christ, glorious and powerful, mighty and fearful, in a white robe, walking among 7 lampstands. It says in Revelation 1, “12 I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven gold lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool—white as snow—and His eyes like a fiery flame. 15 His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of cascading waters. 16 He had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth, and His face was shining like the sun at midday.

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, 18 and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades. 19 Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this. “

In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 we see 7 distinct messages that Jesus shares with John for the 7 churches that exist at this time in history. Each message is different, giving encouragement and correction for the churches at that time in history. We don’t have time today to get into the messages in each of these mini-letters, but they are really powerful messages. And each of them applies to us in the church today. So I would encourage you, when you get home tonight or over the next few days, read Revelation chapters 2 and 3.

But we’re gonna jump forward to chapter 4, where John gets to see God’s own throne room in heaven. It says in Revelation 4:2-6, “2 Immediately I was in the Spirit, and a throne was set there in heaven. One was seated on the throne, 3 and the One seated looked like jasper and carnelian stone. A rainbow that looked like an emerald surrounded the throne. 4 Around that throne were 24 thrones, and on the thrones sat 24 elders dressed in white clothes, with gold crowns on their heads. 5 Flashes of lightning and rumblings of thunder came from the throne. Seven fiery torches were burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. 6 Something like a sea of glass, similar to crystal, was also before the throne. Four living creatures covered with eyes in front and in back were in the middle and around the throne.”

So we get to see a picture of what it would be like to be in God’s own throne room. And it’s wild. You’ve got a rainbow ,you’ve got precious stones and elders bowing down, you’ve got angels flying about worshipping god, and four strange creatures covered in eyes worshiping God.

But then this story starts to play out before John, it says in Revelation 5:1-4, “Then I saw in the right hand of the One seated on the throne a scroll with writing on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 I also saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or even to look in it. 4 And I cried and cried because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or even to look in it.”

John is crying his eyes out because no one is able to open this scroll. It must be very important that the scroll be opened. But no one is worthy or able. And it’s a tragedy. But in verse 5 it says:

“5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Jesus Christ steps forward and he is able to open the scroll. Because he has conquered. He paved the way for us to heaven. But what happens when the scroll’s seals are broken? It ushers in the end times, the final events before the end of this world.

Here is where we see in the first four seals that are broken, the four horsemen of the apocalypse unleashed on the Earth. This is God’s judgement on a sinful world being poured out.

It says in Revelation 6:1-8, “Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there was a white horse. The horseman on it had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he went out as a victor to conquer.

The Second Seal
3 When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse went out, a fiery red one, and its horseman was empowered to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another. And a large sword was given to him.

The Third Seal
5 When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and there was a black horse. The horseman on it had a set of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard something like a voice among the four living creatures say, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius—but do not harm the olive oil and the wine.”

The Fourth Seal
7 When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and there was a pale green horse. The horseman on it was named Death, and Hades was following after him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill by the sword, by famine, by plague, and by the wild animals of the earth.”

The seals are continuously being opened, here is what it says about the 5th and sixth seals, “
When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. 10 They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?” 11 So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.

The Sixth Seal
12 Then I saw Him open the sixth seal. A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair; the entire moon became like blood; 13 the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a high wind; 14 the sky separated like a scroll being rolled up; and every mountain and island was moved from its place.

15 Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the military commanders, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?”

So we pause after the opening of the sixth seal, and we’ve seen some incredible things happening on the Earth. Earthquakes, war, violence, epidemics, the moon turning to blood, and the wealthy hiding in underground facilities to try to escape the wrath of God.

Now, we turn to Israel. It’s interesting about Israel. The entire end times in Revelation seem to be centered around Israel, and around Israel’s people, the Jews, who rejected Jesus when he came, and them finally turning to Jesus, in these last days. Isn’t that amazing? For all these years the Jews have continued to survive, and after world war II they returned to Israel. But they still for the most part reject Jesus, though some of them do now follow Jesus, you hear about groups like Jews for Jesus and the messianic Jews movement, but overall most Jews still reject Jesus.

But here we see in chapter 7 12,000 Jewish people saved from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, and they become witnesses during the end times to Israel and the world, that Jesus is really the savior of the world.

Immediately after this you see a vast amount of people gathered in heaven, those who escaped the great tribulation, some think this could be the rapture event, hard to say for sure but it says, Revelation 7:9-12 “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

Salvation belongs to our God,
who is seated on the throne,
and to the Lamb!

11 All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures, and they fell facedown before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.””

Ok so, if you recall only 6 of the seals have been opened so far, right? So in Revelation chapter 8, the 7th seal is opened. And when it’s opened it says there was silence in heaven for about a half hour. Big moment. And then 7 angels with seven trumpets come out, and in the next chapters one by one these angels blow their trumpets, and each trumpet blast brings in new judgments and destruction on the Earth.

The first trumpet blasts, and one third of the forests and fields and nature of the Earth are destroyed.

At the 2nd trumpet some sort of asteroid hits the ocean, and killed 1/3rd of the fish and sea creatures and destroyed many ships on the oceans.

The 3rd trumpet sounded, and a star fell from heaven and turned the rivers and lakes and streams poisonous, so that many people died because of the poisonous waters.

The 4th trumpet sounded, and it says, “ …a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day was without light, and the night as well.”

At the 5th trumpet blast, a chasm opened in the Earth, and billions of locusts-like creatures came out of the earth, and they had stingers and would sting people and they’d be in terrible pain for months and months. Terrifying creatures as they’re described in Revelation they have human-like faces and stingers and strong horse-like bodies. Truly terrifying.

At the 6th trumpet blast, you have this army of 200 million soldiers, riding on these creatures, like horses, and they go about and kill 1/3 of humanity.

And it says at the end of chapter 9, that despite all of these judgments, people still did not change their ways and honor God.

It says Rev 9:20-21, “The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which are not able to see, hear, or walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.”

So we see John in the next chapter visiting with an angel who gives him a little scroll and he eats it, and he’s told he’s got more to see.

In Rev chapter 11 where we’re going to conclude today, John sees the two witnesses of God, preaching God’s message in Jerusalem during these end times to the lost masses in Israel, for 1,260 days. But finally they are killed. And the people celebrate when they are killed, but then they rise to life, and a great Earthquake occurs in Jerusalem that kills 7,000 people.

Then we see the last trumpet blast, the 7th trumpet is blown, and we read these words, “15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom
of our Lord and of His Messiah,
and He will reign forever and ever!”

And the elders sing a song of praise to God. And that’s where we’re going to stop today. Revelation chapter 11, about halfway through this book of God’s wrath in the last days.

So we’ve seen Jesus visiting with John, the letters to the 7 churches, the throne room in heaven, the seven seals being opened, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the judgments of God, the witnesses of Jesus rising up in Israel, the 7 trumpet blasts of judgment. And that’s where we’ll pause, but there is much more to see!

How should you respond to this revelation? How do you make sense of all of this? This should be a reminder to us that God will bring history to a close one day. So we should be living as true Christians, waiting for the ends times when we’ll come to be with Jesus is paradise forever. And we should tremble at the fate that awaits those who are sinful and reject Jesus as their savior.