So, we are continuing our series today that is based on the Book of Revelation entitled “The Revelation.” I call it the Revelation because who it reveals to us is the only one true revelation, Jesus Christ.
Yes, many believe that this last Book of the Bible is a book “revealing” many different things, but the truth is that it is primarily meant to reveal to us one thing, the Truth Himself. Therefore, when we read this Book through this lens—that it is actually good news and not bad news—it will produce hope instead of dread.
So, a couple of weeks ago, we looked at the seven golden lampstands—those seven churches of Asia Minor that Jesus had the apostle John write letters to. And while we did not spend a fraction of the time we could have spent studying Jesus’ words to these seven churches described in Revelation chapters 2-3, we did look at what I called seven pillars contained in these seven letters to the churches. These were seven things that we see repeated and emphasized in these seven letters that not only related to the church then, but to the church of today as well.
Now some of these seven things were encouraging words and others were corrections. But we saw that even though five of these churches were corrected for many things, John did not see a couple of golden lampstands and then the other five were silver, bronze, etc. No, he saw seven golden churches—showing us that even though some churches and their members are “tarnished” with sin, flaws, and failures, they were still gold—the most precious commodity in the kingdom of God. Amen!
Then, last week, we moved on to Revelation chapter 4 & 5 and looked at the transition of this Book. We saw that “after these things” the apostle John looked and saw a door standing open in heaven. So, we saw from this that the veil has been rent! Now we can enter into His most holy place by the precious blood of the Lamb! And it is from this spiritual place that not only we can worship Him, but where we can see things from His perspective better.
Which is exactly what the Lord invited John to do—to “come up hither” and see the things which would take place after this. I made the point that I believe this statement is extremely important in leading into the things John saw and wrote down for us. Why? It is because everything the Lord showed him that was to take place was from “up there.” In other words, it was from heaven’s perspective, not an earthly, carnal perspective.
I stated last week that it is for this reason that I believe much of the things we have written in the Book of Revelation between chapters 4 & 22 are written from a spiritual perspective and are not necessarily describing to us literal events. So, in my opinion, for people to spend their time trying to make all of these things fit into the worldly events we will experience might not be exactly correct.
But the main point the Holy Spirit made to us was that we all should have more of a heavenly perspective on things. I believe this is even more important for the days we are currently living in because all of the things we are experiencing in this world right now and the things that lie ahead require a spiritual perspective to where we can see what is really happening, and for us not to get swept away with the issues of this world.
Church, we need to “come up hither” too and become more spiritually minded concerning these things because when we do, a new perspective of the Revelation will occur: We will have hope replace the fear! We will have excitement substituted for dread! And we will have joy overcome the anxiety!
Then in the second verse of Revelation chapter 4, John began explaining what he saw. So, we learned that what John saw first is what we need to see first in our lives—the throne and the One who is seated on it! In other words, we need to see what the highest authority is and who is He who is seated in that seat of ultimate authority—and we can see that it is El Elyon Himself!
You see, church, no matter what happens on this earth. No matter how bad things get. The Lord God Almighty will always remain on the throne! He doesn’t fall off! He doesn’t change. He doesn’t deviate from His consistent rule and victory over all! That’s only us who does that—and the way we can keep ourselves from doing so is by opening our spiritual eyes to see the truth that God indeed is the King of kings and Lord of lords and He reigns forevermore!
So, I believe it is important for us to know the first thing the apostle John saw when he came up hither. It wasn’t the dragon. It wasn’t the beast. It wasn’t the plagues, the bowls of wrath, or the judgments. No, it wasn’t all of the bad things that are to come upon the earth; it was the throne of God that he saw first.
You see, living down here on the earth, it is easy to keep our mind stayed on things of the earth. In other words, it is easy to focus on the curse, the death, and all of the things the god of this world is doing. But I believe we are called to elevate our way of thinking and see things, not from an earthly perspective, but from a heavenly perspective.
But then we read that what John saw happening around the throne of God was lost in the sound of heaven—that is, the Father was being praised and glorified by the various hosts of heaven! But we noticed that these words they were saying were not verses to songs. They were simple statements that praised and glorified Father God.
But we learned that this is not just what ought to be done in heaven; we learned that what is done in heaven ought to be done on the earth too: Jesus taught us to pray like so— “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9-10). So, if we are to pray for things to be done here on the earth like they are done in heaven, then don’t you suppose we ought to be declaring the things that they do in heaven? Absolutely!
But aside from the praise of God the Father, do you know one of the primary things you and I are going to see in heaven? Worship of the Lamb of God! This is what we saw in Revelation chapter 5. Church, this is what they are declaring over and over in heaven—that Jesus is the One who is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise. And if we have heaven’s perspective, this is what we are going to be both seeing and declaring. The Lamb is worthy! Therefore, it’s what we ought to be doing here on the earth as well.
So, we ended in John chapter 12 where Isaiah’s vision of the Lord being high and lifted up in Isaiah chapter 11 is quoted. And we learned that it was seeing the Lord high and lifted up which changed Isaiah’s perspective on things. Therefore, we learned that we too ought to be lifting Christ Jesus up like they do in heaven.
But this is the point that I believe the Holy Spirit wants emphasized today—when we lift up and exalt Jesus on this earth through magnifying His Lordship and celebrating His salvation, all of heaven is drawn to that. He is the King of God’s kingdom and whenever and wherever the King is praised, heaven will be there to participate. Oh, glory to God!
Church, it is all about the Lamb. He is the Theme of heaven. He is the Song of heaven. He is the only Way to heaven. It’s all about Him. Jesus alone is worthy!
THE GREAT TRIBULATION
So now let’s move in the Book of Revelation where I will give you an overview of chapters 6-11: That means that today, we are going to cover a plethora of verses in the Book of Revelation, but again, we are not going to go verse by verse through them with me attempting to give you my explanation. I’ll leave that to the so-called eschatology experts because there are a lot of books that one can read, videos they can watch, and information on the internet to get into all of that if you care to. But what I feel the Lord would have us emphasize out of these chapters today will again be the attitude you and I should have towards these things.
You see, all of the things covered in Revelation 6-11 are what many consider to be part of the “Great Tribulation”—which is commonly believed to be a future seven-year period of time when God will finalize His judgment on the unbelieving world.
Now there are a lot of opinions out there regarding these things like whether the church will be here for this “Tribulation” or if we will be raptured before then. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit would have me give you my opinion on those things. Rather, I believe He would have us to focus our attention on being prepared for whatever might happen, not being able to correctly interpret the things that are going to happen. Amen?
So, that is what we are going to learn today: We are going to learn how we can be ready for not only the “Great Tribulation” that is going to come upon the earth, but also how we can be prepared for the other little tribulations that you and I face in our lives today.
But let me give you a quick overview of the things covered in these chapters of Revelation:
In Revelation 6:1-8:6, we have the opening of the Seven Seals from the Scroll the Lamb taken from the hand of God (See chapter 5). And these seven seals are a series of end-time judgments that are released on the earth. They include what are commonly known as the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the 144,000 Jews who receive their Messiah during this time-period.
Then in Revelation 8:7-11:19, we have the Seven Trumpets which will be sounded by the seven angels. These events are characterized by more plagues coming upon the earth in the Last Days—which will include unprecedented natural disasters.
But I want you to notice that after the sounding of the fourth trumpet that John looked, and heard an angel flying through heaven saying with a loud voice, “Woe, wow, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!” (Revelation 8:13). Now I would venture to say that those three woes he gave were for the three remaining trumpet blasts—which will include some terrifying things.
But this is what I want you to see in today’s message: While these are certainly “Woes,” they are only a “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth.” Guess who this is NOT referring to? The children of God! Glory to God, we are not the earth’s inhabitants—for while we are in the world, we are not of the world. Our citizenship is now in heaven!
So, to the world, yes, these are “Woes.” But to us, there is a completely different perspective to be had. We’ve got awesome things to look forward to even in the midst of these judgments—things that accompany salvation.
For example, there are many who read Hebrews chapter 6 and focus only on the part that talks about if one falls away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God (See Hebrews 6:4-8). Woe, they say, but keep reading … Hebrews 6:9 goes on to say, “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.”
So, my point is, why do we tend towards the alarming, negative things and not ever get to this verse? In other words, why do we focus on the “Woes” when we’ve got the “Wows”!?! It’s just human tendency to see the glass as half empty and focus on the negatives.
This is why we see in Revelation chapter 9 that when these locusts that come up from the bottomless pit with faces of men and tails like scorpions, they will not be given power to harm those who have the seal of God on their foreheads (See Revelation 9:4). So, my point is, even though there will be terrifying things to come upon the earth, that doesn’t mean the people of God have to be touched by it! We are redeemed from the wrath of God and His judgments on the world! Amen! (We will look further into that in a moment, but first …)
Now there are some things we are redeemed from, but other things that we aren’t. Sure, we are redeemed from natural things such as sickness, disease, and poverty. We are also redeemed from our sins, transgressions, and iniquities. But a couple thing that we are not redeemed from is persecution and the potential of dying for our faith.
You see, Jesus promised us that in the world, we will have tribulation (See John 16:33). Now the word “tribulation” simply describes a tight, heavy, and pressure situation. So, what Jesus was saying was, that as long as we are in this world, there will be tight, heavy, and pressure situations. And why? Because Satan is the god of this world, and he has control over the vast majority of people on the planet. Therefore, until that day when Jesus returns and His enemies are put under His feet, we will be harassed and persecuted by the enemy of our soul and by his representatives.
However, guess what else we are redeemed from—the wrath of God. Yes, everyone who is born again, washed in the blood, and makes Jesus their personal Lord and Savior, is redeemed from the wrath to come! That much is the truth!
Let me take you over to some verses in First Thessalonians that teaches us this and also shows us about the attitude the church ought to have concerning these things:
First Thessalonians 5:1-11 says, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
Now, first of all, notice in verse 8 the truth that I believe we should put our faith and hope in when it comes to all of these things: Paul said, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Oh, praise God! This should greatly comfort and edify us in many ways! For one, God has not appointed His children to His anger and wrath. In other words, He will never be angry with us (as we regularly remind ourselves here @ HPC). Hallelujah!
Now the word “appoint” comes from the Greek word tithemi which means to “set, put or lay.” So, basically Paul was saying that God has not “positioned” His people for the wrath to come. But guess what He has “put” us here for—to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Now some take this to mean that we will be raptured before the Great Tribulation comes upon the earth. And that might be exactly how He does it. But it could also mean that even when the fire is going on around us, we come out of it without even the smell of smoke. Amen!
So, whether we are here through the Great Tribulation to come or we at some point at the beginning of these birth pangs are taken off the earth, the bottom line is that our lot is salvation, deliverance, and protection! Period. Amen!
You see, as the apostle Paul goes on to say, Jesus died for us! So, whether we are awake or sleeping, whether we are here or not, we are promised that we should live together with Him. Like Paul says in verse 11, these are the words that we are to comfort and edify one another with! And I’m here today to do just that, church!
Now notice back in verse 1, Paul told this church that concerning the times and the seasons, they had no need that he should write them. That’s the way I feel about these things too—that concerning all the questions like what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, etc.—you have no need that I teach you. Why? Because as Paul goes on to say in the following verse— “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night…” Notice Paul said that we know this perfectly, not just partially. So, we know completely that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. You know, this is something that is crystal clear about the last days that so many fail to emphasize—that Jesus is returning!
I wonder why everyone wants to spend all their time interpreting the events of Revelation when the thing that we see repeated time and time again in the Scriptures is Jesus’ Second Coming. Now again, whether one believes this is before the Great Tribulation, in the middle of it, or at the end of it, that’s irrelevant. My mentality has always been and always will be—just be ready for whatever happens, not necessarily try to understand what’s going to happen. And that is what Jesus constantly taught us and what the early church evidently echoed—that He is coming again soon and very soon!
But there is another truth about His Second Coming we need to understand and that is that His day will come like a thief would come in the middle of the night—that is, when those in the world are not expecting Him to.
So, what that teaches me is that trying to interpret the times and seasons might not be the best use of our time. What we should do, however, is live our lives ready by being sober, awake, and watching.
Now there is a place for knowing the times and the seasons. Otherwise, we would not have been given the information we have by Jesus, Daniel, John, and even Paul here when he said in verse 3— “When they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them…” And the fact is, this information is vital to being able to weather the storms when they do come.
TIME TO DO THE MATH
A good example of this is found in James chapter 1: In the beginning of his letter, Pastor James says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). Now the word “count” there is an accounting term. It means to conclude, the calculate, to consider. So, what this teaches me is that when I fall into various trials, I need to sit down, gather myself, and “do the math.”
You see, it is easy to let our emotions take control when we are going through an alarming situation, but here we see that we need to be “logical” from a spiritual perspective. Instead of flipping out about the bad things going on around me, I can gather myself and “add up” all the information Jesus has given me about situations like this. For example, my response might be: “Ah, Jesus told me not to think it strange concerning things like this happening in my life. In fact, He told me that they are opportunities to please God—for without faith it is impossible to please God. So, that means that with more faith (i.e. having to walk less by sight, feelings, etc.) I can please Him more. That means if I rejoice now, if I praise Him now, and if I worship Him now by faith, I can bring a bigger smile to His face. So, let’s do it!” What did I just do? I just “counted it all joy.”
Then in verse 3, James told us one of the main reasons we can count it all joy: He said, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
So, notice what James uses as motivation for us counting it all joy when problems come into our lives. It is not looking ahead to our victory & deliverance from the problem. He essentially said, “We are to count it all joy knowing that it is producing patience in us!” In other words, James was using the spiritual benefits of character being built in us and virtues being developed in us as the motivation for us rejoicing in the midst of life’s difficulties. How awesome is that!?!
Now, again, this is something where we are going to have to settle ourselves down and prayerfully consider how we think about these trials & tribulations and what our response ought to be. If we respond emotionally, we will usually be led astray. We’ve got to “count” things.
Then notice what Pastor James says next in verse 4 – “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
You see, I see this verse as like a picture of pregnancy: The patience being developed in us through these trials is like the baby. But like it is with pregnancy, the baby needs the time to grow and develop in the womb. So, we need to let the patience have her perfect work in us in order that we may be truly perfect and complete.
Now I know we don’t want to stay in the trials and tribulations any longer than we have to, but this verse makes it clear that there are certain spiritual benefits to carrying it out full term. Amen? Imagine what a monstrosity it would be if a woman were to conceive a child one day and then go into labor the next day!?! She wouldn’t have had time to “count” it all joy, would she?
Likewise, we need time to make all the mental and spiritual calculations necessary to be perfect and complete to where we are lacking nothing. Amen or oh me?
BABY, IT’S ON THE WAY!
But back in First Thessalonians 5:3, notice how Paul describes these destructive times that are to come— “as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.” This is an analogy that we see used by the Master Himself. Let’s look at …
In Matthew 24:4-8, Jesus answered His disciple’s question about what will be the signs of the end-times and the end of the world as we know it. He said, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Now when you look up the word “sorrows” it describes these birth pangs (i.e. the pain of childbirth). Now in the verses preceding, Jesus describes false-Christs, wars, rumors of wars, famines, plagues, and pestilences (See verses 5-7). These are things He called the beginning of labor pains at childbirth. So, let’s run with this for a moment—for in the mouth of these two witnesses—the apostle Paul and the Lord Jesus—we can see that these end time events are likened to labor pains upon a pregnant woman.
When a woman discovers she is pregnant, is this generally a time of depression and discouragement? I understand that sometimes that could be the initial reaction because the man and woman were not trying to have a child. But when a couple is trying to have a baby and they find out they are going to have one, they rejoice! Then, after carrying the child through the three trimesters, there is obviously discomfort for the woman. She might have morning sickness. Her belly makes things less comfortable. And whatever else goes on. But then, when those birth pangs begin, things become real!
Of course, those contractions start gradually and pretty far apart (15 or 20 minutes). But then once they start getting closer together, like say 5 minutes, she is encouraged to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Then, when they get to around 2 minutes apart, baby is almost here!
Now I know that it is not comfortable to give birth to a child and many women consider it to be the worst physical pain they’ve ever experienced. But I have never heard a woman who has gone through this say that they wish they would have never become pregnant after holding that baby in her arms. Likewise, I know the end times will hold many painful contractions, but we need to always be mindful that they are simply a part of the process of the birth of something beautiful! That is something to rejoice in!
Now whether or not the church are the “Sons” of God who will purely be spectators to the labor pains the woman goes through or if we are the “bride” of Christ who will experience these birth pangs first hand, what we do know is that neither the man nor the woman ought to let the contractions that will come upon the earth be their focal point. As it is with childbirth in the natural, the process is not the focal point. The fact that the little bundle of joy is on the way is where the focus is at! Therefore, like Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, all who are Christ’s ought to be willing to endure said birth pangs for the joy that is set before us. And what is that joy? It is the birth of the new heavens and the new earth where only righteousness dwells and we will rule and reign with Him forever and ever! Glory to Jesus!
Now another interesting point is that in the process of childbirth, something else is supposed to happen. The woman’s water needs to break which, of course, speeds up the process of the delivery. Well, I see this water breaking as another great sign of the last days—for we are promised the outpouring of the latter rain in those days! Glory to God!
How many of you know that out of our belly will flow rivers of living water, and this is the promise of the Holy Spirit being poured out in abundance over the whole earth! Glory! These are exciting times we are living in, saints!
All this points to the fact that you and I ought to be “expecting” (i.e. hope) because, oh “baby,” do we have something to look forward to! Amen?
So, the point I want to leave you with today is the encouragement that it is not for us to eat from these bowls of wrath—for we are not appointed to God’s wrath! Our lot is salvation and all that goes with it. So, whether we are here, or we are gone, we need not fear these birth pangs that are coming upon the earth.
In fact, these plagues that we read about in Revelation are reminiscent of the plagues that came upon Egypt (which was a type of the world), but guess who was protected from the plagues even though they dwelt in the land of the Egyptians? God’s people in the Land of Goshen!
Glory to God, church! We live in Goshen—which is that proverbial secret place of the Most High where we dwell under the shadow of the Almighty (See Psalm 91:1). So, no matter how hot the fires of judgment get here on the earth, know that you do not have to get burned by it.
Just apply the Blood of the Lamb to your doorpost and trust God to protect you for the destruction that will come upon Egypt around you!