Lecture 20: Revelation - Part 2
Lesson 20: Revelation - Part 2
Hi, I’m Carl Laney and it’s my privilege to give you this introduction to the New Testament. Today we are continuing our study of the Book of Revelation, part 2 of our study in this great Book the Apocalypse. We have looked at the vision that John received of Christ in Chapter 1. We’ve looked at the letters that were written to the Seven Churches of Asia and now we move to the Prophetic Section of the Book of Revelation, Chapters 4-22, the things which shall be after these things. We’re studying this from a futurist point of view.
I. THE THINGS WHICH SHALL BE, 4-22
A. The Divine Judge, 4-5
In Chapters 4 and 5 we have something of a transition into the Prophetic Section. As we move into this Prophetic Section, we see that these chapters are a dramatic overture to what become a great symphony of prophetic revelation. Here John is given a heavenly perspective on the earthly events that are about to follow.
1. A throne of God in heaven, 4
Chapter 4 records John’s vision of a throne which is in Heaven. He’s invited in Chapter 4:1 to come up and to experience a vision of the throne of God, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” So, John now has a vision of Heaven, and in this vision, he sees the one who is really going to execute the judgments that will proceed in the book.
He’s see first of all someone sitting on a throne. And the one sitting on the throne is identified for us in verse 8 as God, “the four living creatures, each one of them were worshipping saying, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.” So, the person on the throne is God.
Then ,around the throne we see 24 elders and these 24 elders are leading in worship. There’s been a lot of debate as to who the 24 elders might be, whether they are Israelites or representatives of the church, representatives of the twelve tribes, representatives of twelve apostles. But you know the text doesn’t say. Perhaps it’s better to just to regard them as a heavenly entourage leading in worship at the throne of God. We see that worship beginning in verse 6, John describes four living creatures, who offer praise to God on his throne. As they offer praise to God, notice how the elders respond in 5:9-10 “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” We see the praise that they offer, and they cast their crowns before the throne of God. They acknowledge his authority over all creation.
2. The Book with Seven Seals, 5
In Chapter 5 we see a continuation of this heavenly scene and John focuses on the book that is in the right hand of God. We’re not told what this book contains, but later on in chapter 6, when the seals of this book are broken we find that judgments are poured out on the earth. The problem with this book is that it’s sealed, and the question is raised in 5:2 who is worthy to open this book and to break its seals. Since when the seals are broken judgments are poured out, we believe that the real question behind the question is, who has the authority to execute the judgments that are in this book. A search is made, and no one is found with the authority to execute these judgments. Why is that? Judgment is a divine prerogative, God is the one who is responsible for judgment. But then in verse 5, John is encouraged because one has been found who is worthy and has overcome, so as to have the right to open the book. We see that he is the lion of the Tribe of Judah, the root of David. As we reflect on this reference to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah our thoughts go back to Gen 49:8-10 where we see a clear reference to the Messiah and the prophecy about the Tribe of Judah. It was prophesized that the Messiah would come from the Tribe of Judah, and so John is showing us that the one that has the authority to break the seals, and to pour out these judgments, is non-other than the Messiah who comes from the Lion of Judah.
The scroll is taken by the Lamb, he alone has the authority to execute the judgments, and notice that he is standing there as if slain, verse 6. In other words, he still bears the marks on his body, the marks of his crucifixion. That can still be seen in his glorified state. Well, Jesus asserts the right to judge by taking the scroll from the right hand of the one who sits on the throne. At this point all creation bursts into praise for the Lamb of God. He is worthy, and he’s praised by the elders in verses 8-10. He’s praised by the angels in verses 11-12, and he’s praised by every creature in verses 13-14, “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped. Again, we see that this is what the Book of Revelation is really all about. It’s recognizing Jesus for who he is as the Son of God and worshipping him.
B. The Seven Seals, 6:1-8:1
But now Jesus is taken from the hand of God this book, with the seven seals and we discover that as these seals are broken, a series of judgments are poured out on the earth. The image there for you is a scroll that has seven seals and a clay bulla or seal that was found in an archeological excavation. Often times official documents were sealed with a clay seal, a little leather strap was wrapped around the document, and then it was sealed with clay and as the clay hardened it became like stone, and many of these clay bullas have been found. Here we find that this book with seven seals is presented, and when these seals are broken judgments pout out on the earth.
We need to back up from the seven seal judgments for a minute and just get an idea of God’s great plan for salvation history. What we see in this graphic is that God has a plan. He’s sovereign over his history, and we see under the Old Covenant God focuses on the great theme of promise, the promise of the coming Messiah. Under the New Covenant we find the great theme of fulfillment. God has fulfilled his promise in bringing Jesus. Then we come to the period of wrath and we’ll find that this is a major characteristic of the Tribulation Period, a seven year Tribulation Period in which God’s wrath is poured out on the unbelievers on the earth. That’s followed by a period of Messiah’s rule when he returns, establishes his rule on the earth, sits on the throne of David and rules as Rev. will tell us for 1,000 years, the Messiah’s rule, and then the 1,000 years transcends into an eternal kingdom for the believers and an eternal punishment for the unbelievers. I believe that the church will be taken from the earth prior to this period of Divine Wrath, and then Jesus will return to the earth with his people after the seven years of Divine Wrath.
The Tribulation Period is the feature of the Chapters we’re going to be looking at, and we see beginning in Chapters 6-10 we’re looking at the Tribulation. This chart just gives you a little bit more detail about what takes place during the Tribulation based upon the Book of Daniel and Ezekiel and the Book of Revelation. The church departs before this period of wrath, the anti-Christ is revealed according to the Book of Daniel, he enacts a covenant with Israel, he breaks that covenant the mid-point of the tribulation becomes what Jesus calls the Abomination of Desolation, Matt. 24:15. Then at his second coming the anti-Christ is slain, Jerusalem is delivered, and Jesus sets up his kingdom that will last for 1,000 years.
C. The Seven Trumpets, 8:2-11:19
The judgments that are described here in the Book of Revelation are first the seals, and out of the seventh seal comes seven trumpets, and out of the seven trumpets comes seven bowls judgments. The key to the chronology is that out of the seal judgments come the trumpet judgments and out of the trumpet judgments comes the bowl judgments. These judgments are referred to as the wrath of God. This phrase is used, again and again, to describe the judgments that are in the Tribulation Period. We see this in Chapter 6:16 as the people “said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath [it’s the Greek word orge] the wrath of the Lamb;” for the great day of their wrath has come and who is able to stand. The fact is nobody is able to stand before the wrath of God. That’s why Paul has promised that, we as believers are delivered from the wrath of God, I Thess. 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath,” and he specifically talking there about the Day of the Lord wrath, the wrath of the Tribulation. God has not destined believers for wrath, but for deliverance. And that deliverance comes through the return of Jesus who will take us from this earth to be with him while his wrath, God’s wrath, is poured on the earth.
The next series of judgments are the trumpet judgments and as the seventh seal is broken, seven more judgments are poured out on the earth. This brings us to about the mid-point of the Tribulation.
D. The Seven Bowls, 15-16
The third series of judgments are found in Chapter 15 and 16 and once again these judgments are referred to as the wrath of God, Chapter 15:7,” This is the wrath of God and these judgments are poured out on the earth just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus. These judgments of the wrath of God in the bowls are poured out primarily on the beast and his empire. In Chapter 15 we see that God is praised by the tribulation saints, that he is about to judge the beast and his empire. In Chapter 15 we see that the wrath of God is going to be finished with these final judgments. With the seventh bowl judgment, the wrath of God is done.
The seventh bowl and we see the cry that is made in Chapter 16:18, “it is done.” It is done, the wrath of God has been poured out and God’s judgment has been executed. This cry, it is done, is followed by thunder and lightning and unprecedented earthquake. As a result of this earthquake the cities and the nations are destroyed. God has brought everything back to its primeval state. Islands sink into the sea, mountains disappear, it’s like a new beginning is about to take place and the destruction of Babylon is especially emphasized.
E. The Judgments of Babylon, 17-18
That’s going to be described further in Chapters 17 and 18. Notice though in Chapter 16:21, that in spite of the judgments that have been poured out on the earth, God is trying to get people’s attention and to lead them to repent. But in spite of these warnings and in spite of these judgments people still shake their fist in the face of God. Things haven’t changed since ancient times and that attitude of rebellion against God continues even to this day. Lots of discussion can be had in dealing with the description of the judgments that we have briefly overviewed in Chapter 6 through 17, but all these judgments are the exercise of God’s wrath on unbelieving people for the purpose of bringing them to repentance, bringing them to a point where they’ll recognize and seek God and turn to him, and yet many and most will not.
F. The Second Coming, 19
But now we come in Chapter 19, to a great event that was anticipated at the time of Jesus’ ascension to Heaven and that is his second coming. In Acts 1:11 the angel told the apostles as they were watching Jesus disappeared into the sky, the angel told the apostles that he was coming again. Although Christians differ on many points of eschatology, the doctrine of last things, we join hands together in affirming the second coming of Jesus which is what Chapter 19 is all about.
1. Rejoicing in Heaven, 19:1-6
It begins with a Hallelujah chorus; Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Four times in the early part of Chapter 19 we see this rejoicing in Heaven. Hallelujah is actually Hebrew, it’s been transliterated into Greek, but it literally means give a shout of praise to God because you’re excited about his character and his attributes and what he has accomplished. We see that the father is to be praised in Chapter 19 because of the destruction of the harlot that was featured in Chapter 17 and 18. And that God’s rule has begun on this earth in spite of the opposition by the beast and his false prophet. So, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Because God now rules and reigns.
2. Marriage of the Lamb, 19:7-10, Isa. 49:18, 61:10, 62:5, Jer. 2:32, Hos. 2:19-20 Church Eph. 5:22-33
Well the second coming of Jesus marks the marriage of the Lamb. Many New Testament passages use the figure of the bride and the bridegroom to describe the relationship between Christ and the church. The second coming of Jesus marks the consummation of this relationship as Jesus and bride of Christ are united in perfect harmony.
But then we ask the question who is this bride who has made herself ready for the bridegroom? Well, there’s a number of Old Testament passages that describe Israel as God’s wife or God’s bride. And their New Testament passages that describe the church as God’s bride, the bride of Christ, Ephesians 5. I suggest that the bride includes both Old Testament saints as well as New Testament saints. Old Testament and New Testament saints will be united together forever as the bride of Christ. As the Old Testament saints have anticipated the coming of the Messiah now they will be united with him forever.
3. Marriage Supper, 9
Following the marriage is a marriage supper. In ancient times a marriage supper would follow the marriage and this marriage supper would go on and on for days and days. The marriage supper I suggest refers to the Kingdom of God which will follow his second coming and the great celebration as God’s people together celebrate what Jesus has accomplished, and enjoy good food and feasting and great celebration. The image of the marriage supper is used, by Jesus in Matt. 25. And those who have responded and repented during the Tribulation will be there and enjoy this marriage supper along with the saints who have been raptured and taken to be with Jesus and have returned with him and the Old Testament saints will be there.
John is so excited about this marriage supper, and the second coming of Jesus, that notice in verse 10 he falls at the feet of the angelic messenger. The angelic messenger says, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God [he says, worship God] For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” I think verse 10 really reveals what prophecy is all about. It gives us God’s perspective on prophecy. Prophecy isn’t just about future events, prophecy is about Jesus Christ and we need to be make sure we don’t worship the messenger, but we worship Jesus. He’s the one who is the center of prophecy. In times past there have been prophetic speakers that got a lot of national attention and acclaim, and they went around and had big conferences, and everybody knew their name. That somewhat distracts from the focus of prophecy because it’s not about the human messenger, it’s not about the human preacher, it’s about Jesus. It’s about having an encounter with Jesus and that’s what John is being shown here in Chapter 19:10. The study of prophecy witnesses to Jesus, it should bring us a greater appreciation of his person and a more significant encounter with his person.
John’s next vision now is of the coming of Jesus to judge his enemies and establish his Kingdom. His aim, 19:11 is to execute judgment and wage war with Satan’s followers to establish his kingdom. He then appears in verses 12-13 as the Word of God. This reminds of John’s Gospel who speaks of Jesus as the Word, the Logos. And the same word is used here he is the Logos of God and this certainly links with John’s prologue in John Chapter 1, Jesus comes as the Logos of God.
We see that an army comes with him in Verse 14 it says, “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.” The Old Testament uses the term Yahweh of Hosts, Yahweh of Hosts to describe God. The term hosts, is used of the armies, the angelic armies of Heaven. So, this seems to be a reference to the armies that accompany him at his second coming. In Mark 8:38 it indicates that Jesus will be accompanied by holy angels at his second coming. Those are probably the armies of Heaven that come and execute judgment on the nations.
In verse 15 we see that he will then rule the nations, Christ who returns will rule the nations with an iron rod. He will enforce his rule with quick justice if anyone seeks to disregard his rule when he returns.
II. THE MILLENNIUM AND FINAL JUDGMENT, 20
Chapter 20 now shows us the fulfillment of God’s promise, to establish a Kingdom for the people of Israel here on this earth. This Kingdom is preceded by the binding of Satan, Chapter 20:1-3 describes the binding of Satan. Why does God do this? He does it so that there won’t be any external source of temptation during this 1,000 rule and reign of Christ on earth. It will be a time of peace, it will be a time or prosperity. There won’t be pornography shops, there won’t be prostitution, there won’t be theft during this time when Christ rules with an iron rod and prevents injustice from taking place. So, the purpose of binding Satan is to give this Kingdom a time of great peace and blessing.
A. Three Interpretations: Postmillennial, Amillennial, Premillennial
Satan’s power is going to be nullified for 1,000 years. Six times in the text it mentions this number 1,000 years and although some interpret it figuratively and say it’s just a long, long time. Those of a premillennial tradition believe that this is a literal time period, 1,000 years, during which Jesus will rule and reign on earth in fulfillment of the promises that he gave the people of Israel. During this time righteousness will prevail, Isaiah 11 describes the blessings of the Kingdom. Chapter 35 describes how in the Kingdom of God the lame will walk, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the mute will speak, Jesus in his miracles was giving a foretaste of the blessings of the Kingdom when he healed people and raised them up and enabled the blind to see and the deaf to hear. Again, the purpose of this 1,000 years is that Satan will not tempt or deceive the nations during this time.
B. Binding of Satan, 20:1-3
In verses 4-6 we see this Kingdom and we see that with Satan bound the physical form of Christ’s Kingdom can take place here on this earth in fulfillment to the promise that he made to David. That David would one day have a son who would sit on this throne and rule and reign his Kingdom. That promise is made in 2 Sam. 7:12-16, when the angel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she would be the mother of Messiah, this text from 2 Sam. 7 is quoted and that her son, Mary’s son, would sit on the throne of David, would rule over David’s Kingdom for this messianic period.
C. The Kingdom of the Son, 20:4-6
Many people have wondered who’s going to be there. Who’s going to be in this Kingdom. Well, verse 4 indicates that there will be some resurrected tribulation saints there, but I also believe that the Old Testament saints will be there. They’re going to be raised as Daniel was told in Dan. 12:1-2 that he would lie in the dust and then be raised to experience the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Old Testament saints. Tribulation saints and martyrs will be there. Those who have died during this Tribulation period under the persecution of the anti-Christ. They will be raised according to verse 4, and enjoy the blessings of the Kingdom. Resurrected church-age saints, those who have died and gone to be with Christ, they will be present during this Millennial blessing.
Then we find that the redeemed Jews and Gentiles survivors of the Tribulation will also be there. There will be some who will go through the Tribulation experiencing its hardships, but they will survive, and they will be escorted into God’s Kingdom as Matt. 25:31-46 describes the judgment on the sheep and the goats. The goats are sent to eternal punishment, the sheep are escorted in to the Kingdom and spend the 1,000 years with Christ.
Two events bring the 1,000-year rule and reign of Jesus to an end. The release of Satan takes place to give him one last chance to revolt against God, and yet we find in Chapter 20 he is quickly vanquished and cast into the lake of fire where he will spend eternity. This brings this to the end of Satan’s career. He is going to spend eternity in the lake of fire.
Following that there is a great white throne judgment where unbelieving dead are raised and judged. Those who rejected Christ’s offer of salvation will spend eternity in the lake of fire with Satan and the beast and the false prophet. The lake of fire is the eternal destiny of the unbelievers. The most tragic statement in scripture is found in Chapter 20:15, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” We believe in a literal hell, it’s not a pleasant thought, but this text points to a literal hell and the tragedy is that no one has to go there. No one has to go to hell; the Good News is that Christ came to pay the penalty for our sins so that no one has to go to Hell. We can simply receive the gift of salvation by trusting Jesus as our sin bearer and be saved and delivered from God’s wrath and from eternal hell.
III. THE ETERNAL STATE, 21:1-22:5
The last vision of Revelation focuses on the New Jerusalem, the abode of the church age saints for eternity. This is the place that Jesus went to prepare for us and in Chapter 21 we see the preparation of the heavens and the earth to receive this city. They are going to be a new heaven and a new earth after the 1,000-year rule and reign of Christ. This present creation is going to be purged of any affects of sin, any affects of pollution you know there’s a lot of pollution on this earth, all of that is going to be done away with in the new heaves and new earth as it’s made ready for the descent of the New Jerusalem.
A. The Descent of the City, 21:1-8, Isa. 65:17, 66:22, 2 Pet. 3:10
The New Jerusalem is mentioned in verse 2 as it begins to descend from Heaven like a bride. The bride of Christ is residing in this New Jerusalem. It descends from Heaven like a bride and the citizens there in this New Jerusalem are going to enjoy fellowship with Jesus forever. Notice in verse 4, “He’ll wipe away every tear from their eyes”, there will be no longer any death, no longer any mourning or crying or pain. The first things have passed away, new things have begun with the new heavens and the new earth. How do you get in to this city? How do you get in to this New Jerusalem? Well, we see that there is admission to the city based upon the receiving salvation in Christ. In verse 6, “Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 He who overcomes will inherit these things, [remember we identified who the overcomers are, they are the believers] and I will be his God and he will be My son.” And that will be the way it is forever. Only those who believe enter into this eternal place.
B. The Description of the City, 21:9-22, 22:3
Nowhere in scripture are we given the details of what life will be like in eternity, but I believe in verses 9-22 God draws back the curtain and we get a glimpse of what it will be like. A foretaste of the glories to come. Heaven is a beautiful place where believers will enjoy fellowship with Christ. They will enjoy rest, joy, service, and worship before God. What an abundant life awaits us.
Well, Genesis begins with a curse because of sin. Sin came as a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve and they were excluded from the Garden. But I want to call your attention to Rev. 22:3 where John records, “there will no longer be any curse.” No longer any curse. I believe that God’s great plan for the ages can be summed up in the statement, God has a plan to reverse the curse. The curse that came, as a result of sin and brought sickness and death and suffering to this earth, is going to be reversed in eternity. God will establish a time of great blessing and prosperity for all ages. This is a summary of God’s great plan for the ages. His plan is to reverse the curse.
So, what does the Book of Revelation teach us? One of my students put it this way, “Revelation shows us that the bad guys lose, Jesus wins and we all get to be with God in the new heaven and new earth.” I can’t put it any better than that.
It’s be my privilege to share these lessons with you. I trust that you will be students of the scripture, and enjoy many good hours of study as you continue your study in what we viewed.