Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Fourth Trumpet

"And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!" 
(Revelation 8:12-13)

The fourth trumpet brings about a series of bizarre eclipses and astronomical events which are difficult to explain this side of the Tribulation. Man has long been fascinated by the lights of the heavens. Throughout the ages, the heavenly bodies have been the objects of man's worship. However, in the end, they will be used by the God Who made them for the purposes of His glory.

No part of the earth is unaffected by night and day. The Psalmist said, "Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard (Psalm 19:2-3)." In every corner of the globe, these astronomical wonders will be witnesses of God's wrath and power.

God's grace is displayed in the angel's message as he pleads with the inhabitants of the world to heed the imminent judgments. The Lord makes a distinction between the children of darkness and the children of light by using the term inhabiters of the earth. In Revelation, this title is used exclusively to identify the devil's children versus the children of God. One does not have to worship Satan openly in order to have this title. He simply has to be alienated from Christ through unbelief.   

Friday, January 20, 2017

The First, Second and Third Trumpets

"The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up." (Revelation 8:7)

Through the first trumpet, God will destroy one-third of the earth's greenery. That color which is so common and so calming to the human eye will someday be removed from much of the world. The color of the Lord's original creation encourages a peaceful feeling in man, but man's sin will bring about the destruction of even this simple good. This judgment will also result in food shortages for both man and beast.

"And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed." (Revelation 8:8-9)

By the second trumpet, God curses the oceans. This object which appears as a fiery mountain may be a meteor or something similar. Its impact upon the sea results in the waters turning to blood. The physical effect of this alone would be staggering. A tsunami would be an unavoidable byproduct. This alone would be sufficient to destroy much of the mainland as well as numerous islands; however, in addition to this, the sea will be turned into blood. The text presents this as a literal thing and not simply a red tide. The ancient avenue of man's commerce and power will become a graveyard for both man and sea creatures. The terrifying sight and unimaginable stench of such a disaster is mind boggling.

"And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter." (Revelation 8:10-11)

After the sounding of the third trumpet, a second heavenly body falls upon the earth's freshwater supply. Little by little, God is removing the things necessary for man's survival.

Wormwood is an herb known for its bitterness and toxicity in high doses. Much of the earth's water supply will become poisonous, and those who were not destroyed by the oceanic disasters will be touched by this curse.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Preparation of the Trumpets

"And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound." (Revelation 8:1-6)

This is the calm before the storm, the peace before the tempest. In reverent awe of what God is about to do, the heavenly events are halted.

In the first six verses appears the preparation of the trumpets. Each trumpet will bring about a different judgment upon man; however, before this, the longstanding prayers of the saints are answered.

The final punishment of evil and the irreversible establishment of God's kingdom is a reality that should be endeared by every believer. The simple prayer of "Thy kingdom come (Matthew 6:10)" expresses a longstanding desire on the behalf of Christ's own. The heart of this prayer is about to be answered as God gathers up these supplications and mixes them with His incense. The incense may be thought of as the Holy Spirit. The desires of God's Spirit are mingled with the prayers of His people to produce a fragrant smoke that is precious to God. Alone, the believer's prayers are incomplete and immature. As Paul said, "...We know not what we should pray for as we ought...(Romans 8:26)." Therefore, these longstanding prayers which have been carefully guarded by God are mixed with the perfecting work of God's Spirit so that His complete will might be accomplished.

...The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

The fire of the altar gives the impression of judgment. God's holy fire, the righteous prayers of His people and the perfecting work of His Spirit are all combined to produce a fearful mixture of judgment which results in natural disasters intended to gain the sinner's attention.

Knowing that one's prayers are not forgotten is encouraging. Sometimes God answers the prayer then and there; and sometimes He tucks it away for future granting. Regardless, He is not ignorant of His people's righteous desires. David prayed, "Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book (Psalm 56:8)?"

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Burden of the Last Days (Part IX)

"Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously." (Isaiah 24:23)

With an indisputable declaration of Christ's millennial glory, the passage ends with the magnificent splendor of His yet future reign.

In the face of the Messiah's blinding glory, even the lights of the heavens will be ashamed. That which God gave to rule the night and that which He gave to rule the day (Genesis 1:16) will both alike pale in comparison to the purity and radiance of Christ's holy countenance. By personally witnessing the surpassing nature of God's Light, millennial Jerusalem will be given a taste of the New Jerusalem's glory where Christ's countenance will be the sole light of the city (Revelation 21:23).

The text says that JEHOVAH of the armies will gloriously reign before His saints. Knowing that Jesus Christ will be the millennial kingdom's King, one may apply the title of JEHOVAH directly to the Son of God.

The Holy One of Israel will gloriously reign in the face of His ancient ones. The days of the prophets witnessed the rule of elderly men who gave counsel contrary to the Scriptures, but the millennial reign will witness godly old men whose hearts are in line with the heart of God. The world needs Christian servants like that today.

The redemptive nature of this passage's conclusion encourages the reader to be grateful for God's gracious desire to save all people (II Peter 3:9). Christ's reign will be a time when many will come to faith in His Person (Hebrews 8:11). This theme of redemption sets the stage for what will be discussed in the following three chapters.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The 144,000 (Part IV)

"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:13-14)

The question is asked because in a time like this knowledge is important. Too many are content to behold and then to move on without ever considering why.

With an evangelistic tone, the angel declares to John that these have been freed from sins bondage. They were not saved because of their victory over tribulational difficulties, they were victorious because of their trust in Christ. This trust is pictured by the white robe which has been cleaned by Christ's blood.

This cleansing is not repetitive. Once the robe has been washed in Christ's blood through the agency of simple faith, there is no more need of washing (John 13:10). After salvation, the believer need only allow God's progressive work of practical sanctification to take place; however, positionally, the believer's robe is irreversibly whitened through Jesus' victorious blood.

"Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Revelation 7:15-17)

God is ever with His people here on earth, and in eternity that closeness is only heightened. Through Christ, God dwells with men because through Him is peace made between God and men. Apart from Christ, there is no peace between sinful man and a holy God.

In a figurative sense, Christ is presented as a shepherd who cares for ever need of his sheep. Christ feeds His people; He protects His people, and He provides life-giving water. As He said to the Samaritan woman, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water (John 4:10)."

In considering this passage's glorious nature, one cannot help but recite Hebrews 13:20-21.

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Burden of the Last Days (Part VIII)

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited." (Isaiah 24:21-22)

Lurking in the shadows of every earthly kingdom may be the dark forces of evil. Paul said, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12)." Satan is behind all of this world's dominions be they peaceable or outright violent. At Christ's return, these demonic forces along with their dark ruler will be confined to the abyss for a period of one thousand years (the time of Christ's earthly kingdom).

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled...(Revelation 20:1-3).

Along with Satan, the earth's kings will be subjected; and their kingdom's will fall to the King of kings.

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel (Psalm 2:2-9).

The text says that these rulers will be shut up in prison and visited after many days. After describing Satan's confinement to the abyss, Revelation 20:3 goes on to say, "...And after that he must be loosed a little season." At the end of the 1,000 year millennial reign, Satan will be allowed to gather the rebellious of the earth for one final attack against Jerusalem - an attack which will end in his final demise.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The 144,000 (Part III)

"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9-10)

Because these redeemed of many nations appear immediately after the previous sealing, it is assumed that they are the products of the evangelistic efforts of those sealed. This makes perfect sense since God has desired from the beginning that Israel be a light of God's salvation to all the world. The Lord's earliest intentions for Israel will be realized as she takes the knowledge of her Messiah to a world of people caught in a hopeless web of sin. At least to some extent, saved Jews will pursue lost Gentiles. For the most part, the opposite has been true in this present age of the Church.

Salvation's credit belongs to none but God's Lamb. A true salvation experience should result in the reverent praise of Jesus Christ.

"And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen." (Revelation 7:11-12)

All the intrinsic value of blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power and might was ascribed to God and rightly so, because He is the definition of these things. Likewise, the Christian's life should ascribe these things to God through its conduct. Selfishness and worldliness do not ascribe such traits to God neither does disobedience and pride. However, a life lived in Christian charity and the fear of God will do much to ascribe to Christ the many blessed traits of which He is worthy.