Monday, August 29, 2011

Revelation Chapter Six

In my last blog we began in the sixth chapter of Revelation. This chapter begins with a scene in heaven. We see the lamb take the “seven sealed book” and begin to open its seals. With the first seal open, a white horse comes forth. The rider of this horse is the Antichrist, as discussed in the last blog. (If you did not read last week’s blog, please do so.)

Second Seal, The Red Horse

It has been estimated that there will be a period of peace before the breaking of the second seal. Some say that peace will go on for as long as 18 months. Soon however some of the nations will begin to grow tired of the control of antichrist. Not everyone will approve of his policies. This leads up to the breaking of the next seal.

When the second seal is broken John hears the voice of the second beast, or the calf like beast, say “Come.” As this rider comes forth the symbolism is clear. Red, the color of the horse, is the symbol for blood, and the sword is the symbol of war. This tells us that the peace the first rider gives is taken away now by the second rider. No doubt there will be wars according to Matthew 24:6-7, where our Lord said,

“Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.”

“When they shall say peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”                   1 Thess. 5:3

While war does come, eventually antichrist will prevail. It is prophesied and plainly told that he will rule over the nations. Some will rebel but will not succeed. Many will be left dead, towns and cities will be destroyed but antichrist will prevail over those that rise up against him.

Third Seal, The Black Horse

Again when the seal is broken one of the four beasts spoke. This time it is the manlike beast that commands the rider to “come.” Not only does John hear the living creature, but he also hears an invisible voice in the heavens say “a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny, and see though hurt not the oil and the wine.”

This black horse represents famine, and the rider is the one who conserves food. This is reasonable, for if you think of all the men that will be drafted off to war in addition to the millions who have been taken in the rapture famine is sure to follow. This famine will be so great that it will take one day’s wages to purchase 2 pints of bread. In Bible days a man would work for a denarius (penny) or one day’s wages.

Ezekiel long ago prophesied this terrible famine.

“And thy meat which thus halt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink.”   Ezekiel 4:10-11

“Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment:”   Ezekiel 4:16

Again hear the words of James in chapter 5:1, 3.

“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.”  James 5:1-3

Fourth Seal, Pail Horse

Now the voice of the, eagle like beast, command “come.” Note the corpse like color of this horse. This horse is different in that it has two riders. Their names are death and hell, or the grave. The first three horse riders were not named but these two are personified. As “Death” goes forth “Hell” follows after waiting to consume those that “Death” destroys.

After war and famine you will find pestilence cover the earth. In this time there will be dead that have been left unburied and this results in this pestilence. This judgment will be so great that it will destroy ¼ of the earth. In 2011 it is estimated that the world population will reach 7 billion. We are not sure how many will be raptured, but imagine 1.75 billion people dying. Let me put this into perspective. The population in American is just over 3 billion. This means that the equivalent of over half of the population of American will die under these judgments.

This seems terrible, and it is, but this is only the beginning of sorrows. By the time the tribulation is finished ¾ of the world’s population will be eliminated.

Fifth Seal, Martyred Saints

I would like to point out that these are not martyrs from the church. If you believe that, then you should go back and reread chapter four. The church is in heaven. These are the believing remnant made up of Jew and Gentile who have turned to Christ after the rapture of the church.

You must not forget that God will seal 144,000 Jews who will go forth and preach the gospel of the kingdom under which many will be saved. Some have said that there will not be souls saved during the tribulation. This is not supported by the scriptures. In fact many speculate that there will be more that 200 million saved during the tribulation. (I will explain this further when we study chapter seven.)

This will be a hard time, for in the tribulation time when a person turns to Christ and accepts Him as Lord they will lose their life for that testimony. They will be forced underground and in hiding if they are going to survive. This sounds harsh but many of us would not have to worry even if we were in the tribulation hour.

Notice also that these dead saints cry out. What is their cry? It is a cry for blood. This may sound confusing but you must remember that these are not those saved under grace, which was a covenant of love. You will remember when Stephen was being killed he cried out “lay not this sin to their charge.” This is however a different dispensation. They also have a mind and know that prophecy is being fulfilled and wonder how much longer their loved ones will have to suffer. The Lord urges them to have a little more patience.

Sixth Seal, Physical changes

This is one of three earthquakes that we find in the book of Revelation. Many try to make these verses figurative, but you cannot logically do that. You must take them just as they are, literal. If you study the scriptures you will find that earthquakes accompany the judgment of God throughout the Bible. At this time the earth is quaking so greatly that the stars begin to fall from heaven. No doubt there will be strong wind and possibly even tornados, devastating mountains, and causing them to be moved.

“I will shew wonders in the heavens, and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.”  Joel 2:30-31

This is so terrible a sight that it causes great men and kings, rich men as well as all free men with them, hide in the caves of the earth for safety.

In fact the scriptures tell us that the time is so devastating that men cry out for death. They plead for the mountains and rocks to fall on them. This is a sad condition for it shows us how wicked mankind is. They are so wicked in their sin that they would rather call on the rocks to fall on them and die, than to turn to the Lord for salvation.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Rise of The Antichrist!

Revelation Chapter 6

The events beginning in chapter six described the time we know as the tribulation period. Before I begin with this chapter, let me first say this about the placement of signs. Many confuse the signs relating to the “revelation” with signs for the “rapture”. Most notably they believe that the signs given in Matthew 24 refer to the rapture of the church. This is not true, for the rapture of the church is a signless event that could happen at any moment. The rapture of the believers is simply an evacuation before the tribulation begins upon the earth.

The rapture is a meeting in the air. Since the Lord came to the earth the first time He came. He will also return to the earth the second time. This is not the rapture of the church. When this chapter begins we (the church) are gone. Therefore these signs are fulfilled after the church is raptured out of this world, but before the Lord returns again at His revelation upon earth.

In chapter five we watched as the “Lamb” came forth and took the seven sealed book. In this chapter the seals begin to be opened. Beginning in verse one we have a command. At this command the apostle sees the one who is worthy to open the book and begin the work of judgment. At this very moment John hears the sound of thunder, which is the sound of impeding judgment. Also at this time one of the four beasts speaks, the lion like creature, and says come and see.

This phrase proclaimed by the beast is a command to the rider upon the white horse the infamous Antichrist. The command literally is “COME.” His time has arrived.

The rider on the white horse seen upon the opening of the first seal is not Christ, but rather an imposter posing as Christ. Satan always has a counterfeit for the work of God. You will remember that in the days of Moses, the demon possessed magicians, were able to accomplish many of the miracles that Moses and Aaron did. This has always been the work of Satan, to copy God. God is the creator. Satan does not create however, so he simply tries to copy the works of God.

This is Satan’s imitation of the Lords return in chapter 19 when the Lord returns on a white horse. While I do not believe that the antichrist will actually come to the earth riding upon a white horse he is pictured this way to implicate that he is a counterfeit. I do not believe he will do this because in so doing he would be immediately proclaiming himself as God. This is something that he will not do until 3 ½ years into the tribulation.

Antichrist comes to power through an international peace treaty. Thus the mention of a bow, but no arrow.

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week:”  Daniel 9:27a

While he does not come to make war at first, make no mistake he is coming to conquer the nations as pictured in the crown that he wears. Instead of taking the nations by military force he will dazzle the world with his voice and message, and will rise through the rank until he is given a crown. No doubt he will rise to a place of authority in his own nation, then eventually the entire world.

“And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceable, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.”  Daniel 11:21

“He shall enter peaceable even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.”  Daniel 11:24

The Antichrist will take control of the nation via a world government and power will be given to him over all kindred, tongues and nations according to Revelation 13:7. And be assured that when he comes the world will be ready for him. In fact they will accept him with open arms. In addition God will send them strong delusions and they will believe his lies according to 2 Thessalonians 2.

Three additional riders will soon follow the Antichrist. These four horsemen will bring havoc on the world, as it has never seen.

As the Antichrist ascends to the world leadership position this signals the next twenty judgments to come forth. The peace that is made by this first rider will quickly be taken away by the second rider. This all however is in the plan of the Antichrist.

In Daniel 9:27 this is plainly laid out for us.

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”  Daniel 9:27

We are told that he will make a covenant with the Jew for one week, or 7 years. This covenant will probably be that the Jew can return to Palestine, rebuild the temple and again offer sacrifices. This will be a miracle in itself. For the Jew to rebuild the temple the Muslims would have to be willing to move the Dome of the Rock.

Many believe that the revealing of Antichrist will begin the seven years of tribulation, but according to Daniel 9 this is not the case. The signing of this peace covenant is what issues in the tribulation. I’m not sure how long it will take antichrist to rise into a place of power. It could be that he is working his way to power today.

By the help of Satan he will convince all the nations of the world to come together in peace, maybe to disarm and destroy their weapons. Most world conflicts have arisen because of one of two problems. Most nations fight over religion and money. Antichrist will solve both of these problems. He will propose a one world religion in which all the nations of the earth can come together. He will also propose a one world currency.

With the signing of this peace treaty the tribulation begins. Of course in exchange for the protection of Israel he will want the help of the Jewish bankers to establish his proposed worldwide commerce, and help to rebuild Babylon.  We are told in Daniel 8:23-25 that he will cause craft or manufacturing to prosper in his hands.

“And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practices, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.”   Daniel 8:23-25

With manufacturing booming again he will eventually put in place this one world currency. Even to the extent that no man can buy or sell without the mark of the beast. This will be a mark in your right hand or forehead.

The one world religion will also be a success as pictured by the drunken woman who rides upon the beast for three and a half years.

Daniel goes on to say that in the middle of the week, or 3 ½ years, he will break his covenant and cause the oblation and sacrifices to cease. This takes place in chapter 13. At this time he will be referred to as the “Beast”. Satan will incarnate this man and he will assume the position of God. Men will be commanded to worship him and Satan gives all of this to him. Currency will be replaced with a mark, and the one world religion will be replaced by the worship of antichrist and his image.

In my next blog we will talk about the opening of the second seal. The rise of Antichrist will not be happily accepted by all nations. Soon after the rise of the one world government of Antichrist, nations will rebel and war will break forth. We will discuss this soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Did you know you're a STAR?

I thought I would share with you what I shared with the children at church last night. This is a topic that many people struggle with, but will not admit it to others or even themselves. I talked to the children about being special or a “star” in the eyes of God.

In my lesson I had my daughter put on a dress coat, tie, hat and glasses. I then asked the kids if they recognized her. Of course they did. Even with the disguise they were able to tell who she was. The point being the clothes you wear does not change who you are! We live a society that determines the value of a person by their skin color, weight, hair color or the price of their clothes. But the truth is that none of these things determine who you are. God made each of us unique for a reason.

1. God is not fooled by the disguise we wear. Many people try to hide who they really are with God. They will wear a costume of religion, good works and false religion. None of these things fool God. He knows exactly who you are and what you are. He is the one who created you by the way. God knows if we are real or fake. You may fool others but you will never fool God.

2. You are who you are because God wanted you that way. If you are short, tall, black, white, heavy or skinny God made you the way He wanted you to be. Please don’t look at someone else and say “if I was more like them my life would be better.” You are special in the eyes of God just the way you are. Do you not think that if God wanted you to be different He would have made you different? Plus, wouldn’t it be boring if we were all alike?

3. You are a star in God’s eyes. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see wrinkles? What about a double chin? Maybe you see gray hair where dark hair used to be. Do you realize that when God sees you He sees a star? You are so special to God that He gave the best He had, so that you could just live in His presence on day. God thinks you’re so special He gave His Son to die for you.

Let me finish by sharing a poem with you that I had the kids repeat last night.

“Star light, star bright
I’m a star alright.
Every day, and every night
I am special in God’s sight.”

Don’t carry that baggage of low self esteem any more. Realize you are who God intended you to be.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Lamb and the Seven Sealed Book

Revelation Chapter 5

Chapter five is a continuation of the scene viewed in chapter four. There is no break in the story. We are still in heaven with John as he witnesses the twenty four elders fall down and begin to worship the one sitting upon the throne. As they worship they cast their crowns at His feet.

One of the first questions that most people have when studying chapter five is, “What is this little book?” We can’t say for sure, but I believe that we can give an educated guess by studying other portions of scripture. In the book of Ephesians Paul tells us the following:

“Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” Ephesians 1:13-14

This verse is clear that there is a purchased possession that is awaiting redemption. When you consider this in conjuction with what we are told in Romans it makes a little more sense.

“We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”   Romans 8:22-23

In these two references we are told that there is something that was lost by mankind and the earth that is to one day be redeemed. The inheritance that has been lost is the earth and immortal life, both given to and lost by Adam and Eve. When Adam sinned he lost the inheritance to the earth. This title deed today is in the hands of God awaiting one to step forward and redeem it. This means that God is waiting for someone to come forward and redeem all that Adam lost.

When Adam sinned he did lose this title. Adam was incapable of redeeming the thing he had lost, but the Bible tells us in Lev. 25:23-34 that a kinsman may redeem a lost possession. This kinsman was provided in the Lord Jesus Christ. He became our kinsman redeemer.

When this strong angel proclaimed with a loud voice “who is worthy to open the book, and to lose the seals thereof?” that was the advertisement for the kinsman redeemer to step forward and appear. The fact that this was a strong angel is very significant for if this angel in all of his strength could not open the book then who could?

When this proclamation goes forth John tells us that no man in heaven, on earth or under the earth was found worthy to take the book or to even look upon the book. When John sees this he begins to cry.

At this moment John sees something that up to this point he had not seen before. John saw a lamb, as it had been slain, standing in the midst of the throne. The reason that John had not seen this lamb before is that He had been seated on the throne with the Father. As the elder spoke the Lamb proceeded out of the glory of the throne.

As John begins to describe the Lamb he first tells us that He had seven horns. These horns speak of strength.

“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”   Matthew 28:18

The seven eyes speak of the fact that He sees all things. The all seeing eye of the Lord views all things that we do, even those things done in secret.

“All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”   Hebrews 4:13

Not only is He all-powerful and all seeing but also we are told that the presence of the Holy Spirit rests upon Him. In light of these three things we can be safe in saying that there will be no mistakes made during the tribulation period.

As the Lamb proceeds from the throne and takes the book His work as a mediator ends and He begins His work of redemption.

Let me say this about the book. The book is not a book as we know it today. It will be a scroll. And the seals are not in a row along the edge of the book or roll. But rather a seal is broken and the parchment unrolled until the next seal reached and so on until all the seals are broken. As these seals are broken we are not told what the content of the book is. We are simply told that as the seals are broken certain things begin to happen.

These things are only preliminary to the Lamb’s taking possession of the earth. And Christ does not officially do this until chapter ten verses 1-6, when we are told that a mighty angel, Christ, places His right foot upon the sea and His left foot upon the land and cries out that there shall be “time no longer.” Or that there will be no longer delay and He formally takes possession of the earth.

As the Lord acts the saint’s break forth in praise. The theme of their praise is that the Lamb was slain upon Calvary’s cross, that His blood was shed for the entire world. They also sing about their soon return with Christ from heaven.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Don’t mistake your suffering for sin!

 This blog will go against the teachings of many preachers and churches, but the Bible is clear on this matter. Many times people assume that if a person has suffering or hardships in their life that means they must also have sin in their life. While it is true that we are warned in the scriptures not to suffer as an evil doer, it is also clear that many suffer while being in the perfect will of God.

In fact, sometimes the greatest blessings you can experience in your walk with Christ is the blessing of suffering. Throughout the pages of the scriptures we read instances of people who suffered, and their suffering resulted in blessings.

The lion that tried to kill Samson later feed him. A sick daughter brought Jarius to Jesus. Drought and depression brought Elijah to Mount Carmel. There was a flood in Noah’s life before there was a rainbow. Joseph suffered slavery and imprisonment before he saved the lives of millions of people. Jesus suffered the death of Calvary so that you and I can be saved. In fact the scriptures say that it was for the “joy that was set before Him” that He endured the cross.

I could tell you stories of Daniel in the lion’s den, the three Hebrew children in the furnace of fire, Paul’s beatings and ship wreck, Peter’s imprisonment, John’s exile on Patmos and the list goes on and on. All of these suffered, but they soon discovered that their suffering was actually a blessing in their life. Jesus promised you and me that if we are going to reign with Him we must first suffer with Him. You will learn more about God in the valley than you will on the mountain top.

I recently taught for a week at Valley View Baptist church in Knoxville. During the week I taught on “From Despair to Deliverance, The Story of Esther.” It amazed me that after I taught these lessons on despair many of the people shared with me how that God had blessed them during the lowest times of their lives.

A man may stand up and tell people “if you get saved all of your problems will just go away.” That’s sounds wonderful, and these men will get many followers. It takes a true man of God however to stand up and tell people the truth that Christians may suffer while following Jesus. Jesus made it very clear that if a person wanted to “reign” with Him they must first “suffer” with Him.

If you are suffering today, and you know that you are right with God, please know that God has allowed those hardships into your life for a reason. The thing that is threatening your life today will be a blessing to you one day. God will teach you more about Himself, and how to trust Him during this time than any other time in your life. God will make your trial a blessing.