The Rapture of the Church. Visit the Throne of God and learn the mystery of the 24 Elders. The Four Cherubim (living creatures) are introduced and compared with the Camp of Israel and the 4 Gospels.
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All right tonight we’re going to be in Revelation 4; now this begins the third section of the book. You remember at the beginning the Lord told John, “Write the things which you have seen, the things which are and the things which will be after this.” So, that divides the book into three sections.
The things you have seen is everything in chapter 1; the things which are is everything in chapters 2 and 3; and the things which will be after this are everything from chapter 4 to the end of the book. So, tonight we start that part of the book.
Now, this part of the book is the part that most people look forward to because this begins the section of the book that we call ‘prophecy;’ from here to the end of the book we’ve got prophecy. We have basically the time from the rapture of the Church, which we’ll talk about tonight, to the Second Coming of Christ and on into the Millennial Kingdom.
So, we’ve got a lot to do (we’re not going to try to do it all tonight, obviously) so let’s start now and let’s look at chapter 4, verse 1. Right away we get the code word which tells us we are in the next section of the book; the word is “after this.”
In chapter 4:1 it says:
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open.
In the Greek language this has a little stronger meaning here. It really says, “After I looked, and there a door was opened before me.” So it wasn’t that he just happened to see this door that just happened to be standing open—somebody opened the door.
Of course, the first thing that does is to hearken us back to chapter 3. In chapter 3 (somewhere in verse 8) he is writing to the church at Philadelphia and He says, “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” So there you’ve got this concept now, from the church in Philadelphia; the Lord says, “I’m going to place before you a door. I’m going to open it, and no one can close it.” And then, in chapter 4, there’s the open door.
Ok, so after this he says:
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
The word, “Come up here,” of course is a command. The voice that’s speaking the command, the voice that he said he first heard, was the same voice he heard in chapter 1, the voice that introduced everything—the voice that we came to know as the Lord Jesus Himself. And so, here’s the Lord saying to John, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
In verse 2 it says:
At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.
The concept here that some believe what John is saying is that, being in the spirit, he’s saying, “I’m having a vision, here.” Some people believe that when he is saying, “I was in the spirit” that he means, “I, in my spirit, was transported to the end of the age and saw these things.” No matter how you take it, it was either a vision that he had, or he was literally transported, taken out of his body. (We’d call it an out of body experience today.)
Taken out of his body, because the body can’t travel forth through time, right? Our body is governed by time. Physical matter is governed by time, spiritual beings are not governed by time and that’s what makes the Lord different from us. He’s a spirit. Remember in John, He says, “God is a spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” So, God is identified as a spirit.
Einstein, in all of his research, was the first to discover that time is a physical property and it affects those beings who have physical mass. So, if you are a physical being with physical mass, you are governed by the laws of time. What that means is, you have half of the use of the time dimension. You can go forward, and you can see back, but that’s all you can do with time.
You can move forward, and you can see back. You can’t move back or else we could go back and re-do lots of things in our life, right? You can’t see forward or else we would be alerted to things and act differently in the present. So, we only have use of half of the time dimension.
Now, God is not a physical being, so He has use of all of the time dimension. So He can see forward and when He does He tells us things that are going to happen, and we call that ‘prophecy.’
He can also see backward. He can move forward; He can move backward; He has full use of the time dimension. Now as soon as we are raptured, we will have full use of the time dimension as well. One of the things you’ll want to spend the first several hundred (or maybe thousand) years doing is going back through history and actually being an eyewitness to everything that has happened since Adam’s creation, or even maybe before that. You can watch, you can be an eyewitness observer to all the events in history. I’m going to spend a lot of time doing that because that’s something that, at least now (maybe when I get up there, I’ll find out something that I’d rather do more) but right now, I’m looking forward to having the ability to go and look at all of history. And just be an eyewitness to everything that’s happened, and ‘Why did this happen?’ and, ‘What did they say here?’ and, ‘Who did that?’
For instance, something that I’m most interested in right now is, I’ve been doing an article on the Christmas story (every time I do this I am impacted by it again) but I’m in the part of it where they talk about the so-called ‘Three Wise Men.’ We Three Kings of Orient… you know, the Christmas carol. And so I’m doing the research on that. They are Persian, they came from Parthia which was a remnant of Persia. And all their retinue, by the way, (there were probably hundreds of them that came) but they came to Herod in Jerusalem and they said to Herod, who was appointed the king by the Roman Senate, (He wasn’t even Jewish. He was a foreigner appointed to sit on the throne of Judah.) And so they said to Herod, “Where is He who was born king?”
Now, you can understand why Herod was so upset by that, right? Because Herod’s an imposter. He’s only on the throne because he’s a friend of somebody in Rome who got the Senate to appoint him. It was a lucrative position, it was a very political appointment, basically is what it was and it gave him a license to steal from the Jewish people.
So it was a very lucrative thing. He knows he doesn’t deserve to be there, he knows he could be thrown out any time. He’s sort of a puppet to the Roman Senate. And these three Persians come in and say, “Okay, you’re the king now, but where’s the one who was born to be king? And obviously He’ll have a superior claim to the throne than you.” That’s why Herod was so upset about this.
But here’s my point: Herod goes and gets the priests, right? He brings them in, and he says to them, “Does it say in your Scriptures where the king of the Jews is supposed to be born?” And they right away say, “Oh yes, of course it does.” And they open up their Bible to Micah 5:2, that’s the one you get on your Christmas card every Christmas. It says, “But you, Bethlehem, though you’re small among the towns of Judah, out of you will come one who is born to be the king.” (That’s a paraphrase.)
And so, they tell him, and Herod says, “Right. Here it is, fellas.” Turning to the Persian kings he says, “Bethlehem.”
And they say, “Great!”
Before they leave he says, “By the way, when you find Him come back and tell me where He is so I can go and worship Him too.”
And so, they go off to Bethlehem and of course, they follow the star. They find the King of the Jews, little baby Jesus in a manger, in Bethlehem. Simple story, right?
Here’s the part that has always so perplexed me, and one of the things I’m going to do—the reason I’m telling you all this—one of the things I’m going to do is, I’m going to visit that conversation because I’m going to find out why they didn’t go with them!
Now, Herod should have been intensely curious about this because here’s somebody who had a claim, a prior claim, to the throne that he was currently sitting on and could unseat him theoretically. Now, if you found out that somebody was here to take your job, wouldn’t you want to know something about him? And if you could, wouldn’t you want to find out just what was going on? Why didn’t Herod go with them?
But, even more importantly than that, why didn’t the priests go? They were reading their own Scriptures. They had been told by these Persian kings that they had come from several hundred miles away to find the One born to be King of Israel. This was the One that they had been waiting for, they’d been reading about Him in their Scriptures forever and they had been wanting Him forever.
And yet, they did not go.
There’s no indication in the record anywhere that they ever went to Bethlehem to see for themselves what was going on. Does that strike you as odd?
And so, I want to go back and I want to hear that conversation. I want to see what their rationale was. What was their justification for not going? Because I can’t understand it! I can’t understand why, even out of curiosity, they wouldn’t go. I mean, even if you didn’t believe in Jesus, you’ve heard His Name. And if somebody says He’s down on the street corner at the 7-Eleven, wouldn’t you go over there? Just out of curiosity? They apparently didn’t have any interest in finding Him. Fascinating.
But that’s way off the topic here.
So, here’s where we were: We have half of the use of the time domain; God has full use of the time domain. He can see the end from the beginning. He has, in order to authenticate Himself to us, in order to say, “Hey fellas, I’m real,” He has gone forward in time and He has documented events. He has spoken of those events to His servants, the prophets. The prophets have written them down here for us.
And the reason He did that is so that when we read this and when something from this Bible happens and we recognize that it is something that was written long ago, we can say, “Wow! Only God could do that! He must be real because what He has said will happen has happened.”
Of course, the most phenomenal one to us these days is the rebirth of the Nation of Israel in 1948 which was prophesied by Ezekiel 2,700 years ago, and which was given as one of the critical signs that the end of the age is upon us.
When we saw (those of you who are old enough to remember in 1948—I was only about 50 then, so I remember it well) but, when we saw the nation Israel being reformed again, and when we saw the leaders of Israel (I believe it was David ben Gurion who gave the country the name Israel using Ezekiel as his authority) we should have said, “Wow! The end of the age has come! We are the blessed generation. We are the ones who are going to see all of prophecy fulfilled!” Because in other places in Scripture it says that once these signs start, all these signs that point to the end of the age—once these signs start, they will all be fulfilled within the span of the lifetime of the people who are alive when they started.
And so, I was born in 1942. (Now, don’t do the math yet because it’ll just discourage me. It’ll surprise you to think, “Gee! Is he really that old?”) But I was born in 1942, so I was only six years old at that time. And so, when the Lord spoke that prophecy saying that those who are alive when these signs begin to be fulfilled will still be alive when they are completed, in other words the last one is His return. What that told me as a six year old is, the Lord is coming back in my lifetime! Now, if He does, then we’ll know that His word is true because He gives us prophecy to authenticate Himself. That’s a major purpose of prophecy. It’s not just so we will be smarter than non-believers. It’s not so that we’ll know what’s coming and they won’t, and that we can say, “Ha, ha. I got mine and you know what’s coming. You know what’s going to happen to you? Well, you should read about it!”
It’s not for that. It’s simply for the fact that we will know that He is who He claims to be because nobody can tell you the end from the beginning, nobody can do that.
So, in chapter 4 of the Book of Revelation we’re talking prophecy, we’re talking things that haven’t happened yet but that He says will happen. Because of some of these other prophecies that we’ve covered in previous meetings, we know that these things are very likely to happen sometime while we’re still here and alive. One of those things is what happens in verse 1 of chapter 4.
One day we’re going to be walking down the street, minding our own business, not paying attention to much at all and suddenly we’re going to hear two things: we are going to hear a trumpet sounding and then we’re going to hear a voice saying, “Come up here!” And in the ‘twinkling of an eye’ we’re going to disappear. That’s what is being talked about here, that’s called the rapture of the Church.
What this is, this passage in chapter 4, is John being transported to the end of the age and the first thing that happens is he experiences the rapture of the Church. And he says:
At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.
Can you imagine that? One second, it’s 95 A.D., he’s in a penal colony on an island off the coast of Turkey sitting in a cave, all alone. They’d sent him out there because he wouldn’t shut up about Jesus and so they put him out there so that he couldn’t talk to anybody. They figured they had the problem solved but guess what? The Lord Himself shows up to talk about it. So, it didn’t work! But there he is one second, 95 A.D. sitting in rags in this penal colony in this cave, he’s an old man now. And in the next instant he is standing before the throne of God in heaven at the end of the age. Boom! Just like that and he’s describing it to us just now.
And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian (ruby).
These are two precious stones. It turns out that they are the first and the last of the twelve stones on the high priests’ breastplate. We think they are simply just inclusive of the fact that whoever was sitting there had the appearance of all the stones in the breastplate. Of course, what we think that means is that He had the appearance of being clothed in pure light.
A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.
From Genesis 9 and this chapter and the one after it (chapters 4 and 5) are so full of symbolism that you can, with almost every word, stop and go look somewhere else in the Bible and see what they are really talking about. With the word “rainbow” it’s no different.
The rainbow was first seen on Earth after the Ark had landed and Noah and his three sons and their wives had all gotten out. They had dispersed the animals and God said to Noah, “I’m going to make a new covenant with you.” And He ordained several things. He ordained the concept of—He turned man into a carnivore, basically. Before that time there is pretty good evidence that all the people on Earth were vegetarians. But, as of Genesis 9, He authorized the eating of meat. He said, “You’ll be killing animals now for your food, so I’m going to make them afraid of you.” So that’s one of the things He did.
And another thing He did was, the Earth’s atmosphere is a little different than it used to be. There used to be a water vapor canopy that surrounded the Earth and kept the weather on Earth temperate all the time. Every day was a perfect day. There were no storms, it was neither hot nor cold. It was perfect every day. That water vapor canopy maintained a perfect weather system, it was like there was a big bubble around Earth and the Earth was inside with this weather system. It turns out the water vapor canopy also deflected the harmful, I think it was ultraviolet rays that come from outer space onto Earth and that’s the reason life spans shortened so much after the Flood.
Shem, one of the sons of Noah (you remember Shem, Ham and Japheth) is mentioned throughout the Scriptures especially in the early parts of Genesis. He lived to be well over nine hundred years old. In fact, Shem was still alive when Abraham died. But you can read it, you can do the work, or you can go on our website and you can click on a page called, The Modern Equivalent to Biblical Names and I think that’s where we’ve done this documentation on the life spans of all these people, the patriarchs of Genesis. In fact, when Noah died, Abraham was fifty years old.
And so they talk about things—it was all legend back then like there was no writing and how did these people know what happened before the Flood and all that. It only took three people. Three people had to talk with each other for all the information from before the Flood to be transferred to people after the Flood, and that was Shem and Noah and Abraham. That’s all it took. If those three met—and we have a pretty good indication that they did because in Genesis 14 the one who is introduced there is Melchizedek. There are a lot of people who believe that Melchizedek is a title that means ‘King of Righteousness’ and that the person who was talking to Abraham was really Shem. There is a school of thought that says that Melchizedek is Shem. If that’s true, then the two met and talked to each other. Shem could have transferred all the knowledge from before the Flood to Abraham. That’s all it would take for it to continue on and a few hundred years later, for Moses to write it all down. In fact, there is pretty substantial evidence that, when Moses was writing the story of Genesis, he had in his possession books written by Adam.
And so, the whole idea that the Old Testament is all stories, legends, little fairy tales and things—it’s baloney. If you do the study, if you do the reading, and if you do the homework, you find out that the history of this human race that God wrote for us here in the Bible is not just somebody’s made up story. It’s what actually happened. It’s history. And some of it is passed to us (in other words, it happened before us) and some of it is future to us; it will happen after. But it is all history according to God because He’s already seen the end from the beginning. He’s already seen it all. Another good definition for the word prophecy is that it is just history written in advance.
All right—we’re even farther off the subject, so let me take a couple of turns and get back.
The reason I mentioned the rainbow is because when God put the rainbow in the sky, talking with Noah, He did that so that people wouldn’t freak out every time it rained. Because, you see, it only had rained on Earth once and when it did the whole Earth was wiped out and they were under water for 150 days and they were fooling around in this boat and only eight of them survived it. So you can imagine how they would feel the next time it rained. [laughs]
And so the Lord said, “I’m going to put this rainbow up in the sky.” Because the weather patterns were different, there was no canopy around them anymore because He made the canopy collapse onto the Earth; that’s where a part of the water came from for the Flood. So that water vapor canopy collapsed. That made age spans shorten, and so you get progressively shorter and shorter and shorter life spans, until finally in the Psalms the Lord said, “Well, we’re going to stabilize this at seventy years and if a man’s really strong he might get to eighty.”
So, the natural life span of the human race then was established at some time between seventy to eighty years.
Of course, with modern medicine and all of the treatments and things, we can extend that but that’s the natural lifespan, seventy to eighty years. So I’m way overdue already.
Then He said, “I’m going to put this rainbow in the sky because the weather is going to be different now. It will rain. And you will get storms and things like that, but I don’t want you to think I’m sending another Flood. In fact, I will never again destroy the world by water.”
And, He said, “Just to make this a commitment to you, I’m putting this rainbow in the sky. When it rains, you see the rainbow, you know I’m not destroying the world again by water.”
Now, you’ve got to read the fine print with God because the important thing was, it was ‘by water.’ When you get to Peter’s writings you understand the next time it’s going to be by fire, but He will never again destroy the world by water.
Now this is the strongest argument you could ever ask for in favor of a universal Flood. There are lots of people who try to make a point that the Flood was only there in the Mesopotamian area—that it didn’t flood the whole world, just that little area. They don’t explain how, if water that gets to 14,000 feet in one part of the world it can’t also be 14,000 feet in the other part of the world because water seeks its own level.
So if it’s going to be 14,000 feet up in some part of the world, it’s got to be 14,000 feet everywhere. But they don’t explain that, they say it was a local flood. Well, if it was a local flood then God lied, didn’t He, about the rainbow? Because there have been lots of local floods, but there’s never been a worldwide flood again. So, the only way God could be telling the truth about the rainbow is if the Flood was a universal flood. If it was not, then He lied to us and if He lied about that, maybe He lied about other things.
You see the problem you get into when you start getting away from the literal understanding of God’s Word? Because the people that teach ‘partial flood theory’ are teaching you that God lied to you about the rainbow. How could you trust a God for your salvation who has lied to you already? That’s the problem, you see. It’s much better, much safer, to take it at its word. It will prove itself to you. Don’t try to outsmart God. A lot of the things He is talking about, He was the only one there when it happened; He’s the only eye witness we have.
Okay. So, a rainbow resembling an emerald encircled the throne.
Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
Now here’s a whole night’s worth of symbolism here.
There are really four places where you see the throne of God described. The first one is in Isaiah, Isaiah saw the throne of God and he wrote about it; Ezekiel saw it twice and he wrote about it twice; then there’s this one here in Revelation; in Daniel there is a kind of a very cursory description, and Daniel’s description is the only one, besides this one, that mentions ‘thrones,’ plural.
The one Isaiah saw, and the one Ezekiel saw mentioned ‘a’ throne. Daniel and John mention ‘thrones’ and John goes to the point of saying there were twenty four of them, in addition to God’s throne, so actually that means twenty five. You read Daniel carefully and you find out Daniel is talking about the end of the age. So both Daniel’s vision and John’s take place at the end of the age; both of Ezekiel’s and the one of Isaiah’s take place before. Isaiah saw his vision of the throne in 740 B.C. and Ezekiel a couple of hundred years later. Both of them were visited by God as part of their ordination, their selection as a prophet.
Okay, so you’ve got these twenty four thrones; why do you have these twenty four thrones? To help find this out, let’s find out who’s sitting on them.
It says there were twenty four elders. Now an ‘elder’ is a term that’s used primarily of the Church. It says they were dressed in white, and that’s an idiom that is used primarily of the Church. And they had crowns on their heads.
When you get to the word “crown,” in the Greek, the Bible uses two different words and the word they use tells you what’s going on. If it’s a “diadem,” a diadem is the Greek word for crown which means the crown of royalty. Then you know they are talking about a king. (You have to look these up in the Greek to find out, because in English ‘crown’ is a ‘crown’ is a ‘crown’.)
If the crown is a stephanos it is the victor’s crown, or more specifically in Scriptures, the crown of the overcomer. A ‘stephanos’ is the crown of the overcomer.
The stephanos is most famous for being that crown of ivy leaves that was presented to the winners in the ancient Olympics. Remember they got the green ivy crowns, that was the victor’s crown that they received at the Bema seat (the judge’s stand) after the end of the race. When they won their race, they were called to the Bema seat where the judges were standing, and the judges awarded them the crown. Those are the equivalent to the gold medal that we get today.
There’s a whole other batch of theology for you because, what’s the Bible say? It says that when we go to heaven we are going to go to a judgment (in the Greek it’s called the Bema Seat Judgment) and when we get there, we are going to be awarded crowns and that’s because we’ll be victors.
In 1 Corinthians 3 it’s called the ‘judgment’ but it’s a judgment in the sense that it is an awards ceremony. We aren’t going to be there to be told all the things we did wrong, but we will be there to be rewarded for the things that, in God’s view, we did that furthered His goals while here on Earth. We will get into all that theology some other day, but the important thing to remember here is that the crowns that these twenty four elders are wearing are ‘stephanos’ crowns—the crown of the overcomer.
In our last two sessions in Revelation 2 and 3, which we took over two periods, every single one of the seven letters gives a promise to the overcomer.
In every one of the seven letters it says, “‘To him who overcomes’ I will do this,” Or, “’To him who overcomes’ I will do that.” Each one of the seven letters has a promise to the overcomers. These crowns are the crowns worn by the overcomers, the victors.
The seven letters were written to seven churches; churches have elders. Churches are composed of righteous people made righteous by the blood of Jesus. In the Bible, people who are righteous wear white. Isaiah 61:10, Revelation 19, and other places talk about being clothed in white. ‘Fine linen’ your translation might say. That denotes righteousness. And who is there with them? The Holy Spirit.
So, it’s a circumstantial case because they are never described clearly—or defined clearly. But by the evidence I have just given you, it seems clear that these twenty four elders represent the Church; the Church that was just raptured earlier in the chapter.
Okay, one more point: in Old Testament prophecy, especially in the long-range prophecy, there was quite often a dual fulfillment. The first was a partial fulfillment that confirmed the validity of the prophecy and told you that you could count on the rest of the prophecy coming true.
Let me just give you a couple of examples. The first one I’ll use here is a good one for now because you’ve all received a Christmas card with this one on it. (I’m going to assume that you’ve received Christmas cards.) It’s Isaiah 9:6 and here’s what it says:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
Are you familiar with that verse? Isaiah 9:6. It is one of the most popular Christmas card verses.
Now, how much of that verse was fulfilled? Let’s read it again:
For to us a child is born,
Did that happen? Was a Child born? Yes!
to us a son is given,
Did that happen? Was a Son given? Yes.
and the government will be on his shoulders.
Did that happen? Did He ever rule the world? No; no He never did.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Well, there’s a sense in which that has happened.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
Did that happen? Do we have endless peace ever since He was born? No.
The prophecy goes on and says:
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
That means He will be King of Israel forever. Did that happen? No.
And so, of all that prophecy, (1) the Child was born, (2) the Son was given, and all the rest is yet to be fulfilled. We have had a ‘partial fulfillment’ of that prophecy; the rest of it remains to be fulfilled in the Second Coming.
Here’s another one. I’m only going to give you these two, because I just want to give you the idea and then I’m going to send you on a treasure hunt. In Daniel 9:24 we get this prophecy, it says:
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’
(In other words, 483 years.)
It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’
(After the 483 years,)
the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
The most important prophecy in all the Bible because it foretold both the First and Second Coming of the Messiah—it told the first coming of the Messiah to the day.
All right, so let’s look at this prophecy now.
(Or 490 years,)
are decreed for your people and your holy city
(Daniel, so that would be Israel.)
to finish transgression,
Has that happened? Has transgression finished? No.
to put an end to sin,
Has sin come to an end? Not so you’d notice.
to atone for wickedness,
Well, we could say yes that’s happened because He atoned for wickedness at the cross.
to bring in everlasting righteousness,
Has that happened? No.
to seal up vision and prophecy
(That means to fulfil all Biblical prophecy.) Has that happened? No.
and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
(Which is the temple—which disappeared a few years after that and there hasn’t been one since.)
Then it goes on to say that:
“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem
Which was issued in the past, so that’s happened.
until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’
In other words, from that decree, it will be 483 years after that that the Messiah would come; and that happened just as it said.
It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.
After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death
and will have nothing.
“Cut off” means executed for a capital crime; “have nothing” means, before any of His promises had been fulfilled. In other words, He never was king; like we just saw in Isaiah 9:6; He was promised He would be King of Israel forever. None of that ever happened.
So, it says in this prophecy that the Messiah would come—and He did.
It said that He would be executed—and He was.
It said that He would be executed before any of the promises to Him could be fulfilled—and they were.
Then it says:
The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The people who came and destroyed the city and the sanctuary were the Romans but the point is, the city and the sanctuary were destroyed. So that part of the prophecy has been fulfilled.
The end will come like a flood:
Did the end come? No.
War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He
(Who is this ruler,)
will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’
(That’s the final seven years in the 490 year prophecy.) I realize I’m going through this really fast, so if you need more input on this you can look on our website for an article called The Seventy Weeks of Daniel and you’ll find all the details there.
The point of this is: some of this prophecy—the last seven years; the appearance of the ‘ruler who will come’ (the antiChrist); the Abomination that Causes Desolation that is prophesied here; all those are yet to come. And so in this four-verse prophecy, about half of it was fulfilled and half of it is yet to be fulfilled.
That’s what we meant by ‘dual fulfillment.’ You get a partial fulfillment in the beginning to confirm the validity of the prophecy and to tell you that the rest of it is dead certain to happen. But in these two prophecies there was a gap in the middle, between the part that has been fulfilled and the part that has not.
Now, here’s the important part: in both of these cases, the part that has been fulfilled brought us to the time of the First Coming of the Messiah. The part that has not been fulfilled relates to His Second Coming. Are you with me so far?
Here’s where it gets interesting.
The gap between the partial fulfillment in the First Coming, and the rest of the fulfillment in the Second Coming, coincides with the age of the Church because the Church was born when the first part of the prophecy was fulfilled. Right? The Lord came.
And the Church will end just as the second part of the prophecy gets fulfilled—the Second Coming. So, each of these prophecies has a gap in it into which you can insert the Church age.
When I was a little boy, on the radio there was a very popular quiz show called the 64 Dollar Question Later on, they made a TV version of it called the 64 Thousand Dollar Question. And so, the 64 Thousand Dollar Question to you is, how many prophecies like that are there in the Bible? Where the first half of it ends with the First Coming and the second half of it won’t be fulfilled until the Second Coming? How many of those are there do you suppose? The suspense is killing you, isn’t it?
Answer: twenty four—just the number of elders mentioned in this prophecy.
That’s a lot of circumstantial evidence, right? But you could convict somebody on less. I mean, it’s pretty good now.
We’ve got twenty four thrones.
We have twenty four prophecies in the Old Testament that have a gap in them into which the Church age can be inserted.
These twenty four elders are wearing stephanos crowns, the crown of the overcomer.
In each of the letters to each of the seven Churches there is a promise to the overcomer that has to do with being in heaven with the Lord.
The twenty four elders are all wearing white, which denotes righteousness. There is only one righteous group on earth and that is the Church, and we are only righteous because of the blood of Jesus.
And the Holy Spirit is present, and the Holy Spirit uniquely dwells with the Church.
Now, that’s circumstantial evidence. But when you combine it with the earlier part of chapter 4, I think we have a really, really good case. These same twenty four elders are going to show up later in chapter 4 and I believe also in chapter 5 so we will hear more about them.
I’m persuaded from what I have told you here tonight, plus other studies I have done on this—and I’m not the only one that thinks this way so it’s not just my kooky idea, lots of kooky people think this way—but I’m persuaded that these twenty four elders represent the Church and they are at the throne in heaven at the beginning of the Book of the Revelation.
Now, it turns out that the Church is mentioned in chapters 2 and 3. If you take my view, you’ll see the Church mentioned in 4 and 5. In 2 and 3 the Church is on Earth and in 4 and 5 the Church is in heaven. You don’t see a single mention of the Church again, from chapter 6 to chapter 19 with the Second Coming, with one exception and that’s in Revelation 14 and, we’ll get to that in about a year or two at the rate we’re going. I’ll save that for then because it has to do with a group of 144,000—but not the 144,000 from Revelation 7. There are two groups of 144,000 in the Book of Revelation, one in chapter 7 and I believe the other is in chapter 14. One group is on Earth, the other group is in heaven.
When we get there, I’ll compare the two groups for you and you’ll see that the way they are described, just from the way you read about them in the Scriptures, you can tell they are not the same group. It is not two appearances of the same group. It’s two different groups, and we’ll talk about that later.
All right, so now we are down all the way to verse 6:
Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
A sea of glass. How many of you remember the old hymn where one of the lines is,
“Casting down their golden crowns upon the glassy sea,”
Martin Luther wrote it. Anybody know the name of it? I can’t think of it right now.
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” The words come from this chapter.
In the hymn it talks about “casting down their golden crowns upon the glassy sea.” We are going to see later in the Book of Revelation. But what happens is, something that looks like a sea of glass, clear as crystal, becomes a beautiful symbolism, if you will, of the Old Testament. Because in the Old Testament, you take the Tabernacle, and you take all the components of the Tabernacle, and you find that all of them are very clearly and specifically ordained as to size and shape and all that. In other words, they are measurements and you can build them according to their measurements.
There is only one item that did not have any measurements given and that was the laver, or the place of the ceremonial bath; there was no dimension given to that. When King Solomon built it, he put it on the backs of twelve life-sized carved oxen. It was a huge thing, about the size of a swimming pool; but there was no dimension given to that. It is symbolic, like all the other things in the tabernacle, of something that is important to us.
The menorah, the seven-branched candlestick, is symbolic of light. It was the only source of light in the tabernacle, it stands for the Light of the world. He is the only light for us.
You see how it goes all the way through; you could take everything in the tabernacle, every piece of furniture, and you can see the symbolism of something that’s important to us.
When it came to that laver, what happened there? They washed in it. In heaven, it’s the sea of glass. And what are they doing? They are standing on it. So what is it that, symbolically, you are washed in while you are on Earth, but you stand on when you get to heaven?
It is His Word. We are ‘washed in the water of His Word.’ It cleanses us. We’re also washed in His blood; I was thinking that some of you would say, “It’s His blood.” But it’s not, it’s the water of the Word. We are washed in the water of the Word. When we get to heaven, we stand on it. Because what is His Word full of? Promises. How many of you know this old hymn, “Standing on the Promises”? The promise of His Word.
All right, so everywhere we go in this chapter we see things that tell us that we’re talking about a group of people who have been faithful to the Lord; they’ve been the overcomers that He has talked about through all the letters. They’ve all of a sudden been yanked off Earth (as represented by John) and immediately having come from wherever they were in the world, they are immediately standing before the throne of God.
We saw these twenty four elders that are representative of them; we saw them near with the Holy Spirit who is always associated with the Church, and we see that there is also this sea of glass that they are standing on, having washed in it they are now standing upon it.
It’s a really, really a good case for the fact that this represents the Church.
All right, let’s read on:
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
Here is this huge, huge congregation of worship in heaven and these four living creatures stand around while that’s going on, leading it, if you will. These four living creatures are called Cherubim; unfortunately, because of some Renaissance painters, we think of them as chubby little babies in diapers with wings on their backs but these are ferocious creatures and we’re going to read more about them and we are going to take a look now at these other pictures of the throne of God because it will give us a really much better picture of these four living creatures.
Okay—I’ve been reminded that I did not read chapter 4 verse 5 so, verse 5 then:
From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
(Or, literally, the seven-fold Spirit of God.)
I told you last time that was the Old Testament construction for the Holy Spirit based on Isaiah 11. The first couple of verses talks about the seven-fold Spirit of God. That phrase is unusual to appear in the New Testament because in the New Testament they usually just say Holy Spirit.
I think I told you this in our very first meeting; it appears that John, although writing in Greek, was receiving this in Hebrew and translating it as he wrote because the way he wrote it, it is enough different from his other writings that actually some people doubted whether he actually wrote it. But it turns out, if you do a lot more research than I’m able to do and know a lot more about languages than I know, it turns out that what some people have speculated is that it sounds like he got it in Hebrew and then translated it into Greek as he was writing it.
So the seven-fold Spirit of God would be an Old Testament thing. In fact, of the 404 verses in the Book of Revelation, 280 of them are almost directly taken from the Old Testament. So, this is really an Old Testament book. After chapter 4 the Church is not involved in this book at all. Martin Luther was one of those people who said it doesn’t even belong in the New Testament because it wasn’t written to the Church.
All right so then we read on and got down through to the end of the chapter, but I want to come back and I want to take a look at these other views of the throne of God. Let’s go to Isaiah 6, we’ll take that one and we’ll just come through the Bible as we do.
In Isaiah 6, the call of Isaiah (or his commissioning, if you will) which took place in about 740 B.C.
We’ll start reading in verse 1. Isaiah 6:1:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim,
Isaiah uses the word ‘Seraph.’ He is the only one who does, and the word “Seraphim” we think he is really describing Cherubim, but he uses the word Seraphim instead. But you’ll see the similarities when we get to Ezekiel’s passage.
Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Now you see, that’s just what we read in Revelation 4 of these four living creatures around the throne, and so that’s one of the ways we know they are all talking about the same people there, same things.
Verse 4 now:
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
What he is referring to here is that no sinner can survive in the presence of God. Here he is saying, “Gee, all of a sudden, here I am in the presence of God and I’m a sinner! I’m done for!”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Those live coals came from the altar of sacrifice. The altar of sacrifice, of course, was designed to atone for sin. So, up to that point in his life, all his sins were atoned for because in the Old Testament, the atonement for sins was always retroactive, it always happened only in the past. You couldn’t atone for future sin, you could only atone for past sin; only in the New Testament could you atone for future.
This is another part of our discussion we could have on the nature of time because when the Lord was crucified—what does the Book of Hebrews say? “Once for all time.” In other words, His crucifixion sufficed for all time in the past and for all time in the future. So for the first time, atonement was both retroactive and proactive. But that’s the only time. That’s why sacrifice stopped there because all the future sin had been atoned for.
That’s why when you are saved you can be saved forever because even your future sins were atoned for at the cross because none of your behavior surprises the Lord; it only surprises you. Have you ever done something and then you say, “My gosh, where did that come from? How did that come out of me? I thought I was better than that.” Well, you’re surprising you, but you’re not surprising the Lord, He knew about it, He went to the cross for it, and He said to the Father when it happened, “Don’t worry Dad, I’ve already handled that one. It’s taken care of. There’s no problem.”
Okay, but Isaiah, all of his past sins now are atoned for, which means he can now survive in the presence of God. Then of course, he hears the voice saying:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And Isaiah raises his hand. I can see him looking around and there’s no one else there but him! And the Lord saying, “Let’s see. Who do we send here?” And so, Isaiah, with an amazing grasp of the obvious, says, “Okay, Lord. Send me.” And that’s his commissioning.
Okay, now let’s go over to Ezekiel, three or four books to the right here, and we’re going to read the passage out of Ezekiel 1:1:
In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
(It turns out that was July of 593 B.C.)
On the fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin—the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was on him.
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures.
They are the same four you see in the Book of Revelation.
In appearance their form was human, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.
Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.
The way Ezekiel saw them—the front face of a man, and then faces on the sides were of a lion, and of an ox, and then on the back, the face of an eagle. So he sees a single head, with four faces on it.
When we read John’s description, he saw four faces. He doesn’t say whether they are on the same head or not, he just says he saw four faces. But the important part to remember is it is the same four—it’s a lion, a man, an ox, and an eagle.
Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body. Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches.
In other words, the light of their clothing was so bright.
Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.
So you have these same four creatures. He talks about them as he goes along, and we won’t worry about the rest of this, but he goes down all the way through to verse 25 describing them. Basically the idea I wanted you to see is, Isaiah sees these creatures, these winged creatures around the throne of God; Ezekiel sees these winged creatures around the throne of God. Ezekiel attributes four faces to them. John sees these living creatures around the throne of God—the same four faces. So you have three witnesses there who identify these faces and these creatures, and these are the ones who guard the throne of God. It is the most powerful position in heaven.
According to Isaiah 14, they were under the authority of one, originally. In other words, there was one of them, who was called ‘the anointed cherub’ and he was in charge of them.
Now, does anybody know who that was? That was Satan. He originally—his original position—he was a created being, his original position in heaven was to be in charge of the Cherubim who guarded the throne of God, and as they do in John’s passage here in Revelation, to lead the universe in the worship of God. That was Satan’s original position. That was his role; that was his job description if you will—he was the original worship leader.
Now we’ll go along to Daniel 7. I just want to show you this one a little bit so you’ll know I wasn’t lying to you about the thrones. In Daniel 7—by the way there’s another one of these descriptions in Ezekiel 10, it’s just like the one we’ve just read. It talks about when the Spirit of God had to depart from the temple because the sins of the people were so great. He describes it the same way and he describes the Spirit of God leaving the temple.
In Daniel 7:9 it says:
“As I looked,
“thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened.
Daniel is showing us a picture of the throne of God at the end of the age; he’s the one who sees these thrones. He doesn’t say how many there are, he just says, ‘thrones’ plural. But we know that it is the judgement because it says, “The court was seated, and the books were opened.” So he also sees these creatures.
All right. Now we go back to—oh, one thing before we do that:
The Bible is just full of symbolism and the more you understand about it and the more you let it interpret itself, the richer it becomes.
Because, it turns out, you see, that when the Lord brought the Israelites into the wilderness, He gave them explicit directions, in the Book of Exodus and also more fully in the Book of Numbers, about how to organize themselves. Understand, there were about 1.5 million of them that He brought out there. If you can just imagine, how many of you were ever in a kind of a boy scout leader or camp leader or anything like that? You know what it’s like to have a little troop of maybe a half dozen or dozen or maybe two dozen little kids following you around. How’d you like to be Moses? He had a million and a half of these people on a camping trip, a forty year camping trip, in the desert. So you can understand why he got a little frustrated from time to time, can’t you? The Lord gave them specific directions as to how to encamp themselves.
He took the twelve tribes. In the first place, the Levites, being in charge of the tabernacle and all its accoutrements and being the priests, they always went to the very center of the camp. So, the Levites were in the center.
But you still had twelve tribes, you understand, because the tribe of Joseph was split into two, Ephraim and Manasseh. When Jacob adopted Joseph’s two sons, he split Joseph’s tribe in half and gave half to Ephraim and half to Manasseh. So, even when you had the Levites, you still had twelve tribes. So what the Lord did was He split the twelve tribes into four camps, and He had one camp go to the east of wherever the Levites set up the tabernacle, and one camp to the west, one camp to the north and one to the south.
Each camp consisted of three tribes, one tribe of the three was the senior one. The senior tribe would go to the designated place and they would have their flag bearer stand there. Each tribe had an ensign, a flag; and the flagbearer of the senior tribe would plant his flag and that’s where the rest of the camp would know where to gather around.
For example on the east you had Judah, being the senior, and Issachar and Zebulon camped with them. They camped to the east of the tabernacle. Then, to the south, you had the senior tribe of Reuben along with Simeon and Gad, and they camped to the south. To the west you had Ephraim, the senior tribe, and then you had Manasseh and Benjamin with them. And to the north you had Dan as the senior tribe, and you had Asher and Naphthali with them.
So, that was the camp of Israel: three tribes to the east, three tribes to the west, three tribes to the north, three tribes to the south. Then, the tabernacle in the center.
All right, so the tribe of Judah (and this one’s well known) had a symbol on their flag and the symbol was the Lion. Remember Matthew’s Gospel, writing to the Jews, wanted to show Israel that Jesus was the Lion of Judah, the Messiah. So the ensign, the flag, that Judah used to locate the camp of Judah, Issachar and Zebulon was a big flag with a lion on it. And that went to the east of the tabernacle.
Over here on the south you had Reuben’s flag flying and his flag had the picture of a man on it.
Then, on the west you had Ephraim; his flag had a big picture of an ox.
And then in the north you had the tribe of Dan; his flag had an eagle. Does this sound familiar to you?
So you’ve got the four faces of the Cherubim represented in the four flags of the four camps of Israel: one to the north, one to the south, one to the east, one to the west.
The way it turns out, of course, any map, if you will, of the Old Testament will show these four camps split up in these four directions.
To the north, the flag of the eagle; there were 157,000, according to the census, there were 157,000 men of fighting age in that camp.
Opposite to them you had Reuben who had 151,000 in his camp. So, the two camps to the north and the south were about the same, they would have gone the same direction (in their compass direction) the same distance out from the center.
Then on the east, you had Judah with 186,000. This was the largest and so you had a big, long camp going out to the east. In the west you had Ephraim with Manasseh and Benjamin. Since Ephraim and Manasseh were each half of the tribe of Joseph, they were the smallest group. So you had 108,000 fighting men there.
If you were to visualize this, if you were flying over the camp in a helicopter, if you looked down, you’d see—well, look over here. You see how, from the crossbar up the cross is shorter, and from the crossbar down it is longer? Well, the part from the crossbar up would represent Ephraim (the smallest camp) and the part from the crossbar down opposite them would represent Judah, the largest camp. Then, the two side bars would represent Dan and Reuben, about the same size. So, when they were camped, if you could look straight down on top of them, it looked like a cross with the tabernacle in the center.
Now it turns out that every component of the tabernacle points to Jesus. The camp looks like the cross; in the center is the tabernacle, symbolic of Jesus. Get the picture? Now, you have to be God in heaven to see this—He only did this for Himself. So, you’d have to be Him to see this. Nobody on Earth could notice this. It wasn’t until we started being able to look down on things where people would have that kind of perspective that we would notice this.
These four ensigns, these four faces then, represent the four camps of Israel; they also represent the four Gospels because Matthew’s Gospel was represented by the lion. Matthew was trying to show the world that Jesus was the Lion of Judah. There is more Messianic prophecy fulfilled and recorded in Matthew than in any other Gospel. There’s pretty good evidence that Matthew’s Gospel was originally written in Hebrew, then translated into the Greek later on.
Mark, his Gospel is the shortest one of all and his Gospel represents Jesus as the Obedient Servant of Jehovah. So, as Matthew is the Lion of Judah, and the lion is the representation of the ensign of Judah, you go opposite him to Mark, and you get the Obedient Servant. What’s the flag opposite Judah? It’s the flag of Ephraim which is an ox, a beast of burden. One who carries the load. And is it true that the Lord carried our load of sin to the cross? And so, Mark shows the Obedient Servant of Jehovah.
And then, in the north and the south you have—first of all in the south you have Reuben, the camp of Reuben, the flag with the man on it. That is represented in the New Testament by the Gospel According to Luke. Luke’s Gospel represents Jesus as the Son of Man. That’s the title He uses of Himself most often in Luke’s Gospel—the Son of Man.
Opposite him, in the north, is the tribe of Dan. The eagle on his standard, on his ensign, represents the Gospel of John, where John’s sole purpose in writing his Gospel, as he says in the last chapter, is to present Jesus as the Son of God.
So, each of the four Gospels shows you a different face of Jesus:
Matthew’s face—the Lion of Judah, the Messiah to Israel.
Mark’s face—the Obedient Servant, the ox, the beast of burden.
Luke’s face—the Man, showing Jesus as the Son of Man.
John’s face—the eagle, the sign of deity, showing Jesus as the Son of God.
So, the four Gospels are matched by the four faces and the four camps of Israel.
We could go on and on with this if you want to. It’s just amazing, this kind of thing, it almost never stops. The more you study it, the more you learn about it, the more you see it fits. And you see the whole great, big thing was presented as a huge overlay of all of God’s kingdom on Earth. Starting from the desert and the camping there and the formation of the Nation of Israel, all the way through the New Testament and the end of the age. Isn’t it amazing? The stuff you can learn about this!
It doesn’t mean anything if you’re not a believer but once you start believing and you start seeing this stuff—I remember a line from one of the books I read. It says, a guy was trying to talk to an unbeliever about the Bible and he said, “I just don’t see.” And the guy who was trying to persuade him says, “Well, when you believe, then you will see.” He said, “You’ve always heard that seeing is believing. But in spiritual matters it’s the other way around. When you believe, then you’ll see.” And then he went from there and he said, “And when you see, then, you’ll believe.”
Because you get your first little shot of belief and you begin to see, and you start studying and you see that it’s a whole lot more than you thought it was. And everything that you find from there on just underscores and confirms and strengthens your belief. And so, first you believe then you see, then you see and then you believe. And it just goes on in a never-ending cycle.
All right. There’s lots more we could do there. But if you get our—we have a little eBook on the web called The Four Faces of Jesus which goes into all of this and I think it could do a lot better job than I do. It’s an eBook you can download on the site. It doesn’t cost you anything to do it and it’s there for anybody who wants it. So, if you’re interested in this kind of thing and you want more detail; if you didn’t get all the notes or something like that, just go on the site. Kim, do you still have a copy? She has a hard copy of that eBook on the back there if you want to look at that. That will help, too.
All right, let’s begin chapter 5. I don’t think we’ll get finished, but let’s start it because chapter 4 was a whole lot longer than I thought it was. If this goes on too long, we’ll have John finish it for us when we get up there to see him. [laughs] It could happen that way and he’d do a lot more justice to it than I do.
And not to try to overemphasize anything here, but chapter 5—you have to understand chapter 5 in the Book of Revelation in order to understand what really happened at the cross. And maybe it’s good for me if, in the next few minutes, what I do is just give you an explanation of that statement.
Because, you see, in chapter 5, what you’re going to see is, what is the greatest real estate transaction in the history of man, because you’re going to see the ownership of Planet Earth change hands. And you see, that’s one of the things that happened at the cross.
In Romans 8, around verse 18 I think it is, we get an interesting little piece of information (one of many) where Paul, writing to the Church in Rome says:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
So the entire creation is waiting for this curse that was placed on it because of man’s sin to be released, and it is groaning under the weight and the burden of this curse.
This is the one place where I can agree with some of the New Age philosophy that says the Earth is a living organism. And here it’s almost described that way. Now, I don’t want you to think I’m in any way in agreement with that living organism philosophy; Gaia the Earth Goddess and all that. I don’t subscribe to any of that at all. But I do see what Paul was saying here.
It’s like the creation itself was burdened with this awful curse at the fall of man, and it’s been groaning and waiting.
And of course the earthquakes and the things that we see in nature is evidence of that groaning. The Earth doesn’t seem to fit together. You know, it’s like you’re putting on some clothes and they don’t quite fit and you just keep wriggling around and squirming around, trying to make them fit better. It seems to me that’s what the Earth seems to be doing. And of course it’s just breaking open new things as it goes.
Over in Ethiopia just recently—I don’t know if you read this but they had a series of earthquakes and a gap in the surface of the Earth. One hundred sixty kilometers long, I think it is and eight kilometers wide has opened up in the desert there in Ethiopia and the scientists who study this are saying that this is the birth of a new ocean, that someday, water is going to start coming in there and this thing’s going to keep splitting apart and there’ll be a new ocean created here. And of course, they’re looking in their view hundreds of thousands of years down the road, but they are saying this.
And then you read that (and I’ve mentioned this in our meetings before) you know that the Earth is due for a magnetic polar reversal. Remember we’ve talked about that, where the North Pole and the South Pole exchange places? What it does is, it just messes everything up because the magnetic fields reverse and all the flux and everything.
It’s happened four times in the history of our world as far as they can tell, and they study this and they study the direction of iron filings and certain levels of rock and things like this. But it turns out the magnetic North Pole has already moved 680-some miles, it’s over in Siberia now. It’s not in Alaska anymore. And the next thing that will happen is, in the next few years the Northern Lights will go away because they’re caused by that magnetic pole. They say Alaska is going to lose the Northern Lights because they’ll be over in Siberia. The thing is moving so fast that eventually, the North and South Poles just flip-flop, and this could cause humongous natural disasters.
When we get into more of Revelation 6 I’ll talk more about that because I believe the catastrophes that are described in Revelation 6 will happen during this magnetic polar shift. Which scientists, by the way, predict for the year 2012. So it’s coming up. And so who knows whether it’ll happen then and who knows whether it will be as serious as it is. There’s an awful lot on the internet about it. Of course some people say it will be nothing, other people say it’s the end of the world and everybody’s opinions are somewhere in between.
But if you want to know more about that, just go into Google and google the magnetic pole reversal and you will come up with a hundred articles on it of scientists who have plotted it and seen it and say it’s coming. I believe that when it does, that it will fulfill the prophecies written in Revelation 6, the one we’ll look at not next time but the time after.
And so, the Earth then, has been under someone’s authority. Now, in 1 John 5 we see that John says:
1 John 5:19
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
So when we see all these catastrophes, all these illnesses and all these terrible things happening and everyone says, “Why does God let this happen?” You want to send them to 1 John 5:19.
He’s not the one in charge right now, it’s the enemy who’s in charge. See, he stole Planet Earth from Adam and, when Jesus went to the cross, He died to get it back. In Romans 8:18 we learn that while the death has taken place, and the payment has been made to redeem Planet Earth, the title has not changed hands yet. It’s going to change hands in Revelation 5.
What you’ll see when we get to Revelation 5 is Earth’s rightful owner reclaiming His possession and that’s what starts all the trouble, that’s what kicks off the series of judgments and things that occupy Revelation from 6 through chapter 19.
This is all according to God’s law and we have to accept it as being part of God’s law. We’ll finish with this—if you want some homework then read about this kind of idea in Leviticus 25 which talks about the role of the kinsman redeemer and it says if anyone loses his property, his next of kin is obligated to come and buy it back.
Adam lost his property, and Adam’s next of kin is obligated to come and get it back. The currency was the blood of a sinless man. Jesus had to die on the cross to get Planet Earth back from the person who stole it from Adam. Satan is like the guy who says, “Hey look. I stole this fair and square.”
In the wilderness temptation in Matthew 4 when Jesus is taken up by the enemy, by Satan, and He’s tempted and He’s shown all the kingdoms of the Earth, remember this? And the devil said to Jesus, “Look at this. This is all mine. I can give it to anybody I want. I’ll give it to you if you’ll worship me.”
Jesus did not dispute his ownership, did He? He didn’t say, “No, you don’t own it.” You see, if I came here and wanted to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge, you’d want to know if I really owned it, first wouldn’t you? Jesus did not dispute Satan’s claim to ownership. He, of course, refused to worship him in a way to get it back. What Satan was really saying to Him was, “Don’t go to the cross. I’ll give You the planet back. You’ve just got to worship me. You can skip the cross. Forget about all those people, they don’t know You, they don’t like You, they don’t understand what you’re going to do, anyway! Forget ‘em. I’ll just give it all back to You, just worship me, instead.” That’s all he wanted. Jesus did not dispute that ownership.
John’s letter to the Church (1 John) made the claim that, when He went to the cross, He purchased it back. The creation is still groaning today because what are they waiting for? They are waiting for the sons of God to be revealed; they are waiting for the full number of the Church to be complete. Then the Lord comes, and He takes it.
The other thing you have to understand to get all this is the Book of Ruth. You understand in Ruth, that Naomi represents Israel. Famine; loses her land; goes to a foreign country. Befriended by a Gentile woman, they come back to Israel. The Gentile woman meets Naomi’s relative, a Jewish man. And on the way to making the Gentile woman his bride he also restores Naomi’s land. The man, Boaz—a type of Jesus the Kinsman Redeemer.
Understand the concept of the Kinsman Redeemer, and you can understand Revelation 5.
Let’s have a closing prayer.